Robert Aveson reports that Martin Harris testified to Edward Stevenson in 1874 of seeing "the plates and the inscriptions thereon."

Jul 10, 1874
News (traditional)
Robert Aveson
3rd Hand

Robert Aveson, “The Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon,” Deseret News, April 16, 1927, section III, VII

Deseret News
Edward Stevenson, Brigham Young, Martin Harris, Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, George A. Smith, Joseph Smith, Jr., Robert Aveson, Joseph F. Smith
Reading Public

Martin Harris.

Martin Harris was born May 18, 1783, in Easttown, Saratoga county, New York. He became acquainted with Joseph Smith in 1827, shortly after the time the prophet became in possession of the plates of the Book of Mormon.

To assist in translating the golden plates, Martin gave Joseph $50. For this generous act, Martin's wife threatened to leave him. For a short period Martin acted as scribe to Joseph in the translation of the first 116 pages.

When the Book of Mormon was about to be translated, Martin Harris advanced $3,000 for its publication.

Elder Edward Stevenson, who for the last three years previous to his death, one of the First Presidents of Seventies, went on a mission in the fall of 1869, and during his sojourn visited the first temple built in this dispensation at Kirtland, Ohio, and while there had the pleasure of meeting Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. He listened to him bearing testimony to the divinity of the Book of Mormon. Elder Stevenson had heard Martin Harris give his testimony concerning the sacred book, for while Elder Stevenson was living in the town of Pontiac, Oakland county, Michigan, in 1823, he heard Brother Harris, at a meeting bear the same testimony concerning the angel and the golden plates.

Elder Stevenson returned home from his mission in 1870, and after his return he was inspired to communicate with Martin Harris. He did so, and received a reply from Brother Harris which stated that the Spirit of the Lord prompted him to go to Utah. Brother Stevenson kept up the correspondence.

President Brigham Young read the letters, and then requested Elder Stevenson to take up a subscription to immigrate Martin Harris to Utah. Two hundred dollars was raised, and Elder Stevenson went by rail to Ohio, he found Brother Harris quite elated concerning the prospective journey.

While on the journey Elder Stevenson took occasion to teach Martin Harris the necessity of being rebaptized as he had been inactive for over 20 years. At first he did not seem to agree with the idea, but finally he said that if it was right the Lord would manifest it to him by His spirit.

Elder Stevenson and Martin Harris arrived in Ogden, Aug. 29, 1870, and in Salt Lake City, next day, Aug. 30. Soon after the arrival of Martin in this city, he went to Brother Stevenson's house and hold him that he should be baptized not only for himself personally, but also that he should be baptized for his dead. He said he had seen his father at the foot of the ladder, striving to get up to him, and he (Martin) went down and took him by the hand and helped him up.

The baptismal font was prepared and Elder Stevenson led Martin down into the water and rebaptized him. Five of the apostles were present. John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, George A. Smith and Joseph F. Smith. Orson Pratt confirmed him. Then Martin was baptized for some of his dead relatives.

Sept. 4, 1870, Martin Harris addressed a congregation of Saints in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, and bore a faithful testimony to the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. The following month (April), at the general conference, he also bore a similar testimony.

Elder Edward Stevenson quotes Martin Harris as saying:

"Joseph Smith, the prophet, was very poor, and had to work by the day for his support; and he (Harris) often gave him work on his farm; and that they hoed corn together many a day. Brother Harris paying him 50 cents per day."

In 1874, the writer spent his summer vacation in Cache Valley; went there on the 10th of July. I paid a visit to some friends in Smithfield, where I had the pleasure of meeting Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. He was in his 92nd year and walked in a stooping position. At the time I saw him he was seated under a shade tree. The sun was shining brightly and the birds were chirping as they flitted from tree to bush. He had come there on a visit to relatives and friends. His home was in Clarkston, where he was living with his son.

As we sat together under the shade tree, I had a very pleasant interview with Martin. In answer to my questions: "Did you see the golden plates? Did you see the angel?" He replied in substance:

"It is not a mere belief, but is a matter of knowledge. I saw the plates and the inscriptions thereon. I saw the angel and he showed them unto me."

We talked on other topics of an interesting nature pertaining to early Church history.

The interview strengthened my faith in regard to the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. From the assurance within me I knew positively that Martin Harris was speaking the truth.

A year from the date we had the interview, the life's mission of Martin Harris was finished. He passed away on the 10th of July, 1875, in his 93rd year.

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