Evidence #155 | February 22, 2021

Hiram Page

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Scripture Central

Abstract

In the face of persecution, and even after his alienation from Joseph Smith and the Restored Church of Jesus Christ, Hiram Page continued to testify of the Book of Mormon.

Hiram Page was one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. He was born in Vermont and married Catherine Whitmer in 1825, which eventually brought him into contact with Joseph Smith and the translation of the Book of Mormon. Page was also a farmer and a part-time doctor.1 As was the case with the other Eight Witnesses, he saw and personally handled the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated (Testimony of Eight Witnesses).

Shortly after the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Page moved, first to Ohio and then to Jackson county Missouri where he was among the early Saints who were forcibly expelled from there to Clay County. Following the Missouri exodus to Illinois, he settled in Excelsior Springs, Missouri where he remained until his death in 1852.2

Image via supportingevidences.net.

Missouri Persecution

In 1833 Page and other members of the Church encountered severe persecution at the hand of Missouri settlers. William McLellin, who was living in Jackson county during this time, described an episode involving Hiram Page.

While the mob was raging in Jackson Co. Mo. In 1833 some young men ran down Hiram Page <in the woods> one of the eight <witnesses,> and commenced beating and pounding him with whips and clubs. He begged, but there was no mercy. They said he was <a> damned Mormon, and they meant to beat him to death! But finally one then said to him, if you will deny that damned book, we will let you go. Said he, how can I deny what I know to be true? Then they pounded him again. When they thought he was about to breathe his last, they said to him, Now what do you think of your God, when he dont save you? Well said he, I believe in God—Well, said one of the most intelligent among them, I believe the damned fool will stick to it though we kill him. Let us let him go. But his life was nearly run out. He was confined to his bed for a length of time.3

Later Testimony of the Book of Mormon

As was the case with members of the Whitmer family, Page became alienated from Joseph Smith and the main body of the Saints after 1838 and remained in Missouri. However, sources show that he continued to maintain his earlier testimony as one of the Eight Witnesses.

When questioned in 1847 about his earlier testimony of having seen and handled the plates, Page responded, “As to the book of Mormon, it would be doing injustice to myself, and to the work of God of the last days, to say that I could know the same thing to be true in 1830, and know the same thing to be false in 1847. To say that my mind was so treacherous that I had forgotten what I saw.”4

Family members affirmed that he continued to bear faithful testimony until his death. According to his son, Philander Page, “I knew my father to be true and faithful to his testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon until the very last. Whenever he had an opportunity to bear his testimony to this effect, he would always do so, and seemed to rejoice exceedingly in having been privileged to see the plates and thus become one of the Eight Witnesses.”5

John Christian Whitmer, a son of Jacob Whitmer, stated, “I was closely associated with Hiram Page in business transactions and other matters, he being married to my aunt. I knew him at all times and under all circumstances to be true to his testimony concerning the divinity of the Book of Mormon.”6

Eight Witnesses Monument in Clay County, Missouri, erected in 2014 by the Mormon Missouri Frontier Foundation. Image and caption via history.churchofjesuschrist.org. 

Conclusion

In the early years of the Restoration, Hiram Page maintained his testimony of the Book of Mormon during times of great pressure, including violent persecution. His undaunted conviction remained with him throughout the rest of his life, even long after he became estranged from Joseph Smith and the Saints who followed him. Page’s persistent testimony under these trying circumstances adds to his credibility as one of the Eight Witnesses.

Larry E. Morris, A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019), 415–423, 427–428, 444–446.

Steven C. Harper, “Evaluating the Book of Mormon Witnesses,” Religious Educator 11, no. 2 (2010): 36–49.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14, no. 1 (2005): 18–31.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1981), 123–134.

The Testimony of Eight WitnessesEther 5:2

The Testimony of Eight Witnesses

Ether 5:2

  • 1 Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 126.
  • 2 Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, 127–130. For more on Page’s personal life and history, see Bruce G. Stuart, “Hiram Page: An Historical and Sociological Analysis of an Early Mormon Prototype,” (Masters Thesis: Brigham Young University, 1987), esp. 17–58; “Page, Hiram,” online at josephsmithpapers.org.
  • 3 Mitchell K. Schaefer, ed., William E. McLellin’s Lost Manuscript (Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2012), 167.
  • 4 Hiram Page to Brother William E. McLellin, May 30, 1847, Ray County, Mo., Ensign of Liberty 1, no. 4 (January 1848): 63. As one of the few first-hand statements given by any of the Eight Witnesses about their testimonies of the Book of Mormon, this letter is significant. See Steven C. Harper, “Evaluating the Book of Mormon Witnesses,” Religious Educator 11, no. 2 (2010): 38: “The known historical record includes direct statements by two of the Three Witnesses and three of the Eight Witnesses that affirm their original testimonies.” 
  • 5 Philander Alma Page Interview, September 1888, in Andrew Jenson, The Historical Record 7, nos., 8–10  (October 1888), 614.
  • 6 John Christian Whitmer Interview, September 12, 1888, in “Sayings of John C. Whitmer,” The Saints’ Herald, October 13, 1888.
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