Evidence #368 | September 12, 2022

Peter Whitmer, Jr.

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Scripture Central


Peter Whitmer Jr., one of the Eight Witnesses who saw and handled the plates of the Book of Mormon, was faithful to his testimony throughout his life.

Peter Whitmer Jr. was the youngest son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman Whitmer. He, along with the other members of his family, worked hard to maintain the family farm. Joseph and Emma Smith lived in his family’s home during much of the translation of the Book of Mormon, and he may have briefly acted as a scribe while it was dictated.1 In the later part of June 1829, Peter was chosen to be one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Born in 1809, Peter was the youngest of the eleven who testified. Together, with his older brothers Christian and Jacob, he affirmed that he had seen and handled the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated (The Testimony of Eight Witnesses).

The Eight Witnesses, by Olinda Reynolds. 

Shortly after the publication of the Book of Mormon, Peter and his other brothers who saw and handled the plates were visited at their home in Fayette, New York by the skeptical Free Baptist preacher David Marks. According to Marks, the Whitmer sons testified to the truth of the Book of Mormon and affirmed that they had seen the plates which had “the appearance of gold.”2

Peter was called in the fall of 1830 to go on a mission with Oliver Cowdery to preach to the Lamanites. Concerning this time Peter recorded, “1830 the word of the Lord came unto me by the Prophet Joseph Smith on the tenth month saying Peter thou shalt go with thy brother Oliver to the Lamanites we started on the same month to the west to the tribe of Bufolow and there we declared the Book of mormon from thence to the state of Ohio there we decla[r]ed the fulness of the gospel and had much sucksess.”3

Historian Andrew Jenson states

They started for the West soon afterward, and had an eventful journey, fraught with many hardships and much suffering. In Kirtland, Ohio, they raised a large branch, after which they traveled one thousand miles through mud and snow, mostly on foot, to Jackson County, Missouri, where they arrived in the early part of 1831.4

In Ohio they preached to local congregations and testified of the Book of Mormon where many accepted their testimony. Lyman Wight remembered first being introduced to the Book of Mormon witnesses and their companions. He noted their polite but good-natured persistence in wanting to share their message. “We called a meeting, and one testified that, he had seen angels, another that he had seen the plates, and that the gifts were back in the Church again, &c.”5

Four Missionaries to the Lamanites, by Robert T. Barrett.

The early establishment of the Church in the Kirtland region was largely due to the testimonies of the four missionaries, including the two witnesses, Peter Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery, whose testimony was not characterized by “irresponsible emotionalism.”6 After their arrival in Independence Missouri, Peter helped to support the other missionaries by working as a tailor.7

In a conference held in Orange, Cuyahoga County, Ohio on October 25, 1831 Peter Whitmer stated, “My beloved brethren, ever since I have been acquainted with the writing of God, I have [viewed] eternity with perfect confidence.”8 According to Luke Johnson, who was present on this occasion, Peter testified of the truth of his testimony, noting “the eleven witnesses to the Book of Mormon, with uplifted hands, bore solemn testimony to the truth of that book, as did the Prophet Joseph.”9

Peter, who married on October 14, 1832, settled with other members of the Whitmer family in Jackson County Missouri and shared in the persecutions and difficulties that led to their forcible expulsion from the region. After settling in Clay County, Peter continued to serve in the Church where he was set apart to the Missouri High Council on January 6, 1836.10 Historian Andrew Jenson states that Peter “had been consumptive [i.e., wasting away from disease] for a number of years previous to his demise” which occurred on September 22, 1836.11 Oliver Cowdery, in a eulogy to his brother-in-law Peter Whitmer and also to Christian Whitmer who had died in 1835, stated:

By many in this church, our brothers were personally known: they were the first to embrace the new covenant, on hearing it, and during a constant scene of persecution and perplexity, to their last moments, maintained its truth—they were both included in the list of the eight witnesses in the Book of Mormon, and though they have departed, it is with great satisfaction that we reflect, that they proclaimed to their last moments, the certainty of the former testimony: The testament is in force after the death of the testator. May all who read remember the fact, that the Lord has given men a witness of himself in the last days, and that they, have faithfully declared it till called away.12


Peter Whitmer’s testimony that he had seen and handled the plates of the Book of Mormon was a significant factor in the conversion and testimonies of early converts to the restored Church of Jesus Christ. As a proven man of solid character and reliability, he maintained the truth of his witness until the time of his death.

Book of Mormon Central, “Why Was Peter Whitmer Jr. Chosen to Witness the Gold Plates? (Testimony of the Eight Witnesses),” KnoWhy 600 (March 30, 2021).

Larry E. Morris, A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019), 415–455.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14, no. 1 (2005): 18–31, 125–127.

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

BibleDeuteronomy 19:152 Corinthians 13:1Book of MormonThe Testimony of Three WitnessesThe Testimony of Eight Witnesses2 Nephi 27:12–13Ether 5:2


Deuteronomy 19:15

2 Corinthians 13:1

Book of Mormon

The Testimony of Three Witnesses

The Testimony of Eight Witnesses

2 Nephi 27:12–13

Ether 5:2

  • 1 See Book of Mormon Central, “Why Was Peter Whitmer Jr. Chosen to Witness the Gold Plates? (Testimony of the Eight Witnesses),” KnoWhy 600 (March 30, 2021).
  • 2 David Marks, The Life of David Marks, To the 26th Year of His Age (Limerick, ME: Office of the Morning Star, 1831), 340–341.
  • 3 Peter Whtimer [Jr.] journal, 1831, in Larry E. Morris, A Documentary History of the Book of Mormon (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019), 424, spelling in the original.
  • 4 [Andrew Jenson], “The Eight Witnesses,” The Historical Record 7, nos. 8–10 (October 1888): 611.
  • 5 Lyman Wight Journal, Heman C. Smith to Joseph Smith III, May 16, 1882, Saints’ Herald, 29 (June 15, 1882): 192.
  • 6 Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Impact of the First Preaching in Ohio,” BYU Studies Quarterly 11, no. 4 (Summer 1971): 490.
  • 7 Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1981), 126.
  • 8 Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1844 (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1983), 21.
  • 9 “History of Luke Johnson. [By Himself,]” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star 26, no. 53 (December 31, 1864): 855.
  • 10 Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, 127.
  • 11 Jenson, “The Eight Witnesses,” 411.
  • 12 [Oliver Cowdery], “The Closing Year,” Latter-day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, December 1836, 426.
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