1821-1827

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Elizabeth Ann Whitmer-Affidavit

15 February 1870

EDITORIAL NOTE

On 15 February 1870, Elizabeth Ann (Whitmer) Cowdery (1815-1892), younger sister of David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery's widow, prepared for an affidavit regarding the translation of the book of Mormon. That same month, William E. McLellin quoted the affidavit in a letter to friends. Unfortunately, the affidavit is lost, and McLellin's is the only known copy. In addition, the bottom half of the letter is missing beginning at the fold. Two years later, McLelling mentioned Elizabeth's affidavit again (VI.F.10, WILLIAM E. MCLELLIN TO JOSEPH SMITH, III, JUL & SEP 1872). In the first letter, McLellin introduced the affidavit with the following: "Last Tuesday, I went to visit David [Whitmer] again in Richmond and found him as well as usual for him. ...I stayed in Richmond two days and nights. I had a great deal of talk with widow Cowdry and her amiable daughter. She [Elizabeth's daughter] is married to a Dr. Johnson. But has no children. She [Elizabeth] gave me a certificate and this is a copy. ......."

Richmond, Ray Co., Mo. Feb 15th 1870---I cheerfully certify that I was familiar with the manner of Joseph Smith's translating the book of Mormon. He translated the most of it at my Father's house. And I often say by and saw and heard them translate and write for hours together. Joseph never had a curtain drawn between him and his scribe while he was translating. He would place the director in his hat, and then place his face in his hat, so as to exclude the light, and then [read?] to his scribe the words (he said) as they appeared before him. ...

Willaim E. McLellin to "My Dear Friends," February 1870, Miscellaneous Letters and Papers, Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri.