Katharine Smith Salisbury Statements as a Witness
Katherine testified often of the plate’s physicality (specifically their “heaviness”). Her grandson reported that when Joseph first brought them home, she personally, “took the plates from him and laid them on the table temporarily. . .” until Joseph had sufficiently recovered.[1]

This account parallels Emma Smith’s, who said, “The plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen table cloth, which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt of the plates, as they lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the edges of a book.”[2]

Katharine’s grandson, Herbert Salisbury, remembered his grandmother relating:

When he [Joseph] came in the house . . . he was completely out of breath. She [Katharine] took the plates from him and laid them on the table temporarily, and helped revive him until he got breathing properly, and also examined his hand, and treated it for the bruises on his knuckles.”[3]

Herbert Salisbury also said that Katherine reported that on the day Joseph brought the plates home he handed them to her.[4] On another occasion she said that when cleaning in the Smith home, she “saw a package on the table containing the gold plates,” which she picked up to judge the weight, finding them “heavy like gold.” However, Katherine’s experience moved beyond those who hefted the plates in the box. She said that through the package of cloth she “rippled her fingers up the edge of the plates and felt that they were separate metal plates and heard the tinkle of sound that they made.”[5] Her witness of tangible plates moved from simply lifting to the senses of physical touch and sound.

The Saints Herald 33, no. 17, 1 May 1886

“I desire before I pass away, to place my testimony on record. I have been a member of this church, ever since its first organization on the 6th day of April, 1830. I am the only surviving sister of the martyrs Joseph and Hyrum Smith and will soon be 73 years old. I can testify to the fact of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and also to its truth, and the truth of the everlasting gospel as contained therein.

I well remember the trials my brother had, before he obtained the records. After he had the vision, he went frequently to the hill, and upon returning would tell us, “I have seen the records, also the brass plates and the sword of Laban with the breast plate and interpreters. …My brother William and myself are all who are left now, and we shall soon pass away, but while I can I will bear my testimony to the truth of the latter day work, both spiritual and temporal. I know that it is true.”[6]

The Kansas City Star April 10, 1895 [At an annual conference of the RLDS Church held at Independence, Missouri]:

To-day at the testimony meeting, Mrs. Caroline [sic] S. Salisbury, sister to the first Joseph Smith and only surviving member of the original six people who founded the Church of Mormon in 1830, told the historic story of how Joseph Smith the prophet found the gold plates of the book of Mormon buried in the Hill of Cumorah in New York state. Mrs. Salisbury is a woman 83 years old, but she related graphically and with force and vigor the oft-told story. It required fully half an hour.

Mrs. Salisbury made two or three departures from Mormon history in her story, which the Saints explain by saying that age has impaired her memory somewhat.[7]


[1] “The Prophet’s Sister Testifies She Lifted the B of M Plates,” The Messenger, (Berkeley, CA) October 1954, 1, 6. typescript copy, LDS Church Archives; see also Mary Salisbury Hancock, “The Three Sisters of the Prophet Joseph Smith”, Saints’ Herald 101 (25 January 1954): 10–11, 24. https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets?id=24fe3bb8-9c50-44d8-bdbc-d79ba03dd2b4&crate=0&index=11.
[2] Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald 26, no. 19 (1 October 1879): 289–90; See also Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Volume I (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996), 525.
[3] Herbert S. Salisbury, “Things the Prophet’s Sister Told Me,” July 2, 1945, San Rafael, California, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City.
[4] Mary Salisbury Hancock, “The Three Sisters of Joseph Smith,” Saints’ Herald 101 (25 January 1954): 12. https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets?id=24fe3bb8-9c50-44d8-bdbc-d79ba03dd2b4&crate=0&index=11.
[5] “The Prophet’s Sister Testifies She Lifted the B of M Plates,” The Messenger (Berkeley, CA), October 1954, 1, 6. See also Dan Vogel, comp., Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996), 1:649.
[7] The Kansas City Star Vol XV, No. 205. April 10, 1895. http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/MO/Miss1881.htm#041095b