Martin Harris Timeline

May 18, 1783

Martin is born in Easton (now Saratoga), New York, the second of the eight children born to Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham.


Moves with parents to Swift’s Landing (later known as Palmyra), New York.

March 27, 1808

Martin marries Lucy Harris, his first cousin, and they eventually have six children.

War of 1812

Harris enlists in the Thirty-ninth New York Militia and is eventually promoted to First Sergeant.


In a theophany, learns “I Should not Join Eny Church although I was anxiously Sought for by meny of the Sectarians.”

Martin & Lucy's Home
in Palmyra


Hires Joseph Smith Sr. and Hyrum Smith to rock up a well and wall up the basement of his new house

Smiths confide in Martin about the angel Moroni and gold plates.

October - December 1827

Martin learns that Joseph Smith has the gold plates.

Lucy has a vision of the plates in a dream and insists on giving Joseph $28 ($700 in today’s money) to go toward expenses for the translation and publication.

Martin helps Joseph hide the plates from mobs attempting to steal the “gold bible”.

Martin gives Joseph Smith $50 to defray the cost of moving from Palmyra to Harmony, Pennsylvania. He purchases a black suit for Joseph and pays his outstanding debts.

Charles Anthon
Luther Bradish
Samuel Mitchell

February 1828

Joseph Smith transcribes characters from the golden plates to a piece of paper, which Martin takes to Utica, New York and meets with Luther Bradish, Charles Anthon, and Dr. Samuel Mitchill.

March 1828

Journeys with his wife, Lucy, to Harmony, Pennsylvania.


Joseph/Emma Smith
Farm and Home
Harmony, PA

April 12 - June, 1828

Martin acts as scribe for Joseph Smith as he translates the book of Lehi.

Completes scribing 116 manuscript pages containing the book of Lehi and part of the book of Mosiah.

June 14, 1828

Martin begins journey to Palmyra; taking the 116 manuscript pages.

July 1828

About July 7, 1828 Loses 116 manuscript pages.

Confesses to Joseph Smith of the loss of the 116 manuscript pages.

The Lord chastens Martin for being a wicked man (D&C 3, 10).

March 1829

Lucy Harris enters a complaint against Joseph Smith before a magistrate in Lyons, New York; Martin testifies before the magistrate on behalf of Joseph Smith.

Prophecy of Three Witnesses (D&C 5). Martin Harris is named.

Peter Whitmer Home

June, 1829

Joseph Smith moves to Fayette, New York with David Whitmer’s aid, to continue the translation at the home of David Whitmer’s father, Peter Whitmer.

Doctrine & Covenants 17 is received authorizing Oliver, David, and Martin to “have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim.”

The Three Witnesses see the golden plates and testify of the book’s truth.

Joseph Smith finishes translating the Book of Mormon at the Whitmer home.

August 25, 1829

Martin Harris mortgages his farm to E.B. Grandin to cover the $3,000 printing cost of the Book of Mormon. He later sells 151 acres of his farm to pay off the mortgage.

E. B. Grandin
Print Shop

March, 1830

The Lord in a revelation tells Martin to “not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon” (D&C 19:26).

The Book of Mormon is published.

April 6, 1830

Attends organizational meeting of the Church at the Peter Whitmer Sr. log home in Fayette, New York

Martin is baptized by Oliver Cowdery.

June 9, 1830

Attends first Church conference in Fayette; is ordained a priest.

June 1830

Martin and Lucy officially separate.

December, 1830

Joseph receives a revelation instructing Church members to gather in Ohio.

April 7, 1831

Martin signs deed for 151 acres with Thomas Lakey; transaction satisfies his debt to E. B. Grandin.

May 1831

Martin leads fifty converts from Palmyra to Kirtland, Ohio. Lucy refuses to follow.

June 3–6, 1831

Attends fourth Church conference in Kirtland; ordained a high priest by Lyman Wight.

July - August 1831

Accompanies Joseph Smith and others to Missouri to purchase property and designate the site for Zion.

June 1832 - 1833

Serves a mission with his brother Emer in southern New York and northeastern Pennsylvania.

February 17, 1834

Accepts call to serve as twelfth member of the Kirtland high council (D&C 102:34).

May–July 1834

Serves as a wagoneer in Zion’s Camp.

November 28, 1834

E. D. Howe publishes Mormonism Unvailed, questioning Martin’s character.

February 14, 1835

Together with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, select and ordain a “traveling High Council” of 12 men that eventually becomes the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Kirtland Temple

March 27, 1836

Attends the Kirtland Temple dedication.

Summer 1836

Lucy Harris dies at age 44

November 1, 1836

Marries Caroline Young, daughter of John Young and Theodocia Kimball; officiator Heber C. Kimball. They have seven children.

December, 1837

Martin calls the Kirtland Safety Society bank a “fraud” and is among the dissenters who break with Smith and attempt to reorganize the church, led by Warren Parrish.

They are excommunicated during the last week of December 1837.


Parrish’s church takes control of the Kirtland Temple and becomes known as The Church of Christ. Martin is named one of the church’s three trustees.


Martin breaks with Parrish and other church leaders when they reject the Book of Mormon.

He appoints himself the caretaker and guide for the abandoned Kirtland Temple.

November, 1842

Martin Harris is rebaptized in Kirtland. However, within two years he becomes a member of the Shakers. He subsequently becomes a member of the movement led by James J. Strang.

January 1847

With William W. McLellin, an excommunicated former apostle, Harris organizes a new church, the Church of Christ, which soon fails.


Harris joins with the last surviving brother of Joseph Smith, William Smith and declares that William is Joseph’s true successor.

Spring 1856

Brigham Young invites Martin and his family to come to Utah and rejoin with the church. Caroline and the children all make the journey to Utah but Martin stays behind in Kirtland.

August 19-30,1870

Travels to the Salt Lake Valley aboard a westward bound train, sharing his testimony at several stops.

Arrives in Salt Lake City at 7:30 p.m. Deseret Evening News reports arrival of Martin.

September 17, 1870

Edward Stevenson baptizes him in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.

George A. Smith, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Orson Pratt confirm him a member of the Church.

He serves as proxy in baptism of his father Nathan Harris and brother Solomon Harris.

October 11, 1870

Receives his endowment in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.

July 10, 1875

Martin Harris passes away in Clarkston, Utah, and is buried there.