Oliver Cowdery Timeline

October 3, 1806

Oliver H. P. Cowdery is born in Wells, Vermont to William and Rebecca Fuller Cowdery.

September 3, 1809

Oliver’s mother dies.

c. 1826

Oliver leaves Vermont for upstate New York, where his older brothers had settled and clerks at a store for just over two years.

Joseph Smith, Sr
Home and Farm
Manchester, NY

Winter, 1828-29

Oliver becomes a school teacher in Manchester, New York and lodges with different families in the area, including that of Joseph Smith, Sr.

February, 1829

The Lord appears to Oliver Cowdery and shows him the plates in a vision.

April, 1829

Oliver Cowdery travels to Harmony, Pennsylvania, meeting Joseph Smith on April 5.

Page from the original
Book of Mormon manuscript

April 7 to June 1, 1829

Oliver Cowdery acts as a scribe for the translation of the Book of Mormon.

May 15, 1829

Oliver and Joseph Smith receive the Aaronic priesthood from the resurrected John the Baptist, after which they baptize each other in the Susquehanna River.

Peter Whitmer Home

June, 1829

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.

April 6, 1830

Oliver is named “Second Elder” when the church is organized.

December 18, 1832

Oliver marries Elizabeth Ann Whitmer, the daughter of Peter Whitmer, Sr. and sister of David, John, Jacob and Peter Whitmer, Jr. They have five children, of whom only one daughter survives to maturity.

February 17, 1834

Oliver is named a member of the first presiding high council of the church, organized in Kirtland, Ohio.

December 5, 1834

Oliver becomes the first Assistant President of the Church.

August, 1837

The Kirtland Safety Society Bank fails. Oliver moves to the newly founded Latter Day Saints settlement in Far West, Missouri.

Winter 1837-38

Oliver suffers ill health through the winter.

April 12, 1838

A church court excommunicates Oliver after he fails to appear at a hearing on his membership and sent a letter resigning from the church instead.

June 17, 1838

Sidney Rigdon preaches the “Salt Sermon” in which he declared that dissenters from the faith (understood to include Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer), were “as salt that had lost its savor” and that it was the duty of the faithful to cast them out “to be trodden beneath the feet of men.”

June 18, 1838

The Danite Manifesto, signed by some 84 Mormons (but not Joseph Smith) is sent to Oliver and the other dissenters, warning them to depart. They flee the county.

1838 - 1847

Oliver studies law and opens a practice in Tiffin, Ohio, where he becomes a civic and political leader. He also joins the Methodist church.


Oliver’s father and one of his brothers are followers of James J. Strang, together with Martin Harris and much of Joseph Smith’s remaining family. Oliver and his brother move to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, about 12 miles away from Strang’s headquarters in Voree. He enters law practice with his brother.


Oliver travels to meet with followers of Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve encamped at Winter Quarters, Nebraska, where he asks to be reunited with the church.

November 12, 1848

Oliver is rebaptized by Orson Hyde of the Quorum of the Twelve at Kanesville, Iowa.


After his rebaptism, Oliver desires to relocate to the State of Deseret (Utah) in the coming spring or summer but does not move due to failing health.

March, 1850

Oliver travels to meet with David Whitmer in Richmond, Missouri to persuade him to move west and rejoin the Saints in Utah. Oliver, however, succumbs to tuberculosis and dies on March 3, 1850, in David Whitmer’s home.