Witnesses Timeline

September 21-22, 1823

The angel Moroni visits Joseph several times. Joseph views the plates for the first time at the hill he saw in a vision.

The hill later known as "Cumorah."

September 22, 1827

Joseph makes his final visit to the hill and obtains the plates from the angel Moroni (see JS-H 1:53-54, 59).

Martin Harris

Fall, 1827

Martin Harris gives $50 to assist Joseph Smith.

Joseph/Emma Smith
Farm and Home
Harmony, PA

December, 1827

Joseph and Emma move to Harmony, Pennsylvania and Joseph begins transcribing and translating characters from the plates.

Charles Anthon
Luther Bradish
Samuel Mitchell

February, 1828

Martin Harris takes Joseph’s translation to several professors in New York City, including Charles Anthon.

April 12 to June 14, 1828

Joseph Smith translates the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon.

June, 1828

Martin Harris loses the 116 pages. The plates and Urim and Thummim are taken from Joseph.

September 22, 1828

Joseph again obtains the interpreters and plates.

David Whitmer

December, 1828

David Whitmer makes a business trip to Palmyra, New York, where he meets Oliver Cowdery and from him first learns of Joseph Smith and the golden plates.

Joseph Smith, Sr
Home and Farm
Manchester, NY

Winter, 1828-29

Oliver Cowdery boards with Joseph’s parents in Manchester, New York.

Oliver Cowdery

February, 1829

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

March, 1829

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

April, 1829

Oliver Cowdery travels to Harmony, Pennsylvania.

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, 1829

David Whitmer arrives in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and first meets Joseph Smith.

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 14 is received and directed to David Whitmer indicating that he will be “called to assist” and to “stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see.”

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.

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

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 Book of Mormon is published.

April, 1830

The Church is formally organized in Fayette, New York.

October - November, 1830

In northeastern Ohio, missionaries convert Sidney Rigdon, a Protestant minister, along with more than a hundred of his followers.

December, 1830

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

24 Temples Plat,
Independence, MI

July - August, 1831

Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon travel to Missouri and dedicate an area for the gathering of the Saints and building a temple.

June, 1833

Construction begins on the Kirtland Temple.

October - December, 1833

Church members are driven from Jackson County, Missouri.

December, 1834

Oliver Cowdery becomes Assistant President of the Church.

Kirtland Temple

March, 1836

The Kirtland Temple is dedicated.

November, 1836

The Church’s Kirtland Safety Society Bank is established.

August, 1837

The Kirtland Safety Society Bank fails.
“Old Standard” apostates break up a meeting in the Kirtland Temple.

December, 1837

Twenty-eight members, including Martin Harris, are excommunicated by the High Council of Kirtland.

April, 1838

Numerous Church authorities are excommunicated for apostasy including David Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery.

June 17, 1838

Sidney Rigdon preached 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.”

October, 1838

The Missouri governor orders the extermination of members of the Church.

Nauvoo, IL

April, 1839

Joseph Smith begins purchasing land in Illinois that will become the city of Nauvoo.

Nauvoo Temple

April, 1841

Cornerstones are laid for the Nauvoo Temple.

November, 1842

Martin Harris is rebaptized in Kirtland. However, within two years he became a member of the Shakers. He subsequently became a member of the movement led by James J. Strang. In January 1847, with William W. McLellin, an excommunicated former apostle, Harris organized a new church, the Church of Christ. That particular church soon proved a failure.

Carthage Jail

June 27, 1844

At the jail in Carthage, Illinois, a mob murders Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum.

Winter, 1845-46

Church members begin preparing to move westward.

November, 1848

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

March, 1850

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


Martin Harris moves to Utah and, although he understood that he had not been excommunicated a second time after his rebaptism in 1842, he renews his commitment to the Church by again being baptized.

July, 1875

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

January, 1888

David Whitmer passes away and is buried in Richmond, Missouri.