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A short distance north and a little east of the town of Clarkston, Utah, on a small knoll lies the community’s cemetery, dominated by a tall grey granite shaft marking the burial site of Martin Harris. He resided in the town for less than a year, and now his burial site is the most noted feature of this small Mormon village. This account will attempt to focus on Harris’ last years with his belated coming to Utah and the erection of two memorial monuments at the burial site. However, it will be just a short story-within-a-story; the telling of the full story would expand this narrative to great lengths as there were many sidetracks, backtracking, turnarounds, Mormon rites and Mormonesque practices and beliefs. Most of it is readily available from a host of sources, but a quick review of some essentials may provide a foundation to understand or frame what follows.
Martin Harris lived on a farm of over 300 acres in the Palmyra township of New York State. Early in his life and continuing into old age he had a bent for religious primitivism or restorationism—with the assumption that traditional Christianity was in a fallen state with no legitimate successor to the original one set up by the Messiah. He was attracted to the much younger Joseph Smith, providing employment and funds, serving as a scribe, sought scholarly affirmation of certain transcribed texts, became one of the three special witnesses to the circumstances surrounding the coming forth of the Book of Mormon , and provided the finances for the publication of this book. The early years of the Mormon Church cannot be told without including him in its evolvement up through 1837. He came to see himself as an essential cog in the new church, if not as Smith’s right-hand man. When the Church relocated from New York to Kirtland, Ohio, Harris moved there even though this 1831 move caused a separation with his wife Lucy who remained in the Palmyra area with their two surviving children. He continued to play a key role, even to making expeditions to Missouri under Smith’s direction, getting advice via revelation to dedicate his property and wealth to the Lord, and he was a member of a group assigned to publish a book on modern revelations. There were a few bumps in the road as he lost a considerable number of pages of the translated words from the golden plates and was chastised via revelation. In February of 1834 he was called before the Church’s high council to answer charges of slandering Joseph Smith. The council gave him some rebuke but forgave his transgression. Five days later he was selected to be a member of the same high council. A year later, Harris and the two other special witnesses to the Book of Mormon were assigned to choose and ordain the first men to be in the Council of Twelve Apostles, who in time would become a leading force in the Church. While it could be considered an honor to do this, it could just as easily have caused frustration and dissention as these special witnesses could have viewed it as letting others bypass them in leadership roles. The Kirtland Temple was dedicated in 1836 and Harris attended the ceremony, and later in the summer at Palmyra, New York, his wife Lucy died. Martin Harris married Caroline Young, the daughter of John Young (Brigham Young’s brother) on November 1, 1836. They had seven children with the first six being born in Kirtland, Ohio, from 1838 through 1854. A swift decline began in 1837 when Harris clashed with Church leaders (particularly Sidney Rigdon) over the ill-fated Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company. This organization took a back-door approach to become the Saints’ financial institution (bank) and began issuing paper money or script. Harris refused to join the new organization which hastened its quick demise. In short order Martin Harris was dropped from the high council on September 3, 1837, and was excommunicated in late December of the same year. He did not accompany the Mormons when they went to Missouri, nor joined them in the Nauvoo, Illinois area, choosing to stay in Kirtland, Ohio. His long association with the founder of Mormonism and involvement with the Church had been eventful, but the next quarter of a century would be full of many twists and turns, a detour, a turn-around and surging forth in another direction with much wandering and wondering what his role should be.
Shortly after being cut off from the Church, Martin Harris began associating with some other Kirtland dissenters—Warren Parrish, John F. Boynton and others. The leader of the new schism was Parrish, the brother-in-law of Apostle David W. Patten. He had joined the Mormon Church in 1833 and quickly became a scribe and secretary to Joseph Smith from 1835 to 1837, at which time he became treasurer of the Kirtland Safety Society. With the failure of that financial venture, and amid the apostasy and discontentment with Joseph Smith which led to Smith fleeing from Kirtland, Parish, the leading Kirtland dissident, led a group in forming another Church of Christ (Parrishites), claiming they were returning the church to its original name and practices, and charging that Joseph Smith had become a fallen prophet. In 1838 this schismatic faction took control of the Kirtland Temple where they held most of their meetings. This religious edifice was their focal point and strongest recruitment symbol until Parish took the fateful step of proclaiming no faith in the Book of Mormon . This caused a falling out with important members of the new faith including Martin Harris, who declared that those who rejected it would be damned. 1
Then in 1842 Harris reversed himself as he applied for readmission to the Mormon Church and was baptized again on November 7, 1842, while in Ohio. Whether he expected to return to his previous prominence in the Church, he remained at Kirtland far from the center and power and almost abandoned by more active members of the faith. 2 However, Harris quickly switched again as he became interested in the Shakers, the offshoot from the Religious Society of Friends, founded by Ann Lee in England which she brought to America in 1774. The faith’s name came from others describing the followers’ rituals of trembling, shakings, shouting, singing, dancing and glossolalia (speaking in strange unknown languages) and other divine gifts and manifestations. The Shakers had established several communities in New England and had two in Ohio, with one west of Cleveland about thirty miles from Kirtland. While the details of his involvement are lacking, by late 1844 the Mormons at Church headquarters at Nauvoo, Illinois, knew Harris was only a member on their rolls and he was pursuing other religious movements. At Nauvoo Brigham Young, the nominal leader of the Mormons after the death of Joseph Smith in June of 1844, received a letter from his brother describing the situation with the Mormons left at Kirtland. It told of "all kinds of teachings" taking place with the presiding Church officers being a supporter of Sidney Rigdon and claiming the Twelve Apostles were in error and all that followed them should be cut off; while others were running after the Shakers. Then it focused on one individual—"Martin Harris is a firm believer in Shakerism, says his testimony is greater than it was of the Book of Mormon ." 3 Apparently Harris’ connection with the Shakers lasted from two to three years, and it was the only detour he took during his quest or spiritual wanderings as every other affiliation was with dissenting Mormon factions. He was aware of events within the largest group of Mormons headed by the Twelve Apostles with Brigham Young leading the way. Possibly this interest remained acute due to his wife being a Young and wanting to gather with the main body of Mormons. Harris refused to accept Brigham Young (who he had helped select and ordain as an apostle) as the new leader of the Church.
Instead, when his ardor for the Shakers diminished, he resumed his spiritual quest, while the main body of Mormons (after 1838 under the formal name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) was engaged in their serious trials in Nauvoo and beginning the process of their exodus to the West. Harris, whether by invitation or personal choice, attended a conference called by James J. Strang held at Kirtland, pressing his claim to have been selected by Smith to be his successor to the church set up by Joseph Smith. They came to be called "Strangites," but they used the long full name of the Church the same as the main group bound for the West. At this conference held in early August of 1846, Harris was appointed a member of the new church’s high council and went on an 1846 mission to England in which Strang hoped to gather members and money to strengthen his group primarily from the ranks of the Mormons there. 4 Unfortunately for this Strangite mission, dissension among the missionaries and lacking a real leader together with opposition from two of the Apostles from the main company of Mormons had preceded them to England —Orson Hyde and John Taylor—and possessed a newspaper in which to ridicule and scourge the Strang missionaries. Hyde tore into missionary Martin Harris with these words:One day he would be one thing, and another day another thing, He soon became
partially deranged or shattered, as many believed, flying from one thing to
another, as if reason and common sense were thrown off balance. In one of his
fits of monomania, he went and joined the "Shakers". . . . He tarried with them
a year or two, or perhaps longer, having had some flare up while among them;
but since Strang has made his entry into the apostate rank, and hoisted his
standard for the rebellious to flock to, Martin leaves the "Shakers," who he
knows to be right, and has known it for many years, as he said, and joins Strang
in gathering out the tares of the field. . . . Receive them not into your houses,
neither bid them God speed, lest you be partakers of their evil deeds. . . . 5
With so much negative publicity among the English Mormons, the Strang missionaries had a hard time, occasionally some hot receptions. Making, according to the Mormon newspaper, "Strangism look so contemptibly mean, that Martin publicly denied being sent by Strang, or being in any way connected with him. This he did in presence of many witnesses. . . ." When Harris went on this mission he planned on staying at least a year, if not longer, but instead it lasted less than two months. His two fellow missionary companions wanted him out of England so much that one came back to America with him thinking there was no better way to get rid of Harris. The two Strangite missionaries arrived back in New York on December 8, 1846. Harris returned to his Ohio home at Kirtland, and in late January of 1847, visited a Strangite congregation that had never seen him before, and impressed them with his account of "the origin of Mormonism." However, Strang and his church were decidedly unimpressed with Harris’ ways and means—too much emphasis on what Harris had done and the Book of Mormon with too little on the Strang’s message. Later Harris claimed he didn’t preach Strangite doctrine in England but the truths of the Book of Mormon . Before long Strang and other leading members were blaming the failure of their English mission on Martin Harris, and surely he soon learned of this. To make matters worse, early in 1847 word reached Kirtland of Prophet Strang’s latest revelation (given or received December 21, 1846) that Kirtland was the modern day Babylon. Thus Harris’ beloved city was now designated as full of "unbelief and apostasy," the seat of Satan that was to become "a waste and a desolation." By March the break with Strang was complete, and leaders in the Strang organization began reporting that Harris at Kirtland was actively opposing Strang’s church. 6
Still not satisfied, Harris became affiliated in 1847 with William E. McLellin (a former apostle that Harris had help select back in 1835), who had been attempting for some time to organize his Church of Christ (loosely dubbed the "Whitmerites) patterned after Smith’s earlier model. Since both men were concentrating their attention at Kirtland after leaving Strang’s church, it appeared to be a good linkup.
McLellin, via a claimed revelation, was directed to baptize, confirm and re-ordain Martin Harris, after which Harris did the same to McLellin. However, the large man (McLellin) and the short man (Harris) did not make a good team for a variety of reasons, including McLellin’s concerted efforts to make David Whitmer the true leader of the new church in both word and deed, and he was away from Kirtland much of the time. Finally, on June 3, 1849, a "Conference of the Church of Christ" was held at Kirtland for the specific purpose of investigating several formal charges against Elder McLellen. The eight charges were wide-ranging from abusive language and behavior through "lying in the name of the Lord" to failure to properly conduct the affairs within the church. At this conference Martin Harris was appointed to preside and, after due consideration, decided to withdraw fellowship from McLellen, both as an elder and a member. Capping this conference the Kirtland group asked Strang to publish their conference minutes in his paper at Voree, Wisconsin. Strang was more than willing to accommodate since he was in a running word battle with McLellin, whom he had excommunicated from his church in October of 1847. McLellin charged back that he had never been an apostle in Strang’s church as their leader had claimed, and in fact had never actually had any confidence in Strang and "never joined him." Even worse in Strang’s mind, McLellin had begun a push to convince David Whitmer that he had the best claim as the rightful successor of Joseph Smith. A couple of months after the Kirtland conference took action against McLellin, he on his own accord became reluctant to continue in his role as leader, especially over those as Kirtland, and gave up the struggle. By so doing Martin Harris took over as leader of the Church of Christ at Kirtland. 7 The movement was failing before, and under Harris’ erratic direction the Kirtland church didn’t fare any better.
In November of 1849 Harris returned to the state of New York and dropped in at the offices of a Rochester newspaper for a visit, probably to explain his being in the area. In recounting his visit the paper briefly related his earlier connection to Joseph Smith and the Mormons. Highlighting any of Harris’ negative remarks the article stated he no longer was a Mormon because they "have gone to the devil just like other people." He further explained he left them fifteen years earlier when they took on the "appellation of ‘Latter Day Saints,’ and bore his testimony against them by declaring that ‘Latter Day Devils’ would be a more appropriate designaion [sic- designation]." All in reference to the change in the name of the Church from the initial The Church of Christ to The Church of the Latter Day Saints in 1834. The newspaper concluded its article saying that Harris professed to be on a mission from God which he was fulfilling by wandering about preaching, and acknowledging he was very familiar with the Scriptures and "discourses theology in his peculiar way, with the fluency and zeal of a devotee." 8 Another dissenter with a track record was Francis Gladden Bishop, who had been tried in a Church court back in September of 1835 for interpreting scriptures in an improper manner and persisting with his beliefs. After his trial he repented, and after being reproved he was re-ordained. By March of 1842 Bishop was again in trouble with the Church and called before the Nauvoo High Council on complaint of receiving, writing, publishing and teaching certain revelations contrary to Church doctrines. After he read some of his revelations to the council that Joseph Smith attended, they were judged to be full of folly, nonsense, absurdity, and falsehood with bombastic egotism. Joseph Smith explained this was the nature of such prophets and their prophesying and gave Bishop "over to the buffetings of Satan" until he shall learn wisdom. The High Council then removed his fellowship from the Church. He wound up in Kirtland in the spring of 1851 with another revelation and a plan to create his church and movement which became known as the Gladdenites. Martin Harris supported Francis Gladden Bishop in his novel plan of continued revelation based on the Book of Mormon with Martin Harris designated via revelation as a special witness along with Gladden’s wife to the "great and glorious work" about to unfold. 9 In September and October of 1857 Harris supported the claims of another break-off of the main Mormon Church in the church organized by William Swartzell, a Danite from the Missouri period. 10 Harris’s connections with Bishop and Swartzell were short term.
Moving on he had a longer relationship with William Smith (who Harris had help select as an apostle plus being the brother of Joseph Smith), attempting to organize his new church in Kirtland. There seemed to have been a co-mingling of their efforts for a period of time as Smith came to Kirtland several times covering two to three years. A Painesville, Ohio newspaper on April 30, 1855, reported that "Elder Martin Harris, of the Latter Day Saints" on the previous Friday had baptized a convert in the river near Geauga Mills, in the county adjacent to Kirtland’s Lake County. 11 In the capacity of wandering preacher and head of whatever followers he had at Kirtland, Martin Harris issued a sweeping declaration in mid-May of 1855 with this opening: "A PROCLAMATION and a warning voice unto all people, first to all Kings, Governors and Rulers in Authority, and unto every kindred [,] tongue and people under the whole heavens, to who this word shall come . . . ." It declared the end was very near for the day of judgment and the second coming of the Savior as spoken of old by several named prophets to make ready for that time. And now there was the Lord’s "servant and friend . . . who is called the messenger of the covenant . . . he it is to whom the key of knowledge has been given to go forth in the power of Elijah" to bear the work of the Lord in wisdom and power. In his own mind Harris was this special servant, and his declaration went on to say that those who know the power and glory of the work involved in gathering the "sons of Israel for Zion and for the organization of the Church and house of the Lord" would recognize this servant and messenger when he spoke.
We do not know how many read or heard this proclamation or clarion call, but it helped produce a joint venture by Harris and William Smith. They decided to call a conference to meet at Kirtland on October 6, 1855, with three objectives. First, to consider the propriety of choosing a committee to go to Kansas or other such place as agreed upon to select a place for the scattered saints to gather; second, "to agree, if possible, upon the word of God;" and lastly to see if some form of union could not be brought about among the various groups of dissenting saints "by conforming to the law of God." Among the notices about this conference, one was directed to Strang’s group now at St. James on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. Stephen Post, a former Mormon from 1836 to 1846 and now a supporter of Strang, addressed a letter to Strang concerning the notice from Kirtland which was published in their newspaper. The Kirtland letter notice was signed by William Smith, Martin Harris and Chilton Daniels. After giving some of the details about this conference, the Strangite newspaper had its say disclosing that they received the notice five days after the date for the conference. Then it continued: "If William Smith, Martin Harris and Clinton [previously spelled Chilton] Daniels are Presidents of the Church" then the call was valid for those who acknowledge their authority, but to Strang’s followers they had no interest or curiosity about it. On the gathering place the paper suggested they needed a revelation, not a committee, and God had already sanctified such a place where they were located. In addition "harmony" or union need not be brought about as it already existed with them conforming to the laws of their Maker. Only the "apostates" were lacking this harmony. Then the Strang paper, with the harshest words, tore into William Smith as one "yet in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity"—convicted of fornication and adulteries. The Kirtland conference yielded little results, and Smith went west to Iowa, only to return to Kirtland in late 1857 to marry a widow. Martin Harris reorganized the church at Kirtland with six members and appointed William Smith as their leader. But the two could not function together, and Harris drove Smith out of Kirtland. 13
By the late 1850s Kirtland with its temple and saints of various shades was losing its appeal to those seeking to form "the" true church. Several of the groups quickly folded and passed from the scene. Many of the saints had either moved on or were turned off to the faith they once cherished. The temple, that for years the different groups had fought to control, and the Mormon Church under Brigham Young tried to sell or lease it unsuccessfully, was no longer a prized possession. An article in a St. Louis newspaper put out by the Utah Mormons on February 17, 1855, gave the information that after calling at Kirtland that they found a few "tolerable good Saints considering circumstances" but all had become "rappers" and they "have taken possession of the Temple, and are no better off than thieves and robbers." The "rappers" were the spirit-rappers or spiritualism followers of the Fox sister with their mediums and divine intuition. 14 Harris’ use of a medium in bringing forth his proclamation suggests that he was influenced to some extent by the "rappers."
Also to Kirtland came a series of visitors connected with the Utah Mormons with rather unexpected aspects. In meetings before General Conference at Salt Lake City in April of 1852, it was "voted" that several men go on "foreign missions." In this group was David B. Dille, a forty-year-old married man from Ogden, who had served as a counselor in the Weber "branch" presidency. For unknown reasons Dille did not start immediately for his mission but waited until the summer of 1853. Because he had "business with one Martin Harris, formerly of the Church," Dille went to Kirtland and called on Harris at his residence. He found him in bed sick and was told he had taken no nourishment for three days, which with his advanced age had him "completely prostrated." However, after making "my business known" he was able to have some conversation with Harris. Apparently after the unspecified business was taken care of, Harris made a particular inquiry of his visitor as to how the Utah church was prospering. Harris followed this up with the declaration: "I feel that a spirit has come across me—the old spirit of Mormonism; and I begin to feel as I used to feel; and I will not say I won’t go to the valley." Feeling somewhat better he told his wife that if she fixed some breakfast he would get up and eat. In Dille’s account of the visit he wrote: "I then addressed Mr. Harris to his once high and exalted station in the Church, and his then fallen and afflicted condition." Either Harris made no response or Dille failed to record his reaction; either way it was quite surprising, given Harris’ fiery disposition and the way the query was made. Dille moved to more congenial questions to which the sick elderly man responded with "the greatest cheerfulness." Asked what Harris thought about the Book of Mormon and if it was a divine record, he replied: "I was the right-hand man of Joseph Smith, and I know he was a Prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true." Then to emphasize the last point, he pounded the table with his fist and said, "And you know that I know that it is true." Continuing into how it was translated he added he knew of a surety that it was true. In an effort to confirm his witnessing, Martin Harris stated: "For did I not at one time hold the plates on my knee an hour and a half, whilst in conversation with Joseph, when we went to bury them in the woods, that the enemy might not obtain them? Yes, I did. And as many of the plates as Joseph Smith translated I handled with my hands, plate after plate." Harris described the dimension of the plates, his financing of the publication of the book and taking a "transcript of the character of the plates" to Dr. Anthon of New York and his actions plus getting a second opinion from a Dr. Mitchell. 15
Dille concluded his written account with—"Mr. Harris is about 58 years old [actually 70], and is on a valuable farm of 90 acres beautifully situated at Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio." He dated his written account "September 15, 1853," most likely the day he met Harris. After leaving Harris in Kirtland, Dille traveled to New York and then sailed to England, arriving at Liverpool on October 22, 1853. Sometime later Dille wrote his account of the visit with Martin Harris and entitled it "Additional Testimony of Martin Harris (One of the Three Witnesses) to the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon " with the date above. This manuscript was later found in the files of the Millennial Star offices in Liverpool, and almost six years later the Mormon’s newspaper in England printed it in an issue in the summer of 1859. 16 Surely word of this exchange with Harris was relayed back to Church leaders in Salt Lake City in the mid–1850s prior to the printed account in 1859. We don’t know if judgments were made concerning Harris’ expressed feelings about the Utah branch of Mormonism and his double negative remark about the possibility of going to Utah.
In the latter part of 1854 and extending into 1855 two missionaries for the Utah based Church—W. W. Rust and Thomas Colburn—were assigned from St. Louis to go on a mission to the northern and eastern states, and at Springfield, Illinois, they had an interesting exchange with William Smith in which the latter claimed he was preaching the gospel and trying to clear up a misunderstanding with Brigham Young in Utah. Continuing on they went into Michigan and found that Strang and his Beaver Island Mormons had prejudiced the minds of the people to such an extent that they found only one house to preach in. They made their way to Kirtland, Ohio, where they found "a few that called themselves Saints, but very weak" along with "many apostates who have mostly joined the rappers." Then in a letter Elder Thomas Colburn reported their progress to the Mormon paper at St. Louis as follows:We had a lengthy interview with Martin Harris. At first he was down on
polygamy, but before we left he informed me that he never should say a
word against it. He confessed that he had lost confidence in Joseph Smith;
consequently, his mind became darkened, and he was left to himself; he
tried Gladden Bishop, but no satisfaction; he had concluded he would wait
until the Saints returned to Jackson County and then he would repair there.
He gave us a history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and his
going to New York and presenting the characters to Professor Anthon, etc.
He concluded before we left that ‘Brigham was governor,’ and that the
authorities were there, and that he should go there as soon as he could
get away. 17
This report coming about nineteen to twenty months after Dille’s visit shows Harris’ state of mind, going from his decision to remain at Kirtland until the Saints returned to their designated Zion at Jackson County to an acknowledgement that Brigham Young was "governor," and the Church authorities were in Utah and he would "go there as soon as he could get away." However, when these verbal declarations are placed in the context of Harris’ activities with William Smith in organizing (or reorganizing) their church and the grand proclamation issued by Harris a short time after the missionaries’ visit, and they cast doubt on his words and intentions. Possibly he was reacting to the urgings of his wife to go to Utah, or maybe his words were expressed as feelers to see if he had a Utah option that he could use. Up through this point Martin Harris had wife Caroline and children to consider when making important decisions. Then again maybe they were not "the" most important factors. Six years after Caroline and the children left Harris for Utah, he had another visitor from Utah. James McKnight, while en route to his mission to England, stopped at Kirtland and a few days later wrote of his experience in a letter to Brother George Q, Cannon in Utah. The letter dated at Cleveland, Ohio, on February 27, 1862, said in part concerning his stop at Kirtland:While at Kirtland, a few days since, Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses
of the Book of Mormon, came to see me. If any wish ocular demonstration of
the fact that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, they need only look at Martin
Harris in his present state, and then read the words given through the martyred
Joseph concerning him. He is failing perceptibly. Of his property there is
little or none left. He has now no home; his son, a worthless scapegrace, with
whom he lived, being in prison, and the house deserted. Yet, as you have
doubtless often heard, he has never failed to confirm his testimony of the truth
of that Book. He says he is going to Utah as soon as the Lord will release him! 18
The three meetings (1853, 1854–55 and 1862) described above concerning Harris and the four missionaries could occupy a large amount of psychoanalysis in attempting to gain some understanding of the man, his words and situation. Quite possibly even Martin Harris couldn’t adequately explain why he did and said many of the things in this perplexing period of his life. Perhaps Orson Hyde’s comments from 1846 cited earlier were as much an evaluation of Harris’ tendencies as propaganda against the Strangite missionaries. However, some historical facts shed some light and place it all into a better perspective. While Harris was doing his spiritual wandering seeking the true faith, he and his wife Caroline received from visitors from Utah and by letters of invitations to journey west to join the Saints in their new location. The Young family in the West, in particular, was involved in these requests. Martin gave little to no heed to these invitations, but Caroline wanted to go and tried to persuade her husband to do so. The 1850 census for Lake County, Ohio, showed the Harris family at Kirtland, composed of Martin, Sr. (67), wife Caroline (34), son Martin, Jr. (12), daughter Julie (7), son John W. (5) and daughter Sarah (1). The head of the household was a farmer with $1500 in real estate value, and above the average for Kirtland at this time. Four years later another son was added to the family, and finally in early 1856 Caroline left her husband in Kirtland and started with her children on a journey to Utah which would take three years. Along the way in Iowa, her last child was born in May of 1856. The last stage of their journey was by ox-team which carried Caroline Harris and her five children to Salt Lake City, arriving September 1, 1859. The following January, Caroline, without any divorcement proceedings, married John Catley Davis, a convert from England whose wife died during the journey from England to Utah. A couple of months later Caroline’s daughter, Julia Lacothia Harris, married John Catley Davis’ son, Elijah Walter Davis, and this couple had at least two children. A few months later in a Mormon rite, Caroline and her five Harris children were sealed to Davis for eternity (an act cancelled almost a century later in 1959). After Caroline left, Harris, at the age of 73, remained in Kirtland, and his son George by first wife Lucy came to Ohio and lived with his father. 19
The 1860 census for the Harrises in Kirtland listed son George, first, apparently the head of the household, and the forty-one-year-old was listed as a "Laborer." Next came his father Martin at age seventy-seven and listed as a "Mormon Preacher." Also listed was a twenty-year-old female, "Mary" presumably a Harris born in Ohio, and perhaps the daughter of son George with no wife listed. The family’s possessions consisted of real estate valued at $400 and $500 value of personal assets. Their land ownership placed them in the bottom tenth for the Kirtland Township, and the census data indicates they were no long farming; possibly they rented out their small acreage for someone else to operate. 20 They had experienced a big decline in the family’s economic status. Some of the blame could have been Martin’s association with the many religious factions and not paying strict attention to the home front. However, there could have been a more serious problem. One version, from the William Homer family, has Martin’s son, George W. Harris, going into the Civil War and being killed, and Martin Harris then living with his widowed daughter-in-law and her two sons. 21 From the missionary visits covered above, we know in 1853 that Harris had "a valuable farm of 90 acres" which was before his family left him and prior to his son coming to live with him. We do not know when the son came but he was there by 1860, and two years later Elder McKnight described in detail the situation in 1862 when Martin Harris had little or none of his property left, no home, and his son was then in prison and the house where they once lived was deserted. In addition the son, variously listed as either George, George B. or George W. Harris, according to the missionary, was not a war hero but "a worthless scapegrace" or incorrigible rascal then in prison. Coupled with this was the assessment that Martin Harris was perceptibly failing, leaving him with very few options that he could do on his own. Perhaps that was why Harris made it a point to go see Elder McKnight rather than the usual order of the missionary coming to him. 22
In the end Harris decided to stay in Kirtland and continued seeking to find his place even though Kirtland was no longer the calling point for the various dissenting groups of Mormons. At this juncture the long-standing odyssey of Martin Harris was not over, but it turned more inward as he assigned himself to be the guardian and guide of the deserted Kirtland Temple with a more restricted message. He had traveled greater distances than Homer’s Odysseus and taken over three times the years wandering from his besiegement of Troy (Kirtland) to his hoped-for-home (more a condition than a specific location). To all who would listen he continued to recite his experiences and religious beliefs. By personal choice he had become a self-appointed "Mormon Preacher" by 1860 with a message centered almost totally on the Book of Mormon and his earlier experiences as a special witness. In reality he had one asset and that was his role as a witness to his special book. Still, he had his pride and it was easy for him to tell the missionary in 1862 that he was going to Utah "as soon as the Lord will release him!" However, without some temporal assistance it wasn’t going to happen for the man approaching his eightieth birthday. He continued to have visitors from Utah in the 1860s, usually missionaries going to or returning from missions who stopped at Kirtland. A typical example of these visits can be seen in the case of David H. Cannon (younger brother of George Q. Cannon). On his return from a mission to England in early 1861, he made it a point to visit the gravesite of Oliver Cowdery and made personal visits to Martin Harris in Kirtland and David Whitmer in Missouri, covering the three special witnesses of the Book of Mormon. The last two reiterated their accounts and testimonies of an angel showing them the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, even though both men had left the Mormon Church. Another Utah interviewer in 1870 described the 87-year-old Harris as "remarkably vigorous" with a good memory for one that aged. All known visitors recorded Harris’s reaffirmation of his testimony in the Book of Mormon , and some reported he harbored ill-feelings against many leaders of the Church in Utah. 23 On most of these occasions the visitors wanted to hear Harris’s testimony, which all received and some also recorded his harsh words about the Utah church and its leaders.
In the fall of 1869, a group of returning missionaries from England along with a company of emigrants arrived in Ogden, Utah, on October 28. Among the named missionaries was Elder W. H. Homer who mistakenly recalled many years later that he first saw Martin Harris while en route home from his mission "about the last of December, 1869." 24 Thus William H. Homer’s visit was most likely in October of 1869 when he stopped at Kirtland, Ohio. The twenty-four-year-old Homer and a cousin companion spent the night at Kirtland, and the next morning they inquired for the custodian of the Kirtland Temple and learned it was Martin Harris and where he could be found. They went to the cottage and found the aged Harris in his eighty-sixth year and acting as the self-appointed custodian of the Kirtland Temple. Homer described Martin Harris as "poor clad, emaciated, little man on whom the winter of life was weighing heavily. . . . a pathetic figure." Homer introduced himself as the brother-in-law of Harris’ son, Martin Harris, Jr., and explained that he was returning from a foreign mission. The initial portion of the introduction produced a delightful "electric" effect upon the old gentleman but, according to Homer, "the fact of relationship was overwhelmed by the fact of Utah citizenship. The old man bristled with vindictiveness—‘One of those Brighamite Mormons, are you?’" Harris railed against the Utah church and Brigham Young in particular with such force that Homer vainly tried to refocus his attention to Harris’ family. The returning missionary thought Harris "seemed to be obsessed." The one common factor of the dissenting factions was that Brigham Young and the Twelve had unjustly seized control of the Church and took most of the Saints west to Utah, becoming the evil opposition.
Finally after some time, Harris inquired if they wanted to see the temple, and when they replied in the affirmative, he went and got the key. Once inside the temple their guide radiated with attention as he took them through the building and explained how it was used and some experiences in it. At the same time he interspersed his temple tour with outbursts against the Utah Mormons. Homer was unable to determine if these flare-ups were due to the dilapidated condition of the structure or due to injustice done to Harris personally. Among one of his bitterest expressed grievances Harris stated: "I should have been President of the Church," displaying what his visitor thought was jealousy towards the leaders of the present Church over imagined grievances. The young elder asked if it was true that the older man was once very prominent and active in the Church, giving freely of his financial means. Harris said that it was true and added: "Things were all right then. I was honored while the people were here, but now that I am old and poor it is all different." Using this opening, Homer asked how things had changed and if that change affected his testimony on the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. In a form established in the beginning and consistently through the years, Harris affirmed his witness and testimony of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and the divine calling of Joseph in the strongest positive terms. When the missionary asked how Harris could so declare this having left the Church, the old gentleman, retorted, "I never did leave the Church; the Church left me."
At this point in their lengthy discussion Harris had mellowed, and he pointedly inquired of the returning missionary, "Who are you?" After Homer once again explained the relationship, the elderly Harris repeated that connection, "So, my son Martin married your sister." He then shook Homer’s hand musing that the young man knew his family in Utah. Homer then asked Harris if he would like to see his family again to which the old man acknowledged he would like to see Caroline and the children, even saying the children’s names. Then quick as a flash, Harris punctuated the line of thought that it was impossible as he was too poor. The missionary tried to reassure him that this lack could be overcome as Brigham Young would ensure the means to carry Harris to Utah. The last comment did not sit well with Harris and the conversation and coaxing played out as follows according to Homer’s story:‘Don’t talk Brigham Young,’ warned Martin, ‘he would not do anything
that was right.’ ‘Send him a message by me,’ I persisted, now deeply
concerned in the project. ‘No,’ declared Harris emphatically, ‘yet I should
like to see my family.’ ‘Then entrust me with the message,’ I pleaded.
Martin paused. ‘Well,’ he said slowly, ‘I believe I will. You call on Brigham
Young. Tell him about our visit. Tell him that Martin Harris is an old, old
man, living on charity , with his relatives. Tell him I should like to visit Utah,
my family and children—I would be glad to accept help from the Church, but
I want no personal favor. Wait! Tell him that if he sends money, he must
send enough for a round trip. I should not want to remain in Utah. 25
Homer believed he was able to gain this understanding with Martin Harris because he showed much patience with the old man nursing an old grudge for a third of a century. When Elder Homer reached home in Salt Lake City’s Seventh Ward, he related his encounter with Harris to his father Russell King Homer. Before long the two Homers left for President Young’s office to report the recent visit with Martin Harris. President Young received them and listened to the account of the visit with interest and injected "questions now and again to make clear on certain points." It would be interesting to know the questions that Young asked during Homer’s account of the visit with Harris. Presumably they could have included assessment as to Harris’ physical and mental conditions, and if he could stand the trip even on the newly completed transcontinental railroad. Perhaps they ventured into the old gentleman’s sincerity, possible ulterior motives and even an opinion as to whether he would definitely return to Kirtland, Ohio. At the conclusion of Elder Homer’s account, Young stated that he "was never more gratified over any message" in his life. He went on to repeat several times that Harris would be sent for and would be in Utah in due time. President Young then rehearsed Harris’ financial and other contributions to the early Church and concluded with his last years, as best as missionary Homer could recall Young’s words:When the new presidency of the Church was chosen, Martin felt greatly
disappointed that he was not called to leadership, but Martin Harris never
denied the faith, never affiliated with any other sect or denomination, but
when the Church came west, Martin Harris remained behind. It is true that
Martin Harris did not apostatize; he was never tried for his fellowship; he
was never excommunicated. 26
Brigham Young’s above description of Harris’s status in the Church had sweeping statements not necessarily backed by the whole truth—especially saying he never joined with other groups (Young knew of his ties with the Gladdenites and Shakers, and probably all the other groups as well) and that he never apostatized (when Young at April Conference in 1855 declared that Harris had apostatized). Perhaps it was all just Brigham Young’s love of rhetoric and posturing, playing his words for effect rather than describing reality. Maybe he was readying for a situation in which Martin Harris came and stayed with the Saints; if so, then Young was way ahead of the prospects drawn from Homer’s visit with Harris who stated clearly that he did not want to remain in Utah.
If nothing further had happened, probably President Young would have carried through as he stated he would, but another missionary visited Martin Harris shortly after Elder Homer. This was an extraordinary visit by an exceptional missionary of note whose connection with and to Harris would be crucial. This was Edward Stevenson (1820-1897), born at Gibraltar to British parents who moved to Pontiac, Michigan. Here as a thirteen-year-old Edward saw and heard Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris as they returned from a mission to Canada in 1833. He joined the Church and in 1845 was ordained a Seventy and went to Utah in 1847. He subsequently became a president of the 30 th quorum of Seventies at Salt Lake City and spent much time as a missionary and much longer as a special home missionary, visiting the numerous settlements of the Saints throughout the West. He eventually crossed the plains eighteen times and the Atlantic Ocean nine times, and late in his life in 1894 became one of the seven presidents of the Seventies. 28
In late 1869 Stevenson and a large group of missionaries were called on a short mission to the states; they left Utah in November and most returned by April 6, 1870. Concerning this mission Elder Stevenson later told of going to several of the eastern states and calling at Kirtland (which Stevenson frequently misspelled as Kirkland) to see the Temple, and as luck would have it, he met Martin Harris coming out of the edifice. After some introductions, Harris took out from under his arm a copy of the Book of Mormon and bore a "faithful testimony" to the book’s divine origin. Harris continued saying it was his duty to continue to bear witness of the book he held and offered to prove from the Bible that it would come forth from the earth at a time when prophets were no longer recognized. He declared that he "was daily bearing testimony to many who visited the temple." Stevenson patiently let the elderly witness have his say, and once Harris finished, he didn’t ask questions but "in turn bore" his testimony to Harris. He testified that he had received it by being obedient to the gospel and that work was in progress according to the prophecies of Isaiah in "the house of the Lord was in the tops of the mountain" under the direction of President Brigham Young. There had commenced a great gathering of nations to his Zion to learn and do the will of the Lord. Stevenson concluded his testimony by focusing directly at Harris and declaring "that the worst wish that we had, was for him to also prepare himself and go up and be a partaker of the blessings of the House of the Lord." The missionary’s oddly turned "worst wish" phrase was in essence the Church’s minimum hope for Harris. Stevenson thought his testimony "impressed" Harris. Another gentleman, Mr. Bond, who had once been a faithful member and now kept the keys to the old temple also heard it all and stated that he felt that he would have been better off if he had kept with the main church and went west. Mr. Bond invited Stevenson to preach in the Kirtland Temple to which he promised to do so at another time. Martin Harris expressed a desire to go to Utah. After Stevenson returned to Utah he corresponded with Martin Harris to learn just how much Martin Harris wanted to go to Utah, and he reported to Brigham Young on his initial visit and subsequent correspondence with Harris. 29
The Church newspaper in Utah summarized this correspondence saying: "But when Bro. Stevenson corresponded with him about coming out to the Valley, he [Harris] replied that the spirit testified to him that he should come here, and in every letter that he afterwards received from him he expressed a still stronger desire to come." 30 With the reports from Elders Homer and Stevenson plus the letters from Martin Harris, President Young, by way of George A. Smith, requested Stevenson to get up "a subscription and emigrate Martin to Utah." Stevenson began raising funds and Brigham Young subscribed twenty-five dollars, bringing the total amount raised to "about $200." On July 19, 1870, Stevenson undertook the second part of his mission and left by train to finish his special mission. 31
In the meantime another census was taken in Ohio for the Kirtland Township on June 1st of 1870 and at Dwelling #42 and family #47 were enrolled the following:
Name Age Sex Color Occupation Val. of Real Est. Val. of Per. Estate Born Hollisten, Joseph 84 M W Farmer $200 Vermont -----, Electa 66 F W Keeping house $500 New York Harris, Martin 88 M W New York
The short line under the surname was used by the enroller to signify same as above, and in this family Joseph Holliston owned no land which was owned by his wife and valued at $500. Martin Harris was living in the same house with this couple and no entries were made for his occupation, and the values of real and personal estate were zero. It has not been ascertained if there was a family relationship between one of the Hollistens and Martin Harris, for in the fall of 1869 Harris told Elder Homer he was living on "charity, with his relatives." The census shows that in the next house lived a Mr. Ira Bond with a wife and daughter living at home. Bond had sizeable land and personal holdings, and was most likely the gentleman who had the keys of the temple that Stevenson met. Research of the complete Kirtland census reveals neither Martin Harris’s son or widow. The only other name close to Harris was at dwelling #189 where lived a sixty-year-old Job Harris (or something close) with a wife and an aged eighty-year-old mother and a fifteen-year-old son at school. The head of the household had real estate valued at $6,000 and personal estates valued at $1,200. Most definitely not the son of Martin Harris recorded on the 1860 census. 32 The censuses of 1860 and 1870 cast much doubt on the story that Harris was living with and supporting his widowed daughter-in-law.
On his special mission Stevenson left Utah by train on July 19 th and traveled to New York where he procured the necessary railroad tickets to carry himself and Harris to Utah, presumably he used the Mormon immigration agents to secure favorable fares. He made a quick trip to the Hill Cumorah and then went to Kirtland, Ohio, where he found Harris "anxiously waiting." 33 He wrote a letter dated August 10th and published in the Church newspaper in Utah. He reported he had safely arrived in Kirtland and the previous Sunday he had been invited to preach in the temple. He gave a thorough description of the condition of the temple and concluded with these words:
Martin Harris, who still lives here, is tolerable well, and has a great desire
to see Utah, and his children that live there; and although the old gentleman is in the
88th year of age, he still bears a faithful testimony to the authenticity of the Book
of Mormon , being one of the three original witnesses. He says he saw the plates,
handled them and saw the angel that visited Joseph Smith, more than 40 years ago. I
have made arrangements to emigrate him to Utah, according to his desire, and will start
in about two weeks. 34
On this occasion Stevenson preached in the Kirtland Temple, feeling he was keeping his "appointment" made on his earlier visit. He preached on the first Sunday in the morning and then a vote was taken for a second meeting, and he preached a second time in the afternoon in a meeting "well attended." On Friday, August 19th , Harris and Stevenson left Kirtland and traveled by train to Chicago. In this city they had to change trains and decided to layover one day, where at the American Hotel on Sunday, August 21 st , Harris bore testimony to a large group of people on the visitation of an angel in regard to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon . Resuming their journey they crossed the Mississippi River and traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, where they again stopped for "a few days." While the easy pace with the two stops may have helped to rest the aged Harris, Stevenson used the trip to help spread the word about Mormonism. Here Stevenson took Harris to the office of the leading newspaper in the Iowa capitol city, and the paper interviewed them and printed a couple of articles concerning them and their faith, with the focus on Martin Harris, which Stevenson thought was "very favorable notice" of the man and the gospel. They met with the branch of the Church at Des Moines where Harris again bore his testimony at a special meeting, and the Des Moines branch contributed to a "new suit of clothes" for Harris. The following day there was a baptism of the sister of the branch president with Stevenson doing the baptizing in the Des Moines River. 35 By this time Stevenson had assessed Harris’ intentions to be reconnected with the Utah Church but could envision some problems, and he began taking steps to try and resolve them. Stevenson wrote about this situation as follows:While on our journey, and more particularly at the Des Moines river, at the
baptism of the woman . . . I took occasion to teach Brother Martin the
necessity of his being re-baptized. At first he did not seem to agree with the
idea, but I referred him to the scriptural words, ‘repeat and do the first works
having lost the first love,’ &c. (See Rev., 2 nd chap.). Finally, he said if it was
right, the Lord would manifest it to him by His spirit.. . . . 36
They finally reached Ogden and spent the night and took the Utah Central train to Salt Lake City the following day, arriving on August 30, 1870. Harris met President Brigham Young and others he had associated with over three decades earlier. There was extensive coverage of him in the Church periodicals, with the emphasis placed on his maintaining his strong conviction and testimony of the Book of Mormon during his long absence from the Church. The articles expressed how pleased the Saints were to have Martin Harris in their midst once more, being "no longer able to resist the conviction that God still guides and controls the destines of His kingdom and people gladly returns to share in their blessings and privileges of that kingdom." At the conclusion of one of the longest articles on Harris, the Church newspaper wondered in print if the remaining "original witness" David Whitmer should not be ready to throw his lot again with the Saints. 37 Harris’ initial negative reaction to rebaptism was based on the fact that he had been baptized a second time in Ohio in 1842 and had thereafter "not been cut off from the Church." The rite of rebaptism was "new doctrine to him." 38 Soon after arriving in Salt Lake City, Harris went to Stevenson’s home and said "the spirit of the Lord had made it manifest to him," and he applied for rebaptism. Within a short time Martin Harris was rebaptized by Edward Stevenson with five of the apostles present and reconfirmed by Apostle Orson Pratt and assisted by the other apostles. Harris had also been taught other new doctrine, not revealed until after he left the Church, concerning baptism for dead ancestors. Immediately after being reconfirmed "he returned to the font and was baptized for several of his dead" ancestors, while his sister, who had gone west with the Saints, was baptized for some of their female relatives. After Martin Harris had received his endowment, he performed other work for his dead ancestors.
Stevenson took Harris and called at the Deseret News and Salt Lake Herald newspaper offices where Harris was interviewed and given the opportunity of bearing his testimony with subsequent articles in the newspapers. On Sunday, September 4 th , the congregation in the Tabernacle was addressed by Edward Stevenson, Martin Harris and President George A. Smith. Harris related some incidents connected to the translation of the Book of Mormon and bore his testimony of this book. With either Stevenson or another Church leader, "Brother Martin visited many of the wards, continuing to bear his testimony both of what he had beheld with his own eyes, and verily knew to be true." While visiting the Fifteenth Ward in Salt Lake at a meeting crowded as usual to hear Harris and after the meeting, a prominent lady in the ward and Relief Society offered to have a new set of false teeth made for him. Harris thanked the lady for her offer, telling her and others he would not live long and they could take the money and give it to the poor. At Stevenson’s residence, in the presence of his friends, Harris related some of his experiences in the early Church, which according to Stevenson "always delighted him." He was invited to many homes and occasions during his stay in Salt Lake City. He was with the elite of the Church such as when John Henry Smith, soon to become an apostle, drove a carriage with George A. Smith, first counselor to President Brigham Young, Elder Stevenson and others to take a bath at the Warm Springs just outside the city. As the carriage was passing over a hill, the curtains were pulled back to give a view of the city below with the tabernacle and temple in view. Harris, according to Stevenson, seemed enraptured in the view and exclaimed: "Who would have thought that the Book of Mormon would have done all this?" 39
From President Brigham Young and other Church leaders, newspaper men, business men and everyday people, at the tabernacle, ward meeting places, the Warm Springs’ bath house, Martin Harris was welcomed and acclaimed as he spoke about and testified about his role in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and its divine origin. At a Harris Family reunion in 1928, seventy-seven-year-old Irinda Crandall McEwan recalled that when Martin Harris came to Utah, he stayed for a time in their home (with husband, Joseph T. McEwan) in Salt Lake City. While Harris was in their home, hundreds of people came to see and talk with the elderly witness. Among the callers was President Brigham Young, inquiring into specific details regarding the Book of Mormon and the appearance of an angel to Harris. For about a month and a half he was accorded recognition and honored in Salt Lake City with the last known party being at the Social Hall in mid-October where a festivity was held to honor the surviving members of Zion’s Camp and the Mormon Battalion. The First Presidency of the Church and Twelve Apostles with other authorities were in attendance. After a lengthy period of eating dinner and visiting that lasted five hours, the members of Zion’s Camp were called out on the floor and thirty-two names taken. First on the list was Brigham Young and number twenty was Martin Harris. Interestingly no further mention of Martin Harris has been found in the Church’s newspaper until his death in 1875. 40
After arriving in Utah, Harris, if he didn’t know previously, learned that his older brother and former missionary companion, Emmer (sometimes spelled Emer), had died as a patriarch in 1869, and Martin’s daughter Julia had died a year before his arrival. Surely newcomer Martin Harris was filled in on much of his family and relatives after arriving in Utah and living with his nephew. Earlier at Salt Lake Martin met his younger sister Naomi, who resided most of her Utah life in Springville, Utah. Most likely he met his son John and saw for the first time his daughter Ida now at the age of fourteen in the Salt Lake area as the 1870 census placed them with their mother living with her second husband John Catley Davis in the Seventeenth Ward in Salt Lake City. This census listing taken on July 2, 1870, showed the following: 41
Name Age Sex Color Occupation Val. of Real Est. Other Prop. Place of birth Davis, Catley 56 M ; 2800 300 England ", Caroline 56 F W Keeping ; New York ", Elizabeth 20 F W At ; England ", Walter 8 M W At ; Utah ", Caroline 5 F W At ; Utah Harris, John 24 M W Day ; Ohio ", Ida 14 F W At ; Iowa Enwhistle, Hannah 27 F W No ; England
Because his father was named John, the junior Davis most often used his second name of Catley instead of his first name of John for a period of time. A brief explanation should be noted for the three names directly under Caroline’s name. The Elizabeth was the daughter of John Catley Davis by his first wife; the children Walter and Caroline were the children of Elijah Walter Davis and Julia Lacothia Harris, who were living with their grandparents since the death of Julia in February of 1869, and their widower father was a telegraph operator working at various locations. The Harrises were the children of Caroline by her first husband Martin Harris. It has not been ascertained who the last lady was and her status in the family listing. It has not been determined if Harris actually met his estranged and remarried wife Caroline, but most likely did not. With the arrival of her first husband in Utah, Caroline found herself in an "untenable" situation with two living husbands and decided to "discreetly and quietly" seclude herself. The scenario became a bit more mixed when John Catley and Caroline Davis’ marriage went awry. One source related their marriage began to experience trouble when their only child born in November of 1860 died within a couple days of birth; if so, they remained living together for at least another decade per the 1870 census. Another source interjects that Davis and Brigham Young had a dispute over land ownership, and in the ensuing problems and trouble over this, Caroline chose to side with her Uncle Brigham which led to the separation of Caroline from Davis. Caroline reverted to using the surname of Harris and moved to Smithfield in northern Utah where she was listed in the 1880 census as living in a house with one non-related widow boarder. Caroline also listed herself as a widow since her first husband died at Clarkston in 1875 and her second husband died at Brigham City in February of 1879. Thus, the sensitive issue that plagued her for a number of years was resolved. 42
After his month and a half in Salt Lake City, where he apparently resided at various homes, Martin Harris traveled just north of Ogden to the small settlement of Harrisville to stay with his nephew, Martin Henderson Harris—for whom the village was named. This son of Emmer had been the first settler, first school teacher, first presiding elder along with being a blacksmith and prominent citizen. In either late October or early November of 1870, Martin Harris, Sr. moved to Cache Valley and lived in Smithfield where he was re-united with his sons, Martin Harris, Jr. and Solomon. Harris lived with his oldest son and namesake and his family. Martin Harris, Jr. had married Nancy Ann Hr in November of 1859 at Salt Lake City not long after he with his mother and siblings reached Utah. By the time of the 1860 census (August) young Martin and wife Nancy were living in Cache County being among the first settlers in the new town of Smithfield. The couple’s first four children died very young, and their fifth child born in 1869 was the first to survive infancy. In the meantime, Martin, Jr. following the Mormon religious practice of the time married a second wife, Mary Imogene Corbett, in June of 1867, and their first child William was born in November 1868 at Smithfield. The 1870 census for Smithfield taken on August 1 st had the population of the town at 744 and listed the younger Martin Harris as the head of the household with the occupation of farmer with real estate valued at $200 with $150 value of personal belongings. In their single dwelling were two wives each with a son listed at one year of age. With the addition of the senior Martin Harris, the log home was more than filled with six persons—four adults and two children.
Living in the next dwelling was the brother of second wife Mary with his wife and two children and also Solomon Harris, the sixteen-year-old brother of Martin, Jr. The census taker listed young Solomon as working at his "father’s" farm or place, but his father (Martin Harris, Sr.) did not have any farm or place in Utah. It should have stated he worked on his brother’s farm. 43
A short time after arriving in the new community, Martin Harris addressed a letter from Smithfield dated November 23, 1870, in response to an inquiry from a representative of a newspaper put out by the group of dissenters that formed the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Harris reaffirmed that an angel showed him the plates containing the Book of Mormon and said that Professor Anthon did state the translation of characters was correct. As to his personal welfare, he wrote: "I can say that I arrived at Utah safe, in good health and spirits, considering the long journey. I am quite well at present, and have been, generally speaking, since I arrived." In January of 1871 he responded to another query from the same newspaper published at Plano, Illinois, and said in opening: "I reply by a borrowed hand, as my sight has failed me too much to write myself." He dictated his answers to the questions given him. Possibly the most noted was that he did not go on the mission to England to lecture against Mormonism for "no man every heard me in any way deny the truth of the Book of Mormon, the administration of the angel that showed me the plates; nor the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . ." 44
The several years of living in Smithfield for the Martin Harris, Jr. family had been trying with the death of several young children. With two families plus an elderly father, they needed more room and physical assets than they possessed. Then in 1874 there came an offer to relocate temporarily (for a year) to Clarkston to care for another man’s home, land and animals. In late September of 1874 Martin Harris, Jr. was in the process of selling his property in Smithfield, and knew he needed to hire a boy to help him in the move and responsibilities at the new location. Martin, Jr. went to the place of a newly arrived immigrant family. Following introductions, he learned the new family’s name (Pilkington) and they came from England. He explained his planned relocation to nearby Clarkston and then stated the purpose of his night call. He wanted to hire one of the family’s two teenaged sons to live with him for one year. Then pointing to the younger boy he asked if he would go and live with and work for him for a year. The boy’s father inquired as to what the boy would get for this service, and was told that the boy would get a two-year-old heifer plus his board and clothing. The terms were agreeable and the young fellow, William Pilkington a couple of months from his fourteenth birthday, put on his coat and hat and kissed his family goodbye, and went with Martin, Jr. to his log house, a ten minute walk away.
At the Harris’ home most of the rest of this family (two wives and two children) had retired to bed and young Pilkington was given some bread and milk to eat and shown where he could sleep on the floor. After his new employer went to bed, Pilkington finished eating and in the dim light of an oil lamp noticed "an object" in the corner of the room. As he went to bed down he discovered the object was an old man sitting in a chair, who motioned for the young man to pull up a chair beside him. The elderly man asked a series of questions, learning the boy’s mother called him "Willie," and his family had just arrived from England and they were members of the Church. Willie told the old man that he was going live and work for the Harris family for a year. Then the old man concluded saying: "Willie, tomorrow night after your chores are done and we have had supper and all the folks have gone to bed, I want you to sit down in this chair, close to mine, for I have lots to tell you." Willie said he would do it, and then both "retired to bed on the floor."
The next morning Willie saw in much better light the person he had talked to in the darkness whom he described as "a very old man . . . walked with a cane," and "resembled a picture I had once seen of Rip Van Winkle." The elderly man greeted Willie with a cheery greeting, shook his hand and reminded the youngster not to forget tonight. In the evening the old man sat in his arm chair with Willie in a chair close beside him. Then by a sequence of questions and answers centered on the Book of Mormon , Willie came to know the elderly gentleman as the senior Martin Harris whose name and testimony was in the preface of all copies of that book. From that second night at Smithfield until Martin Harris’ death at Clarkston just over nine months later, Martin Harris, Sr., according to Willie, "never tired of telling me of the beauties of the gospel, and especially about the early rise of the Church, and the trials and tribulations that beset the Prophet Joseph Smith and himself. . . . Told me many, many times that he did stand in the presence of the angel . . . hear the voice of God from heaven. . . ." In time Willie came to call his elderly confidant "Grandpa" and felt as if he were a member of the Harris family. Frequently in their sessions and talks, the senior Harris would repeat words to the effect, "Now, Willie, I am not going to live very long, and after I am dead, I want you to tell the people what I have told you. For it is all true." To this and the numerous reminders of "you won’t forget," Willie would invariably respond back by declaring: "Yes, Grandpa, I will sure tell the people what you have told me, for I know you have told me the truth." Something else young Willie never forgot was when Martin Harris, Sr. would tell about the early days of the Church, he "would mention the name of Brigham Young very reluctantly, as it seemed that he did not have a great deal of respect for Brigham Young." Pilkington kept his promises to Martin Harris by orally telling innumerable times what he had been told by this special witness and also by letters and then in 1934 in a sworn formal affidavit. 45
In October of 1874 Martin Harris, Jr. moved at least one of his families (Nancy Ann Homer) to Clarkston and the senior Harris went as well. The move was a temporary arrangement as Martin Harris, Jr. went to take care of the William Carbine home, land and animals while the Carbines went to St. George for an extended visit to Carbine’s mother. One source stated that Martin Harris "was at Quigleys for some time until the Quigleys moved to Swan Lake." 46 Research on Andrew Quigley strongly suggests that both Martin Harris and Martin Harris, Jr. and family lived in one of the vacated Quigley houses for a short period before occupying the Carbine’s old log house with a dirt roof in northern Clarkston. Quigley had moved one of his wives and family to Swan Lake while he prepared a second place for those still in Clarkston. Late in his life Alma M. Quigley, a son of Andrew, recalled that when he was twelve or thirteen he met for the first and only time both Martin Harris and Martin Harris, Jr., while they were living in the house that his (Alma’s) mother had recently vacated. 47 The town of Clarkston was much smaller than Smithfield, which was four to five times larger, and apparently the smaller Clarkston made more to-do over Harris than Smithfield had. Old first hand accounts, written and oral, tell of a "little white-haired man" seen on the streets of Clarkston in his first months in the village; one recalled him as a "little old man as white as snow." Harris, in his prime, stood five feet and eight inches tall, and in his ninety-second year, both small and elderly applied to him. To all who would listen he freely bore his witness and testimony. After he was confined to the house, many young and old made their pilgrimages to this place to hear his story and testimony. On Thursday, July 1 st , he took a turn for the worse which his family believed was "some kind of stroke" that left him so weak that he could not use his limbs and was unable to move except with the aid of others. Unable to sit up, he lay in bed scarcely eating anything for a week and by the following Thursday and Friday all he would take was a little water. However, he did continue to talk, largely testifying about his role as a witness, and his family thought several times that he bore his last testimony, only to be surprised when he would do another one. By July 9 th his voice was "nearly inaudible," and his family was quite sure he could not last "much longer." 48
The following day a few hours before his death and while still prostrated, Bishop Simon Smith came to visit him for the last time. Harris acknowledged him and quietly said, "Bishop, I am going." According to Martin Harris, Jr. the bishop told the dying man he had something important to tell him regarding the Book of Mormon being published in the Spanish language. This good news revived the elder Harris in countenance and voice and, according to his son, "he began to talk as he formerly had done previous to his sickness, and I think he spoke about two hours, so that you may see by this that the mere mention of the Book of Mormon , seemed to put new life in him." In the evening of July 10, 1875, Martin Harris, Sr. made a final testimony before two witnesses in the room along the same line that he had declared for forty-six years before his life ended. A good coffin was secured and with his body were placed a Book of Mormon in his right hand and a Doctrine and Covenants in his left. His funeral service was held in the Clarkston meetinghouse on July 12th with burial in the Clarkston Cemetery. His son, Martin Harris, Jr., recorded: "We inscribed on the headboard the following: His name and birth, his age, and the place of his birth, and also his death, with the words ‘One of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon ;’ and also their testimony." 49 But that was not the end of the story—just a pause and lull before the burial site came to the forefront. His stay in Clarkston was short, less than a year, and the community had been good to him and he had been good for Clarkston, and in time his importance to Clarkston increased.
When Martin Harris was buried in Clarkston, the small town was just eleven years old. During Harris’ short residency in Clarkston a number of out-of-town people came to see and hear his testimony; at his death more people came to see his final resting place. Peter Barson and his family moved from Millville to Clarkston in 1876, and before long he developed two avocations to keep him busy along with his farming—one was showing visitors the Harris grave and the other was writing letters to the local newspaper. Almost anyone from Church leaders from Salt Lake, stake leaders, Church historians and newspaper reporters, were given the Barson tour to the Clarkston Cemetery, particularly to see Martin Harris’ grave. Late in this process and just after escorting Andrew Jenson, "the Historical Record compiler, of Salt Lake City," to the site, Peter Barson wrote an article dated at Clarkston on November 30, 1891, to the Logan newspaper. He reported that the people on the west side of Bear River were pleased that they were not forgotten as the home missionaries had recently paid them a visit. He went on to relate Andrew Jenson’s visit to Clarkston and his talk on the importance of records and telling of his travels to Church sites at Nauvoo, Kirtland, Carthage, and the Hill Cumorah. Then Barson wrote about the Harris grave in the Clarkston Cemetery:
There is considerable travel through our little burg, many of those who come
doing so for the purpose of seeing the grave of Martin Harris which is a point
of great interest, he being one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon .
I remember taking two widow ladies to view the grave of this noted man,
one of them being my aunt, Jane Panther of the Big Cottonwood Ward, Salt Lake
County. After gazing at the mound for some time, she turned to me, and at the
same time handed me one dollar, saying: ‘Brother Barson. I give you this to start
a fund for the purpose of erecting a monument over the grave of Brother Harris.’
I still have that dollar with a trifle more also donated for the same purpose.
Bishop Jardine with a few others was the first to make a move towards fulfilling
this plan and erect the monument which shall mark the earthly resting place of
I feel satisfied there are many who would gladly subscribe to this monument
and save to future generations the burial place of one so favored of the Lord. 50
Nearly three months later Andrew Jenson wrote an article published in the Church newspaper in Salt Lake City on February 27, 1892, about his official visit to the various settlements in the "Cache Stake of Zion" in which he mentioned the cemetery visit. He wrote: "In the Clarkston cemetery rest the remains of the only witness to the Book of Mormon who ever gathered to Utah. Steps are being taken to place a respectable monument on his grave, instead of the cedar post which now marks it." 51 Martin Harris had been buried over sixteen years when the two reports during the winter of 1891-92 brought the status of the grave site into focus. Initially there had been a wooden headboard, as described above, placed on the grave the summer of 1875, but now was gone. When Barson and his aunt looked at the grave, they saw the "mound" or raised earthen burial mound so common at the time that extended the length of the grave (perhaps forming an evocative outline of the buried body) and served as a form of grave marker plus provided dirt to fill in sunken areas when caskets without cement burial vaults caved in. While the burial mound remained there, Jenson mentioned the cedar post marking the grave, which much later George Godfrey, the sexton of this cemetery, wrote in a letter to the Clarkston bishop, "I had a cedar post to mark his grave for sometime and then took a rock from the meeting house steps and covered his [sic –this?] over his grave." 52 However, Jenson noted that "Steps are being taken to place a respectable monument" on Martin Harris’ grave. Jenson was not referring to the local hope or attempt by people in Clarkston. But after returning to Salt Lake, he learned of another effort being promoted in that area. Two days after Jenson’s article appeared in Utah, the Church’s newspaper in England, the Latter-day Saint Millennial Star , observed in its issue of February 29, 1892: "A movement has been inaugurated to erect a monument at Clarkston, Cache County, in honor of Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon ." This Mormon newspaper in England received the information from the Church’s paper in Salt Lake City. 53
At Clarkston they were totally unaware of this movement when Barson wrote his letter to the Logan paper published December 5, 1891, and when Jenson visited the Martin Harris grave. The situation at Clarkston was primarily a wish and a hope for a marker for the grave. So far no clue has been found to ascertain when Barson’s aunt gave him that first dollar and the idea for a better marker for this grave. Whatever the time span, perhaps years rather than months, the fund to place a suitable monument on the Harris grave had grown only "a trifle." Soon Clarkston would learn of the other movement and how far along it had progressed, and this group also learned of Clarkston’s hope . On February 9, 1892, Edward Stevenson of Salt Lake City addressed a letter to Bishop John Jardine of Clarkston and George Godfrey, sexton of the Clarkston Cemetery. It stated in part:
It is with pleasure at this late date to know that Martin Harris is not forgotten
by his numerous friends in Cash [sic] valley or elsewhere learning that only
a cedar post in a decayed state marked the last resting place. . . . I being the one
who brought him to Zion was the proper one to take the matter in hand and a
25 cts. subscription refuseing [sic] to take over 50 cts. has already taken up
signed by meny [sic – many] and partly paid for – a toomb [sic] stone of
Sanpete Stone is already made the letters are carved and gilt Book of Mormon
written on covered [?cover of] the Book is above and in proper form . . . .
we only except [sic – accept] 50 cts[.] (as we wish to give meny [sic many] a chance
to help and not feel burthened [sic burdened] it is admired very much plain yet
ornamental . . . now I think that we can unite in the good cause . . . . 54
Stevenson received a reply back from Clarkson which he mentioned in his journal on Sunday, February 14 th , in which he had George Godfrey saying, "they were glad I had got the start of them in the Toomb Stone, and they would pay the freight on it, and put it in place in the Cemetry [sic]" Two days later Stevenson responded back to Godfrey saying they would cooperate on the headstone project and he would ship it to them from Manti. Stevenson in his journal frequently noted the Harris headstone, and he mentioned times when he turned down offers of one dollar, taking only those of twenty-five cent or fifty cents. On November 18, 1891, he wrote that he had engaged "Bro Parry and Sons" (Edward L. Parry was the master mason on the Manti Temple) to carve the headstone from some stone quarried, but not used, for the Manti Temple, and the four foot stone chosen was to have a Book of Mormon carved on it. By February 5, 1892, he received word the Harris stone was "about ready." On February 25 th Stevenson took a photograph of the Harris stone and went to the Church President’s office and showed it to President Wilford Woodruff and Counselor Joseph F. Smith. In his journal he wrote: "they also approve of Martins Toomb stone and the photo of it and gave 1.00 [one dollar] each on expenses." Although the Church had not been involved in the project in any way, he thought it wise to get its leaders’ approval. The following day Stevenson wrote letters to E. L. Parry at Manti and George Godfrey at Clarkston; to the latter he enclosed a "proof" of the headstone inscription and design. 56 There is an old tradition that suggests that the Clarkston Sunday School was the primary organization raising the funds for the monument, and as a result they had included on the marker’s inscription—"Martin Harris – From his Many Friends.." 57 Unfortunately, like many traditions, this one was not totally accurate. The first stone monument was obtained by the efforts of Stevenson and he determined the inscription. The Clarkston Sunday School and others only paid for the freight of the monument from Manti to Cache Junction.
Clarkston posted a notice in the Logan newspaper printed on Saturday, May 28 th 1892, which read:
We authorize you to state that the headstone for the grave of Brother Martin
Harris, deceased, will be put up here on decoration day.
It was shipped from Manti, Sanpete county, Utah, by E. L. Parley & Co.
It came to Cache Junction in care of George Godfrey, Esq. and will be
brought here at once.
The monument is a very fine and imposing one and it weighs eight hundred
Brother Edward Stephenson, of Salt Lake, was instrumental in working up
the subscription and in purchasing the monument.
The people of Clarkston are donating freely and the whole amount will
soon be made up. 58
The Clarkston notice was dated three days before it was printed, and it was the only written mention of the new monument and dedication. It was incorrect in regard to the name of the Manti company making and shipping the marker, it should have been the E. L. Parry Company. In regard to the man from Salt Lake, his name should have been spelled Stevenson, the same person who brought Martin Harris from Kirtland and the driving force in getting the first stone monument for the Martin Harris grave. However, Clarkston had pitched in and took responsibility to pay for the railroad freight and placed it on the grave. Sexton of the Clarkston Cemetery, George Godfrey, surely with others helping, went to Cache Junction and hauled the large stone monument to Clarkston. Then the headstone was positioned at the head of Martin Harris’ grave and set upon some type of base or footing. 59 On Decoration Day, Monday, May 30, 1892, the "very fine and imposing" four foot high and 800 pound stone monument was in place and dedicated to mark the grave of one of the three witnesses. It had taken seventeen years, but now there was a significant monument on the grave. Inexplicably, the service was not mentioned in the Church’s Journal History, in the Clarkston Ward records, or the Logan newspaper.
Most likely Peter Barson was more pleased thereafter when he took visitors to the Clarkston Cemetery. In January of 1896 Apostle John W. Taylor and Isaac Smith, a councilor in the Cache Stake Presidency, were in Clarkston for a Friday evening meeting in which the meetinghouse was too small to hold all those wishing to attend. The following morning after the two guest speakers had breakfast with the Bishop, they were taken around town by Mr. Barson in a sleigh, visiting the co-op store, one of the ranches and then to the "grave of Brother Martin Harris." None of their observations or comments was recorded. 60 Seven months later in mid-August of 1896, an employee of the newspaper in Logan made a circuit of several towns in the county including Newton, Clarkston, Trenton and Alto. While he had primarily circulation and business objectives to take care of, at the conclusion of his journey he wrote an article which was published on August 15, 1896, and he gave a description of the headstone erected four years before, and he had some definite ideas concerning the Harris grave. He wrote:
Saturday. . . I left Newton and traveled among the farms and in the hills, calling at every house, and arrived in Clarkston about noon. Hon. P.S. Barson accompanied me in my canvas of the town . . . . On Sunday . . . . In the afternoon I attended church … Bishop Jardine called upon me to occupy the pulpit and was kind enough to say I had preached the gospel in the spirit thereof. . . . Then Mr. B. drove me to the grave yard to see the grave of Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. His last resting place is in an out of the way village burying ground out in the hills, and has a very modest sandstone on which is cut a copy of the Book of Mormon and his name; also that he was a witness. I could not help but remove my hat, and I thought, are not the Mormon people rich enough to have this, the only one of the three witnesses who came home to die, buried in the capital city of Zion, and place such a monument over his remains as will be worthy of the man and the great testimony he bore to God having spoken in these last days. 61
The newspaper man was not impressed by the "modest sandstone" monument, and he was wrong as to the type of stone which was an oolitic limestone, the same as the Manti Temple. His biggest hang-up was the location of the grave, and his expressed suggestion of relocating the grave was an omen for the future of the site in Clarkston. Surely the residents of Clarkston, if they read the newspaper article, thought his idea of moving the grave was an unnecessary and foolish suggestion. Nevertheless, to others in the larger population areas such as Salt Lake City or even Logan, it may have sounded reasonable and planted a tiny seed. According to one source, there was "talk of moving Martin Harris’ grave to Smithfield," sometime in the 1880s. If so, it was no more serious than loose talk, and others have speculated that this may have caused sexton George Godfrey to place a large flat rock on top of the grave.
Mr. Godfrey’s young son, Henry, born late in 1876, recalled many years later that he assisted his father in moving the rock by attaching it to the rear axle of a wagon pulled by horses and dragging it to the cemetery. At the cemetery Henry declared: "We leveled the grave and place it [the large rock] on top of it." This large flat rock covered the entire grave. One would suppose that anyone describing the grave thereafter would mention this huge rock, and not focus only on the burial "mound" or a cedar post in their descriptions of the grave mentioned previously in 1891, 1892 and 1896. The large rock definitely was placed on the leveled grave (eliminating the mound) for it was mentioned in a newspaper report of 1922. But the placement in the 1880s appears from the evidence too early; very likely the large rock was not placed on top of the grave until after the August 15, 1896, grave site description. 62
Before long other factors came into the picture as the oolitic limestone gravestone began to show degradation. This type stone was an acceptable building material, especially in the Manti Temple where the walls were from three and half to three feet thick, but was poor material for a gravestone with finely carved outline of a book and words were involved. Fourteen years after it was erected there erious problems with the Martin Harris headstone. Edward Stevenson had died, and the town and ward of Clarkston didn’t think they could or should resolve the problem but contacted Church headquarters in Salt Lake City concerning the situation. In the Journal History of the Church both the problems and supposed cured were mentioned in an entry dated March 15, 1906:
At the meeting of the First Presidency & Twelve a letter was read from
Bishop John Ravsten (responding to a letter written to him concerning the
condition of the headstone at the Martin Harris grave). Bishop Ravsten’s
letter stated "that the headstone at the grave of Martin Harris was in a state
of decay and that the base of the headstone was entirely gone." It was
decided to erect a new monument of granite instead of the present headstone. 63
This entry states that someone at Church headquarters had written the Clarkston bishop concerning the condition of the Martin Harris headstone. Still after at least two communications and a decision, no action was taken. The Mormon Church at this time had just begun erecting monuments and memorializing some of its past. Seven years later in 1913 the First Presidency and Apostles looked over the old minutes of the March 15, 1906, meeting and acknowledged that a decision had been made to erect a new headstone at the Harris grave at Clarkston. On a motion of Francis M Lyman, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, "it was decided to recommend that this action be carried out under the direction of the Presidency." However, once again no action was taken along the line of replacing the established headstone with a new one of granite by Church headquarters. There was an old oral tradition in Clarkston that one individual came so disturbed by the sad condition of the Martin Harris headstone that he took an overt measure to force some action by either local leaders or at Church headquarters. According to this story, the man went to the cemetery and tipped the headstone over, and then later confessed his action in a church meeting in the ward. 65 If this actually happened, then the Clarkston Ward surely responded and tipped the headstone upright again and took some steps to restore the base to some degree.
The next known description of the Harris gravesite comes from the Church newspaper in June of 1922 which states:
The cemetery stands on a knoll outside the town and is as prominent a feature in the landscape as the temple at Manti . . . . The grave of Martin Harris had a large flat stone which was taken into the cemetery by oxen. It also has a modern stone which is erect and is of white limestone. It was provided by friends and bears the following simple inscription, partly above and partly below the carved representation of the open Book of Mormon: ‘Martin Harris, one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, Born May 18, 1783, died July 10, 1875. Subscribed for by his numerous friends.’ 66
This was the first written grave description that mentions the large flat stone (formerly used as steps at the church building) lying horizontally on top of the grave as placed by Sexton George Godfrey most likely sometime after 1896. The above description did not say anything about the condition of the headstone, other than it was a "modern stone which is erect and is of white limestone." The reporter gave the entire inscription with no mention of having trouble reading it. It is interesting to contrast this newspaper report with the negative one below by Merlin R. Hovey a year later. The viewpoints and purposes of the individuals were vastly different; the latter sought to move the grave and make it an attraction to induce people to visit it, while the first one probably saw very little difference between the Clarkston Cemetery and a great many cemeteries in rural Mormon communities. Back at a time when the local wards controlled the local burial grounds, there was no one hired to take care of them and no provision for generating funds, and the usual practice was to perform one annual cleanup in the spring before Decoration Day. 67 Anyone looking at such cemeteries before this spring cleanup or several months afterwards would get an entirely different opinion of the condition of the place. The 1922 newspaper reporter’s visit was in early June two weeks after the annual cleanup at Clarkston, while Hovey’s visit probably came either before the cleanup or much later when weeds were, indeed, all over the place.
In a thoughtful article written in 1955, Merlin R. Hovey, who had been the long-termed secretary of the Logan Boosters Club, then Logan Chamber of Commerce which became the Cache Chamber of Commerce, reflected back to the latter 1910s to the early 1920s on the Harris grave. He wrote: "For years not much was said about the grave but occasionally it was mentioned that he was buried in the Clarkston Cemetery. In the minds of the people he was about as dead as others in the cemetery." If Hovey’s remarks indicated the situation correctly, there was little to no interest in the Martin Harris grave at Clarkston, but that was about to change. A factor in this was a decision made to declare the year 1924 as the centennial for Cache Valley (going back beyond the time of the Mormons to the days of the fur trappers) and have it culminate with a giant Centennial Celebration in July of 1924. To the Chamber of Commerce’s normal agenda of looking for ways, means and things within Cache Valley to advertise as attractions to bring visitors and their money to the area, now they had this centennial with a targeted date to promote. Hovey stated the Chamber tried to do everything they could to stir up interest and to provide entertainment and attractions. These planning efforts began in 1922 with most of the preliminary work performed in 1923 and concluding in the first half of 1924. To promote this, Hovey began writing weekly sketches for the Logan newspaper, primarily dealing with the early settlements in the valley. In time he went to Clarkston specifically "to see the grave of Martin Harris and to get a story of his life and death at Clarkston." His sketch appeared in the newspaper, but a more revealing story came in Hovey’s article written in 1955 in which he wrote:
I was surprised to see the condition of the cemetery and how the grave of Martin Harris was being neglected. The cemetery was surrounded by a broken down wire fence with tumble weeds, cockleburs, and other weeds all over the cemetery. The graves not fenced were being grazed by livestock. Martin Harris’ grave was one of them. The grave had a white marble headstone with the follow- ing inscription. "Martin Harris One of the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. born May 18, 1783. Died July 10, 1875. Subscribed for by his numerous friends." I took a picture of the headstone and inscription. I am certain I am the only one who has a picture of this headstone. 68
As Mr. Hovey assessed the situation, the Clarkston Cemetery was in a deplorable condition with the Martin Harris’ grave being uncared for, making it just another grave with the others there. Furthermore, there were no close relatives of Harris residing at Clarkston. So why not relocate the grave of Harris to Logan where it could either be placed on the Tabernacle grounds or on property of the Temple? Then with a suitable monument the grave could became an attraction. The concept quickly moved from an idea to a project by the Chamber of Commerce. The initial moves were to contact and secure written permission from all the Harris kin, who claimed any relationship to Martin Harris, to remove his remains to Logan with vast improvement in the burial site and monument. They discovered there were no direct relatives living in Cache Valley, but all they could find were contacted. After much effort, Hovey stated that he "received many written permits from all the Harrises" he could locate, "some related and some not to the Witness. They all claimed relationship no matter how distant." Later a newspaper article in November of 1923 claimed the Chamber secured consent from all the Harris relatives "except one" for the removal to Logan. Next, Hovey consulted with the Cache and Logan Stake presidencies, and they liked the idea but recommended consulting the president of the Mormon Church, Heber J. Grant. When contacted, President Grant was in favor of the relocation of the grave if the people of Clarkston did not object. Apparently all who were contacted supported the project, except the First Councilor in the First Presidency, Charles W. Penrose, who opposed it saying, "Let the dead stay dead where they are." In the back of the Chamber’s relocation plan was a hope that the Mormon Church "would take the initiative to provide a suitable monument" or "help to provide a suitable monument since they had already done this for the other two Witnesses of the Book of Mormon." One of the most enthusiastic supporters of the move was Joseph H. Watkins, who was in the monument business in Logan; he would do the exhuming at no charge, considering it was a great honor to do it. Watkins outlined in detail how he would do it with the least disturbance to the remains. With all of this in place, Hovey, in his philosophical article of 1955, wrote: "In fact, he and I in our minds had the project already accomplished." They had covered the needed legal requirement with the heirs, and had gone the extra-mile in securing LDS Church support from local and general leaders while keeping expenses minimal. 69
The Chamber of Commerce’s next and last move was to hold a meeting with "the people of Clarkston and try to convert them to the move," which Hovey and his associates knew would be a "difficult task." Clarkston had become aware of the removal plan shortly after the Harris heirs were being contacted as some wrote to see if Clarkston objected to the move. In Hovey’s words, "Soon it became the principal topic of Clarkston and spread to other communities." The Chamber arranged a meeting at the Clarkson meetinghouse on a Sunday evening to present their plans formally to them. On Sunday, November 4 th , from two to four carloads of Logan people drove over to Clarkston for the mass meeting. Hovey mentioned only two vehicles in his 1955 article: "The two Stake Presidencies, President O. H. Budge and C. M. Christensen [Logan Stake], and President Jos. E. Cardon and Geo. W. Lindquist [Cache Stake] went in one auto to Clarkston . . . . Mayor John A. Crockett, President W. Howell of the Chamber of Commerce, Jos. H. Watkins, the grave digger, and I went in another auto." However, a contemporary newspaper account added a few more to the list of visitors going to Clarkston—County Commissioners William Evans and J. R. Thomas along with a W. R. Sloan and Mr. C. M. Harris (one of the heirs) plus added the title of "Bishop" to Hovey’s "grave digger." En route to Clarkston, Mayor Crockett, knowing the feelings of the Clarkston people and their bishop, observed to those in the same car that he felt they had in store for them a "dam good licking." As the distinguished visitors from Logan approached the Clarkston meetinghouse they found that "buggies, wagons, and autos were parked all around the square and some of the young folks were sitting in the windows of the meeting house." The Church newspaper described the occasion as a "big mass meeting,’’ and Hovey in his recollections thought that the Clarkston bishop "for once could report a hundred per cent attendance of his entire ward." The full house caused the visitors’ spirits to "not only dampened but drowned." 70
Bishop John Ravsten, the long standing leader of the Clarkston Ward since 1902, called the already very serious assemblage to order and stated the purpose of the meeting and asked those proponents of removing Martin Harris’ remains to Logan to present their case. In a prearranged order the presentation was made with the two stake presidents leading the way, followed by the Logan mayor, Secretary Hovey and finally heir Mr. C. M. Harris. The first four speakers, in well rehearsed presentations, explained the benefits of the removal, couching it in what it could do for the Mormon Church and its members by providing more people the opportunity to see it, as well as the new grave location would have a large fine monument and be beautifully landscaped for that purpose. They may have even cited that President Grant approved of the plan, possibly not mentioning his one reservation. Mr. Harris told the gathering that the family was grateful to the people of Clarkston for the care they had provided for their ancestor’s grave, but they now thought it best to move it to Logan. Nevertheless, they did not want to move the grave against the will of the Clarkston people. In hindsight from 1955, Hovey wrote: "President Budge and President Cardon in a very meek way presented our feelings and plans in regard to the project. They were not long on their feet." Hovey did not reflect on Mayor Crockett and his portion of the presentation. Then it was Clarkston’s turn to respond, led by Bishop Ravsten in one of his finest performances. He strongly opposed the transfer of Martin Harris’ remains to any other place than where he died. Then he related how when Harris came to the community many years before, he was befriended and when he became ill the local people helped nurse him until he died. Bishop Ravsten concluded his remarks by calling for "an expression of opinion" from those assembled on that night by a standing vote. The newspaper report of the meeting simply stated: "There was a unanimous vote against removing the body . . . ." Hovey, some thirty-two years later in 1955, was more colorful on the vote regarding the proposition to remove the body—"For the ayes, not one stood up. For the nays, it was like a rushing wind, all stood up, even those in the windows, every ‘chick and child.’ That settled the question and our Committee left at once with our ‘ears pinned back’ in good shape." 71
Leaving the meetinghouse was no problems but leaving the premises was not as easy. It could be said that the air had been let out of the sails and plans of the Logan Chamber of Commerce and its representative; however, more immediate and to the point was when the visitors arrived at their automobiles, they found that the air had been let out of their tires. The Clarkston version had this pertain to all of the visitors’ cars, but Hovey restricted it to just the car carrying the two stake presidencies. With no "pumping station" or service facility open, the individuals in this vehicle had to use a hand pump to re-inflate their tires which caused them to be late in reaching Logan with some "all in" because of their "pumping exercise." While some would see this as an inappropriate act perpetrated by some of the young men in Clarkston, it did punctuate the fact that Clarkston residents were upset and determined. The Chamber of Commerce’s errand into the wilderness west of Bear River had aroused a hornets’ nest—and they were mad. Furthermore, according to Hovey, this became the "principal" and hot topic of conversation in Clarkston and "spread to other communities." It has turned into a public relations nightmare, and to proceed further would make a bad situation worse. 72 Clarkston believed that Logan had tried to steal something from them, not so much to help the Church, but for the benefits and profit it would bring to Logan.
After the decisive standing vote against removal, the matter was finally settled according to the Chamber of Commerce’s secretary, Mr. Hovey. The Church newspaper in their write-up of the mass meeting agreed and concluded: "The body of Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, will remain in the little cemetery at Clarkston on the west side of this valley, where he died many years ago. . . . The heirs could have the body removed if they so desired, but they are averse to antagonizing the people of Clarkston and it is said will not act." 73 However, in the minds of the Clarkston residents the whole thing was not as cut and dried as the newspaper had concluded; whether real or imagined, it remained a live issue and controversy. Five days after the mass meeting at Clarkston, the same Church newspaper that three days earlier while reporting on the meeting at Clarkston had declared the body would not be moved, presented another slant on a developing controversy. With a dateline at Logan on November 9, 1923, it reported:
Quite an agitation is being stirred up over the proposal to remove the body
of Martin Harris from Clarkston to Logan, and it is evident that the residents
of the west side town will resist all attempts in that direction. Bishop John
Raveston of Clarkston in a statement issued today declares that Martin Harris
desired to be buried where he now lies and that his son Martin Harris, Jr.,
before his death declared most emphatically against his father’s body being
The Bishop suggests that if removal is to take place the body should go to
Salt Lake and not Logan, and the other communities to help erect a suitable
monument in the cemetery at Clarkston.
It is reported here that a definite plan to have the heirs of Martin Harris
remove the body to Logan is being formulated. 74
Notwithstanding the Chamber of Commerce’s idea of removing the body was completely abandoned after the meeting at Clarkston, the local citizens thought they had a fight on their hands to retain the grave. Into the fray the Clarkston side introduced the personal wishes of Martin Harris and his oldest son cited above. In addition they began contacting some of the heirs, and, according to Hovey, some of those heirs who had signed permits for the Chamber of Commerce to move the remains had turned around and signed "with the Clarkston people" opposing the move. Bishop Ravsten had found and named the culprit of this evil design, and that enemy was the city of Logan, and he exclaimed that if the body had to be removed that Logan should not get it. There were many others throughout Cache Valley who echoed the same sentiments. For a period of time Bishop Ravsten received communications of support from his community and its neighbors. Among the letters were some from former residents of Clarkston who learned of the state of affairs. Probably all of these objected strongly to the idea of moving the grave. In one of these, former resident and sexton George Godfrey, after expressing his strong opposition to the idea, concluded that if they removed the remains of Martin Harris, they could not move his grave, and Martin Harris’s grave would still be there. He stated fervently if there was a removal, he wanted the stone monument to remain where he had placed it, as he had done more in putting it on the grave than anyone else. In these messages of support there was an element of David versus Goliath, and the latter had few supporters outside of the county seat and nearby satellite communities. David, in the form of Clarkston, was upset, and as they pondered and worried that the removal would still take place, they came close to being fighting mad. Not that they would reform the local minutemen of the early days and meet the usurpers at the cemetery, but apparently the citizens of Clarkston, as a preventative measure for a period of time, took turns guarding the gravesite, and they were armed to show how serious they were. 75
Once Clarkston became stirred, this Witness’s burial site became more important to the community’s psychic than it had been in the forty-eight years of its existence. If the grave had been moved, Clarkston would have been scarred for generations, if not longer. There could have been an undercurrent of some resentment with the Cache and Logan stakes joining in the formal proposal to move the grave, possibly illustrated in the letting the air out of only their car’s tires. Clarkston would not let down its guard and continued to believe that there was some underhanded plan to take the Martin Harris gravesite away from them. Even without the removal, enough ill-feelings had been created that some good public relations and fence mending were needed. In addition, "The finger had been pointed at the Clarkston Cemetery," with some unflattering comments concerning its condition and the care of the Harris grave. This cut them to the core and even at late as 1966 when a history of the town was compiled, they remembered these unflattering allegations. Hovey recalled, "The agitation made the Clarkston people get busy and clean up and improve their cemetery and keep the stock out." 76
The enmity in Clarkston created by the removal idea remained strong, and on July 13, 1924, they received a new bishop in Reuben O. Loosle. Soon after being sustained as bishop and approximately nine months after the fateful mass meeting on removing the Harris grave, Bishop Loosle received word that the Church’s president needed to meet with him and the Benson Stake president on a matter concerning the Martin Harris grave. A short time later President Grant traveled to Clarkston accompanied by Charles W. Nibley, the Presiding Bishop of the Church, and met with Bishop Loosle and President James W. Funk of the Benson Stake. The meeting of the leaders was in the Clarkston meetinghouse. On this occasion President Grant asked permission for the Church to erect a larger monument on the grave of Martin Harris. This was a highly unusual procedure, to say the least, from an extremely hierarchal religion. The Church’s initiative to erect the monument was extremely surprising for the time, and when coupled with the Church president requesting acquiescence from the ward that controlled the cemetery to erect a monument, it became unprecedented. Even by 1924 the Mormon Church was paying practically no attention to such monuments and historical markers. The 1924 movement in regard to a monument on the grave of Martin Harris came right from the top with all contact with Clarkston being through President Grant. And it came to involve three trips from Salt Lake City to Clarkston by President Grant in the 1920s when automobile trips of that duration were far from pleasant excursions. The local Church leaders were surprised, overwhelmed and extremely pleased during the first visit, and they accepted the offer. President Grant had with him sketches and drawings of the new monument plus the details concerning its erection. In less than a year President Grant would return to Clarkston twice more. On his second visit he was accompanied by Elder Rudger Clawson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve and Preston Nibley from the Church Historian’s office. At this time the base of the monument had been built and a cornerstone was set in which were placed a solid copper box containing the Book of Mormon and some other items. 77
The Clarkston Ward records add a few details in the following entry given here with the original spelling and punctuation retained except for the first three spelling errors plus two additional ones: "Errection [sic –erection] of the Martin Harris moment [sic –monument] June 27, 1925 by the L.D.S. Church at Clarkston Cementory [sic -cemetery] one of the Three wittness of Book Mormon . A solid copper Box was placed away in the Base of moment containing the Book of Mormon , Doctrine Covenants . Also many testomonys of people know [sic- now] living in Clarkston which knew Martin Harris and heard him bare testimony to the truthfluness of Book Morman. There were many present at the errection of moment [sic –monument]." 78 The cited erection was placing the monument’s eighteen-foot-high shaft upright and securing it to its base, forming an impressive monument. This occurred on a Saturday almost two weeks before it was to be dedicated, and during this period many made their way to the Clarkston Cemetery to see the attraction. The dedication ceremonies for the new monument were scheduled to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Harris’ death.
Saturday, July 10, 1925, dawned bright and people began assembling at the Clarkston Cemetery where a veiled tall shaft that weighed two tons was the center of attention, and the crowd grew to around one thousand before the program began. Included were President Heber J. Grant and his party from Salt Lake along with several Harris descendants, but Clarkston, both present and former residents, made up the largest contingent. The services were conducted by the Benson Stake presidency, and following a prayer, musical numbers and a short talk on the life of Martin Harris, came the unveiling ceremony. Russell Harris (son of Martin Harris, Jr.), the oldest living grandson of the witness being memorialize, with the assistance of his five-year-old grandson named Martin Harris performed the unveiling of an imposing monument of polished granite with inscriptions paying tribute to this Witness of the Book of Mormon . After which John Godfrey, who as a twenty-one-year-old, had heard Martin Harris bear his testimony a few months prior to his death, made a few remarks, and Sylvester Q. Cannon, Presiding Bishop of the Church, spoke. Then President Grant arose and made some remarks and offered the dedicatory prayer. After the services the visiting dignitaries and Harris family descendants, along with local and stake leaders, retired to the Clarkston meetinghouse for a banquet. 79 Just twenty months and six days earlier at this same location was the fateful meeting when Clarkston was asked to give up the remains of Martin Harris by the Logan Chamber of Commerce, which caused much turmoil and a different result. Perhaps the best summation was given by the secretary of the Chamber who came up with the idea of removing the Harris grave back in 1923. Hovey wrote in 1955 that the excitement cause by his and the Chamber’s plan,
. . . centered the interest of the First Presidency of the Church in providing
a beautiful monument in honor of Martin Harris at his grave in the Clarkston
Cemetery. Today Clarkston has one of the best and well-kept cemeteries in
the valley. It is on a hill that overlooks the whole area in all directions and
very impressive. . . . It is certain that his remains will remain there at least
until the Resurrection Day. Case closed. 80
Before this article closes, it will focus on a couple of small mysteries. First and foremost, why did the LDS Church respond in such extraordinary ways, means and with such speed when it decided to erect a monument at the Martin Harris grave? Perhaps in part, it was making up for its failures to follow through with its own decisions in 1906 and 1913 to replace the limestone marker with a monument of granite. But more germane was the immediate situation caused by Clarkston’s fierce determination to retain the Harris grave in their community no matter the forces recommending removal (including the strong support of the Cache and Logan stakes, and the conditioned approval of the Church president). Very likely President Grant wished he had not taken even a conditional stand on the plan to move the grave. If Clarkston had calmed down after the Chamber abandoned their efforts of moving the grave to Logan, the Church very likely would have taken their time but eventually placed a new granite marker at the site. Instead Clarkston remained upset, even distressed, and envisioned (largely imagined) continued efforts to take their now prized grave from them. President Grant, perhaps lacked foresight in his conditioned approval to move the grave, but he quickly gained the insight to resolve the difficulty that had been created at Clarkston. He personally took care of the Clarkston aspects with his three trips there and the unique manner in which he did it, and one could speculate that the speed of the action and the size of the monument were in direct proportion to the festering problem.
At the Martin Harris grave with its monument one can see on the west side of the granite marker a strange mixture in the brick walkway that surrounds the monument. Incorporated into the walkway is a flat stone which is probably the large flat rock which was laid on the Harris grave after the burial mound was leveled. Originally this large flat rock covered the entire length of Harris’ grave, but today only a portion of this stone is seen and it marks the precise grave site. Presumably there was limited space to fit in the monument base with walkway with adjacent graves forced some modification of the large flat rock, at least the part that can be seen. As to what happened to the old 1892 limestone headstone, it was the policy to disposed of the replaced markers so there were not two grave markers. Probably it was, whether whole or broken up, used in the construction of the base of the granite shaft marking the grave. Surprisingly, to date only one photograph (taken by Hovey) of it is known to exist. For eighty-two years and counting the 1925 Martin Harris Monument of polished granite remains the most imposing feature of the Clarkston Cemetery and provides the nearby community with its biggest attraction.
- Letter of John Smith to George A. Smith, incorporated into the Journal History of the Church , Jan. 1, 1838; Letter of George A. Smith to Josiah Fleming in Journal History of the Church , Mar. 30, 1838.(LDS Church Archives). Hereafter cited as Journal History.
- Journal History, Nov. 7, 1842.
- Letter of Phineas H. Young to Brigham Young, Dec. 31, 1844, in Journal History, Dec. 31, 1844.
- Voree Herald, Voree, W.T. [Wisconsin Territory], September 1846, Vol. 1 No. 9. The old newspapers by James J. Strang are most easily accessed via the Internet under “UNCLE DALE’S: Readings in Early Mormon History.” Richard L. Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 167-169.
- Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star (Liverpool, England), Vol. 8, November 15, 1846, 124-125. Hereafter cited as Millennial Star .
- Ibid . Robin Scott Jensen, “Gleaning the Harvest: Strangite Missionary Work, 1846 – 1850,” ( Master’s Thesis, BYU, 2005), 118 -126. Extract of James Strang’s revelation of Dec. 21, 1846 (Internet site of “The Revelation of James Strang.”).
- Zion’s Reveille (Voree, W. T.), March 18, 1847. Gospel Herald (Voree, Wisconsin), July 5, 1849, also issues of Oct. 14, 1847, Nov. 25, 1847, Dec. 9, 1847. B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vol. (BYU Press: Provo, UT, 1965), II:442-444. H. Michael Marquardt, “Other Revelations/Commandments, 1829-1855,” (On the Internet “Mormon Central – Joseph Smith. . .”). The best access to the two Strang newspapers is as noted above.
- Rochester Daily American (Rochester, New York), Nov. 16, 1849.
- Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses , 167-169. Marquardt, “Other Revelations/Commandments, 1829-1855.” History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: The Deseret Book Company, 1957, 7 vol.) IV, 550. Journal of Discourses (Salt Lake City: Eighth Reprint, 1974), II, 125, 127.
- D. Michael Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power , (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 575.
- The Telegraph (Painesville, Ohio), April 30, 1855. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church , I: 403-407; II:432-435. Paul M. Edwards, “William B. Smith: The Persistent Pretender,” Dialogue , Vol. 18, No. 2 (Summer 1985), 128-139. Steven L. Shields, Divergent Paths of the Restoration: A History of the Latter Day Saint Movement (Restoration Research: Los Angeles, 1990), 22.
- H. Michael Marquardt, “Martin Harris: The Kirtland Years, 1831 - 1870,” Dialogue , Vol. 35, No. 3, Fall 2002, 33-34. “Extract from a Proclamation of Martin Harris received in May 1855 at Cleveland,” from Internet “Mormon Central.”
- Northern Islander (St. James, Beaver Island, Lake Michigan), Nov. 1, 1855. Marquardt, “Martin Harris: The Kirtland Years, 1831 - 1870,” 33-34. Earlier in October of 1855, Stephen Post while at Kirtland wrote in his journal: “Br. Martin Harris had published a proclamation . . . through a Miss Sexton a Spirit medium of Cleveland. Wm. Smith got a revelation through the same medium.”
- A letter published in the St. Louis Luminary on Feb. 17, 1855, extract in N. B. Lundwall, Temples of the Most High (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Tenth Edition), 45-46. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church , I: 405-406, II:438-440. Voree Herald , I, June 1846 and September 1846. Journal History , October 22, 1845.
- Millennial Star , Vo. 21, August 20, 1859, 545 -546.
- Ibid . Information on Elder Dille’s mission comes from Deseret News , April 17, May 1, 1852 and Millennial Star , Vol. 16, (Nov. 5, 1853), 736; Vol. 15, (Dec. 24, 1853), 842; Vol. 17, (Feb.3, 1855), 76-77; Vol. 17, (Mar. 17, 1855), 176. Many years later Dille in recalling his visit with Martin Harris in 1853 wrote of the exchange that Harris said to him: “Just let me go with you to England, I see you can preach . . . You do the preaching and I will bear testimony to the Book of Mormon and we will convert all England.” (Reminiscences of David Buele Dille, LDS Archives).
- St. Louis Luminary (St. Louis, Missouri), Vol. I, No. 24, May 5, 1855. This old Mormon newspaper is most easily accessed via the Internet under “UNCLE DALE’S: Readings in Early Mormon History .” The date of May 2, 1855 on the published letter was most likely the date the paper received it and not the date when written and posted.
- “Correspondence: Letter from James McKnight to G.Q.Cannon , Feb. 27, 1862,” Millennial Star , Vol. 24, (April 19, 1862), 250-251.
- U.S. Federal Census for 1850 for the County of Lake, Ohio. A report of W. H. Homer, Jr. to Preston Nibley of the Church Historian’s Office, dated December 31, 1959 included in Ben J. Ravsten and Eunice P. Ravsten, History of Clarkston: The Granary of Cache Valley , 1864 – 1964. (privately printed in 1966), 160-161.
- U.S. Federal Census for 1860 for the County of Lake, Ohio.
- William H. Homer, Jr., “‘Publish It Upon the Mountains’: The Story of Martin Harris,” Improvement Era , July 1955, 505. Portions of Homer’s account are in Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 160 -162, taken from various sources.
- “Correspondence: Letter from James McKnight to G.Q.Cannon, Feb. 27, 1862,” Millennial Star , Vol. 24, (April 19, 1862), 250-251.
- “A Summary of the Life of David H. Cannon (1838-1924,’ (David H. Cannon Family Website). Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT.), Aug. 31, 1870.
- Deseret News (Daily) Oct. 28, 1869 and repeated in Deseret News (Weekly) Nov. 3, 1869.
- William Harrison Homer, “The Passing of Martin Harris,’ The Improvement Era (Salt Lake City), March 29, 1926, 468-472. Homer, “‘Publish It Upon the Mountains’: The Story of Martin Harris,” 505
- Homer, “The Passing of Martin Harris,’ The Improvement Era , 468-472.
- Journal of Discourses , II:127, 257.
- “Edward Stevenson, 1820-1897,” General Authorities in Grandpa Bill’s G.A. Pages. Edward Stevenson, Wilkipedia , the free Internet encyclopedia.
- Edward Stevenson Letter to Deseret News on “One of the Three Witnesses,” Millennial Star , Vol. 44, No. 5, Jan. 30, 1882, 78-79. Stevenson over several years gave quite a few accounts of his experiences with Martin Harris, frequently adding new details to his story.
- The Deseret News (weekly), September 7, 1870.
- Stevenson Letter, Millennial Star , Vol. 44, Vol. 5, Jan. 30, 1882, 78-79.
- U.S. Federal Census for 1870, Lake County, Ohio.
- Edward Stevenson Letter to Deseret News on “One of the Three Witnesses,” No. II, Millennial Star , Vol. 48, No. 23, June 7, 1886, 366-368.
- The Deseret News , August 24, 1870, a letter from Edward Stevenson.
- Stevenson Letter, Millennial Star , Vol. 44, No. 5, Jan. 30, 1882, 79; also (Vol. 44, No. 6, Feb. 6, 1882), 86. Stevenson Letter to Deseret News on “One of the Three Witnesses,” No.II, Millennial Star , Vol. 48, No. 23, June 7, 1886, 366-367.
- Stevenson Letter, Millennial Star , Vol. 48, No. 23, June 7, 1886, 367.
- The Deseret News (weekly), September 7, 1870. A few years later Edward Stevenson called on David Whitmer, and found him willing to reaffirm his witnessing, but in no mood to rejoin or relocate.
- The formal rites of rebaptism and reconfirmation were initiated at Nauvoo on a limited basis but became important and almost universal ordinances by Brigham Young in the summer of 1847 shortly after arriving in Utah. In a discourse in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on July 18, 1875, Elder Orson Pratt stated: "I will state here that, Martin Harris. . .was rebaptized, the same as every member of the church from distant parts on arriving here. That seems to be a kind of standing ordinance for all Latter-day Saints . . . from the First Presidency down; all are rebaptized and set out anew by renewing their covenants. . . ." ( The Deseret News (weekly), April 12, 1876. Later these rites were stopped in the late 1890s.
- Stevenson Letter, Millennial Star ,Vol. 44, No. 5, Jan. 30, 1882, 79; also (Vol. 44, No. 6, Feb. 6, 1882), 86. Stevenson Letter to Deseret News on "One of the Three Witnesses," No. II, Millennial Star (Vol. 48, No. 23, June 7, 1886), 366-367.
- Ibid. "Minutes of the Harris Family Reunion, 1928" (Typescript at the Harold B. Lee Library, BYU). Deseret News , Weekly, Oct.19, 1870.
- U.S. Federal Census for 1870, Salt Lake City, 17th Ward.
- Deseret News, September 15, 1869 and October 7, 1870. Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston, 162-163, including quotes from a letter of Helen Homer Parks concerning Caroline’s feeling on having two living husbands. “John Catley Davis and Phoebe Oxenbold Davis,” (A Daughters of Utah Pioneer history), 6-7. U.S. Federal Census for 1870, Salt Lake City, 17th Ward. U.S. Federal Census for 1880, Utah, Cache County, Smithfield.
- U.S. Federal Census for 1870, Utah, Cache County, Smithfield. Family Genealogies of Martin Harris, Jr. and Nancy Ann Homer, and Martin Harris, Jr. and Mary Imogene Corbett.
- Letters of Martin Harris to H. B. Emerson in The True Latter-day Saints’ Herald (Plano, Illinois), Vol. 22 (Oct. 15, 1875), 630.
- Letter of William Pilkington to Ve. Poulter, Feb 28, 1930 (original in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU). William Pilkington’s sworn testimony before Joseph W. Peterson of April 3, 1934 (Harold B. Lee Library at BYU). Autobiography of William Pilkington cited in Wayne C. Gunnell’s thesis “Martin Harris—Witness and Benefactor to the Book of Mormon.” (Master’s thesis BYU, 1955), 71-73. Copies of these various sources can be found on the Internet at “Martin Harris His Life, Character and Testimony Excerpts from Multiple Sources,”( http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/MHarris.html ).
- Letter to Clarkston Bishop Ravsten from former resident George Godfrey in Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 167-168.
- “A History of Andrew Quigley (1831-1881) with His Three Families,” compiled by William A. Quigley under the unnumbered section entitled “Move to Clarkston.” The writer has a copy.
- Excerpts from a letter from Martin Harris, Jr. to Pres. George A. Smith, dated Clarkston, Cache Co., July 9, 1875 in The Deseret News (Weekly) July 21, 1875 (taken from the Tuesday daily, July 13th).
- Ibid . and also issue of July 28, 1875 under “Editorial – Martin Harris.” Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston, 163-164, 176-181.
- The Logan Journal (Logan, Utah), December 5, 1891.
- “Cache Stake of Zion,” article by Andrew Jenson, The Deseret News , Feb. 27, 1892
- Letter of George Godfrey included in Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 167.
- Millennial Star ,Vol. 54, February 29, 1892, 143.
- Journals of Edward Stevenson (Typescript at Stevenson Letter, Millennial Star ,Vol. 48, No. 23, June 7, 1886, 367.BYU), February 9, 1892.
- Ibid ., Feb, 16, 1892.
- Ibid ., November 18 and 22, 1891, January 19, February 5, 16, 25 and 26, 1892.
- Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 166.
- “Clarkston Letter,” The Journal (Logan, Utah), May 28, 1892.
- George Godfrey letter to Bishop Ravsten at Clarkston, Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 167.
- “Clarkston Cullings,” The Journal , January 23, 1896.
- “The Journal’s Missionary,” The Journal , August 15, 1896.
- Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 166. H. M. Godfrey, “The Rock on Martin Harris’s Grave,” a typescript quoted in Scott R. Shelton, “Martin Harris in Cache Valley,’ (Masters’ Thesis, Utah State University, 1996), 72. Deseret News , June 10, 1922.
- Journal History , March 15, 1906.
- Ibid ., July 31, 1913.
- Shelton thesis, “Martin Harris in Cache Valley,” 73-74. The author Scott R. Shelton in a series of interviews in the 1980s found some confusion in the information on the Harris headstones. He concluded they “. . . present an unclear picture. Apparently two different markers are being remembered and described, one a tall, sandstone-colored marker, and the other a shorter, white-limestone colored marker with an engraved Book of Mormon on it.” There was only one stone headstone on the Harris grave from Decoration Day of 1892 until the granite shaft replaced it in 1925. All the interviewees were attempting to describe the same monument with the variables being memories, color description and appearance (stone deterioration, surface dust, etc.). The oolitic limestone used on the Manti Temple was best described as having a “warm cream color.”
- Deseret News , June 10, 1922. This newspaper account is also included in the Journal History of the Church under the same date.
- See Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 20, for a good description of most rural Mormon cemeteries before lawn type cemeteries became the norm.
- Merlin R. Hovey, "An Attempt to Move the Remains of Martin Harris from the Clarkston Cemetery to Logan," (a manuscript dated March 7, 1955 and apparently written by Hovey at the request of Wayne C. Gunnell to be included in his thesis.) included in Shelton thesis, "Martin Harris in Cache Valley," 75-77. Hovey’s belief that he was the only one who took a picture of this headstone may well be true, as searches within the Clarkston community have failed to locate any other pictures. Hovey’s newspaper articles in the Logan newspaper started on August 4, 1923 and extended into 1925, and became the basis for his manuscript "An Early History of Cache County."
- Ibid , 75-77.
- Ibid . The Deseret News , November 6, 1923, with the newspaper article incorporated into the Journal History of the Church for the same date.
- Deseret News , Nov. 6, 1923. Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston, 167. Hovey, “An Attempt to Move the Remains of Martin Harris from the Clarkston Cemetery to Logan,” in Shelton thesis, “Martin Harris in Cache Valley,” 77, 87. The passion of the Clarkstonites on this issue was recalled by a person who attended this mass meeting, and the following day he heard another resident talking with Bishop Ravsten and boldly declaring, “Bishop, if you would have asked the town to string those men up, they would have!”
- Deseret News , Nov. 6, 1923. Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston, 167. Hovey, "An Attempt to Move the Remains of Martin Harris from the Clarkston Cemetery to Logan," in Shelton thesis, "Martin Harris in Cache Valley," 77, 87. The passion of the Clarkstonites on this issue was recalled by a person who attended this mass meeting, and the following day he heard another resident talking with Bishop Ravsten and boldly declaring, "Bishop, if you would have asked the town to string those men up, they would have!"
- Deseret News , Nov. 6, 1923
- Ibid ., Nov. 9, 1923.
- Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 167-168. Hovey, “An Attempt to Move the Remains of Martin Harris from the Clarkston Cemetery to Logan,” in Shelton thesis, “Martin Harris in Cache Valley,” 77, 88.
- Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 20. Hovey, “An Attempt to Move the Remains of Martin Harris from the Clarkston Cemetery to Logan,” in Shelton thesis, “Martin Harris in Cache Valley,” 77.
- Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 73, 168.
- Clarkston Ward Manuscript History and Historical Reports (copy of original entries furnish by LDS Family and Church History Dept.), May 27, 1925 through June 27, 1925.
- Ravsten and Ravsten, History of Clarkston , 168, 178-179. Shelton thesis, “Martin Harris in Cache Valley,” 79, 80, 88.
- Hovey, “An Attempt to Move the Remains of Martin Harris from the Clarkston Cemetery to Logan,” in Shelton thesis, “Martin Harris in Cache Valley,” 77.
- Wayne C. Gunnell, “Martin Harris—Witness and Benefactor to the Book of Mormon.” (Master’s thesis BYU, 1955), 83.
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