There is so much about church history that we don’t know, but technology and time have allowed us to learn so much more.
As an example, did you know that Mary Whitmer was the only woman to see the gold plates, and she saw them even before the three witnesses did?
In the new church history series, Saints, they share countless stories about the women of the church who have left a legacy of faith.
The following excerpt shares the story of Mary Whitmer’s faith and sacrifice which led to a miracle visit from Moroni.
“Once Joseph, Emma, and Oliver moved to Fayette, David’s mother had her hands full. Mary Whitmer and her husband, Peter, already had eight children between the ages of fifteen and thirty, and the few who did not still live at home resided nearby. Tending to their needs filled Mary’s days with work, and the three houseguests added more labor. Mary had faith in Joseph’s calling and did not complain, but she was getting tired.
The heat in Fayette that summer was sweltering. As Mary washed clothes and prepared meals, Joseph dictated the translation in an upstairs room. Oliver usually wrote for him, but occasionally Emma or one of the Whitmers took a turn with the pen.
Sometimes, when Joseph and Oliver tired of the strain of translating, they would walk out to a nearby pond and skip stones across the surface of the water.
Mary had little time to relax herself, and the added work and the strain placed on her were hard to bear.
One day, while she was out by the barn where the cows were milked, she saw a gray-haired man with a knapsack slung across his shoulder. His sudden appearance frightened her, but as he approached, he spoke to her in a kind voice that set her at ease.
“My name is Moroni,” he said. “You have become pretty tired with all the extra work you have to do.” He swung the knapsack off his shoulder, and Mary watched as he started to untie it.
“You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors,” he continued. “It is proper, therefore, that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened.”
Moroni opened his knapsack and removed the gold plates. He held them in front of her and turned their pages so she could see the writings on them. After he turned the last page, he urged her to be patient and faithful as she carried the extra burden a little longer. He promised she would be blessed for it.
You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors
The old man vanished a moment later, leaving Mary alone. She still had work to do, but that no longer troubled her.”¹
Book of Mormon Central provides the references for the full detail of Mary Whitmer, whose encounter is described in three separate accounts. The most famous is from her son, David:
…my mother was going to milk the cows, when she was met out near the yard by the same old man (judging by her description of him) [whom David had seen on the roadside in a prior incident] who said to her, ‘You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tired because of the increase of your toil, it is proper therefore that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened.’ Thereupon he showed her the plates.
John C. Whitmer recalled this further tidbit from his grandmother’s story:
[The personage] turned the plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them; after which he told her to be patient and faithful in bearing her burden a little longer, promising that if she would do so, she should be blessed; and her reward would be sure, if she proved faithful to the end. The personage then suddenly vanished with the plates, and where he went, she could not tell.
More insights are offered by another granddaughter, who said Mary Whitmer was irritated when Joseph and Oliver took breaks from translating and “skated rocks on a pond.” “[She] thought they might just as well carry her a bucket of water or chop a bit of wood . . .” and planned to order them out of her house. Such anxieties were relieved by Moroni’s timely visitation.
You can read more about Mary, and other stories of the early members of the Church, in Saints.
 David Whitmer, interview with Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, September 1878, published 16 November 1878 in the Deseret News, reproduced by Dan Vogel in Early Mormon Documents, 5:51-52 (Salt Lake City, Utah: 2003)
 John C. Whitmer, 1878 account, as recorded by Andrew Jenson (see his Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia 1:283, Salt Lake City, Utah: 1901).
 “Elvira Pamela Mills”, Cox Bulletin II (1958), written by Orville Cox Day (O C Day). Mary Musselman Whitmer’s recorded encounters are compiled for individual review in Royal Skousen, “Another Account of Mary Whitmer’s Viewing of the Golden Plates,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 10 (2014): 35–44.
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