Background on David Whitmer

David Whitmer was born Jan. 7, 1805 in Harrisburg, PA.  At the age of four, his family moved to the finger lakes area of New York, Fayette township, 22 miles from Palmyra.  As a friend of Oliver Cowdery, David heard from Oliver about Joseph Smith during a business trip to Palmyra in 1828.  Later, after Oliver had moved to Harmony, PA to act as scribe for Joseph, Oliver sent letters to David testifying of the Book of Mormon and its translation.  As a result of this communication, it was decided that Joseph and Oliver should come to the home of David's father, Peter Whitmer, Sr. in order to continue the translation.  Persecution in Harmony and difficulties with Joseph's in-laws precipitated the move.  Accordingly, David Whitmer made plans to travel to Harmony to escort Joseph and Oliver.  It was late in May 1829, and the beginning of a series of miracles that David was privileged to witness.  The Church History in the Fullness of Times  manual describes it as follows:

"A late May planting was essential for successful fall crops; therefore, David Whitmer had to plow and prepare the soil before he could take his two-horse wagon to pick up Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  At the end of a day of plowing he found he had accomplished in one day what normally would have taken two days to do.  David's father was likewise impressed by this apparent miracle.  Peter Whitmer, Sr., said, 'There must be an overruling hand in this, and I think you would better go down to Pennsylvania as soon as your plaster of paris is sown.' (Plaster of paris was used to acidify the soil.) The next day David went to the fields to sow the plaster, but to his surprise he found the work had been done.  His sister, who lived near the field said that her children had called her to watch three strangers the day before spread the plaster with remarkable skill.  She assumed they were men David had hired.

"Grateful for this divine intervention, David Whitmer hurried off on the three-day journey to Harmony.  Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery met him as he approached the town.  Although David had not told them exactly when he was coming, Joseph had seen in vision the details of David's trip to Harmony."

The Millenial Star, vol 40, pp.769-774 records David's testimony about this trip:

            "Oliver told me that Joseph had informed him when I started from home, where I stopped the first night, how I read the sign at the tavern, where I stopped the next night, etc., and that I would be there that day for dinner, and this is why they had come out to meet me.  All of which was exactly as Joseph had told Oliver, at which I was greatly astonished."

Returning to the record in the Church History in the Fullness of Times  manual:

"These three miracles witnessed by David Whitmer exemplified the Prophet's seership and the Lord's intervention for the successful inauguration of the Restoration.

"This was the first meeting between Joseph Smith and David Whitmer.  As had happened with Oliver Cowdery, David and Joseph quickly became friends.  Soon they were on their way to Fayette, some one hundred miles away.  On this occasion Moroni took the plates to avoid danger while transporting them.  Another unusual event occurred en route.  It happened while they were riding along in the wagon.  David Whitmer described the event:

"'A very pleasant, nice-looking old man suddenly appeared by the side of our wagon and saluted us with, 'good morning, it is very warm,' at the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand.  We returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride if he was going our way.  But he said very pleasantly, 'No, I am going to Cumorah.'  This name was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant. We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked around enquiringly of Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared....

"'... It was the messenger who had the plates, who had taken them from Joseph just prior to our starting from Harmony.'"