Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Fake Death of Martin Harris

February 16, 2012
by Tim Barker

Martin Harris died in Clarkston, Utah, in 1875, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In 1837 he had been excommunicated from the Church and spent most of his life in Kirtland, Ohio, until he was rebaptized in 1870, after which he moved to Utah where he spent the remainder of his life.  As one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon (having seen the plates with the engravings thereon, and having heard the voice of God testify that it was translated by His gift and power), Martin's life was often under spotlight.  He had been given considerable attention during the early days of the Church because he mortgaged his farm to pay for the publication of the Book of Mormon.  Pomeroy Tucker, a resident of Palmyra, stated that "nothing could be done in the way of printing [The Book of Mormon] without his aid..."1  In 1841, Reverend John Clark, also of Palmyra, recalled a conversation with Harris after he had returned from meeting with Charles Anthon in 1828.  Clark noted that Harris was willing to "take the spoiling of his goods" in support of Joseph Smith and the publication of the Book of Mormon.  He insisted that Martin, "was determined that the book be published, though it consume all his worldly substance."2