Whitmer Farm: Church Organization Site
The Peter and Mary Whitmer home located on a 100-acre farm is an important site in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because of the numerous spiritual and Church events which occurred there. The Whitmer family had willingly allowed the Prophet Joseph Smith and his wife Emma to live with them beginning in June 1829. This allowed Joseph Smith to focus on completing the translation of the Book of Mormon with the assistance of his scribe Oliver Cowdery. In 1829, the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed in the Whitmer home.
During his stay on the farm, Joseph Smith received twenty revelations that are recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants (sections 14-18, 20, 21, and 29-40). The Angel Moroni showed the three witnesses the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated and they were given a command to bear record of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. One of the witnesses was David Whitmer, one of the seven children of Peter and Mary Whitmer. Several of the Whitmer family were later shown the plates by Joseph Smith, which designated them part of the Eight Witnesses. Mary Whitmer, burdened by more work due to the extra people in her home (Oliver Cowdery and Joseph’s wife Emma were also living there), was shown the plates by a “special messenger.”
The most significant event is that this was the place where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized on April 6, 1830. This is what occurred at the organization of the Church according to the prophet Joseph Smith:
- We had received a commandment to organize the Church; and accordingly we met together for that purpose, at the house of Mr. Peter Whitmer, Sen., (being six in number,) on Tuesday, the sixth day of April, A. D., one thousand eight hundred and thirty. Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father, we proceeded, according to previous commandment, to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church according to said commandment which we had received. To these several propositions they consented by a unanimous vote. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery, and ordained him an Elder of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"; after which, he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church. We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree--some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord, and rejoiced exceedingly (History of the Church 1:74-75).
The first conference of the Church of Christ was held in the Whitmer home on June 9, 1830. Joseph and Emma left the home for one month, but returned in time for the second conference held there in August.
The Whitmer family moved to Ohio in 1831 and then on to Missouri when the Latter-day Saints moved.
In 1926, the Church of Jesus Christ purchased the Peter and Mary Whitmer farm and rebuilt the home on its original site. It is furnished with household artifacts of that same time period. In 1980 (the 150th anniversary of the organization of the Church), President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated it in a broadcast from the restored home. A visitors’ center was built nearby.
In June 2020, the farm was renamed Whitmer Farm: Church Organization Site.
Visitors can take free tours through the Whitmer site every day of the week except certain holidays.
See also LDS Sites in the Palmyra Area