The sections and history covered in recent Doctrine and Covenants “Come, Follow Me” lessons refer to printing the Book of Mormon, events that happened on the Whitmer farm in Fayette, New York, the experience of the Three Witnesses and events in Harmony, Pennsylvania.
Here is information about the history and some photos of the locations to help supplement “Come, Follow Me.”
Joseph and Emma Smith were living in what was then called Harmony, Pennsylvania, in spring 1829, and Oliver Cowdery was staying with them as the translation progressed on the Book of Mormon. Due to the unrest in the area, Oliver wrote to his friend David Whitmer about him and the Smiths coming to the Whitmers’ home in Fayette, New York, about 30 miles from Palmyra to finish the translation (see “Saints, Vol. 1,” Ch. 7 Fellow Servants; and “Revelations in Context,” The Knight and Whitmer Families).
The Whitmer family decided to help with the translation. David Whitmer then met the Smiths in Harmony and returned with them around the end of May.
There are 19 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that were revealed in Fayette, New York, including Doctrine and Covenants 17 about the Three Witnesses and Sections 20 and 21 about the organization of the Church.
While the Peter Whitmer Farm, including a reconstructed log house, is currently closed for in-person tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual tours are available. To schedule a virtual tour, see nyandpahistoricsites.as.me/schedule.php.
E.B. Grandin print shop
As Joseph Smith and his scribes were finishing translation of the Book of Mormon in June 1829, the focus then came to publish it. Joseph Smith first traveled 100 miles to Utica, New York, to secure the copyright to the Book of Mormon (see “The Grandin Building: Book of Mormon Publication Site,” history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Martin Harris and Joseph Smith talked with several printers in Palmyra and Rochester, New York, areas about printing the Book of Mormon. At 5,000 copies and each book with more than 500 pages, it was a large project for any printer. E.B. Grandin of Palmyra, New York, who initially declined printing the Book of Mormon, later agreed (see “The Grandin Building: Book of Mormon Publication Site,” history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
It cost $3,000 to print the copies, and Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book Mormon who was a landowner, helped with the negotiations. He mortgaged his property to Grandin as payment and later sold 151 acres to cover the costs (see “Revelations in Context,” “The Contribution of Martin Harris”; and “The Grandin Press: A Vital Tool of the Restoration” on history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
The printing began in September 1829. Oliver Cowdery copied a printer’s manuscript and Hyrum Smith delivered the pages to the press. At the press, compositor John Gilbert, one of Grandin’s employees, took the pages and added the punctuation (see Church History Topics, “Printing and Publishing the Book of Mormon”).
Grandin’s press was the Smith Patented Improved Press, which greatly simplified the printing process and allowed the pressman to make an impression with one pull of a lever (see “The Grandin Press: A Vital Tool of the Restoration” on history.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Copies of the Book of Mormon were available to purchase at Grandin’s shop in March 1830.
The Book of Mormon Publication Site is one of the Church’s historic sites. While in-person tours are currently discontinued due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual tours are available. To schedule a virtual tour, see nyandpahistoricsites.as.me/schedule.php.
It was in the area of the Whitmer farm in summer 1829 that the Three Witnesses — Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer — saw the golden plates along with the interpreters, the breastplate, a sword and the Liahona (see Doctrine and Covenants 17; “Saints, Vol. 1,” Ch. 7 Fellow Servants).
Eight more men gathered with Joseph Smith at his parents’ farm in Palmyra, New York, and handled the plates. A plaque noting the experience of the Eight Witnesses is at the Smith Family Farm.
A monument to the Three Witnesses was placed in Richmond, Missouri, in 1911 and is where Oliver Cowdery is believed to be buried, according to the Church News archives. David Whitmer is also buried in Richmond, Missouri. Martin Harris is buried in Clarkston, Utah.
In 2011, the monument to the Eight Witnesses was dedicated near Liberty, Missouri, according to the Church News archives. The site is near where Christian Whitmer and Peter Whitmer Jr. are buried. Three other of the Eight Witnesses — Jacob and John Whitmer and Hiram Page — are buried in western Missouri, and the other three — Joseph Smith Sr. and Hyrum and Samuel Smith — are buried in Nauvoo, Illinois.
The Susquehanna River flows past Oakland Township, Pennsylvania, then known as Harmony, where Joseph and Emma Smith along with her parents, Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, lived.
On May 15, 1829, Joseph and Oliver prayed in a nearby maple grove for guidance about baptism, and John the Baptist appeared to them, restoring the Aaronic Priesthood. Later that day, both men went to the nearby Susquehanna River and baptized each other. (See Doctrine and Covenants 13 and Joseph Smith- History 1:66-75.)
At 444 miles long, the Susquehanna River is the largest river lying entirely in the United States that flows into the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Susquehanna River Valley and Susquehanna River Basin Commission websites.