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Monument to Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon has stood 100 years

A second monument unveiled to honor eight witnesses

Published: Sunday, Nov. 20 2011 10:48 p.m. MST

The cemetery fell into disrepair over the ensuing 38 years, though the monument weathered well. In 1949, the church refurbished the cemetery with the cooperation of local officials. A headline in the local newspaper trumpeted how the church "transforms town's eyesore into beauty spot."

Summing up, Turley said, "My observation is that this monument is a witness to the witnesses. On three sides of the base appear the names of the witnesses. … Their testimony appears on the shaft inscribed in stone, where it will continue to bear witness for years to come. The fourth name on the base is that of Joseph Smith."

He said the Greek word for witness is the word from which the English word "martyr" is derived. "In this sense, as well as because Joseph Smith was with the Book of Mormon witnesses when they saw the Book of Mormon plates, he was indeed a witness."

On the outskirts of Liberty, the new monument to the Eight Witnesses was dedicated by Elder Donald D. Deshler, an Area Seventy of the church.

Similar in appearance to the older monument, it is built of granite obtained from the same quarry, said Alex Baugh, a BYU professor of church history and doctrine.

The monument was built on a farm that had belonged to Michael Arthur, who was called a "jack-Mormon" by 1830s anti-Mormon mobbers because he sympathized with the Mormon people, Baugh said. One of the panels on the monument memorializes Arthur because of his kindness to the Mormons.

But the location was mainly chosen because of its proximity to the burial sites of two of the Eight Witnesses, Christian and Peter Whitmer.

Baugh identified the burial locations of the other six witnesses as: Jacob Whitmer in the city cemetery at Richmond; John Whitmer in Kingston, Mo.; Hiram Page just east of Excelsior Springs, Mo.; and Joseph Smith's father and brothers — Joseph Sr., Hyrum and Samuel — in Nauvoo, Ill.

Email: rscott@desnews.com

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