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The Family File

Hyrum Don Carlos Clark

Hearing One of the Three Witnesses Bear Testimony

One of Ezra Thompson Clark's sons was among the last members of the church to hear David Whitmer bear testimony about seeing the golden plates and an angel before Whitmer passed away.

The visit of Hyrum Don Carlos Clark, sixth child of Ezra Thompson and Mary Stevenson Clark, to the Book of Mormon witness is written by Ezra's brother-in-law, Edward Stevenson. Stevenson is the figure most commonly linked with the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon following the falling away from the church of all three.

In a letter written to John Taylor on Jan. 7, 1878, Bro. Stevenson talks of visiting Whitmer outside of his Richmond, Missouri home. Stevenson made 17 trips across the country in his lifetime and often tried to visit at least one of the three witnesses during each of those treks, according to historian J. Grant Stevenson.

"Dear Brother:

Hyrum Don Carlos Clark
I am happy to say that Brother Clark and myself arrived at this place December 28th, 1877, in safety and in good health….we found David Whitmer, the only surviving one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. With the exception of rhumatism he seems to enjoy health, possessing fair and prominent features. After being kindly received we held four hours conversation, and met again, and spent four hours more in the evening; the next day Sabbath, two hours more. We found him quite communicative and cheerful, and seemed pleased to receive us. After some conversation he showed us the original manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon written by Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Emma Smith and Christian Whitmer, it was about two inches thick, of foolscop and clean and well preserved. It feel into his hands through the death of Oliver Cowdery, who died and was buried north of Richmond where lie the remains of Peter Whitmer and his wife-both are father and mother of David Whitmer." 1

HyD (Hi-Dee), as he was known to his family, was headed east to Tennessee to serve a mission when he accompanied his uncle to the Whitmer home. Hyrum's son, Heber, said his father heard Whitmer tell Bro. Stevenson that he had not left the church, but it had left him. 2

A prolific writer, Stevenson recorded details of each visit with the witnesses and often bore testimony of how all three had been faithful to their testimony.

In his 1878 visit Stevenson bore his testimony to Whitmer and invited him to gather to Zion in Utah and offered his assistance in helping him do that. "Brother (Hyrum) Clark also made the same proposition and said, 'Take our names' and he (David Whitmer) observed, 'I have his name' alluding to me." 3

Of the visit it would later be written. "Elder Stevenson said of David Whitmer, in 1886, after recounting previous testimonies he had listened to from him: 'David Whitmer is now just past eighty-one years of age. In this his last testimony he said to me: 'As sure as the sun shines and I live, just so sure did the angel appear to me and Joseph Smith, and I heard his voice, and did see the angel standing before us, and on a table were the plates, the sword of Laban and the ball or compass.'"4

Bro. Stevenson, who served in the Council of 70, also visited a number of times with Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris and is credited with raising money to help Martin Harris move west, where he (Harris) was re-baptized into the church by Elder Stevenson on Sept. 17, 1870 and confirmed by Orson Pratt the same day.

Written By Antone Clark
June 2001

1 JH Jan. 7, 1878, pp 2-3.
2 Some Testimonies of the Book of Mormon as Gathered by Heber D. Clark
3 Stevenson, private journal, Dec. 23, 1877, VII, pg. 15
4 LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol 1, page 269
5 JH Sept. 17, 1870

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