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Posted by: dimmesdale ( )
Date: April 26, 2021 08:36PM

I need a Mormon scholar to help me with this. I have a letter from a great great grandfather who attended conference in the Tabernacle where Brigham Young was presiding.
Martin Harris asked to speak and then bore his testimony that he had seen the plates, handled the plates, and then begged forgiveness for his denial, and was re-baptized thirteen days later.

He was over 80 years of age. Seems like I've read or heard that he was in and out of the church all his life. Does anyone have any information about this. Thanks!

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Posted by: [|] ( )
Date: April 26, 2021 09:04PM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Harris_(Latter_Day_Saints)

Not a lot from non-mormon sites. Probably because Martin Harris is extremely insignificant outside of mormonism.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: April 26, 2021 09:06PM

I know it's cynical of me, but what if giving that talk was the price he had to pay to gain readmission to the club? And, you know, it was written for him...?

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Posted by: Mark Hoffman ( )
Date: April 26, 2021 09:19PM


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Posted by: Space Pineapple ( )
Date: April 26, 2021 09:31PM

Martin appears to have been a superstitions nutter, with some financial means, and therefore the perfect mark for Joseph. Considering his ping-ponging among various LDS factions in the aftermath, I'd take the testimony with a grain of salt.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 26, 2021 09:34PM

A fool and his money are soon parted. So too a fool and his wife. And a fool and his money again.

And in Martin Harris's case, a fool and his dignity as well.

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Posted by: Perdition ( )
Date: April 27, 2021 12:15PM

Martin Harris should have listened to his wife not Brother Joe

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 27, 2021 02:49PM

If I remember correctly MH's words were, "I didn't leave the church; the church left me."

In other words, he stayed put while everyone else was trying to figure out where on earth the New Zion should be.

In his old age, he wanted to go to Utah, where he might have guessed he would be a local celebrity, and he would say whatever he had to say to promote that celebrity.

MH WAS important to the growth of the church. He mortgaged his farm to raise money to publish the first edition of the BoM.

BY raised money to get MH to Utah, but as is usual with BY, he himself did not contribute any money to the endeavor. BY was very tight-fisted. VERY VERY tight-fisted.

I believe MH was very popular in Utah, giving speeches about how he knew JS personally (he did) and telling stories from back in the day.

I think MH's final days in Utah were very satisfying
. to him as it is fun to be a celebrity, and in SLC he could achieve celebrity status.

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Posted by: olderelder ( )
Date: April 27, 2021 08:33PM

loislane Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I believe MH was very popular in Utah, giving
> speeches about how he knew JS personally (he did)
> and telling stories from back in the day.
>
> I think MH's final days in Utah were very
> satisfying
> . to him as it is fun to be a celebrity, and in
> SLC he could achieve celebrity status.


Right, as opposed to being a nobody anywhere else.

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: April 27, 2021 09:47PM

I thought it was Emma who said (paraphrase) 'the church left me'

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Posted by: Shinehah ( )
Date: April 27, 2021 02:49PM

Harris apparently viewed the plates with his 'spiritual eyes' so maybe he also handled the plates with his 'spiritual hands'.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 27, 2021 03:05PM

JS was so impressed with Harris's spiritual performances that he relaxed his standards and permitted Harris to donate with mere physical cash.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: April 27, 2021 10:17PM

He's buried in Clarkston, a small village of about 450, on the west side of the valley (everything is on the east), just below the Idaho border. It's a pretty enough place, very out of the way but still in "Zion."

It strikes me as a good place to stash somebody you don't want in the public eye: give him a little house, maybe a pension or stipend or something, with the understanding he'll stay quiet and out of the way. To let his celebrity, if any, dissipate.

That's my guess. Anybody have details on that?

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 28, 2021 05:14AM

I don't think that is the case.

BY wanted MH in Utah, as he could testify to "the truth" and help strengthen people's "testimony."

I believe MH spent the last years of his life spending time lecturing about his time with JS.

As for BY giving ANYONE in pension, nope, not going to happen. He wouldn't even support his wives.

So I'm sure there is a story about why MH is buried where he is buried, but I don't know what that story is.

Which is a pity because I once read a biography of the man.

I've read so many books. I wish I could remember them better.

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Posted by: olderelder ( )
Date: April 28, 2021 11:25AM

loislane Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> BY wanted MH in Utah, as he could testify to "the
> truth" and help strengthen people's "testimony."

And to validate BY's claim to be the rightful successor.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 01:00AM

Exactly.

Recall Stalin, who was afraid in World War Two that his opponents might coalesce around Trotsky and accordingly sent a hit squad to kill him in Mexico. BY might not have gone to such extremes, but he definitely wanted to gather as many threads of the fraying Mormon fabric in SLC as possible.

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 07:07AM

Come to think of it, BY had no problem sending hit men to destroy his enemies if it suited his purposes.

MH definitely liked being a celebrity, but once he got to Utah he might have thought things over and decided it was best to take up residence at a safe distance from BY.

What is it about power that turns ordinary men into psychopaths?

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 12:34PM

loislane Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Come to think of it, BY had no problem sending hit
> men to destroy his enemies if it suited his
> purposes.
>
> MH definitely liked being a celebrity, but once he
> got to Utah he might have thought things over and
> decided it was best to take up residence at a safe
> distance from BY.
>
> What is it about power that turns ordinary men
> into psychopaths?

Have the 'hits' ordered by BY, carried out by the 'Danites' ever been documented? I hope so!

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 05:41PM

>>What is it about power that turns ordinary men into psychopaths?

I think BY was always a sociopath. I think it's born into you. Power just gave BY the ability to greatly harm others without remorse.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 05:47PM

Yep.

ETA: Maybe not born that way, but the combination of nature and nurture would have rendered him a sociopath (work better in social organizations, less mercurial and unpredictable than a psychopath, but otherwise indistinguishable from a psychopath) by late childhood. So, as you note, not corrupted by power.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/29/2021 05:50PM by Lot's Wife.

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Posted by: auntsukey ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 10:12AM

Martin Harris - dumb, dumb, dumb.
Lucy Harris - smart, smart, smart.

https://southpark.cc.com/video-clips/no2vvp/south-park-joseph-smith-part-4

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Posted by: kathleen ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 10:50AM

Remember when we were taught that Lucy Harris was the bad guy, and that she was probably responsible for the 116 pages disappearing?

Near Saratoga Springs, Utah is the Porter Rockwell Drive. Anything named after Martin Harris? Gee, how Mormons love their murderers and ignore their victims.

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 12:09PM

The words "Martin Harris Festival" popped up in my mind when I read Kathleen's post.

I googled those words, and sure enough an article popped up with info about MH's days in Utah and the festival that was a yearly event for a long time.

BY planned MH's funeral, which was a very big deal. Two towns argued with each other for the privilege of buying him.

But no, there is no MH Drive or Martin Harrisville as far as I know.

But it sure does sound that he was celebrated back in the day.

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Posted by: kathleen ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 02:39PM

Thanks, Lois. At least he got that.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 03:00PM

Do you have source material on that? If so, please share. I've wondered exatly where MH lived, what is "retirement" there was like, and why Clarkston, of all places?

Hmmm....Lois Lane...CLARKston... More here than meets the eye? As Yogi Berra said, "That's too coincidental to be a coincidence."

Now, where's Kentish on this matter?

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 03:04PM

I picked the name LoisLane because I am a mild-mannered court reporter from another planet (Kolob, I think)

I will see if I can find my MH bio. As I recall, it was very well written, and aimed at truth more that promotion of faith.

I will return and report.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/29/2021 08:46PM by loislane.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 03:25PM

If it's an out-of-print volume and not otherwise available, I'd appreciate a paragraph summary or so of his final days in Cache Valley. Matters I'm curious about are: did he live in Clarkston--or elsewhere--if so, where? What he stashed up there to keep him out of the public eye? If he didn't live or die in Clarkston, why was he buried there?

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 05:36PM

Bless your heart for that.

I sell books on Amazon as a side business (a side business I DO NOT RECOMMEND to anyone, but that is another story.)

It seems I sold my MH biography, but no matter. I found an inexpensive copy, and I bought it and when it gets here, I'll read it and report back anything of note.

I know well from personal experience the exhilerating feeling of thinking you are in at the top level of some important plan of God's, feeling that you are rubbing shoulders with God's very elite, being presented with overwhelming evidence that you are being duped and refusing to look at that evidence because it will mean that you are just another person in this weary world.

I know how that works and I think that is what happened to poor MH.

So I will re-read that bio, and come back with all the interesting bits

BTW, was the Salamader letter originally claimed to be written by MH?

I forget.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 05:44PM

IMO Martin Harris was either afraid of BY, or he got something tangible out of being a returned Mormon, or perhaps a bit of both. It is said that a good raconteur can "eat out" on their stories. Harris's ability to share recollections about Joseph Smith likely gave him a lot of status in Mormon circles.

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Posted by: Ex-CultMember ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 08:58PM

You have the original letter? Do you know if it is part of the public record? Meaning, historians are aware of it and have the contents recorded in books and have copies of that letter in archives, such as those in libraries?

If not, PLEASE make copies of it, make PDF's of it, and share with some scholarly historians. Regardless of the contents, its a historical document and is valuable to history.

Can you share the word for word text? Would really be interesting if its not part of the public record.

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Posted by: Ex-CultMember ( )
Date: April 29, 2021 09:02PM

Also, do NOT donate it to the LDS Church and/or give it to any LDS folks without first making copies of it and sharing with objective historians because if there is anything in that letter that might be damaging to the church or not put the church in the best light, it will get buried in the First Presidency vault never to see the light of day.

There are numerous stories of historical documents that the church has locked up and never published because of the information contained in them.

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Posted by: loislane ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 08:10AM

What letter are you talking about -- the salamander letter?

You can find it online if you just google "The Salamander letter" and yes, it was purported to be written by MH.

Jerald Tanner recognized it as a forgery, because despite the fact that the ink, the paper, and the postmark were consistent with 19th century documents, JT, KNEW that the letter wasn't authentic because he knew MH would never write such a letter. He knew MH.

The LDS church OTOH accepted the document as authentic.


They did not know MH.

I guess when I re-read the biography I will get to know him.

If you google "MH fesival" you will see how much he was lionized in the last years of his life, and a yearly festival was held in his honor for years.

So, no, he didn't just slink into obscurity. He lived to be 93 years old.

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Posted by: Ex-CultMember ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 12:58PM

Maybe I misread your post wrong but you wrote "I have a letter from a great great grandfather..."

And then you started talking about how he was at the Tabernacle when Martin Harris spoke.

It sounded like you had in your possession a letter from your great great grandfather describing a talk given by Martin Harris.

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Posted by: Ex-CultMember ( )
Date: April 30, 2021 01:00PM

Sorry, I was thinking you were the Op.

The op mentioned having a letter from his great great grandfather describing a talk given by Martin Harris in the Tabernacle giving his account of the Gold Plates, etc.

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