Peter Whitmer, Sr. was born 14 April 1773 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States to Christian Whitmer (1747-1776) and Barbara Ebersole (1754-) and died 12 August 1854 Richmond, Ray County, Missouri, United States of unspecified causes. He married Mary Elsa Musselman (1778-1856) 1797 in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.
Of the Book of Mormon’s eleven witnesses, seven were Whitmers by blood or marriage. The Book of Mormon translation was finished at the Whitmer home in Fayette; near it the Three Witnesses saw Moroni and the plates; there the organization of the Church and early New York conferences were held; half of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants from the New York period—twenty—were received there, a record unequaled by any other dwelling in the state. Joseph Smith (1805-1844)’s family had carried the first burden in inquiry and persecution in the gospel’s restoration, but the Whitmers were the family that nourished the Church.
1809 Move to Fayette NY
The story of this interesting family began in Pennsylvania. Like most families in that area, they were of German extraction. George Q. Cannon stated that David Whitmer, even as an old man, still had a “German twang” in his voice when he spoke. 2 In 1809, the family—consisting of the parents, Peter, Sr., and Mary Musselman Whitmer, and their five children, Christian, Jacob, John, David, and Catherine—moved to Fayette, New York (near Seneca Lake). Three more children were born there—Peter, Nancy, and Elizabeth Ann. In Fayette, the Whitmers drew closer to God by working the soil and worshipping at Zion’s Church, a German-speaking Presbyterian church. They may well have lived out their lives in anonymity there except for a young man, Joseph Smith, Jr., and events that transpired twenty-five miles north in Manchester, New York.
Marriage and Family
- Christian Whitmer (1798-1835) - one of the Eight Witnesses. Died in Clay Co, Missouri where he was a presiding elder of the church.
- Jacob Whitmer (1800-1856)
- John Whitmer (1802-1878)
- David Whitmer (1805-1888)
- Catherine Whitmer (1807-1881)
- Peter Whitmer (1809-1836)
- Nancy Whitmer (1812-1813)
- Elizabeth Ann Whitmer (1815-1892) - wife of Oliver Cowdery (1806-1850), one of the Three Witnesses and Second Elder in the Church.
- The Whitmers: A Family that Nourished the Church - LDS Ensign Aug 1979.
- True to the Book of Mormon: The Whitmers - LDS Ensign Feb 1989.