Pioneer Mary Ann Chapple recorded in her journal that her father gave the natives what, which absolutely thrilled them?
From the life of David Whitmer: In 1878, he was visited by Apostles Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith, who in their report about said visit wrote as follows: “On Saturday morning,, Sept. 7 (1878), we met Mr. David Whitmer (at Richmond, Ray county, Mo.), the last remaining one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. He is a good –sized man, 73 years of age last January, and well preserved. He is close shaven, his hair perfectly white, and rather thin; he has a large head and a very pleasant, manly countenance that one would readily perceive to be an index to a conscientious, honest heart. He seemed wonderfully pleased, as well as surprised, at seeing Elder Orson Pratt, and said he would not have known him as he had grown so fat and stout; he remembered him as a slender, bashful, timid boy. After a few moments’ conversation he excused himself, saying he would return again to see us. This meeting was in the bar-room of the hotel. When he called again he was in company with Col. Childs a middle aged man, and a resident of the place. By invitation we accompanied them to Mr. Whitmer’s office, where we were introduced to Mr. David J. Whitmer (eldest son of David), Mr. George Schweich (grandson of the old gentleman), Mr. John C. Whitmer (son of Jacob Whitmer), Col. James W. Back, of Richmond, and several others. A couple of hours were very pleasantly passed in conversation, principally on Utah matters, when we parted for dinner, agreeing to meet Mr. Whitmer again at his office, at 4:30 p. m. Agreeable to appointment we met Mr. Whitmer and his friends, at his office, but as the place was too public for private conversation as it seemed impossible to obtain a private personal interview with David Whitmer, by himself, we invited him and such of his friends as he was proper to fetch along to our room in the hotel. Mr. Whitmer apologized for not inviting us to his house, as it was ‘wash day,’ and he and his wife were ‘worn out’ with the extra labor, exposure, etc., etc., consequent on rebuilding since the cyclone. He accepted our invitation to our room and brought with him James R. B. Vancleave, a fine looking, intelligent young newspaper man, of Chicago, George Schweich, John C. Whitmer, W. W. Warner and another person whose name we did not learn. In the presence of these the following, in substance, as noticed in Brother Joseph F. Smith’s journal, is the account of the interview: Elder Orson Pratt to David Whitmer: So you remember what time you saw the plates? David Whitmer: It was in June, 1829, the latter part of the month, and the Eight Witnesses saw them, I think, the next day or the day after. Joseph showed them the plates himself, but the angel showed us (the Three Witnesses) the plates, as I suppose to fulfill the words of the book itself. Martin Harris was not with us at this time; he obtained a view of them afterwards (the same day). Joseph, Oliver and myself were together when I saw them. We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon, but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and many other plates. The fact is, it was just as though Joseph, Oliver and I were sitting just here on a log, when we were overshadowed by a light. It was not like the light of the sun, nor like that of a fire, but more glorious and beautiful. It extended away round us, I cannot tell how far, but in the midst of this light about as far off as he sits (pointing to John C. Whitmer, sitting a few feet from him), there appeared, as it were a table with many records or plates upon it, besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the sword of Laban, the directors (i. e., the ball which Lehi had) and the interpreters. I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever hear anything in my life, declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.” Pratt: Did you see the angel at this time?” Whitmer: “Yes; he stood before us. Our testimony as recorded in the Book of Mormon is strictly and absolutely true, just as it is there written. Before I knew Joseph, I had heard about him and the plates from persons who declared they knew he had them, and swore they would get them from him. When Oliver Cowdery went to Pennsylvania, he promised to write me what he should learn about these matters, which he did. He wrote me that Joseph had told him his (Oliver’s) secret thoughts, and all he had meditated about going to see him, which no man on earth knew, as he supposed, but himself, and so he stopped to write for Joseph. Soon after this, Joseph sent for me (Whitmer) to come to Harmony to get him and Oliver and bring them to my father’s house. I did not know what to do. I was pressed with my work. I had some twenty acres to plow, so I concluded I would finish plowing and then go. I got up one morning to go to work as usual, and on going to the field, found between five and seven acres of my ground had been plowed during the night. I don’t know who did it; but it was done just as I would have done it myself, and the plow was left standing in the furrow. This enabled me to start sooner. When I arrived at Harmony, Joseph and Oliver were coming toward me, and met me some distance from the house. Oliver told me that Joseph had informed him when I started from home, where I had stopped the first night, how I read the sign at the tavern, where I stopped the next night, etc., and that I would be there that day before dinner, and this was why they had come out to meet me; all of which was exactly as Joseph had told Oliver, at which I was greatly astonished. When I was returning to Fayette, with Joseph and Oliver, all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old-fashioned wooden spring seat and Joseph behind us—when traveling along in a clear open place, a very pleasant, nice-looking old man suddenly appeared by the side of our wagon and saluted us with, ‘good morning, it is very warm.’ At the same time wiping his face or forehead with his hand. I returned the salutation, and, by a sign from Joseph, I invited him to ride if he was going our way. But he said very pleasantly, ‘No, I am going to Cumorah.’ This name was something new to me, I did not know what Cumorah meant. We all gazed at him and at each other, and as I looked around enquiringly of Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared, so that I did not see him again. Joseph F. Smith: Did you notice his appearance? Whitmer: I should think I did. He was, I should think nine inches tall and heavy set, about such a man as James Vancleave there, but heavier; his face was as large; he was dressed in a suit of brown woolen clothes, his hair and beard were white, like Brother Pratt’s, but his beard was not so heavy. I also remember that he had on his back a sort of knapsack with something in, shaped like a book. It was the messenger who had the plates, who had taken them from Joseph just prior to our starting from Harmony. Soon after our arrival home, I saw something which led me to the belief that the plates were placed or concealed in my father’s barn. I frankly asked Joseph if my supposition was right, and he told me it was. Sometime after this, my mother was going to milk the cows, when she was met out near the yard by the same old man (judging by her description of him), who said to her: ‘You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tired because of the increase in your toil; it is proper, therefore, that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened.’ Thereupon he showed her the plates. My father and mother had a large family of their own, the addition to it, therefore, of Joseph, his wife Emma and Oliver very greatly increased the toil and anxiety of my mother. And although she had never complained she had sometimes felt that her labor was too much, or at least was perhaps beginning to feel so. This circumstance, however, completely removed all such feelings and nerved her up for her increased responsibilities. Pratt: Have you in your possession the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon? Whitmer: I have; they are in Oliver Cowdery’s handwriting. He placed them in my care at his death, and charged me to preserve them as long as I lived; they are safe and well preserved. Joseph F. Smith: What will be done with them at your death? Whitmer: I will leave them to my nephew, David Whitmer, son of my brother Jacob, and my name-sake. Pratt: Would you not part with them to a purchaser? Whitmer: No. Oliver charged me to keep them, and Joseph said my father’s house should keep the records. I consider these things sacred, and would not part with nor barter them for money. Joseph F. Smith: We would not offer you money in the light of bartering for the manuscript, but we would like to see them preserved in some manner where they would be safe from casualties and from the caprices of men, in some institution that will not die as man does. Whitmer; That is all right. While camping around here in a tent, all my effects exposed to the weather, everything in the trunk where the manuscripts were kept became moldy, etc., but they were preserved, not even being discolored. (We supposed his camping in a tent, etc., had reference to his circumstances after the cyclone, in June last.) The room in which the manuscripts were kept, was the only part of the house which was not demolished, and even the ceiling of that room was but little impaired. ‘Do your think,’ said Phil. Page a son of Hiram Page, one of the Eight Witnesses, ‘that the Almighty cannot take care of His own!’ Next day (Sunday, Sept. 8th) Mr. Whitmer invited us to his house, where, in the presence of David Whitmer, Esq. (son of Jacob), Philander Page, James R. B. Vancleave, David J. Whitmer (son of David the Witness), George Schweich (grandson of David), Colonel Childs and others, David Whitmer brought out the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. We examined them closely and those who knew the handwriting pronounced the whole of them, excepting comparatively a few pages, to be in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery. It was thought that these few pages were in the handwriting of Emma Smith and John and Christian Whitmer. We found that the names of the elven Witnesses were, however, subscribed in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery. When the question was asked Mr. Whitmer if he had the other witnesses did or did not sign the testimonies themselves, Mr. Whitmer replied that each signed his own name. ‘Then where are the original signatures?” David Whitmer; I’ don’t know, I suppose Oliver copied them but this I know is an exact copy.’ Joseph F. Smith suggested that perhaps there were two copies of the manuscripts, but Mr. Whitmer replied that, according to the best of his knowledge, there never was but the one copy. Herein, of course, he is evidently uninformed. Elder Orson Pratt again felt closely after the subject of procuring the manuscript, but we found that nothing would move him on this point. The whole Whitmer family are deeply impressed with the sacredness of this relic. And so thoroughly imbued are they with the idea and faith that it is under the immediate protection of the Almighty, that in their estimation, not only are the manuscripts themselves safe from all possible contingencies, but that they are a source of protection to the place or house in which they may be kept, and, it may be to those who have possession of them.
Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1901) 1: 266-268.