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Testimony of John W. Rigdon (With Correction)

TitleTestimony of John W. Rigdon (With Correction)
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication1905
AuthorsRigdon, John W.
MagazineImprovement Era
Issue Number6
Date PublishedApril 1905
KeywordsBook of Mormon; Early Church History; Missionary Work; Rigdon, Sidney; Smith, Joseph, Jr.; Testimony; Translation

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Testimony of John W. Rigdon

The ERA has received the following interesting statement from New York City, under date of March 12, 1905:

Today, at a meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held at 151 W. 125th Street, John W. Rigdon, son of Sidney Rigdon, made some remarks of which the following is an abstract:

I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was a boy of nine years, by Hyrum Smith, but was never confirmed a member. The baptism was witnessed by my father and Joseph Smith. I am now nearly seventy-five years old.

My father and family were in Pittsburg when Joseph was killed. On hearing of it, my father went immediately to Nauvoo, claiming that he should be the leader of the Church, but the apostles did not think so, and Brigham Young was appointed to take the lead. My father was very much hurt, and felt that his labors had not been appreciated.

In the early sixties, [he gave the year] I went to Idaho and thence to Salt Lake City. Eliza R. Snow and others tried to induce me to join the Church, but I did not, and came home to the east rather poorly impressed with the Utah people. I determined to ascertain from my father whether he knew anything in regard to the origin of the Book of Mormon other than had been made public, and if such were unfavorable to the Church I should make it known. My father was then in his last years, and I found him as firm as ever in declaring that he himself had nothing whatever to do in writing the book, and that Joseph Smith received it from an angel. On his dying bed he made the same declaration to a Methodist minister.

I myself well remember when Parley P. Pratt brought the book to my father's house, and presented it to him, and I also know that this was the first time that my father ever saw it. My sister, some nine years older than I, testified to me a few months ago that she also remembers when the book was first seen by our father. My mother has also told me that father had nothing whatever to do with the writing of the book, and that she positively knew that he had never seen it until Parley P. Pratt came to our home with it. These testimonies have clung to me ever since, and I could not forget them.

About five years ago, I corresponded with Joseph Smith, president of the Reorganized Church, and was well impressed with him. I knew him as a boy, and loved him. But I do know that he was not ordained to the presidency of the Church while his father was in Liberty jail, for I made the visit with him, and we did not leave each other during our stay there. The men who did ordain him later did not have the authority to do so. Men cannot confer what they themselves do not possess.

Something like five years ago, I again went to Salt Lake City. One day, as I was sitting in a bank and looking up at the statue of the angel Moroni, the conviction came to me that the builders of this temple are the people of God. Again and again, with increasing conviction, this testimony came to me as I looked upon the figure of the angel. I wrote to Joseph Smith of the Reorganized Church and asked what I should do, and desired that he should enquire of the Lord concerning it. He promised to do so, but I have not learned of the result. I read a sermon of his, a few months later, in which he declared that Brigham Young was the instigator of polygamy. This I knew to be false, from things I had seen before Joseph's martyrdom. This falsehood turned me against the Reorganized Church. Elder John M. McFarlane baptized me into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last summer, in the Hudson River, and I now bear testimony to the world that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that Brigham Young was his true successor.

We declare that the above is a true report.



Testimony of John W. Rigdon - Correction

In the article under the above title in the April number of the ERA, an error, in reporting the statement of John W. Rigdon, inadvertently crept in. In the second paragraph, on page 466, it is said, "I, myself, well remember when Parley P. Pratt brought the book to my father's house," etc.

This paragraph should read as follows: "I, myself, well remember having been informed by my mother, and also recently by my sister Athalia, who is now alive, of the time when Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery, and Ziba Peterson brought the book to my father's house, and presented it to him, and I also know, through them, that this was the first time that my father ever saw it," etc.

Brother Rigdon was only a few months old at the time this incident occurred, and consequently it is obviously an error to state, as was inadvertently done, that he remembers the incident. Brother Rigdon, who otherwise practically made the same statements in the late conference as appeared in the last number of the ERA, called and asked that this correction be made.