A historic Church figure most recognized for his part in the loss of 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon, Martin Harris actually played an important role in the Church and was faithful enough to be one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon.
A war veteran and respected leader in the community, he befriended Joseph Smith and became a scribe for the Book of Mormon translation starting in 1828. After the 116 pages went missing, he stopped his work as a scribe. Nine months later, however, Harris was promised that if he would humble himself, he would be one of the three witnesses to the plates, which he was in 1829.
That same year, Harris mortgaged his home and farm to help pay for the printing of the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon. He later lost a portion of the farm when the note came due.
Harris was actively involved in the Church until 1837, when financial and spiritual conflicts caused him to “lose confidence in Joseph Smith” and he was excommunicated. His first wife, Lucy, died in 1836, and within a year he remarried to a niece of Brigham Young. Harris and his family did not move west, but he was eventually rebaptized in Kirtland in 1842. Though his wife and children moved to Utah a little over 10 years later, Harris stayed in Kirtland, watching over the temple there until an invitation from Brigham Young finally reunited him with his family in Utah.
He lived to be 92 and passed away in Clarkston, Utah in 1875. Before he died, he again affirmed “I tell you of these things that you may tell others that what I have said is true, and I dare not deny it; I heard the voice of God commanding me to testify to the same.”