A Witness of the Book of Mormon
Jacob Whitmer, the second son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Whitmer, was born on January 27th, 1800. In his youth, Jacob was educated and learned hard work by helping to run the Whitmer farm. He married Elizabeth Schott, in 1825. They would have 9 children. Jacob first became acquainted with Joseph Smith Jr. at the age of 29. His brother, David, brought Joseph and his wife, Emma, and Joseph's scribe, Oliver Cowdery, to their home in Fayette, New York, to complete the translation of the gold plates, now known as the Book of Mormon. Jacob believed in Joseph, and had faith enough to be called as one of the Eight Witnesses. Jacob was allowed to see, hold and examine the plates.
He was one of the earliest members baptized, on April 11, 1830, just a few days after the Church was officially organized in his parent's home. He and his family accompanied the church to Kirtland, Ohio, and to Jackson County, Missouri, where he along with everyone else was driven out by mob violence against the Church. He resettled in Clay County, Missouri, and worked in different capacities for the Church, including High Councilor, and a member of the Church's Building Committee. However, when his brothers, David and John were excommunicated for apostasy, Jacob voluntarily removed himself from the church and moved to Richmond, Missouri. While living in Richmond, his family established themselves as respected and prominent members of the community. Jacob's son, David, became a lawyer, and I found reports that one of them had been elected Mayor of Richmond for 2 terms. Jacob died at the age of 56 on April 21, 1856.
Even though Jacob severed his relationship with the Church, he never denied his experience with the gold plates and the Book of Mormon. In 1888, John C. Whitmer, Jacob's son, recalled his father's last words about his part as a witness. This is what he said, "My father (Jacob Whitmer) was always faithful and true to his testimony in regard to the Book of Mormon, and confirmed it on his deathbed."
If I were about to die, and I was about to go meet God, the last thing I would want is to keep a lie going. I would want to clear my conscience as fast as I could. He had every opportunity and every reason to do it. He had nothing to gain by keeping the story going, and nothing to lose by going public with a recantation of his testimony. The fact is that he never recanted, even on his death bed, because he knew what he had witnessed and signed his name too was true. And here's the kicker, Jacob Whitmer has an image of an open Book of Mormon etched into his headstone. On the back is an inscription that reads "Jacob was one of the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon". Jacob's testimony is literally etched in stone.
B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.2, p.321
LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 1, p.276
P. W. Poulson ltr in Deseret News, 16 Aug 1878, p.2
"Historical Landmarks," Deseret News, 17 Sep 1888, p. 2.