Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » A Photograph: Oliver Cowdery Monument Dedication

A Photograph: Oliver Cowdery Monument Dedication

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 18, 2010

Four photographs, actually.

The monument to Oliver Cowdery, now generally considered a monument to all Three Witnesses, was placed in the pioneer cemetery at Richmond, Ray County, Missouri, on 22 November 1911. (Compare the bucolic setting of the third picture here to its paved and parking lotted surroundings today.) A contingent of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, returning home after singing in New York, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia, and elsewhere, took part in the services. The dedicatory prayer was offered by Elder Heber J. Grant: “We thank thee not only, Heavenly Father, for this spot of ground where the remains of Oliver Cowdery lie, but we thank thee also, because of Father Peter Whitmer, and his wife, and those who were loyal and true to the cause of truth, whose remains lie in this cemetery.”

These photographs show the monument under construction, the monument in transit to the cemetery, the monument in place, and the Choir following their performance in the Richmond Opera House later in the evening.





  1. I assume it was placed there because that is where he was buried. I know he rejoined the Church in 1848. But apparently he did not go west?

    Comment by Bruce Crow — August 18, 2010 @ 9:30 am

  2. You’re right; he’s buried there. I don’t really know his biography after the early days with Joseph Smith, though.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 18, 2010 @ 10:16 am

  3. The wikipedia bio, which claims to be reprinted from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, has a brief sketch of his later years.

    Comment by Clark — August 18, 2010 @ 10:26 am

  4. That is quite a history. The part after his rebaptism, however, is brief indeed. It says he was rebaptized at Council Bluffs in 1848 and then died at David Whitmer’s house in 1850.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — August 18, 2010 @ 10:42 am

  5. We were actually up in that area last month. I had wanted to stop in Richmond, MO, to see the monument, but we were short of time. Now, after reading this post, I wish we would have made the time.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 18, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  6. Bruce: I don’t know much either, but he was married to a Whitmer and after his rebaptism went to Richmond to convince his in-laws to return to the Church. It was there that he got sick and died. Beyond that, I don’t know much else.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 18, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  7. Thanks Steve. I had brainstormed a couple of ideas that would explain what happened, and that was one of them. I won’t embarrass myself by describing the others.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — August 18, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  8. Does anyone know where can you get the text or clear photos that show the text of all sides of that monument?


    Comment by Bookslinger — August 18, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

  9. Bookslinger: Here is a link that might help.

    Good luck. I really should have stopped there and taken some pictures. I saw it once when I was about 13 years old. I don’t remember much.

    Comment by Steve C. — August 18, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

  10. Ardis: I always learn something when I visit your site. Thank you.

    Comment by larryco_ — August 19, 2010 @ 10:27 am

  11. Ardis: Is Evan Stephens in the photograph with the choir? If so is there an article about their visit there?

    Comment by Jeff Johnson — August 19, 2010 @ 11:41 pm

  12. Jeff, yes, and yes. I’ll get the article to you — the Choir’s business manager wrote a long, multi-part report of their travels that year, which was published in, I think, 1913. In the picture, there is a box (or maybe a short set of steps?) front and center. I think that the man directly above that box (which might be for the director to stand on so he’ll be visible to his chorus) is Evan Stephens. He was definitely there, anyway, and that man looks the most like him to me.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2010 @ 1:35 am

  13. One dramatic incident I remember from that article is that the Choir sang “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” to an audience that wept and cheered, in an auditorium only half a mile from the site of the old Richmond jail where Joseph had been held under sentence of death, and where he stood and commanded, “Silence, ye fiends of the infernal pit!”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 20, 2010 @ 1:55 am

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