Bradshaw, Jeffrey M.

Emer Harris and Dennison Lott Harris: Owner of the First Copy of the Book of Mormon, Witness of the “Last Charge” of Joseph Smith


In this book, you will find the full story of two little known heroes of the Restoration: Emer and Dennison Lott Harris.

Emer said he received the first bound copy of the Book of Mormon from his brother Martin and recorded unique details of some of the events in its lost pages. But that is only the beginning. Emer’s acceptance of the truths and covenants of the Gospel frequently left him and his family impoverished, in peril, and physically worn down. It was Emer’s knowledge of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the divine call of the Prophet who brought it forth that enabled him to lay down his all for the Lord.

Referring to Emer’s son Dennison Lott, Joseph Smith once said, “There’s the boy I can trust.” Dennison’s personal narrative describes the harrowing events in 1844 when he risked his life to protect Joseph Smith from dissidents plotting against his life. Much less known is Dennison’s role as the only independent witness to events surrounding Joseph Smith’s “Last Charge” to the Quorum of the Twelve as he prepared to “roll the kingdom off [his] shoulders” onto theirs. The encounters of Catholic scholars John M. Reiner and Stephen H. Webb with the restored Church of Jesus Christ highlight the importance of the keys received by the apostles, then and now.

Although overshadowed by his much more famous younger brother, Martin, Emer and Dennison were important figures in their own right. So this engagingly written and meticulously researched book is a welcome contribution to the history of the Restoration. But I have a personal reason for hailing it: Over the past several years, I’ve been focused on the Book of Mormon witnesses. Now, though, I’m turning to a project on the succession of Brigham Young and the Twelve to the leadership of the Church. And here—amazingly—is a volume that’s important for both of those subjects!

—Daniel C. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University and President of the Interpreter Foundation

If you are looking for a typeset version of the life and documents associated with Emer Harris and his son Dennison, this book is for you. It is well-researched and has a lengthy bibliography. It is a wonderful contribution to scholarship and our further understanding of these two faithful Saints.

—Susan Easton Black, Professor Emerita of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University and author of Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon


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Weight 2 lbs