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Mary Musselman Whitmer 
Mary Musselman Whitmer (1778-1856).  The wife of the Peter Whitmer Sr.  They raised eight children in a strict Presbyterian household. Five of her sons would become witnesses for the gold plates, along with her Sons-in-Law: Hiram Page, whom married Catherine Whitmer in 1825; and Oliver Cowdery, whom married Elizabeth Whitmer in 1832.
She assisted her husband and sons on the prosperous farm they ran in Fayette, NY. Her family was introduced to Joseph Smith Jr., by their son, David, in 1829. David had previously learned of Joseph through Oliver Cowdery. During the translation of the plates, David received a letter from Oliver stating that things had become hostile in Pennsylvania and asked if they could complete the translation at the Whitmer Farm. David asked his parents for permission to bring the three of them from Harmony, PA to their home. He told them what he had learned about Joseph Smith from Oliver. After a couple of miraculous events on their farm, Mary and Peter Sr. consented. Believing it was God's will they allowed Joseph, Emma, and Oliver to board in their home free of charge. Martin Harris would join them later.
The Whitmer's were enthusiastic about the work being done and had total faith in Joseph's prophetic calling. A couple of her sons even assisted with the translation as scribes. The translation was completed there, and on April 6, 1830, the Church was officially and legally organized and held it's first meeting in her log home. 
Mary is the only known female to view the plates directly.  As was mentioned, during the translation of the records, Mary was not only supporting her own family, she was supporting Joseph, Emma, and Oliver. This created quite a burden for her. The following is her account she gave to her sons and grandchildren about an experience she had one day, while the work of the translation was commencing.

This account is given by her grandson, John C. Whitmer in 1878:
"I have heard my grandmother (Mary Musselman Whitmer) say on several occasions that she was shown the plates of the Book of Mormon by a holy angel, whom she always called Brother Nephi. (She most likely was refering to Moroni.  The angel Moroni, who was in charge of the plates, was a Nephite.)

"It was at the time, she said, when the translation was going on at the house of the elder Peter Whitmer, her husband. Joseph Smith with his wife and Oliver Cowdery, whom David Whitmer a short time previous had brought up from Harmony, Pennsylvania, were all boarding with the Whitmers, and my grandmother in having so many extra persons to care for, besides her own large household, was often overloaded with work to such an extent that she felt it to be quite a burden.
"One evening, when (after having done her usual day's work in the house) she went to the barn to milk the cows, she met a stranger carrying something on his back that looked like a knapsack. At first she was a little afraid of him, but when he spoke to her in a kind, friendly tone and began to explain to her the nature of the work which was going on in her house, she was filled with inexpressible joy and satisfaction. He then untied his knapsack and showed her a bundle of plates, which in size and appearance corresponded with the description subsequently given by the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. This strange person turned the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them; after which he told her to be patient and faithful in bearing her burden a little longer, promising that if she would do so, she should be blessed; and her reward would be sure, if she proved faithful to the end. The personage then suddenly vanished with the plates, and where he went, she could not tell.

"From that moment my grandmother was enabled to perform her household duties with comparative ease, and she felt no more inclination to murmur because her lot was hard. I knew my grandmother to be a good, noble and truthful woman, and I have not the least doubt of her statement in regard to seeing the plates being strictly true. She was a strong believer in the Book of Mormon until the day of her death." 

Historical Record," Vol. 7, p. 621
LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 1, p.283
B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.2, p.125
Deseret News, 27 Nov. 1878, p. 674.

Information from & by permission of:
Kelly Bingham
Website: "Moroni's Latter-Day Saint Page"
Edited by Phil Michel


[According to David Whitmer,] soon after our [Joseph, Oliver, and David] arrival home [in Fayette], I saw something which led me to the belief that the plates were placed or concealed in my father's barn. I frankly asked Joseph if my supposition was right, and he told me it was. Sometime after this, my mother was going to milk the cows, when she was met out near the yard by the same old man ([Moroni], judging by her description of him) who said to her: "You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tired because of the increase of your toil; it is proper therefore that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened." Thereuponhe showed her the plates. My father and mother had a large family of their own, the addition to it therefore of Joseph, his wife Emma and Oliver very greatly increased the toil and anxiety of my mother. And although she had never complained she had sometimes felt that her labor was too much, or at least she was perhaps beginning to feel so. This circumstance, however, completely removed all such feelings and nerved her up for her increased responsibilities.

Book of Abraham ProjectTM
"Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith," MS 40 (9 Dec 1878):772-73. 

[John C. Whitmer said that] my grandmother told him that the strange visitor met her as she was going to milk the cows. At first she was afraid of him, but he spoke so kindly to her, explaining to her the nature of the work of translation to go on in her house, that she felt a thrill of inexpressible joy, which removed all fear from her. Comforting words were spoken, promising her strength and pleasure in her increased labors, and salvation at the end. Moroni took from his knapsack the plates and exhibited them as already explained by David. The personage then suddenly vanished with the plates, and where he went, she could not tell. From that time my grandmother was enabled to perform her household duties with comparative ease, feeling no inclination to murmur because her lot was a hard one.

Edward Stevenson, 
Book of Abraham ProjectTM
The Thirteenth Witness to the Plates of the Book of Mormon," MS 55 (1893):215. 

Mary Musselman was privileged to see the gold plates,  (Ensign July 1992)