As a witness of significant events in the rise of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Oliver Cowdery’s importance is superseded only by that of the Prophet Joseph Smith. With the exception of Joseph’s First Vision and the appearances of Moroni, Cowdery participated with the Prophet in the key events of the Restoration. The scope of his experiences include the translation of the Book of Mormon, the restoration of the Priesthood, the organization of the Church, the first extensive missionary work of the Church, and divine manifestations in the Kirtland Temple.
The youngest of eight children, Oliver Cowdery was born 3 October 1806 in Wells, Rutland County, Vermont. In 1825 he moved to New York, where he worked successively as a clerk in a general store, as a blacksmith, and as a farmer. In 1828 he entered the teaching profession in Manchester, New York, where he first became acquainted with the religious claims of Joseph Smith. His entry into the mainstream of Mormon history occurred in April 1829 when he traveled to Harmony, Pennsylvania, to meet Joseph Smith, who was engaged in the translation of the Book of Mormon. Cowdery assisted Joseph as a scribe during the translation of the major part of that work, and his name appears in the Book of Mormon as one of the witnesses to the reliability of the claims of Joseph Smith regarding its origin and method of translation.