Following a bitter schism, Dr. Daniel Stone tells how the two Bickertonite factions reunited. It was interesting to find out how the LDS Church reacted when they learned of the Bickertonite schism.
Daniel: John Taylor hears about the Bickertonites and hears about how they’re split and basically sends missionaries down the line. They send missionaries to St John and to Pennsylvania to convert the Bickertonites, and they’re very successful at doing that. I want to mind you. They convert a lot of Bickertonites.
GT: Even though they are polygamists? Because John Taylor was definitely a polygamist.
Daniel: Yep! You have several of the missionaries going, both the Pennsylvania and going to Kansas convincing Bickertonites who were strongly opposed to polygamy, that polygamy was a true revelation. It goes to show you how you could have really staunch people. It goes to show you how bad the split really hurt the Bickertonite movement. They literally saw it in shambles.
Daniel: William Bickerton is in his late eighties. William Bickerton knows that he’s going to die soon. His brother had even died that I believe was younger than him, if I remember correctly. So, he sends a friendly face that was a member of Bickerton’s schism, but then eventually joins Cadman. His name was Alexander Cherry and William Cadman sends Alexander Cherry to St. John, Kansas to talk with William Bickerton in his late eighties to say, okay, here are the terms. And it’s a friendlier face than William Cadman, because William Cadman did meet with William Bickerton before that and they couldn’t come to terms. So, Alexander Cherry presents William Bickerton with an offer.
He says basically, “Listen. If you don’t be a prophet anymore, don’t recognize yourself as a prophet. You’re not the leader of the church anymore, but you can still hold a priesthood position as an elder, we will bring all of your members in our church and we can all just join as one. Because both churches excommunicated each other. They basically said, “We’ll forget that that even happened.” And they basically said, “If you forgive us, we’ll forgive you.” That was the terms. And William Bickerton in his last to age had two choices. You could either die right, being not an adulterer in holding onto his pride and the church is split in two, or he could help the movement which was already happening and bring the church together and he chooses the latter. He says he steps down.
He is no longer considered a prophet. He’s considered an elder and the church comes back together. It’s that easy. Nobody’s rebaptized. It just comes back, and they basically forget everything, and he literally thinks the past is forgotten.