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“The Other Mormons” – Intro to James Strang (Part 1 of 6)

Bill Shepard is an amazing Mormon historian, and a former president of the John Whitmer Historical Association.  He is also a Strangite.  In our first conversation with Bill, we will get acquainted with him, and learn more about these other Mormons, & James Strang, a prophet many of you may not have heard of.

GT  0:46  Welcome to Gospel Tangents. I’m excited to have an amazing historian and I’m going to start this a little bit differently. But, first of all, could you tell us who you are?

Bill  0:55  Bill Shepard, I’m a life-long Strangite. Maybe more importantly, I’m a historian.

GT  1:03  Yes. You were the president of the John Whitmer Historical Association.

Bill  1:07  In 2008, yes. We had John Whitmer [Conference] at Voree, Wisconsin or Burlington, Wisconsin. We had a nice turnout of people, including Mike Quinn and Roger Launius.

GT  1:19  So, you’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve got a really awesome book. Do you want to show the camera? Your book was published in 1977![1]

Bill  1:30  This was basically intended to get out the positive things about James J. Strang and his teachings. It basically [tells] why the other Mormons sects are not correct. So if I would redo it, I would redo it a lot more professionally at this point in time. But it does have the positive things showing James J. Strang’s teachings. I think they’re quite significant.

GT  2:08  Well, let’s do a few things here. I don’t normally do this but tell me the name of your church because I think a lot of my listeners will be very surprised to hear the name of your church.

Bill  2:20  It’s actually the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). We had to put the appendage on. We couldn’t use the term Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for obvious reasons.

GT  2:37  In fact, I think the only difference between your church name and my church name is I have a lowercase d, and you’ve got a capital D with no hyphen.

Bill  2:46  Right.

GT  2:47  We have a hyphen, lowercase. So that’s pretty funny. So would you call yourself a Mormon?

Bill  2:53  Oh, very definitely. We are asked many times, just like the LDS Church or Utah Mormons are asked, “Are you Christians?” [We have the] same problem, same identification, same basic goals. Strangites accept Joseph Smith certainly. They break, of course, with the transition to the Twelve Apostles into Brigham Young. So there was a critical period there when Joseph Smith died in that the Brighamite church did not have a prophet. Now the Strangites claimed that an angel had appeared to [James J. Strang] at the time that Joseph Smith was martyred and ordained him to be a prophet. It’s interesting to think that in this early period, the Strangites had a song by John Hardy. It wasn’t theirs, but it was “A Church Without a Prophet is not a church for me.”

GT  4:10  Oh, wow.

Bill  4:12  Of course, at that point in time until the 27th of December, 1847 the Brighamite church reorganized with Brigham Young as a prophet as their head.

[1] The book is called “James J. Strang:  Teachings of a Mormon Prophet.”  It is out of print and can be hard to find at a reasonable price.

We will learn more about Strangite beliefs.  Check out our conversation…

Historian Bill Shepard is former president of John Whitmer Historical Association and a Strangite.

Dont Miss our other conversations about Strangites with John Hamer, Michael Quinn, and Steve Shields!

227: Conspiracy Theories:  William Smith, Samuel Smith, James Strang (Shields)

188: Translation by Joseph Smith & James Strang (Quinn)

118:  Mormon Followers of the Prophet James Strang (MacKay & Hamer)

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Can Anything Good Come from…Warsaw? Yes! (Part 7 of 7)

This is our final conversation with Brian Stutzman, and we’ll talk about Warsaw, Illinois today.  Brian thinks this should be a must-stop for church history buffs.  We’ll also discuss how Brian came to love the city, and how he came there and how he would like to restore the city to its historic roots.

Brian:  I drove into town and saw this building.   It says Thomas Sharp, Warsaw Signal.  Little did I know that the Lutherans help fund that building.  How ironic. In 1987, there was a Mormon historian from Nauvoo named Michael Trap. He came down and he gathered some people together and says, “You know what, you got some history here. Maybe it’s the dark side of Mormon history. But let’s take this old grocery store.”  I think it was built in 1880, “and we’ll raise some money and we’ll make it look like it would have an 1840. We’ll get an old press in here.”

So I really enjoy getting to know the good people.  They had me speak at their historical society last year when my book was in the first edition. There’s a ton–1550 people, we had over 100 people together at the high school and I gave a little presentation on the overview of my book. This sweet old lady comes up and says, “Will you move here to Warsaw?” Because I told them at the end of my presentation I said, “You need to promote your town. You’ve got a story to tell. There’s a tragic triangle here. Thousands, millions of people know about Nauvoo. Thousands, millions of people know about Carthage. Nobody’s heard of Warsaw. When people go, they’re only seeing two thirds of what they should see.  You need to come down.  You need to invite LDS tourists to come here. You need to have a sign that says this is where Willard Richards and Brigham Young we’re going to build a Mormon community at our request that people of Warsaw’s request, even though the local histories, including 1880 Thomas Greg said that they almost fell into the hands of the Mormons.”

He also tells about a beloved Mormon family in Warsaw.  Check out our conversation, by signing up to our free newsletter to hear the final part.  Go to https://gospeltangents.com/newsletter and I will send you a secret link to hear the conclusion!

Brian Stutzman has ideas for a Mormon history tour of Warsaw, Illinois!

 

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Warsaw: Boom or Bust?

Following the acquittal of the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, what happened to the town of Warsaw, Illinois.  Was it a boom-town, a bust, or both?  Brian Stutzman will answer that.

Brian:  After the church left the area in 1846-47, and moved West, Warsaw prospered for about 30 years because of these rapids. The lightening had to happen. Then in 1877, the government spent $4.5 million at the time and built an eight mile canal on the other side of the river from Keokuk north and it made it so most river boats didn’t have to stop anymore at Warsaw they could just march right up the Mississippi. Within a couple decades, the population of Warsaw went from 4500 down to 2000. Now imagine a frontier town with houses and buildings and stores and hotels for 4500, and all of the sudden, within a couple decades, you’re down to 2000.  You’ve got a lot of empty real estate. That continued to decline.  Today there’s 1550 people on the last census. They’ve got a lot of old, decrepit broken-down buildings.

Brian also tells a chilling story about early Mormon convert Dan Jones.

Brian: They’re lying on the floor and Joseph offers his arm to Dan for a pillow. They’re sitting there talking about life and death and asked if they were ready to die. They suspected that the end might be there. Dan says, “Well, I think I’m ready to die.”  Joseph gives his last prophecy. He gives it to Dan Jones, who was converted because of Thomas Sharp and had just talked to Frank Worrell.  Joseph says, “Dan you will yet see Wales and fulfill the mission appointed to you.”

Brian  This is that night. The next morning Dan Jones is in the jail.  Joseph says, “I’m not feeling good about things. Will you go and get my attorney down in Quincy?” Dan says, “Sure, I’ll leave,” and as he leaves. He goes down the stairs and gets on his horse, and as he leaves he’s shot at by some anti-Mormon mobster. He gets so turned around, he actually takes the wrong road out of town, not to Quincy and he later learns that there was a mob of several hundred people just down the road waiting to kill him, if he went down to Quincy.  The mob was on the correct road. Dan got confused and turned and went down the wrong road and it saved his life. Otherwise, he would have been killed.

Check out our conversation….

Warsaw experience both a boom and a bust following the Mormon exodus from Illinois.

Don’t miss out other conversations with Brian!

310: Kangaroo Court at Carthage

309: Gov. Thomas Ford’s Role in Martyrdom & Trial

308: Profile of Anti-Mormon Thomas Sharp

307: The Warsaw-Nauvoo Rivalry

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo