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Hawley Leaves LDS for RLDS

In our final conversation with historian Mel Johnson, we will discuss early Mormon pioneer John Pierce Hawley’s conversion to the RLDS Church.  Find out how shocked his congregation was when he announced it to them!

Mel:  In early 1870, John has come to the conclusion that he wants to join with the RLDS Church. John Larson, a RLDS missionary, over near Mountain Meadows/Hamblin area, reads in the Herald, the RLDS newspaper out of Illinois, that (1) John Pierce Hawley has written a letter to Joseph Smith, III, saying that “I rejoice in the doctrines of Joseph Smith, Jr, as did my father, and I wish to join with the RLDS Church.” Larson reads that, and he’s a former LDS elder out of New Harmony on the other side of Pine Valley Mountain out near Fort Hamilton on the road to Cedar City. He reads this, and he comes galloping over to Pine Valley and Grass Valley, and John writes, “I was convinced that he was as crazy as people thought he was, but I became convinced also that he had the authority to baptize.” So, he baptized John and his family, George and his family, and then John, as first counselor…

GT:  Is this his fourth baptism now?

Mel:  There will be a total of seven.

GT:  Seven, oh my gosh.

Mel:  He stands up in Pine Valley Ward, as the first counselor and preaches his farewell sermon to a very startled audience. Only one historian of Pine Valley will write about John, one of William Snow’s, granddaughters, I believe, says, “And John Hawley, the first counselor apostatized.”  That’s the full story.  Yet they were among the first settlers, Presiding Elder, held the second anointing and the second endowment, quite a guy.  Erastus Snow heard.  He comes galloping up from St. George, won’t let John talk because he’s too vile of an apostate.  He lectures the two Hawley brothers for three hours. Then he asked George if he has anything. George says no. Then Erastus Snow rides away.  John and George bundle everything up, and they travel up to Salt Lake to catch the train to western Iowa.

Check out our conversation….

After Mormon pioneer John P. Hawley rejected polygamy, he rejected the LDS Church and joined the RLDS Church.
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Mormon Pioneers in Texas & End of Wightites (Part 4 of 8)

We’re continuing our conversation with Mel Johnson and we’ll finish out the Wightites settlement in Texas.  What happened to them?

Mel  49:24  After 1853 they take about a year to get down to their final colony place, down in Bandera, Texas, in Bandera County. It is West of San Antonio about 55 miles. Bandera is a typical Texas western town and county. The Frontier Times Museum is located there. I am the staff historian for the Frontier Times Museum. They have a good Mormon exhibit there and there they were for four years. That is where the colony finally dissolved, and more than half of the Wightites stayed in Bandera and their descendants are there today.

Mel  50:21  They became cattlemen, they became storekeepers, they became farmers. They owned lots and built houses in Bandera. Some are still there. An 1865 RLDS revival mission came to Bandera, Texas after the Civil War, and all of the Banderites supported the Confederacy, so did the Mormons, they were very militant, very anti-union.

GT  50:54  Because of states’ rights because the Mormons wanted to practice polygamy and they thought that was the…

Mel  50:59  And the government, the federal government had not protected them in Missouri or Illinois.

GT  51:04  Right.

Mel  51:06  And 40 of them were baptized into the RLDS church, and they had an active chapel there in Bandera for 120 years. For any of you watching and listening, I’m going to put in a plug for 2021 John Whitmer Historical Conference is going to be held in Fredericksburg, Texas. I am trying to get the leadership to organize tours down to Bandera and up to Burnet County into the cemetery.

GT  51:42  What’s the nearest airport to Fredericksburg?

Mel  51:44  San Antonio.

So there you have it!  Are you going to check out the JWHA meetings?  Check out our conversation….

Many of the Wightites joined the Reorganization.

Don’t miss our other episodes with Mel!

Melvin Johnson on Life of John Pierce Hawley

277: More on the Zodiak Temple in Texas

276: Lyman Wight & Mormon Colonies in Texas

275: Intro to Hawley

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More on the Zodiac Temple in Texas (Part 3 of 8)

We’re continuing our discussion of the Mormon settlement in Zodiac, Texas.  Historian Melvin Johnson describes reading the registers from RLDS Archives that document the many temple ordinances that were completed.  He also told me that there was more than one Endowment House in Utah!

GT :  Oh, 1874, so, essentially, what we’re saying here is between 1846 and 1874, at least in the LDS church, there was no temple to do this. But they would do some of these ordinances outside the temple, on a case by case basis, essentially.

Mel:   Correct, and then, of course, the Endowment House was built to be a bridge between that and when the temples came online. Orson Hyde was very jealous of that, so he had an endowment house built down in Sanpete County.

GT:   Oh, wow. I didn’t know that.

Mel:   Yeah, there were a number of them. And maybe the Endowment House was built earlier than what I think and I need to look at that…

He also discusses a recent forgery on the Zodiac Temple.

Mel:   There is a forgery called Zodiac Temple records, Rituals and Rites by John Hawley. It’s 32 pages written of these supposed rites and rituals in the Zodiac Temple. One: John Hawley was not the clerk of the temple. His brother-in-law, John Young was. And secondly, Zodiac was like Kirtland and Nauvoo and early Utah, in that all of the ritual and rites ceremony was oral. It was not written down until 1874 for the opening of the St. George temple.

Does it have ties to Mark Hofmann? Check out our conversation….

Historian Mel Johnson tells more about the Zodiac Temple in Texas and the Wightites.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Mel!

276: Lyman Wight & Mormon Colonies in Texas (Johnson)

275: Intro to Hawley (Johnson)