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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)

 

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Lyman Wight & Mormon Colonies in Texas (Part 2 of 8)

Did you know Joseph Smith considered moving the Church to Texas?  Melvin Johnson talks more about apostle Lyman Wight’s Texas colony.

Mel:  So, in February, Wight, George Miller–and Miller was Bishop of the community–and his counselors, wrote a letter to Joseph Smith, saying, “We’re almost done here. We’re going to send our latest lumber rafts down the Mississippi River, and then we’re going to exchange them, we hope, with you for the steam ship Maid of Iowa, and then we want to go to–not state but Republic of Texas.” They wanted to create a Mormon colony outside of the United States. Of course, by that time, Joseph Smith knew the Mormons could not stay in Nauvoo. … Mel:   The Council of Fifty, some of them like the idea of Texas. So they send the pagan prophet Lucien Woodworth on a mission down to Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas. GT:  Why do you call him a pagan prophet? Mel:   Well, that’s what Joseph called him.

But the most interesting part of the interview was to learn about the Zodiac Temple! Apostle Lyman Wight started a Mormon group!

Mel: They’ll also build the first diaspora Mormon temple, west of the Mississippi. It was not St. George, it was in Zodiac, Texas.
GT:  So they have an endowment ceremony and everything?
Mel: Endowment, depending upon which definition you use, yes.  They had a temple, and on the second floor, they had sealings, anointings, adoptions, the washing feet, the oiling in the head in the sealing of blessings. They did marriage for time and eternity. John and his wife, Sylvia, were married and endowed there.

What are your thoughts concerning this temple that was built by 1847 in Texas?  Check out our conversation….

Historian Mel Johnson describes the Lyman Wight colony that built the Zodiac Temple in Texas by 1847!