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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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Brigham Knew About MMM?

There is dispute among historians about Brigham Young’s knowledge about the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  Is it true Brigham knew in Sept 1857?  Did John D. Lee tell him the truth about the massacre?

Mel: Well, Brigham Young argued that he didn’t know the story for a long time after. I agree with Will Bagley and others that John D. Lee did not lie to Young and that Jacob Hamblin told him the truth within two weeks. Hamblin is reciting second hand what the killers had told him.

GT:  Because I know Barbara said that John D. Lee went up, I want to say September 29 to Salt Lake to talk to Brigham and Barbara says that John D. Lee lied and blamed it on the Indians.

Mel:  That has been one of the standards of protection for President Young for a very long time, that John D. Lee lied.

GT:  Okay, so you’re saying that Will Bagley believes that John D. Lee told Brigham the truth right from the get go?

Mel: And I do, too.

GT:  You do, too.

Mel:  And some other historians do. Jacob Hamblin was up there within 10 or 11 days. And I can imagine…

GT : Well, Jacob wasn’t part of the massacre.

Mel : No, he was not.  He would be repeating what he heard second hand. But everybody lived in everybody’s hip pocket down there. You know, we have this idea that Dixie is this vast place, which it is, that takes forever for people and information to travel. No. On horseback from what is now Panguitch, or say, Circleville, the fort there is no more than a two-day travel down to Santa Clara. Native Americans, Mormons, other whites, Mexicans, and what they know are moving through this area all the time. It’s fluid, it’s constant.

Historian Mel Johnson tells us what he thinks, and discusses pioneer John Hawley’s possible involvement, and his vocal disagreement, with the massacre.

Mel:  Medical forensics work showed that there were a number of pistol holes in the skeletons and skulls of men, women and children. The only two revolvers that I can find in the Iron County Militia Musters: men who owned revolvers that were thought to be at the killing fields was Indian missionary Ira Hatch and John Pierce Hawley.

Check out our conversation….

Historian Mel Johnson believes John D. Lee told Brigham Young the truth about the Mountain Meadows massacre. (Others think Lee lied.)

Don’t miss other other conversations with Mel!

279: Hawley’s Opposition to MMM

278: Mormon Pioneers in Texas & End of Wightites

277: More on the Zodiac Temple in Texas

276: Lyman Wight & Mormon Colonies in Texas

275: Intro to Hawley

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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