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.
It seems unlikely to have been a Mark Hofmann forgery. I wonder who is forging Mormon documents now? You may wonder what happened to the Wightites settlement in Texas. What happened to them?
Mel: 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: 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: Because of states’ rights because the Mormons wanted to practice polygamy and they thought that was the…
Mel: And the government, the federal government had not protected them in Missouri or Illinois.
Mel: 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: What’s the nearest airport to Fredericksburg?
Mel: San Antonio.
So there you have it! Are you going to check out the JWHA meetings? What are your thoughts on Lyman Wight’s group in Texas?