I think very few people are aware of a small Mormon group sometimes called the Hedrickites. Their official name is the Church of Christ, and they were the first Mormon Restoration group to return to Missouri and purchased part of the original temple lot where Joseph Smith had a revelation that 24 temples would be built there. Why don’t we know more about this group? Jean Addams is a former president of the John Whitmer Association, and will tell about his family connection to Granville and John Hedrick.
Jean: My wife is a Hedrick. She said she had never told that to anybody because it had some connotations that weren’t what she wanted to convey when she was a conver,t herself, at 14 in Los Angeles.
GT: Oh, really? I don’t think very many people know who Granville Hedrick was.
GT: That’s interesting that she was kind of hiding that.
Jean: After she had been baptized, her mother sat down and told her about her Mormon history.
GT: No way.
Jean: Yeah. She didn’t want to tell anybody about that. When she told me about that. I got quite excited. She said, “You know about the Hedrickites?” And I said, “I know a little,” and I says, “I guess we’re going to go find out a lot. So let’s start with your dad’s name or your your ancestor’s name. Granville Hedrick was my great-great-uncle. His brother was John. John Hedrick is the first Saint of any sect that came back to Jackson County in 1865 and scouted out the place for the movement of the whole Crow Creek branch out of Illinois in1867. He then started buying up the temple lot property that same year in 1870.
GT: So, it was John Hedrick, not Granville.
Jean: That is correct. Oh, I did not know that either. Wow, that’s interesting.
Following Granville Hedrick’s return to Missouri, the RLDS Church eventually made their way to Independence as well. But even though the Church of Christ had purchased the land legally, the RLDS Church felt they should be the true owners of the Temple Lot. Court battles ensued. Jean Addams will tell how these bitter battles turned out.
Jean: From what I found there was a good rapport between RLDS and Church of Christ for a period of time. Then, unfortunately, the big event of the 1890s was the effort by the RLDS Church to take away the temple lot. That’s known as the Temple Lot Case or the Temple Lot Suit, which got lots and lots of coverage across the country in terms of what was going on.
Jean: Of course, you’ve got one small little body and one fairly large body and it didn’t look good for the Church of Christ. Their leader, at the time, which is another one of my wife’s ancestors another great-great-grandfather, Richard Hill, more or less stepped aside about that time for Charles Hall, who had been a former RLDS leader on the district level. He became the spokesperson/the leader of the Church of Christ Temple Lot, and he’s the one that shepherded the lawsuit for them. They were actually sued by the RLDS Church to take away the property. The first go around in the district court was in their favor.
GT: In the Temple Lot favor.
Jean: No, in the RLDS favor. The Temple Lot people then had to go to the appeals court, and the appeals court overturned [the previous decision.] Then it went to the Supreme Court in 1896. Then the Supreme Court remanded it back to the US Circuit Court of Appeals for implementation, and everything stayed the same.
GT: Okay, so the claim for the RLDS Church was, “We’re the rightful heirs because Joseph Smith, III is the rightful heir.”
Jean: Yes, and therefore, he should be the one that should have the property. Well, that didn’t sit well with the the Court of Appeals because they said, everybody, basically, in Independence that used to own some of that original land could run into the same problem. So I’m not remembering exactly what the correct legal terminology is, but it’s basically, you’ve waited too long to bring your action to the front.
This was one of several disputes among the Church of Christ and RLDS Churches. Have you heard of this group before? What do you know about them?