There had existed since Nauvoo days, scattered through some four counties northeast of Peoria, Illinois, a group of old-time Saints. Among these were Granville Hedrick,1 David Judy,2 Jedediah Owens,3 John Hedrick, Zebulon Adams, and Adna C. Haldeman.4
Alma Owens,5 son of Jedediah, said that his father and these other men began holding meetings in 1855, at first confining themselves to prayer meetings, but as there is record of a business meeting as early as 1852, probably if there were preliminary prayer meetings they were of still earlier date.
Only three elders were present at this meeting in the winter of 1852, but they took some important action which was so much in line with what many of their brethren were taking at the same time that their meeting is worthy of note. The meeting was at the home of Granville Hedrick, on Half Moon Prairie near Washbourne, Illinois, and old Father Judy preached, after which:
The minds of those present were deeply concerned because of iniquity which had found its way into the church which had emigrated to California and Salt Lake, previous to the time of the above meeting. Great attention had been given to ascertain if the church then at Salt Lake practiced such high and wicked crimes as was alleged to them, and after being fully assured that such were the facts, it was concluded upon by those elders who assembled in said meeting to withdraw their fellowship from all such as departed from the principles of righteousness and truth and to maintain a firm position upon God's own revealed plan of salvation.6
The spring of 1853 saw another council meeting, this being held at the home of Adna Haldeman. In this meeting "several of the brethren and members of Christ's Church" declared themselves "free from all wicked factions and united upon the pure principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." From that time meetings were held with more or less frequency until June, 1857, when at one of their meetings William W. Blair, now with the group of Saints in Wisconsin, was in attendance and spent much time explaining the views of the Reorganization, with the result that Granville Hedrick and Jedediah Owens rode with him in his carriage to the fall conference at Zarahemla and there received the hand of fellowship.
Hedrick was the recognized leader of this group and a man of undoubted integrity and unimpeachable character. The stand he had taken against what he believed to be corruptions in the church was frank and outspoken. He had at his own expense published a small pamphlet at Bloomington in 1856, called The Spiritual Wife System Proven False and the True Order of Church Discipline Illustrated. The few copies of this book still extant are now so rare as to be very valuable. In it he calls in no uncertain terms for "all who are pure in heart" to "take some special measures for their deliverance from the awful crash of destruction which is hanging over the heads of the apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ, and speedily step forward upon the rock of their deliverance, which is the Book of Mormon, Bible, and Doctrine and Covenants, which the Saints must come to, and not only say, but do. . . . These three above named inspired volumes were received by the whole church of Christ as established anew by Joseph Smith, to be the rock, and pillar, and groundwork of their faith and doctrine in Christ Jesus, in the first days and years of this identical church of Jesus Christ, hence we have the foundation of this church before us, of which I profess to be a member. . . . You received the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants to practice and build upon the sacred things written in these inspired books. This was your faith at the first. Have you departed from that sacred order of things, which was laid for the foundation of your faith in Jesus Christ? I ask, have you departed from it?"7
While in Zarahemla, Owens and Hedrick took part in the conference of those building the Reorganization. The next conference was to meet at Crow Creek, Woodford County, Illinois, and Jason W. Briggs and Granville Hedrick were appointed to write a pamphlet "setting forth the true position of our doctrine."
The pamphlet was never written, nor was the conference held at Crow Creek, for before that time rift had arisen in the relations of the two groups, or more properly the representatives, of each, which was never fully bridge d, although numerous efforts have been made in later years to accomplish this. On the 25th of December, 1859, two high priests, five elders, and seven members met at Granville Hedrick's home at Crow Creek and passed an interesting series of resolutions:
No. 1. Resolved: that the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the first edition of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants were given for the foundation and standard of faith and doctrine of the Church of Christ, in which all the principles of the doctrine are contained that are necessary to build up the Church of Christ and regulate all the affairs of the same.
No. 2. Resolved, that the doctrines of Baptism for the dead (proxy), Tithing as a tenth, Polygamy, Lineal priesthood in the office of the presidency of the church, And, plurality of Gods, with the exaltation of man to the same, are all unscriptural.
The crux of the difficulty centered in lineal priesthood in relation to the presidency of the church. Granville Hedrick, in particular, believed that a meeting of church members should be called to elect a president.
At the same meeting, Jedediah Owens and David Judy were ordained high priests under the hands of John Landers and Granville Hedrick, and Granville Hedrick was chosen by vote and ordained under the hands of John Landers, Jedediah Owens, and David Judy to the office of presiding high priest of the Crow Creek Branch. He had previously been set apart (April, 1857) as presiding elder of the branch.
It was with this people that John E. Page (an Apostle in the church in Joseph's day) found a haven after he had been tossed on seas of uncertainty following Joseph's death, although his wife states that Elder Page expressed disappointment with that affiliation on his deathbed, and asked that his funeral sermon might be preached by his friend, John Landers, who had lately become a member of the Reorganization.
On the 17th day of May, 1863, John E. Page ordained Granville Hedrick, Jedediah Owens, David Judy, and Adna C. Haldeman "apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."
On the 18th day of July, 1863, Granville Hedrick was ordained president of the high priesthood, "first president of the church, to preside over the high priesthood, and to be prophet, seer, revelator, and translator to the Church of Christ." This ordination was received under the hands of John E. Page, David Judy, Jedediah Owens, and Adna C. Haldeman and others.
Since that time the little church has maintained its existence and gone through more than one change of organization and belief, none of which, however, has affected their belief in the Book of Mormon and the first principles of the church.
As time passed, they became convinced that the Scripture provides for the supreme authority in the church to be the Quorum of Twelve, and their organization is now in accordance with that belief. Their conferences are presided over by this council in order of their age, each presiding in turn. Their conferences at the present time are elders' conferences, with a privilege of referendum to the people of the church in important decisions. Having become convinced that the name of the church had been altered, they called themselves the Church of Christ this name having been adopted by them many years ago. They take the Bible and Book of Mormon as their standards of faith and practice, but all modern revelation stands upon its merits, although they prefer the Book, of Commandments to the Doctrine and Covenants.
This group moved to Independence in 1867 and procured by purchase the place dedicated in 1831 for the building of the temple. Throughout the years they and their successors have maintained title to this piece of property. They have gone through poverty and adversity, suffered more than their share of schisms within their own ranks, have been reduced to a mere handful at times, but they have never wavered in their conviction that it is their God-given privilege to hold this place until the time comes to build the temple.
The membership of this faction in 1953 was two thousand two hundred and twenty-five.8
1 Granville Hedrick joined the original church not long before the
death of Joseph and Hyrum, in the vicinity of Woodford County, Illinois, under the
ministry of Hervey Green. He became dissatisfied and went to the lead mines near Galena
where sometime after Joseph's death he was rebaptized by William O. Clark. He never had
the privilege of meeting Joseph Smith personally. After uniting with the church for the
second time, he saw conditions were not right in Nauvoo at that time, and united with the
faction under the leadership of Gladden Bishop. Sometime after that he became interested
in spiritualism, but eventually returned to a strong belief in the first principles of the
gospel (from which he had really never wavered, being disgusted only with certain things
he saw of which he disapproved). He gathered about him those old-time Saints who lived
near him to form the nucleus of what is now the Church of Christ on the Temple Lot. His
character as a man was above reproach in the communities in which he lived.
2 David Judy was born in 1802, baptized in May, 1832, by Elder Drake and died at Mackinaw, Illinois, April 14, 1886 His obituary in the Saints' Herald, Volume33, page 271,says he "was with the church at the death of Joseph and Hyrum; after the event he became identified with the Hedrickites [Church of Christ] with whom he was connected at his departure. He was a good man, and had the respect of all." He was living near Far West in 1838 at the time of the troubles there.
3 Jedediah Owens was a member of the old church as far back as 1838, as he then owned land in Ray County, Missouri. He was named as one who took part in the battle of Crooked River, October 25, 1838, in which David Patten was killed. He was living in Montrose, Iowa, in 1839, and affiliating with the church with its headquarters at Nauvoo.
4 Adna C. Halderman was early affiliated with this group, a meeting being held a his home in 1853; but he was also present in 1859 at the conference of the Reorganization held in Israel Rogers' barn, and appointed one of a committee to get subscribers for the Herald; in 1863 he is evidently entirely removed from his affiliation with the Reorganization whatever it was: for he was ordained to the apostleship In the Church of Christ on 17th of May, 1963. His brother Silas Haldeman was the grandfather of Clarence Wheaton, now one of the prominent apostles in the Church of Christ.
5 Alma Owens, son of Jedediah Owens said in his testimony in the Temple Lot Suit that he did not unite with the church himself until 1864.
6 Original Crow Creek Record.
7 The Spiritual Wife System Proven False, by Granville Hedrick.
8 World Almanac, 1954.