Lyman Wight

(RLDS History of the Church 3:35–36)

The next movement that we shall mention was that under Lyman Wight, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Some have represented him as being a claimant for the position of President of the Church as the successor of Joseph Smith, but this is a mistake. He led a colony to Texas, which continued an organization until and after his death in 1858. He never represented this as the church, but only as a branch of the church. He claimed that he was assigned a mission to Texas by Joseph Smith, and that he was there to prosecute that mission; but claimed no other authority than that which he held by virtue of his ordination to the apostleship and as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. He, like William Smith, maintained that “young Joseph” was the legal successor of his father by virtue of the law of lineage; and he further testified, as shown in his biography, that he was present and laid his hands, with President Smith, on the head of a “youth” who was blessed as the successor of Joseph Smith, and that it was then predicted that he was to occupy that office. (See this work, vol. 2, p. 789.)

Lyman Wight lived and died an honorable man, respected well by those who knew him best. The only thing that can be urged against his character is that about 1845 or 1846 he entered into the practice of polygamy, but we have seen no record of any teaching of his upon the subject.

On the occasion of his death the Galveston News, then as now the leading paper of Texas, published the following:—

We believe we have omitted to notice the death of Mr. Lyman Wight, who for some thirteen years past has been the leader of a small and independent Mormon settlement in Texas. As far as we have been able to learn, these Mormons have proved themselves to be most excellent citizens of our State, and we are no doubt greatly indebted to the deceased leader for the orderly conduct, sobriety, industry, and enterprise of his colony. Mr. Wight first came to Texas in November, 1845, and has been with his colony on our extreme frontier ever since, moving still farther west as settlements formed around him, thus always being the pioneer of advancing civilization, affording protection against the Indians. He has been the first to settle five new counties, and prepare the way for others. He has at different times built three extensive saw and grist mills....

After the death of Elder Wight the people over whom he presided scattered. A large majority of them became identified with the Reorganization, a few united with the Utah Church, while some stand aloof from all parties.