William Bickerton is the founding prophet of the third-largest Latter Day Saint denomination, known as the Church of Jesus Christ. Remarkably, his life has largely remained in the shadows.
Bickerton immigrated to America in 1831 at the height of the Second Great Awakening. In 1845 Sidney Rigdon, a former counselor to founding prophet Joseph Smith, accepted him into the Church of Christ. Rigdon soon bankrupted his church and abandoned his followers. Unsure where to turn, Bickerton joined with Brigham Young until a moral objection to polygamy left him once again in search of religious community. Divine inspiration led Bickerton to form his own church based on the original teachings of Joseph Smith.
A visionary man, Bickerton expanded his church along the western frontier, even among the Native Americans, and kept his congregation afloat through financial trials. Yet when an allegation of marital infidelity against Bickerton split his church in two, he was disfellowshipped and his legacy obscured.
Biographer Daniel P. Stone carefully reconstructs the forgotten details of this American mystic, fulfilling Bickerton’s final wish, taken from the Book of Job: “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!”
Daniel P. Stone holds BA and MA degrees in history from the University of Florida and Florida Atlantic University. He has taught classes at Broward College, Schoolcraft College, University of Detroit Mercy, and Wayne County Community College. Currently he is a researcher at a private library-archive in Detroit, where he and his wife Laura, and daughter, Lily, live. He is a deacon in the Church of Jesus Christ established by William Bickerton.