Joseph Smith III and the Kirtland Temple Suit


On 23 February 1880, Judge L. S. Sherman of the Court of Common Pleas, Lake County, Ohio, announced the decision awarding ownership of the historic Kirtland Temple, the Mormon religious edifice completed in 1836, to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the plaintiff in the case.

Members of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints might argue that the questions of which church was the legitimate successor was not really at issue in this case, that it was merely a routine suit to quiet title to real estate and was decided on technical grounds. And indeed, the LDS church was not even represented in the court. However, Judge Sherman’s finding was very important to members of the Reorganized church during the years following its issuance since it was the affirmation of a legal tribunal that their church was the legal successor to the early Mormon movement.


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