The Mormon Priesthood Ban &

Elder Q. Walker Lewis:

"An example for his more whiter brethren to follow"


Connell O'Donovan


[Originally published in the 2006 issue of the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal

Important updates (since publication) are in GREEN





Uncovering the rich, complex, and challenging life of Walker Lewis has been a profoundly rewarding experience over the past 27 years.  When I first heard of his existence through the "Mormon Underground" in 1979, all I was told was that a black man named Lewis from Massachusetts or New York had been ordained an Elder in the 1840s, something which I was sure had to be incorrect; I had grown up believing that black men had always been banned from the Mormon priesthood until LDS President Spencer W. Kimball reversed that long-standing policy in 1978.  I was not surprised at all to find that in Mormon historical circles Walker Lewis was little more than a very curious footnote, far outshone by Elijah Abel, the black man who had been ordained to Mormon priesthood by none other than the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints himself, Joseph Smith.  However while combing early manuscript diaries and correspondence of Mormon apostles and missionaries who had been in the Lowell and Boston areas, I was surprised to learn that Elder Lewis was well known and well respected among those early Mormon leaders. 

Further genealogical research into Lewis and his relatives was even more exciting -his large and extremely influential family is perhaps the best-documented African American family, partly due to their critical role in Massachusetts' abolitionist politics.  Walker Lewis himself was literate, educated, upper-middle class, and well connected socially and politically.  Laboring his whole life as a barber (in the African-American socio-economic strata of the day, barbers were solidly middle class until the 1870s), Lewis was a radical abolitionist, a prominent organizer of and participant in the Underground Railroad, a Most Worshipful Grand Master of Freemasonry, one of two -or possibly three[1] - free black men known to hold the higher Mormon priesthood in the 1840s, and he almost became Mormonism's first and only black polygamist.  Despite his abiding faith in Mormonism and acquaintance with and influence among the highest rank of LDS leaders, racism ultimately prevailed in the LDS Church.  The inter-racial marriage of his Mormon son to a white Mormon woman so infuriated Brigham Young when he learned of it at the end of 1847 that he wished to have the newlywed couple murdered, and soon thereafter Young instigated a complete priesthood ban against all men with any African ancestry at all (and a temple ordinance ban against both black men and women).  In February 1852, under pressure from Young, Utah's first governor, the very first territorial legislature passed a law prohibiting all sexual relations between consenting Africans and white people (whether married or not), accompanied by a severe criminal punishment.  Pointedly, Young stumped for - and the legislature passed - this racist law during the half-year that Elder Lewis happened to be in Utah.

While I plan to complete a comprehensive online history of the Walker, Lewis, and allied families later, for this essay I here provide a summary of the more important highlights of their history as background to Walker's own fascinating life. 

Born Quack Walker Lewis on Friday, August 3, 1798 in Barre, Worcester County, Massachusetts to Peter P. Lewis Sr. and Minor Walker Lewis, he was named after his 45 year old maternal uncle, Quacko Walker (who was also born in August, probably on Saturday the 4th, 1753 -Kwaku is Ghanian for "boy born on Saturday", a common naming device among African tribes of the time).  Walker was the couple's fourth of eleven children.  His older siblings were:

Walker's younger siblings were:

Little is known about Peter P. Lewis Sr. until his marriage to Minor Walker in Barre, December 5, 1792.  In land records he is called a "yeoman" (gentleman farmer); he was born about 1758 and was from Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massaschusetts.

Minor (or Minah and variants) Walker was born a slave in 1758 on the homestead of her parents' owners, James and Isabel Oliver Caldwell, in Barre (Rutland District), Worcester County, the second child and oldest daughter of slave parents Mingo (also known later as Nimrod Quacko or Quameno) and Dinah. (Minor/Minah is a common African woman's name with various possible meanings; Dinah is a Muslim name; Quameno, from Ghanian kwamin, means "boy born on Wednesday", and Mingo is apparently Bobangi for "defiant one", an apt name as will be shown.)[4] Mingo eventually had at least twelve children by Dinah, or by his second wife, Elizabeth Harris (married September 19, 1773).

James Caldwell's home where Walker's mother,
Minor Walker, was born -the first frame house built in Barre, Mass.

The naming practices of this family over the decades are really quite interesting.  The first generation of Mingo, Dinah and their first two children, Quacko and Minor, maintained their ethnicity with names of African origin, but beginning with Mingo's third child, the names became somewhat campy, even mocking, apparently imposed on them by their masters -especially for the boys Step, Prince, Boston, and Cato Walker.  However, around the time of the American Revolution, the family began using bourgeois New England names and naming practices, perhaps being influenced by the first wave of white abolitionists, the Quakers.  Over the next one hundred years the vast majority of names of this and allied families, such as Relief Ingalls Lovejoy or William Bradford Peck, could just as easily have come from some Monthly Meeting records of the Society of Friends.  This, ironically, led some Mormon genealogists to believe they were in fact white and had LDS temple ceremonies performed vicariously for many of these people, decades before the ban against this would be lifted. [5]

Mingo was born in Africa but apparently enslaved and deported to America while still quite young, perhaps at ten to fifteen years of age (for we know that he spoke "middling good English" and children learn other languages better than adults do).  He may have been the son of one Rose Mingo, of Framingham, Massachusetts. [6]   Mingo and Dinah started a family together about 1752, while slaves owned by Zedekiah Stone, of Rutland District, Worcester Co.  When their first born, Quacko (later surnamed Walker), was about nine months old, the whole family was sold (ultimately very fortuitously as it turned out) to James Caldwell (1711-1763) of Barre on May 4, 1754.  His brother John Caldwell, Esq. (1714-1807) was a witness to the sale, and this John would later marry Mingo -aka Nimrod Quameno -to his second wife, Elizabeth Harris, in 1773 as Justice of the Peace in Barre. [7]

File written by Adobe Photoshop¨ 4.0

1754 Bill of Sale for Mingo, Dinah, and "Quork"


Rutland District, May 4 1754.

Sold this day to Mr. James Caldwell of said District, in the County of Worcester & Province of the Massachusetts Bay, a certain Negro man named Mingo, about twenty years of Age, and also one Negro wench named Dinah, about nineteen years of age, with her Child Quaco -about nine months old, all sound & well, for the sum of One hundred & eight pounds, lawful money, recd. to my full Satisfaction which Negroes I the subscriber do warrant & defend against all claims whatsoever as witness my hand

                                                           Zedekiah Stone
In presence of
Jno. Murray,
John Caldwell

As James Caldwell grew older, he increasingly came to feel that slavery was wrong and he promised Quacko that on his 24th or 25st birthday, he would be manumitted and become a free man.  Unfortunately, one month before Quacko turned eleven, Caldwell died.  Caldwell and his slave (undoubtedly Quacko's father, Mingo) had "taken refuge under a tree during a heavy thunder shower.  The tree [was struck] by lightning and a limb detached which killed him and broke the thigh of the negro" on July 18, 1763.[8] Despite his untimely and tragic death, his widow, Isabel Oliver Caldwell (who had been born in Ireland), then promised to free Quacko at the age of 21, which would have been in August 1774.


Quacko's father Mingo on the other hand was not promised his freedom.  As defiant as his name suggests, Mingo escaped from his now-widowed mistress, Isabel Caldwell, in June of 1765.  A Boston newspaper's notice of his escape portrayed him as speaking "middling good English, a sprightly little Fellow, about five Feet and five or six Inches high...[wearing] an all wool brown colour'd great Coat, with large white metal Buttons, and an all wool Jacket of the same Colour; a blue and white striped woolen Shirt, and a worsted Cap, an old Hat, a Pair old leather Breeches, and light blue Stockings: a pair of Shoes about half worn, tied with leather Strings".[9] 


Boston News-Letter ad

Isabel Caldwell's ad for the return of the escaped Mingo, in the Boston News-Letter,
June 13, 1765, p. 2
(click to enlarge image)


He was eventually recaptured and returned to Isabel Caldwell (for he fathered children with Dinah in 1767 and 1770, and with Elizabeth Harris in 1774).


The widow Caldwell then married Nathaniel Jennison on March 28, 1769 and he moved into her home and took possession of her property, including Mingo and his family. But as fate would have it, just weeks before Quacko turned 21, Isabel Oliver Caldwell Jennison died around June 1774, and the African family's new master, Nathaniel Jennison, a mean-spirited and abusive man, refused to stand by the Caldwells' bargain and Quacko remained a slave in the Jennison household, even after Jennison had to return to his own farm when the Caldwell children inherited their mother's estate and legacies. 


As the movement for American independence from Great Britain spread through the colonies, the Caldwell family became convinced more and more that slavery was immoral and should be abolished.  Befriending Mingo's family, the Caldwells quite effectively educated them during the American Revolution, keeping them versed in the latest political happenings and rhetoric of freedom.  In April 1780, when Massachusetts passed its state constitution that declared that all men "were free and equal", the Caldwell's pressed this ideal into the mind of young Quacko and finally, on or about May 1, 1781, Quacko escaped from the cruel Nathaniel Jennison and took up employment as a paid laborer for father and son, John and Seth Caldwell.  Jennison, enraged at Quacko's audacity, gathered helpers and found Quacko harrowing in the Caldwells' fields, where they captured him, beat and shackled him, took him back to the Jennison farm, beat him again severely with a whip handle and locked him in a shed.


Two hours later, the Caldwell men discovered the abuse the man suffered and broke into the shed to rescue Quacko Walker and return him to the Caldwell home, where he recuperated and continued to be hired by them for his labor until June, when the exasperated Jennison entered his "plea of Trespass" against the Caldwells. John Caldwell offered legal services to Quacko to sue Jennison for the beating, kidnapping, and enslavement.  The case went to the Inferior Court in September 1781 and Quacko (spelled "Quork" in the legal dockets presented by Jennison) Walker won his case and 50 pounds.  (Jennison counter-sued the Caldwells for theft of private property, etc. and he also won initially.  But the Caldwells appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court in 1783 and won their case against Jennison as well.)


Both the 1781 Quarko v. Jennison and the 1783 Jennison v. Caldwell et al. cases are cited as the case that emancipated all slaves in the state of Massachusetts, the second state to free its slaves (Vermont being the first in 1776) and literally scores of legal and historical articles, essays, and books have been published debating and detailing the importance of this landmark case in United States jurisprudential history.[10]  In the midst of this legal battle, Jennison very viciously "took the younger portion of his slaves to Connecticut and sold them there", but the young members of Mingo's family (such as Quacko's brother Prince) escaped and returned to Massachusetts now that it was a free state.[11]  During the trial, Quacko took on the surname of Walker, certainly as a way of establishing himself as a citizen; however Jennison, consumed with condescension, constantly referred to him during the court proceedings only by his first name.  One story claims that Prince Walker took his last name from a prominent Walker family in the county (perhaps Obadiah Walker or Christiana Walker?) but another possibility is that Walker is rather homophonic with kwaku, and since Quacko was the eldest child, and the most famous, perhaps that was the origin of their newly chosen surname.


With this incredible judicial victory, the Walker family became immediately famous and they maintained their friendly connections for many decades with New England politicians, lawyers, judges, senators and members of prominent families involved in the case like the Strongs, Lincolns, Cushings, and Caldwells, propelling them into the upper-echelons of African-American society in Massachusetts.  The men of the family as soon as they could afford to, began to purchase property and were voting as early as 1803.[12]


In 1792, Peter P. Lewis and Minor Walker were married in Barre by Rev. Josiah Dana (whose wife was a Caldwell sister) and within three months, Peter Lewis had purchased a tract of land in the town, to raise their family on.  Most of the newly freed blacks formed the "little colony" of African-Americans in the west part of Barre township, known as "Guinea Corner."  Quacko Walker however had settled in the easterly part of the town with his wife, Elizabeth Harvey (married in 1786), where he died about September 1812.[13]


Although Quacko Walker never learned to write (he signed his deeds with an "X"), his sister Minor and her husband Peter Lewis were taught to read and write (both Peter and Minor signed their names to a deed in 1812; her other siblings only "gave their marks").[14]  In turn all their children learned to read and write as well.

Signatures of Minor Lewis, her children, and their spouses in 1844
(except Walker and Elizabeth Lewis, and Peter P. and Lephia Lewis)
(Digital image courtesy of Connell O'Donovan, 2006)


Walker Lewis grew up in "Guinea Corner", and attended the integrated First Congregational Church of Barre with his family.  Minor Walker Lewis had been baptized there in 1771 while a slave of Jennison.  On August 20, 1815, her husband Peter, and five of their sons and all three daughters were also baptized into "the First Church".  Walker Lewis's baptismal record that day is the only known instance where he went by his full name of Quack Walker Lewis.


1815 baptismal record, First Church of Barre

Peter Lewis "A[d]ult, Negro", his two adult sons, and his five minor sons

(Digital image courtesy of Connell O'Donovan , 2006)


Although their roots had been firmly in Barre for almost a century, by 1819 Peter and Minor's second son, Adam Lewis "a man of culler," was living in Cambridge and purchased land there on October 8 for $250.  More Lewis children would soon follow to the neighboring cities of Cambridge and Boston, as well as Lowell, a bit farther to the north.  Walker Lewis moved to that area in the early 1820s and bought a home and set up his barbering business in the Belvidere section of Tewksbury (which was annexed to Lowell in 1832).  He returned to Barre to marry Elizabeth Lovejoy there on March 26, 1826. She was already some six months pregnant with their first child at the time of their marriage. I can only speculate that after Elizabeth became pregnant, Walker waited to marry her to become more financially secure. The newly-weds returned to Lowell to start their family, while also maintaining a second residence, first in Cambridge, then in Boston, easily traveling the 50 miles commute using the brand new technology of the railway system.  As Martha Mayo of the Lowell Center for History has noted, the public school system became fully integrated when Lowell was incorporated as a town in 1826 (making it one of the earliest cities in the state to do integrate), mainly because of the leadership of Rev. Theodore Edson, Chairman of the Lowell School Committee, and later the President of the Lowell Anti-Slavery Society in 1832.  (Edson had been preaching in what eventually became St. Anne's Episcopal Church since 1824, and as its pastor in 1839 he actively encouraged participation in his church by the Walker Lewis family -see below.)  Mayo also indicated that several other black families who lived in the area since the mid-1700s, particularly those of Anthoney Negro and Barzillai Lew, had "amazing relationships" with the community in Lowell and nearby Dracut, and she feels this certainly helped contribute to the integration of the Lowell schools.[15]


Lowell, Mass. and its cotton and woolen mills in 1838
(Image is in the public doman, courtesy of


Elizabeth Lovejoy Lewis, born November 16, 1795, was the daughter of Peter Lovejoy and Lydia Greenleaf Bradford, both of whom had been slaves belonging to Sgt. Joshua Lovejoy of Andover, MA.  Peter was also a Revolutionary War soldier; Joshua Lovejoy gave Peter's services for three years to the American military in exchange for 90 pounds. Peter was enlisted on July 1, 1780 at the age of 17 and served in the 11th Massachusetts Regiment, under Col. Benjamin Tupper. (Peter Lovejoy may have been born September 26, 1764 in Methuen, Essex County, Massachusetts to Jonathan Lovejoy, but I do not have firm evidence of this.) Elizabeth Lovejoy was one of six girls and one boy born to the Lovejoys. Slaves Peter and Lydia had married on October 3, 1786 and their first two children, Lydia and Esther, were born into slavery. Then Quacko Walker won emancipation for all slaves in Massachusetts and the Lovejoys were freed around 1788.  Upon emancipation, the Lovejoys moved to Amherst, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, where Elizabeth was born free.


Elizabeth Lovejoy Lewis gave birth to their first child, a son, Enoch Lovejoy Lewis, on May 20, 1826 in East Cambridge.  This son would also join the LDS Church in the 1840s and enrage Brigham Young for his inter-racial marriage to a white Mormon.  Enoch's birth was followed a year and a half later in November 1827 with the birth of the couple's first daughter, Lydia Elizabeth Walker, named for her mother and her mother's mother.


Four years after Walker and Elizabeth were married, Walker's younger brother, Peter P. Lewis Jr., married Elizabeth's youngest sister, Relief "Lephia" Ingalls Lovejoy on August 4, 1830.


Around the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Lovejoy, Walker Lewis is first known to actively engage in abolitionist activities.  Along with some thirteen other prominent black abolitionists, he was a founding charter member of the Massachusetts General Colored Association (MGCA) in 1826, the first such all-black organization in the United States.  Other founding members included the famous author and journalist William Cooper Nell and his father William Guion Nell, Coffin Pitts, and the "dangerous" radical David Walker (no relation), who would later advocate black armed resistance to enslavement and other curtailments of black equal rights.  Many members of the MGCA were outspoken advocates for the immediate emancipation of all slaves and full racial equality across the board, which most white abolitionists rejected, favoring a more gradual process of emancipation and only a few equal rights for blacks.  Three years after its founding, David Walker released his radical and incendiary call to arms, the 76-page Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, through the MGCA, causing scandal and division amongst the abolitionists, white and black, and terrifying southern slave-owners.  Part of the work of the MGCA was to distribute the Appeal to slaves in the south, sparking slave empowerment and resistance. The printing was also done by a white printing company that had previously printed the African Grand Lodge's articles, certainly through the assistance of Walker Lewis, since he was the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Lodge at the time.[16]   The black clothiers in Boston, such as David Walker himself, William Guion Nell, and Walker's youngest brother, Simpson Harris Lewis, helped covertly distribute the Appeal by sewing copies of it into the linings of clothing destined for sailors going to southern ports.


David Walker himself wrote of the Massachusetts General Colored Association that,


The primary object of this institution, is, to unite the colored population, so far, through the United States of America, as may be practicable and expedient; forming societies, opening, extending, and keeping up correspondences, and not withholding anything which may have the least tendency to meliorate our miserable condition.[17]


Frontispiece of David Walker's Appeal

(Image is in the public domain, courtesy of



The Appeal called for immediate, unconditional, and universal emancipation of all slaves.  Recolonization in Africa was also out of the question -America had been bought by the slaves with their blood:


Let no man of us budge one step, and let slave-holders come to beat us from our country. America is more our country, than it is the whites -we have enriched it with our blood and tears. The greatest riches in all America have arisen from our blood and tears: -and will they drive us from our property and homes, which we have earned with our blood?[18]


Slaves were also told that there might be justice found in armed resistance and violence in overthrowing the institution of slavery:


If you commence [a revolt], make sure work [of it] -do not trifle, for they will not trifle with you -they want us for their slaves, and think nothing of murdering us in order to subject us to that wretched condition -therefore, if there is an attempt made by us, kill or be killed....[I]t is no more harm for you to kill a man, who is trying to kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty.[19]


Black abolitionists called this treatise a "smooth stone" up against "many mighty Goliaths"; it is still referred to as "the most incendiary antebellum abolitionist document". [20]  It was such a radical, frightening document to slave owners that anyone caught with the Appeal in their possession in the southern states would likely be killed on the spot; Louisiana and Georgia made distribution of it illegal, and a $10,000 reward was offered for David Walker, dead or alive.  Walker Lewis, as a leader in the MGCA, undoubtedly supported these radical aims, despite white abolitionists urging them to caution and lesser aims.  Only one year after his Appeal was published and distributed through the Massachusetts General Colored Association, David Walker died at 34 (most likely of "consumption" or tuberculosis), just months after completing the Appeal, leaving a pregnant widow, much as his own enslaved father had died before David's birth to a free black woman in Wilmington, North Carolina.[21]


Sometime before 1823, Walker Lewis also became initiated, crafted, and raised into Freemasonry, through the all-black African Lodge in Boston.  The Lodge, active in limited Masonic work since 1776, had been granted a charter or warrant in 1784 to organize by the Grand Lodge of England and through the support of the lodges of Ireland, with Revolutionary War soldier and black abolitionist Prince Hall, as its founder and first Grand Master.  Prince Hall organized the African Lodge #459 on May 6, 1787.  One year after Prince Hall's death, the African Lodge then became the African Grand Lodge #1 in December 1808.  Besides "Masonic work", the African Grand Lodge was also deeply involved in abolitionist and equal rights activities (especially advocating educational rights for black children), which created occasional divisive moments between it and the all-white Massachusetts Grand Lodge. Around 1825, to his great honor and credit, Master Mason Walker Lewis was raised as the sixth Right Worshipful Master of the African Lodge #459.  One year later, on May 29, 1826, he was elected as Senior Warden for the Lodge.  Two years after becoming a Grand Lodge, Lewis was elected as the Most Worshipful Grand Master for 1829 and 1830.[22]  Unfortunately a fire destroyed most of the Lodge's records in 1869, making further research into Lewis' participation in Freemasonry very difficult.  When Lewis later joined the LDS Church, it should be noted that this made him one of the oldest, and certainly the highest-ranking, Freemason in the church.  This may have caused some consternation, anger, and fear among the Mormon hierarchy (most of whom were also Masons).[23]  This will be discussed in further detail later.


African Lodge #459's 1784 Charter from the Grand Lodge of England


The mass anti-Masonic hysteria of the mid-1820s seems to have been solely focused on white Freemasons.  The African Grand Lodge seems to have passed through that era relatively unscathed and unmolested.  Perhaps the African Freemasons took advantage of the chaos among white Masons to declare themselves independent.  For in 1827, the current Right Worshipful Master John T. Hilton, along with Walker Lewis and Thomas Dalton as "Past Masters" signed a Declaration of Independence from the Grand Lodge of England.  This enabled the newly named African Grand Lodge to grant warrants and charters, and establish other African Lodges elsewhere, "when they are found worthy", so that "succeeding generations...may under its happy influence enjoy peace, union, prosperity and safety forever". They published notice of the Declaration in both the Columbian Sentinel and Boston Advertiser on June 26, just after the annual St. John's Day procession, an important Masonic ceremonial day.  Walker's signature on the Declaration of Independence is only one of two known holographic signatures of his; the other is found on his last will and testament. The newspaper article in the Boston Advertiser indicates that the Lodge had attempted several communications with the Grand Lodge of England "to be placed on a different and better standing" but had never received any replies.  Therefore they felt justified as brothers with "what knowledge we possess of masonry, and as a people of colour by ourselves, we are and ought by rights to be, free and independent of other Lodges...and we will not be tributary, or governed by any Lodge than that of our own". [24]  As a result, "Prince Hall Freemasonry" now has some five thousand lodges and 47 grand lodges all around the world, all stemming from the moment that the Declaration of Independence was signed by Walker Lewis and his two Masonic brothers in 1827.


In 1819, Walker's older brother, Adam Lewis, purchased a tract of land in Cambridge near the Botanic Garden, and built his home there at 34 Garden Street. (It was razed in the late 1850s.) In 1830, Walker bought a lot across the street at 37 Garden Street for $200 and sold it a year later to his brother Peter. The Lewis brothers built a large, two-storey, L-shaped home at the rear of the property, and the Lewis brothers passed it on from one to another (including back to Walker) until the 1870s, when Walker's nephew, George Washington Lewis inherited it. They also owned a long, narrow passageway that extended past the Lewis home several yards, and at the end was located the Lewis family tomb. The current location of the family tomb is unknown, but was likely moved from the residential area before 1884. The prominence of the Lewis brothers in that area of Cambridge led to it being referred to as Lewisville during the 1830s and 1840s, while today the district is known as "Observatory Hill." George W. Lewis sold the family home in the late 1870s and it was razed in 1889. (Click here for a progression of the Lewis homes in Lewisville on historic maps and atlases, from 1833 to 2009.) Walker Lewis also owned a house and barbershop in Boston by this time, as well as the home and barbershop in Lowell, frequently traveling back and forth between the two by railway.  His barbering business boomed, as he apparently had found the perfect niche marketing -he was apparently really good with children and specialized in cutting their hair.[25]  That same year brought the addition of Walker and Elizabeth's second daughter (named for her father's mother), Lucy Minor Walker.


During the mid-1830s the abolitionist organization that Walker Lewis had helped found became even more outspoken in its politics by exercising its clout when the MGCA voted in November 1832 "to send a petition to Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia", its unbearable presence there sullying the principles of freedom and democracy in the nation's own capitol. Walker Lewis's abolitionist activities are also summarized in a few scattered articles appearing in The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison's famous abolitionist paper. We learn from the newspaper that Lewis was one of five men who formed the Standing Committee of the MGCA as of May 28, 1831. The following year, Lewis again appears in The Liberator as the President of the African Humane Society in Boston for at least one year, from August 1831 to August 1832. The African Humane Society was formed in Boston about 1796, to aid in burial expenses, assist widows, and eventually build the African School in Boston. It also sponosred a "settlement project", returning desirous African Americans to Liberia. The Society was formally incorporated with approval from the Governor, Senate, and House of Representatives on June 19, 1819. Lewis appears another time in Garrison's paper, indicating that Lewis had remitted $4.50 to Garrison and his anti-slavery society in June 1837.[26]


Walker Lewis's appearance in
William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator of 1831 and 1832
[click on images to enlarge]



At the beginning of 1833, after many months of discussion pro and con, the MGCA voted to end its existence as a black-only, separatist organization, and instead became an "auxiliary" to the increasingly-powerful New England Anti-Slavery Society headed by William Lloyd Garrison, whom Walker Lewis undoubtedly met through the activities of the MGCA.[27]  In April 1833, the newly renamed Boston Anti-Slavery Society featured an address by the popular and dignified African American abolitionist Maria W. Stewart, who openly chided the former members of the MGCA for not being strong and courageous enough.  She finished her address by calling for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia as well.[28]  Her address has the honor of being the first time that a woman (and a black woman nonetheless) ever formally addressed a public meeting, a major step in women's equal rights.


Many members of the Lewis family were active in the abolitionist and equal rights movements.  We know from extent records that at the very least Walker Lewis and his two brothers, Andress Valentine and Simpson Harris Lewis, Simpson's wife Caroline F. Butler Lewis and their son Frederick, and Walker's brother-in-law John Levy were all publicly involved in equal rights activities.  John Levy in particular became quite well known for his abolitionist activities and even wrote an autobiography, The Life and Adventures of John Levy.  In November 1841, Levy helped arrange to have the "Amistad Africans" (now of Steven Spielberg movie fame) speak in Lowell, and "rendered important services" to the Africans who were on tour through New England trying to raise money for their return voyage to Africa.[29]  Levy also helped white abolitionists Maria Weston Chapman and Sarah Clay to form the Lowell Woman's Anti-Slavery Society in 1843; and in 1844, along with Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, he helped organize a series of one hundred anti-slavery conventions throughout the state of Massachusetts. [30] 


Walker's younger brother, Peter P. Lewis Jr. and his four children aged seven to eleven years (Peter III, Theodore Walker, Levi, and Mary Elizabeth) became embroiled in an equal rights controversy in 1844 when, as part of a school field trip to the Chemical Painting Exhibition at Mechanics Hall in Lowell, the four black children were denied entrance, even though the school system had long been successfully integrated and served as a model for the rest of the state, if not the country.  The Lowell community erupted in anger at this bigotry and strong editorials were published in the Lowell papers, defending the right of the Lewis children to see the exhibit.  One read:


We deem it the duty of the press to protest your sort of exclusiveness, having its origin in a narrow-minded prejudice, and to stand up manfully for the rights of the colored citizens when trampled upon in any way.  The proprietor has very much mistaken the public sentiment of Lowell by adopting such a cause; in our public schools, he will see the children of colored parents sitting side by side with those of white parents, a living evidence of toleration and respect. [31]


In addition, in 1850, Walker's mother, Minor Walker Lewis, and his sister, Sophia Lewis Levy, were harboring an escaped slave named William H. Taylor from Virginia;[32] and the famous escapee Nathaniel Booth (who would later also serve as one of three men appointed to take an inventory of the Walker Lewis estate in probate) was living in the home of Walker's widowed sister-in-law, Relief Ingalls Lovejoy Lewis.  Whatever expenses Walker Lewis or his family members may have incurred in their equal rights and Underground Railroad activities, they did not request remuneration from the Treasury of the Boston Vigilance Committee between 1850 and 1861, for their names are not found in the committee's account books for that period, with one exception.  Walker's brother Simpson Harris Lewis did receive financial assistance three times from the Vigilance Committee in 1857 and 1858 (through William Cooper Nell).[33]


In high school in Utah, the history I was taught regarding the abolition movement, was that all abolitionists had been white, well-meaning, educated New England blue-bloods who took the burden of racial injustice upon themselves to assist "the hapless and helpless Negro," and the Underground Railroad was more a myth than reality, consisting of a few scattered Quaker (i.e. white) homes trailing off into the unknown North.  Just from my one peek into the machinations of the Boston Vigilance Committee through its financial records, in reality black Bostonians were fully at the core of the abolition movement, and not just "preaching the word", but actively engaged in sheltering, warning, hiding, and transporting fugitive slaves to safe places (usually Canada, but sometimes local).  The financial records are complete with the names and familial relations of the slaves -many of them women with children, where they had come from, any special needs they might have, sometimes quick notes about their misfortunes; they show a massive, wonderfully organized, carefully nurtured Underground. While much of the funding came from white churches, black people (free and fugitive alike) were definitely in the trenches, doing all the hard work of feeding, clothing, educating, befriending, doctoring, barbering, and boarding these traumatized people.[34]  I am surprised at the accuracy and detail of these records; if the wrong hands had confiscated this record book, hundreds of people could have found themselves in dire legal trouble, if not worse.  I must also note that the beautiful penmanship of the Committee's Treasurer, Francis Jackson, is so perfect it's nearly of typographical quality.  His careful, comprehensive accounting of every penny coming in and every penny going out of their organization shows just how sacrosanct this work was for all these people.



Meeting the Mormons


As stated earlier, Walker Lewis had been baptized into Barre's First Church, which his mother had joined while still as slave belonging to Nathaniel Jennison.  By the 1830s, however, it appears as though Walker Lewis and his family had converted to the Episcopal Church.  The diary of Rev. Theodore Edson of St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Lowell, reveals that in the month of March, 1839, he set up special meeting times for the Lewis family to attend his services on Friday night, when it would be most convenient for the Lewis men to participate.  On March 8, Edson wrote,


In the evening I commenced holding a little meeting for the colored portion of my people, if they maybe called mine who so seldom come to church though they have a pew.  The evening was very stormy, muddy and dark, My object was to be able to come at the young men.  Out of six who I suppose might be expected I got but two.  How the thing will succeed I do not know and though they were very civil and expressed great sense of my kindness in coming I could not quite satisfy myself whether it is likely to be on the whole sufficiently satisfactory to the mm [males?] to induce their attendance.  The time of the next meeting was unsettled. [35]


Although Edson only ever referred to the Lewis family as "my colored people" without specifically name them, Martha Mayo has assured me that this phrase can only refer to the Lewises.  In his entries for March 15 and April 5, Edson also referred to meeting the black family "in Belvidere", which is the area of Lowell where Walker Lewis lived, and Mayo, who has traced the presence of every African American in Lowell, has found that only the extended Lewis family lived there in the 1830s. [36]  From the above diary entry we learn that although the Lewis family had been renting a pew at the church for some time, they were not very active there.


St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Lowell

Engraving from July 15, 1841 edition of the Lowell Offering

(Image courtesy of the Lowell Historical Society)


After another disappointing meeting on April 5, 1839, Edson gave up his efforts to hold Friday night services just for the Lewises.  That night in Belvidere, he recorded:


I found three women with whom I talked upon religion and prayed but the men did not come in til nine oclock.  I do not see that it is desirable to continue the appointment   I can call and see all the women at times more convenient, so as to accomplish just as much with them   and the men for whose sake the arrangement was specially made do not come and I do not see as there is any prospect of their attending.[37]


Elizabeth Lovejoy Lewis probably was not in attendance as she gave birth to their last child, Walker Lovejoy Lewis (who also went by Walker Lewis Jr.) that very month. George A. Levesque has documented that when in Boston, Walker Lewis was a member of the African (Baptist) Church in 1830, while his oldest brother, Samuel, served in that church as a Deacon from 1832-1836. Another brother, Joseph Lewis, also served as a delegate to the church's Yearly Associational Meeting in 1836 and again in 1849, while another brother, Enoch, served in that capacity in 1840. Lastly, his brother Simpson did the same in 1859 and 1860. A curious note in the Baptist church records for 1843 states that during that year, "113 added by baptism, 46 dismissed", leading me to question if one of those "dismissed" was not Walker Lewis, who had certainly been baptized LDS around 1843.[38]


How, when, where, and under what circumstances Walker Lewis first heard Mormonism preached, and why he converted to it, are unknown and remain speculative at best.  None who knew him ever explained this in the known accounts of him that exist. Certainly his conviction to and faith in it were strong, for once he was converted, Lewis remained faithful for nearly a decade.  There is only one small clue as to who might have actually baptized Walker Lewis into the LDS Church.  In 1890, when black Mormon Jane Elizabeth Manning James wrote to Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith requesting to be allowed into the temple, she informed him of "a Coloured Brother, Brother Lewis" whom she had met, and that "parley P Pratt  or dained Him an Elder."[39]  As will be shown hereafter, it was in fact Apostle William Smith who ordained Walker Lewis an Elder; therefore I propose that Apostle Parley P. Pratt actually baptized him a Mormon, not ordained him to the priesthood, and perhaps Jane James simply confused the two events that she had heard about some forty years earlier.  (James may also have been subconsciously influenced by the fact that the controversial William Smith had long-ago abandoned mainstream Mormonism -thus calling into question the validity of the ordination, while Parley P. Pratt had remained faithful.)  We know Pratt was in Boston in the fall of 1835 and again in the summer of 1843.  If Pratt indeed baptized Lewis, it was likely during his latter time there. 


After his conversion to the LDS faith, Walker Lewis would come to know at least seven members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles personally (including Brigham Young, William Smith, Wilford Woodruff, Ezra T. Benson, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, and Parley P. Pratt, all of whom labored as missionaries in Lowell, Cambridge, and/or Boston), as well as a number of other early Mormon leaders, earning their esteem, appreciation, and gratitude, while also profoundly challenging their long-held beliefs and stereotypes.  Evidence suggests that none other than Brigham Young himself was the first Latter-day Saint missionary to preach in Lowell, sometime in the summer or fall of 1835.  However, we do know that Orson Hyde and Joseph Smith's younger brother Samuel H. Smith had baptized about 25 people in Boston and formally organized a branch there in the summer of 1832.  Later Smith and Hyde, on their way to Providence, Rhode Island, stopped in Lowell, Massachusetts to visit Hyde's sister, Laura, and her husband, William B. North.  However both received the two missionaries "very coolly on account of my religion", as Hyde reported.  Although they tried to convince Hyde's family of Mormonism's value, the Norths were unwavering in their rejection.  Mr. North told Hyde he was welcome anytime "on account of relationship", however "he did not care to entertain my colleague, Brother Samuel H. Smith".  Incensed at this, Hyde "stayed only long enough to discharge my duty, and never again voluntarily returned" to Lowell.  The two missionaries left Lowell and returned to Boston without staying to try to establish a branch of their church in Lowell. [40]


That same summer, Joseph Smith had sent out most of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on a mission to the eastern states.  As Apostle Parley P. Pratt recalled, the proselytizing apostles "continued our journey through the Eastern States, holding conferences in every place where branches of the Church had been organized, ordaining and instructing Elders and other officers; exhorting the members to continue in prayer and in well doing....The month of August 1835, found us in the State of Maine, and the mission completed.... We now returned to Boston, and from thence home to Kirtland, where we arrived sometime in October [1835]." [41]  In a letter to an unnamed woman from Lowell, Brigham Young informed her that, "I believe it was in the year 1835 that I visited Lowell, when I held meetings and preached to the people the doctrines believed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."[42]  It is possible but doubtful that Walker Lewis converted to Mormonism at this time, as little missionary or other Mormon activity is known to have continued there for the next six years, and as far as I know, no formal "branch" of the church existed in Lowell at that time.  Even if someone there were to convert to Mormonism at that point in its history, the next immediate step as a sign of faith would have been to join the "gathering Saints" further west in Kirtland, Ohio, not stay to build the church in their native place.


A year later, during most of the month of August, 1836, Joseph Smith himself was in the Boston area, along with Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery, and his brother Hyrum Smith.  Ostensibly there as missionaries, once they arrived in Salem, Massachusetts (via Boston), Joseph revealed to the men that they were in fact there to seek for buried gold.  A Painesville Telegraph article had claimed that there was "a vast treasure buried beneath an old house" in Salem, and a Mormon convert claimed he knew the location of the house.  The potential embarrassment of the situation was ameliorated when Joseph produced a revelation from God stating,


I, the Lord...have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion....And it shall come to pass in due time that I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours....Tarry in this place, and in the regions round about; and the place where it is my will that you should tarry, for the main, shall be signalized unto you by the peace and power of my Spirit, that shall flow unto you.  This place you may obtain by hire.  And inquire diligently concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of this city; For there are more treasures than one for you in this city. [43]


But the financially strapped church would find no relief, despite the revelation that God had treasures of gold for the Mormons awaiting them in Salem.  Still they toured the area and preached.  Brigham Young and Lyman E. Johnson showed up as well.  Young had been proselytizing "through New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts, in company with his brother Joseph Young", and had "baptized a good number into the Church; they remained in Boston two or three weeks, and baptized seventeen persons."[44]


The first missionary to really establish a strong and stable presence in the Boston area was Eli P. Maginn, and the earliest evidence indicates he was in that area in February 1842.  He was quite successful in converting people to the faith, focusing his proselytizing efforts particularly on the downtrodden yet upwardly mobile (and this may be one key to understanding Walker Lewis' attraction to the LDS church). A humorously candid report of missionary activities "in the field", including the mercurial preaching tactics of Eli P. Maginn, has recently been found among some family papers in New England. In a letter from Joel Damon to his brother, Rev. David Damon, regarding the missionaries in the West Cambridge, Massachusetts and Peterboro, New Hampshire areas, he noticed that both Elders Freeman Nickerson (1778-1847) and Eli Maginn (1817-1844),


would not give a simple yes or no to a question but instead of answering directly would tell you what Paul or James or John or sombody else said about something or other which was no more to the point as I thought than Harrisons inaugural address. To use a vu[l]gar comparison he put me in mind of the paddy's flea you put your thumb on him and he is not there There is cunning, and craft enough about them but very little candid fair arguments....The converts in general are such as would get converted at a methodist campmeeting. However give the devil his due as the saying is. The mormon has got out people who have not been at meeting so long that they scarcely knew how the inside of a meeting house looks or knew how to behave (and for the matter of the looks I do not know as they all know now for he preaches mostly in the town house) and to appearance some have been converted and become good men who have heretofore been the reverse. So far so good.--[45]


By September 1842, Maginn had converted another 26 members in Lowell, for a total of 36 active members, including two priests (of the lesser Aaronic priesthood) and he was officially the branch president.[46]  Five months later, Elder Maginn reported at a regional conference held on February 9, 1843 in the top storey of Boylston Hall & Market, Boston (not the later Boylston Hall on Harvard campus) that the Lowell Branch consisted of 60 members, with one Elder and three lesser priesthood officers in attendance.  Since we know from both Wilford Woodruff and William I. Appleby that William Smith ordained Lewis an Elder, this "one Elder" in the Lowell Branch cannot be a reference to Walker Lewis, since William Smith did not arrive in Lowell until later that summer.  It might instead be a reference to Darius Longee (1815-?), whom we know was an Elder in Lowell as early as 1847.[47]  I can only assume that Walker Lewis was at least in attendance at this important regional conference however, as were leaders from Nauvoo, including Elders George J. Adams, Erastus Snow, Erastus H. Derby, and Ezra T. Benson.[48] 


All was not well with Elder Adams however.  The day after the conference, back in Nauvoo Joseph Smith "instructed to the council to call Elder George J. Adams to Nauvoo, with his family, and to say that he is ordered to come by the First Presidency, and that he preach no more till he comes."  Apostles Willard Richards and Brigham Young wrote him to return to face charges of adultery before the First Presidency.  Adams went to Nauvoo and successfully defended himself against the charges and immediately returned to Boston.


The almost-disgraced Adams, upon returning to Boston, organized public meetings to speak about Mormonism for both members in the area and for interested or curious non-Mormons to attend.  For example, "On the Sabbath, March 26th, during the day, [Elder George J. Adams] introduced Elder E. P. Maginn, and gave him a high recommendation as an able minister of the fullness of the Gospel, who is to take his place in Boston for the present."[49]. Adams then organized a large tea party and dinner in Boston on March 29, 1843.  The Boston Bee reported "at the great tea party...three hundred and fifty sat down at the first table.  After supper, Elder Adams delivered a very appropriate and eloquent address."[50]  Although I do not know that Walker Lewis was present at these events, it seems likely. 


After this conference in Boylston Hall, Ezra T. Benson reported in his autobiography that "I went to the city of Lowell to preside over that branch, and I remained there and in the region around till fall [1843] and was greatly blessed and baptized quite a number."[51]  While Benson was there in 1843, Elder William Hyde (1818-1874) visited Lowell as well.  Hyde reported that in the "forepart of April...I traveled on foot and by stage to Peterborough, New Hampshire, and from thence to Lowell, Massachusetts. At this place I found Elder E. T. Benson. I stopped in Lowell 2 days and delivered three public discourses. During this time there were 2 baptized. Baptism administered by Elder Benson."[52]


During the summer of 1843 two more missionaries appeared in the Boston and Lowell areas from Nauvoo: Apostle William Smith (1811-1893), who was the younger brother of Joseph Smith, and Elder Benjamin Franklin Grouard (1819-1894).  William Smith joined most of the other apostles who were proselytizing in the "Eastern States Mission", such as his cousin George Albert Smith, Parley P. and Orson Pratt, Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and Willard Richards.  It was either during the summer of 1843 or the summer of 1844 that Apostle William Smith was in Lowell and ordained Walker Lewis an Elder in the Melchizedek priesthood of the Latter-day Saint church.  Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal that Lewis was an Elder in Nov. 1844 and Elder William I. Appleby wrote to Brigham Young on May 31, 1847 that Lewis had been "ordained some years ago by William Smith."  While Appleby is not clear, "some years ago" seems to fit better with 1843 than 1844, so I lean to the earlier date.[53]


The other missionary in Lowell at the time, Benjamin F. Grouard (a master seaman, shipbuilder, and mechanic originally from New Hampshire) had been living in Nauvoo with the other Latter-day Saints, when he was voted to go on a mission to the Pacific Isles on May 11, 1843.  He was ordained a Seventy almost two weeks later and set apart as a missionary.  Grouard left Nauvoo for what would ultimately be Hawai'i on June 1, 1843, and headed to New England to board a ship from there, preaching as he traveled.


Elder Maginn was temporarily in Nauvoo at that time as well, for he was preaching at the Nauvoo Temple on June 25 when he was interrupted by Patriarch Hyrum Smith, who wanted to announce to "the brethren" that his brother Joseph had been arrested by Joseph H. Reynolds, the sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri, and Harmon T. Wilson, of Carthage, Illinois.[54]  Less than two weeks after that, "Elders Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith and Eli P. Maginn, started on the steamer Rapids on their eastern mission."  Maginn was then ordered on July 29 to "take charge and preside" over the Boston, Lowell (MA), and Peterborough (NH) branches of the church and he was also appointed secretary of the regional "general conference" to be held in Utica, New York later that year. [55]


In the meantime, Elder Grouard, awaiting ship's passage to Hawai'i, began proselytizing while in Massachusetts.  On August 4, 1843, he wrote in his journal,


I left Boston for Lowell & arrived there the same day.  I found a small bra[n]ch of the church there consisting of 40 members who received me with much joy & administered to my wants  I remained there over Sunday & preached to the people makeing known the mission wich had been appointed us.  Thay were very anxious for me to stay with them a length of time but I was very anxious to see my parents before leeving America  I could not but promised to stop a little on my return to Boston.[56] 


After visiting his "parental roof", on August 17 Grouard recorded that he


took stage for Lowell, where I arrived the same day.  The Saints were rejoiced to see me & entreated me to stay with them till conference, & as I had visited all the branches of the church aloted to me I concluded to do so.  Considerable of an interest was awakened while I remained & five were baptised.  The saints of Lowell are, with a few exceptions a warm hearted zealous & faithful people.  They administered to all my wants, & helped the mission as far as lay in their power, wich I pray the Lord to bless them for.[57]


Doubtless one of the warm hearted, zealous, and faithful Mormons in Lowell was Walker Lewis.  Unfortunately Grouard never directly mentioned Lewis in his journal.


Daguerreotype of Benjamin Franklin Grouard, circa 1860

Addison Pratt Family Photograph Collection

Image courtesy of Utah State University


Grouard then "bade the Saints of Lowell adue & took the cars for Boston" on September 9, 1843 to attend another regional General Conference at Boylston Hall.  In attendance were apostles Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff, and George Albert Smith.  Elder Maginn was also there, but had a rough time as he got into a public sparring match with both Brigham Young and Parley P. Pratt.  The two apostle publicly chastised Maginn because he was not correctly urging the Mormons to heed Joseph Smith's prophetic voice and migrate to Nauvoo.  Maginn replied, "he for one had taught the gathering according to the Scriptures; but he considered all modern revelations Scripture as well as those given anciently."


Young later in the conference took another, rather petty, swipe at the Elder.  In urging the Mormons to donate money for the missionaries and the Temple building fund, Young recounted,


Elder Maginn had an ivory cane. I asked him for it, but he declined making me a present of it. Not long after, he had it stolen from him in a crowd, and it now does neither of us any good. Perhaps your purse may slip through your pocket, or you may lose your property; for the Lord can give and take away.... We do not profess to be polished stones like Elders Almon W. Babbitt, George J. Adams, James Blakeslee, and Eli P. Maginn, &c., &c.; but we are rough stones out of the mountain; and when we roll through the forest, and knock the bark from the trees, it does not hurt us, even if we should get a corner knocked off occasionally; for the more we roll about, and knock the corners off, the better we are; but if we were polished and smooth when we get the corners knocked off, it would deface us."


During the conference, Grouard acted as the church representative for the Lowell Branch.  Apostle Woodruff recorded in his journal merely that "Elder B.F. Gruid represented the Lowel Branch consisting of Members 48."  However the Journal History of the Church gives a bit more detail, including a curious phrase: 


The branches of the church at New England reported in the forenoon meeting of the conference in Boston, this day...Elder Benjamin F. Grouard from Lowell Branch represented that there were 48 members in good standing in that branch and that much interest was manifested in the work, but that no Elder able to speak was there at present.[58]


That odd wording "no Elder able to speak was there" sounds like there in fact was an Elder there but he was unable to speak; this could be a reference to Walker Lewis being an Elder but not being permitted to exercise his priesthood publicly or officially.[59]


During the second day's conference, Maginn, now appearing appropriately submissive to the Twelve Apostles, gave the opening prayer.  On the third day, Maginn was ordered by Brigham Young to help Grouard and his future companions, Elders Addison Pratt, Noah Rogers, and Knowlton F. Hanks, to get to the Pacific Isles, apparently by urging more donations from members.  Two weeks later, the four missionaries had engaged passage to the Pacific, and they departed Boston on October 9.  Grouard would not return to Lowell but after his mission, settle in San Bernardino, California and later leave the LDS Church.[60]


Eli P. Maginn, who had been Lowell's Branch President, married 19-year old Abigail Seekel Ricketson in New Bedford, Massachusetts on January 27, 1844.  I do not believe his bride was LDS.  27-year old Maginn then died exactly four months later in Lowell.[61]  Twelve days earlier, the Mormon-owned Times and Seasons newspaper announced a regional General Conference would be held in Lowell on July 27 and 28, 1844.[62]



Joseph Smith's Quest for a Theocratic Empire


Meanwhile, back in Nauvoo, very peculiar things were taking shape among the leading councils of the LDS church in the winter of 1843-44 and early spring, which would deeply influence Walker Lewis and his family.  Joseph Smith, seeking an ever-expanding influence that he felt was divinely inspired, had settled on a political system that he called a "theo-democracy", a theocracy (led by him of course) that guaranteed "God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness, and where liberty, free trade, and sailor's rights, and the protection of life and property shall be maintained inviolate for the benefit of ALL."[63]  The newly created secret Council of the Fifty, initially focusing on spiritual matters, was given political charges by Smith during the spring of 1844, to set up a world theocratic government, ruled by the Fifty, with Smith at its head.  To that end, the Council ordained Joseph Smith a king, organized his candidacy for President of the United States, and called several of its members to become ambassadors of their empire to various countries. 


Nearly every one of the missionaries who had been proselytizing in the Lowell and Boston area were deeply involved in Smith's theocratic plans.  Missionaries Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Lyman Wight, Orson Hyde, George J. Adams, Alexander Badlam, William Smith, Almon W. Babbitt, George Albert Smith, and Erastus Snow were all members of the Council of the Fifty under Joseph Smith, while Elder Albert P. Rockwood (1805-1879) became a member of the Council under Brigham Young in 1845; and Ezra Taft Benson on Christmas day, 1846.[64] Elder Adams was also personally a witness to the anointing and ordination of Joseph Smith as theocratic king on April 11, 1844 in Nauvoo.  William Smith, who had ordained Walker Lewis an Elder, did not himself witness the coronation of his brother as a king because he did not join the Council of the Fifty until a month later, on May 6, 1844.[65]  One month after that, Adams was called and ordained as the Council's ambassador to Russia on June 7, 1844;[66] other ambassadors of the Council were Amos Fielding to England, Lucien Woodworth to the Republic of Texas, and Orson Hyde to Washington, DC.  All were given ministerial certificates from Joseph and Hyrum Smith to mask their true political appointments as ambassadors of the emerging Mormon theocracy.[67]



Joseph Smith, Abolition, Amalgamation, and African Americans


Joseph Smith's attitudes towards African Americans, much like the rest of his dogma and practice, slowly evolved over the years through trial and mishap, reflecting ambivalence and indecision.  While he was open to priesthood ordination for free black men, he certainly drew the line at the ordination of the enslaved.  Smith himself ordained Elijah Abel to the higher Melchizedek priesthood, and Abel lived for awhile in Nauvoo, but then mysteriously removed himself from the center of the gathering Saints, and settled in Cincinnati, remaining loyal to Mormonism, but from a distance.[68]


It was only after the Mormons in Missouri suffered what Smith saw as overwhelming, unjustified persecution against them, that he seemed to finally begin to see the similarities between racism and anti-Mormon prejudice, and began to publicly denounce slavery and the lack of equal rights for African Americans.  Still he remained somewhat ambivalent about abolition and full equal rights for African Americans.


Smith seemed to support the abolitionist cause, denouncing slavery, but categorically refused the label.  When Smith campaigned for president as a Jeffersonian Democrat in the spring and summer of 1844, it was on a platform that included a plan to abolish slavery by 1850 by compensated emancipation "for a reasonable price", through the sale of public lands; the resulting freed slaves would then be settled in Texas.[69]  While Smith's controversial biographer, Fawn Brodie, commended Smith's "very strong abolitionist stand", Smith refused to be known as an abolitionist, perhaps trying to have it both ways for a political sake -act like an abolitionist but not be called one -thus currying the favor of both sides of the controversial and increasingly violent issue.[70]  The ever-unpredictable "saintly scoundrel", John C. Bennett, considered himself an abolitionist, and he made some public statements to that effect in his position as Assistant President of the Church, arguably second only to Joseph Smith in the church hierarchy at that time.  For example, Bennett wrote to Dr. Charles V. Dyer, M.D. decrying the 12-year prison sentence given to three abolitionists from the Quincy Mission Institute of Illinois:


I am the friend of liberty, UNIVERSAL LIBERTY, both civil and religious. I ever detested servile bondage. I wish to see the shackles fall from the feet of the oppressed, and the chains of slavery broken. I hate the oppressor's grasp, and the tyrant's rod; against them I set my brows like brass, and my face like steel; and my arm is nerved for the conflict.[71]



Even though Joseph Smith confessed to Bennett in correspondence that the imprisonment of the students from the Quincy Institute made "my blood boil within me to reflect upon the injustice, cruelty, and oppression", he published a rebuttal to Bennett's correspondence with Dr. Dyer, affirming that in fact he and Bennett were not abolitionists: "the correspondence does not shew (sic) either myself or Gen. Bennett to be abolitionists, but the friends of equal rights and privileges to all men.[emphasis mine]" This was but a restatement of an 1838 denial by Smith that Mormons were abolitionists.[72]


Joseph Smith, in his presidential platform of February 1844, significantly rejected abolitionism as a false priesthood: "A hireling pseudo priesthood will plausibly push abolition doctrines and doings, and 'human rights,' into Congress and into every other place, where conquest smells of fame, or opposition swells to popularity."[73]


At a meeting at the Nauvoo Temple on March 7, 1844, William W. Phelps, a member of the Council of the Fifty sitting on Joseph Smith's "central campaign committee", read General Smith's Views and Smith was "unanimously, with one exception" nominated as a candidate for President of the United States.   Explaining his views on slavery and westward expansion, Smith said that he would free the slaves from a few states, compensate their owners, annex Texas, and settle the freed slaves in Texas, where they would act as a buffer of human flesh against the British, who were also attempting to gain control of Texas:


British officers are now running all over Texas to establish British influence in that country.... It will be more honorable for us to receive Texas and set the negroes free, and use the negroes and Indians against our foes....How much better it is for the nation to bear a little expense than to have the Indians and British upon us and destroy us all.... The South holds the balance of power. By annexing Texas, I can do away with this evil. As soon as Texas was annexed, I would liberate the slaves in two or three States, indemnifying [i.e. compensating] their owners, and send the negroes to Texas, and from Texas to Mexico, where all colors are alike. And if that was not sufficient, I would call upon Canada, and annex it.[74]


While Smith favored "national equalization" for people of African descent, still he remained opposed to race mixing between blacks and whites (especially black men and white women).  Despite the fact that Joseph Smith was striking at the very core of the definition of the institution of marriage with the introduction of polygamy (both polygyny and polyandry), and insisting that the Constitution shielded his actions, still he remained too short-sighted and prejudiced to allow "amalgamation", or inter-racial marriage; while he felt he had the right to marry whomever (and how many ever) he wished, he refused that right to people of African descent. Smith thoroughly opposed marriages between black and white people (and more specifically between black men and white women).  On January 2, 1843, he said, "Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them (sic) by strict law to their own species" and a year later, as Nauvoo's Justice of the Peace, on February 8, 1844, he fined two African American men $25 and $5 respectively for "trying to marry white women."[75]  Brigham Young would later re-affirm this racist attitude opposing sexual and marital relations between black men and white women, as president and prophet of the LDS Church after Smith's murder, especially due to a member of Elder Lewis' family.


As Newell Bringhurst has pointed out, Smith's (and Young's) attitudes on miscegenation and abolition were very much in line with most white Americans:


In fact, antiblack discrimination 'intensified' during the late 1840s and 1850s [throughout the US].  Illinois, just after the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo, approved a statute that absolutely prohibited black migration into the state.  Therefore, Nauvoo antiblack statutes conformed with those of the larger American society that routinely discriminated against blacks in the political realm.[76]


However, the fact that the Nauvoo Mormons conformed to general white attitudes of the time belies their doctrinal claim to be a revelatory and "peculiar people" who fiercely go against the grain in matters of ethics and morality, especially with their prophetic claims of unique communication with deity regarding "a higher law" of acceptable standards of behavior.  Despite these claims, we only find the early Latter-day Saints sullying themselves with fear-based racism like the majority of the American populace.  Rather than taking the opportunity to become leaders in a socially progressive faith and practice with other religions like the Society of Friends, Congregationalists, and Unitarians, the Mormons were content with the status quo, which is unfortunate.


At the first Mormon "Jeffersonian Democratic Convention, held in Boston's Franklin Hall on May 24 and 25, 1844, Parley P. Pratt was voted as chair of the convention.  Those in attendance passed resolutions for equal rights for all, including Catholics, Mormons, and "black men burned at the stake or tree".[77]


Back in Nauvoo, four days after being initiated into the Council of the Fifty, Apostle William Smith published a four-page statement on May 10, 1844 "inveighing against 'Mormon Apostles'" for their criticism of him and his recent actions in New England.[78]


Around the end of May, William Smith was back in Nauvoo but only briefly for he and his brother Joseph Smith got into a fight.  In Nauvoo, Joseph had signed over a lot of land near the temple, after receiving assurance from William that William would build a house and settle his family on it.  However, within only hours of the deed being recorded, one of the Ivins brothers "appeared before the city recorder to determine if the lot was free and clear" because he had just purchased the lot from William Smith for $500.  When Joseph Smith heard of his brother's duplicity and greed, he was enraged and immediately had the deed canceled.  This in turn angered William, who threatened Joseph and "quickly left Nauvoo and never saw his brother Joseph alive again".  On June 20, 1844, Joseph wrote to his brother William and the other proselytizing and campaigning Apostles to return to Nauvoo immediately.  William's brothers, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, were murdered seven days later, ending Joseph's aspirations for the presidency and ultimately a theocratic empire, with him as "President Pro tem of the world", as two Apostles called him.[79]


William Smith and his often-ailing wife Caroline "were with Heber C. Kimball and Lyman Wight on their way to Boston" the day after his two brothers were slain in Illinois.  The following day, a regional conference was held in Franklin Hall in Boston, with Apostles Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, William Smith, Lyman Wight, and Wilford Woodruff in attendance.  The next day, an area conference was held in Lowell and again, many of the Apostles attended it.  If Lewis was not at the Boston meeting, he certainly would have been at the Lowell conference.[80]


On July 1, still unaware that Joseph Smith had been murdered, "Gen. Joseph Smith" was nominated for President at the Massachusetts State Convention of Jeffersonian Democracy, held in the Melodeon.  Brigham Young took the role of President and William Smith and Lyman Wight were Vice Presidents, and Woodruff was one of the secretaries.  However, "rowdies" according to Wilford Woodruff then broke up the convention.  While Brigham Young was speaking, the radical woman's rights suffragette Abby Folsom stood up and began "speaking while the president was addressing the meeting", the first time (but not the last) a feminist helped break up an LDS meeting.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson called Folsom "The Flea of Conventions" because of her irritating habit of breaking into men's public addresses.)  Soon another young man in the gallery began making loud "rowdy remarks" and the police were called in; but the police were mobbed, "assaulted and beaten badly" and the "meeting was soon broken up".  Still, the national convention was scheduled to be held on July 13 in Delaware, with Heber C. Kimball and S. B. Wallace appointed as delegates.[81]


Finally on July 8, many of the apostles who were in Massachusetts read that day's headlines from the New York Herald: "The Murder of Joe Smith, the Mormon Prophet".[82]  Woodruff found out in Portland, Maine on the 9th after seeing the Boston Times.  Brigham Young, while visiting the Peterborough, New Hampshire Branch, received correspondence from Woodruff that the Smith brothers had been killed.  He started back to Nauvoo, Illinois immediately, spending one night at Lowell on his return journey.[83]  Woodruff returned to Boston and held a memorial there on July 11 and the local Latter-day Saints "were strengthened in the faith & we had a good time."[84]


An unnamed LDS apostle who had returned from a mission to England (possibly Orson Hyde who had returned from Jerusalem, Germany, and England in 1842) stopped in Lowell in July or August 1844.  There he preached with another young Mormon man, when the Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, happened to be passing by and stopped to listen to their message.  Whittier later wrote an essay, "A Mormon Conventicle", as part of his book called The Stranger in Lowell.  What I find so intriguing about this essay is that I believe that the young man preaching with the apostle was none other than Walker Lewis' 19 year-old son, Enoch Lovejoy Lewis.  Whittier recorded:


Passing up Merrimack street the other day, my attention was arrested by a loud, ernest voice, apparently engaged in preaching....


Seating myself I looked about me.  There were fifty to one hundred persons in the audience, in which nearly all classes of this heterogeneous community seemed pretty fairly represented, all listening with more or less attention to the speaker.


He was a young man, with dark, enthusiast[ic] complexion, black eyes and hair; with his collar thrown back, and his coat cuffs turned over, revealing a somewhat undue quantity of "fine linen," bending over his coarse board pulpit, and gesticulating with the vehemence of Hamlet's prayer, "tearing his passion to rags."  A band of mourning crape, fluttering with the spasmodic action of his left arm, and an illusion to "our late beloved brother, JOSEPH SMITH," sufficiently indicated the sect of the speaker.  He was a Mormon - a Saint of the Latter Days!


Note that Whittier found the young, dark-complexioned man preaching on Merrimack Street, which is where Walker Lewis had his barbershop (adjacent to the Merrimack House on the corner of Merrimack and Dutton streets).  Since Enoch's mother was so light complexioned herself (being half white and half black) that she is listed in the 1850 census as "white", Enoch may have been only "dark-complexioned" and not "black" per se.  Circumstantial evidence certainly indicates it was young Enoch whom Whittier heard preaching with the apostle that late summer day in 1844.[85]  (Whittier's essay then reports what he thought drew people to the "delusion" of Mormonism, he critiqued the "apocryphal Book of Mormon", sorrowed for their persecution, and lauded the beauty of the Nauvoo temple.)


1835 ad for the Merrimack House Hotel

Walker Lewis' barbershop lay adjacent to it, on Dutton St.


Whittier noted that both the young man and the older Apostle spoke on the power of faith, and Whittier wrote that through their message, "I discovered, as I think, the great secret to their success in making converts".  First, they taught that the miracles brought on by the power of faith were not just "confined to the first confessors of Christianity", but available to the Mormons today.  Second, "they speak a language of hope and promise to weak, weary hearts, tossed and troubled, who have wandered from sect to sect, seeking in vain the primal manifestations of the Divine power".  Again, this gives us contemporary insight into why Walker Lewis and his son would have affiliated with Mormonism.[86]


In the following chaotic months after the Smiths' murder, the LDS church was thrown into a succession crisis, with various claimants vying to lead the church.  Missionary activities in New England were reduced temporarily while Brigham Young, as the Senior Apostle, reigned in most (but not all) of the leading Mormons to follow him.  In the wake of the succession crisis, many of the more scurrilous Mormons grew bolder in their unethical behaviors, especially once away from LDS headquarters.  By the fall of 1844, Woodruff, William Smith (who had stayed in New England after his brothers' deaths), and an "Elder Ball" had returned to Lowell to proselytize there.  Smith and Ball however were creating utter havoc among the church branches in Massachusetts, Lowell in particular, due to their inappropriate (even by Mormon standards) sexual behavior and teachings.


William's sexual improprieties had begun in the early 1840s when confronted with his brother's explanations of polygamy and so-called "spiritual wifery".  As Michael Quinn has documented, William Smith was investigated in 1842 by the Nauvoo High Council as an extension of their investigations into John C. Bennett's prolific sexual activities in Nauvoo with both women and men.[87]  Two Nauvoo women, Sarah Miller and Catherine Fuller Warren, identified William Smith "as one of Bennett's friends who visited [them] for sexual intercourse".  Although Joseph Smith initially asked Brigham Young to excommunicate his brother, Joseph soon withdrew the charge and instead claimed that the charges had been trumped up to sully the Smith family.  Their cousin, George A. Smith, was angered that William had been "Commit[t]ing iniquity & we [apostles] have to sustain him against our feelings."[88]


With the death of the Patriarch to the Church Hyrum Smith (which was organized as an inherited, patrilineal position, open to the male descendants of Hyrum and Joseph's father, Joseph Smith Sr.) William Smith became the new Patriarch, in many senses co-equal to the position of the President of the Church, which Brigham Young had assumed pro tem.  However, William was not officially ordained to this position until May 24, 1845 after a year of being away from Nauvoo, Illinois.  Smith, who had been back in the eastern states when his brothers were killed (again, after fighting with Joseph over William's duplicitous actions regarding the land deed near the Temple), was asked by the apostles to remain there on his mission because, as a surviving Smith brother, his life was in danger, especially in tumultuous Nauvoo and environs.[89]  In fact, another Smith brother, Samuel H., had mysteriously died a month after Joseph and Hyrum; William believed that Apostle Willard Richards had asked Hosea Stout, a Missouri Danite,[90] to murder Samuel to prevent him from claiming succession to the church presidency.[91]


Although Brigham Young had written to Willard Richrards in July 1844 that "Br William Smith is a grate man in his cauling in this country", by October, another apostle was having to contend with the legacy of a very different side to William, which was creating dissension and division in the Lowell Branch. Wilford Woodruff wrote to Brigham Young on October 9,


Elder Ball has taught as well as Wm Smith the Lowell girls that is not wrong to have intercourse with the men what they please & Elder Ball tries to sleep with them when he can  They have tried to remove a good presiding Elder in Lowell & put in Bro Robins who is in their company, But they would not have this  the Lowell Church is shaking."[92]


Nearly a week later, Woodruff recorded in his journal, "I visited Lowel and held a meeting with the Lowell branch,  It was rather a squally time   dificulties appear to be rising in this quarter - some dissatisfaction,  after I closed I was followed by Elder Wm Smith".  Thankfully, Woodruff gave a fuller account to the "squally time" in a letter to Brigham Young a month later.  In the letter, we find that all the men in the Lowell Branch had in fact resigned their priesthood offices, with the exception of Elder Walker Lewis, leaving him as the de facto presiding Elder of the Branch, if only for a brief time.  Woodruff explained to Young, referring to the events of mid-October,


All was right with the Peterboro Church...but I found it different with the Lowell Church, Elder Wm Smith & myself attended a church meeting to gether there  All the mail members resigned their offices in that branch of the church except one colourd Brother who was an Elder   But the president & Clerk resigned.  the reason was a complaint that has saluted my ears in most of the eastern churchs I have visited,   but I advised them to hold their stations as they were, & go ahead all would be right - if the[y] did well they would be blessed,  they were not accountable for others faults,  And they did so all keep their places[.][93]


Although Woodruff does not here identify for Young what the complaint was, it becomes clear as we follow Woodruff's continued missionary activities in the Boston, Peterborough, and Lowell areas.  On October 16, Woodruff "spent the day in Lowell and Preached in the evening".  Smith went to Peterborough that night.  The next day Woodruff joined him and they held a meeting at which Smith preached.  On October 18, the two Apostles again preached to the Peterborough Mormons: "Elder Wm Smith again addressed the assembly  spoke of the rise & progress of the Church, coming forth of the Book of Mormon,  The Saints brought forward their tithings for the Temple all of which Elder Wm Smith took to the amount of $150. dollars for the Temple and $25 or $30. dollars for his own use", although in reality, the funds Smith collected did not make it to Nauvoo.  In a letter to Brigham Young, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson explained that, "the particular difficulties in the Lowell Branch came about as a result of church finances and the collection of funds".[94]  But this was not the only thing William Smith was doing wrong, as hinted at by the teachings of William Smith and Elder Ball to the "Lowell girls" that premarital sex was condoned by the church. Woodruff had avoided a complete implosion of the Lowell Branch, yet a month later, all was not completely stable there, as Elder Jesse Wentworth Crosby discovered.  On November 19, Crosby wrote, "On my return [from Peterborough] I stopped in Lowell (Sunday last) and preached to the saints who are well united with the exception of two or three uneasy spirits."[95]


Apostle Wilford Woodruff


Crosby then moved from Boston to Lowell on December 1, 1844 to be the Branch President there. As he reported in his journal, he


returned again to Boston being much worn down with excessive labour concluded to tarry during the winter and recruit my health, by invitation consented to take the presidency of the small Branch in Lowell city 30 miles from Boston and to take up my abode there.  Came into the city Dec. 1st   kept up regular meetings during the winter gave my attention partly to studying some useful sciences  baptized a number during my stay.[96]


Parley P. Pratt was appointed around December 30, 1844 "by the President and others of the Twelve to go East, and take charge of churches in the Atlantic States".  Pratt then appointed apostle Ezra T. Benson "to take charge of Boston and vicinity".[97]  Pratt soon became aware of just how disastrous for the church William Smith's presence was in Massachusetts.  In January 1845, he recorded,


As we gradually became acquainted with circumstances pertaining to the Church in these parts, we found that Elders William Smith, G. [George] J. Adams, S. [Samuel] Brannan and others, had been corrupting the Saints by introducing among them all manner of false doctrine and immoral practices, by which many of them had stumbled and been seduced from virtue and truth. While many others, seeing their injury, had turned away from the Church and joined various dissenting parties. We, therefore, in accordance with the instructions of the Holy Spirit in President Young before he left home, directed William Smith and G. J. Adams to return to Nauvoo, where, in process of time, they were cut off from the Church.... I devoted the winter in the presidency of the eastern churches, to writing for the Prophet and in visiting the churches in Boston, Lowell, Philadelphia, Long Island and various other places, and preaching the gospel among them.[98]


In the light of this and Woodruff's earlier note on William Smith's conduct with the "Lowell girls", Ezra Taft Benson's report to Young that the "difficulties in the Lowell Branch" were strictly having to do with the disappearing church funds, was clearly an underestimation of the damage that Smith and his cronies were committing.  Elder George J. Adams, a member of the theocratic Council of the Fifty, was excommunicated on April 10, 1845 by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and a month later, he organized a schismatic Mormon church, proposing that Joseph Smith III lead it (as opposed to Brigham Young), with William Smith as its Patriarch. 


In addition, Samuel Brannan was disfellowshipped by the Twelve in April 1845 as well "for entering into a polygamous marriage, which William Smith had performed in New York."  As Quinn noted, "Polygamy was risky enough in in Nauvoo, and the apostles took a dim view of introducing the practice in the scattered branches of the church."  However, Brannan was reinstated to full fellowship in Nauvoo on May 24, 1845.  One year later he took a shipload of some 240 Mormons to San Francisco (Joseph Smith had envisioned that the persecuted Mormons would settle in the "upper California", but in 1847, Young stopped short of the goal in Utah), where the Mormons were among the first to find gold in March 1848 near "Mormon Island" on the south fork of the American River; after Brannan siphoned off some 30% in "tithing funds" from all the Mormon gold laborers, ostensibly to fund a new Mormon Temple in the Salt Lake Valley, he abandoned the church and remained in San Francisco, where he built the first incarnation of the famous Cliff House in 1858, and a prominent street downtown is named after him.  Incredibly wealthy from the gold rush, he lost most of it in an acrimonious divorce and subsequent "unusual deals" with the Mexican government, dying penniless in San Diego in 1889.[99]


In the meantime, Elder Crosby "paid Andover a visit  this is a village about 10 miles from Lowell went in company with about 200 persons   ten large sleighs  I had the privilege of examining a very large library...."  I can only wonder if Elder Lewis was in that large company of 200 in ten sleighs to make the entertaining journey nearby.  Then on January 25, 1845, Crosby was witness to a horrible fire that swept through Lowell, destroying much of the city:


We had a dreadful storm during the night the snow drove through the air in almost solid columns about 3 o'clock we were aroused by the ringing of the bells every one in the city was ringing  the cry was Fire! Fire!  I dressed myself and went out to witness the most terrific scenery my eyes ever beheld  Fire-engines were in the streets but buried in snow  it was impossible to get them to the fire,   the wind blew a hurry cane the air was full, it was difficult to breathe, the reflection caused every thing to appear red  the buildings burned down, no assistance could be rendered  the inhabitants escaped with their lives. [100] 


Otherwise, after spending "the winter very agreeably", Crosby "left council of P.P. Pratt", resigned his presidency of the Lowell Branch and left for Nauvoo on March 29, 1845.[101]  This would also have been about the same time that William Smith returned to Nauvoo.


After the nearly-disgraced and highly-untrusted Presiding Patriarch William Smith returned to Nauvoo in May 1845, he and senior Apostle Brigham Young struggled with each other as they attempted to share spiritual, ecclesiastical, and political power after Joseph and Hyrum's murder.  Still Young married the 34-year old Smith to a 16-year old girl on June 22, 1845, one month after the death of William's wife, Caroline A. Grant Smith.  Young again performed another marriage for Smith on August 8, 1845 with a "Miss Rice" who was but 14.  (Note that Smith was married at the time to several other unidentified women as well.)[102]  Then Smith provoked further divisions within the church and among the hierarchy when he "stunned the congregation and his fellow apostles" at a citywide meeting on August 17.  Smith publicly confirmed "his belief in the doctrine of the plurality of wives", and refusing to be "ashamed of her [a spiritual wife] before the public".  Since the church was still officially denying polygamy, many "people appeared disgusted and many left the ground".  Apostle John Taylor then arose and denied what Smith had said, doing some fast spin-doctoring.  Smith and Young continued vying against each other, with Young clearly in the lead.  Smith abandoned Nauvoo on September 14 and in October had taken up with a teenaged Catholic girl in St. Louis and on October 19, 1845, he was publicly excommunicated by the Twelve Apostles.[103]


With the status and safety of the Mormons in Illinois growing increasingly uncertain, Young began the daunting task of preparing the church members to move westward, away from the US, and settle in Mexican territory.  Missionary activities abated somewhat in preparation for the trek west en masse.  I know of no missionaries in Lowell, until Parley P. Pratt passed through on his way to his mission in England in the fall of 1846.[104]



The Sources of the Priesthood Ban - "The law is their seed shall not be amalgamated"


In the fall of 1846, just three years after Massachusetts legalized miscegenation, a marriage took place in Cambridge that would profoundly affect Mormon doctrine and practice for the next 130 years.[105]  On September 18, 1846 Elder Lewis' eldest son, 21-year old Enoch Lovejoy Lewis, the young man whom I believe John Greenleaf Whittier witnessed preaching Mormonism in Lowell, married a white Mormon woman named Mary Matilda Webster in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Enoch's slightly older bride may have been the daughter of Ira Lewis and Bathsheba Wright of Chester, Hampden County, Massachusetts, but I have not been able to prove that.  Matilda may also have been pregnant at the time of their marriage, as their first and only child, Enoch R. Lovejoy Lewis was born only seven months after their marriage, in Lowell.[106]


I believe that this 1846 inter-racial marriage, coupled with both Walker Lewis' high ranking stance in what was seen as "spurious" African Freemasonry, and the actions of another black Mormon named William McCary, are what drove Brigham Young to instigate the denial of priesthood to any man with black ancestry, free or enslaved, in late 1847.


As Newell G. Bringhurst has thoroughly documented, William McCary, a half-African, half-Indian Mormon musician, was in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, entertaining "the encamped Saints in February and March 1847".  An accomplished ventriloquist, McCary was expelled from Winter Quarters for dressing as an Indian, claiming to be Adam "the ancient of days", and then throwing his voice to announce that "God spake unto him and called him Thomas."  Before McCary departed, Brigham Young confronted him.  Still not having developed the "curse of Cain" doctrine as reason to deny black men priesthood, Young told McCary, "Its nothing to do with the blood for [from] one blood has God made all flesh, we have to repent [to] regain what we av lost -we av one of the best Elders an African in Lowell."[107]  Here Young still believed that it wasn't racial identity, but individual worthiness, which merited priesthood.  And he used Walker Lewis as an example of that very concept.


"The negro prophet" soon returned after his expulsion however to start "his own rival Mormon group", and in the fall of 1847 William McCary began practicing polygamy, having white Mormon women "seald to him" (married for "time and all eternity" through Mormon ritual), which was "for the women to go to bed with him in the daytime" while his first wife "was in the room at the time of the proformance".  Some Mormons reacted very strongly to this mockery of both polygamy and the sealing ritual of the temple.  For instance, Nelson W. Whipple (1818-1887) threatened to shoot McCary.[108]


Newell G. Bringhurst and Ronald K. Esplin document that the "earliest-known statement" of black priesthood denial came a month after McCary's first expulsion from Winter Quarters, from none other than Parley P. Pratt, who certainly had known Walker Lewis for at least four years.  Pratt told a Mormon congregation in April 1847 that the apostate William McCary "was a black man with the blood of Ham in him which linege was cursed as regards the priesthood", quoting from the Mormon scriptures called the Book of Abraham.[109]


In the meantime, Elder William Ivers Appleby (1811-1870) arrived in Lowell, just after Pratt's speech in Nebraska.  A poorly educated scrivener and schoolteacher from New Jersey, Appleby had joined the LDS church in 1840 and visited Nauvoo for the first time in 1841.  While most of the Mormons were preparing to migrate west from Illinois, he was on a mission throughout the eastern states. (He and his family later migrated to Utah in October 1849.)[110]  In 1846 he assisted Samuel Brannan and the shipload of Mormons heading to California, and in 1847 he assisted Jesse C. Little in presiding over the church in the eastern states.  Sometime during that year Appleby became the President of all the church branches in the east. 


While Appleby was proselytizing in Lowell, he encountered Elder Walker Lewis, learned of his ordination under William Smith, and grew agitated upon discovering a black man holding Mormon priesthood.  On May 19, 1847, Appleby recorded that he,


Left this Afternoon, for Lowell, where I arrived in about one hour  and a half, distance 25. miles.  Here I found a branch of the Church of about 20 members in tolerable good standing.  Elder [Darius] Lougee presiding.  In this Branch there is a Coloured Brother, (An Elder ordained by Elder Wm. Smith while he was a member of the Church, contrary though to the order of the Church or the Law of the Priesthood, as the Descendants of Ham are not entitled to that privilege) by the name of Walker Lewis.  He appears to be a meek humble man, and an example for his more whiter brethren to follow.


While Appleby here gives what appears to be the first very clear explanation of the "curse of Ham" doctrine as the reason for the priesthood ban against black men, it must be noted that this "journal" entry was actually written in the mid-1850s, and based only on brief notes that he kept at the time.  I speculate that his original notes probably only consisted of "May 19, 1847 - Afternoon to Lowell, one hour and a half, 25 miles.  Branch of 20 members, Elder Lougee presiding. Coloured Brother, Walker Lewis".  The rest seems to have been fleshed out later in the 1850s, when the "curse of Ham" doctrine had been firmly established and promulgated by Brigham Young and others.  That Appleby later revised his "journal" is borne out by the fact that 12 days later, while in Batavia, New York, Appleby wrote to Brigham Young demonstrating the doubts he had in his mind about the propriety of this "meek humble man" holding the Melchizedek priesthood.  And Appleby broke the news to Young about the Lewis-Webster marriage.


At Lowell...I found a coloured brother by name of 'Lewis' a barber, an Elder in the Church, ordained some years ago by William Smith.  This Lewis I was informed has also a son who is married to a white girl [Enoch Lovejoy Lewis and Mary Matilda Webster Lewis].  and both members of the Church there.  Now dear Br. I wish to know if this is the order of God or tolerated in this Church  ie to ordain Negroes to the Priesthood and allow amalgamation [inter-racial marriage].  If it is I desire to Know, as I have Yet got to learn it.[111]


Elder Appleby was clearly disturbed by Elder Lewis' ordination.  And he equally incensed that a Mormon man of African descent had married a white Mormon woman.  Appleby sent this important document to Young at Winter Quarters, Council Bluff, Nebraska.  But of course Young at that time was en route to "Mexico" (California/Utah), so he did not receive the letter for six months.  In a complete coincidence, Appleby's querying letter, Brigham Young, and Elder Appleby himself all converged at Winter Quarters at the beginning of December 1847.  Young had just returned to Nebraska from the Salt Lake Valley, when Appleby arrived on December 2 from the eastern states.[112]  Young, with Appleby's revelatory letter in hand, surely met privately with Appleby to ensure the accuracy of the details. 


The following day, Woodruff (who was also in Nebraska for the moment) recorded in his journal,


Elder Appleby Arived in our mids from Philadelphia & spent the evening with us & gave us much information concerning the wars & state of the Nations....He also gave an account of the state of the churches in the east.[113]


The enraged Brigham Young, having read Appleby's letter concerning the Lewis family with his questions about conformity to doctrine and practice and hearing Appleby's personal report, must have rued the fact that just nine months earlier, he had praised Walker Lewis as "one of the best Elders" in the entire church and had told McCary that it wasn't ancestral blood that prohibited priesthood ordination.  Confronted with the knowledge that Walker's son had legally mixed his black blood with that of a white Mormon, just as McCary had done polygamously, Young then met privately with the apostles present (Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Ezra T. Benson, Amasa Lyman, and Erastus Snow).  There, Young confided to them that he would have both Enoch Lovejoy Lewis and his wife Matilda killed "if they were far away from the Gentiles", instead of in Massachusetts. The Council minutes handwritten by Thomas Bullock are included here:

bro Appleby relates...Wm. Smith ordained a black man Elder at Lowell & he has married a white girl & they have a child [Enoch Lovejoy and Mary Matilda Webster Lewis, and their son Enoch R. Lovejoy Lewis Jr.]

Prest. Young If they were far away from the Gentiles they wod. [would] all on [ought?] to be killed - when they mingle seed it is death to all. If a black man & white woman come to you & demand baptism can you deny them? the law is their seed shall not be amalgamated. Mulattoes r like mules they cant have children, but if they will be Eunuch for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake they may have a place in the Temple. [This is taken from Matthew 19:12, which is about Gay, castrated, or celibate men as "eunuchs".]

B. Y. The Lamanites [Native Americans] r purely of the house of Israel & it is a curse that is to be removed when the fulness of the Gospel comes.

O. H. [Orson Hyde] Has taught that if girls marry the half breeds they r throwing themselves away & becoming as one of them

B. Y. It is wrong for them to do so.

B. Y. The Pottawatamies will not own a man who has the negro blood in him - that is the reason why the Indians disown the negro Prophet. [Warner "William" McCary at Winter Quarters] [114]

These remarkable minutes clearly document Young's evolving doctrinal thoughts on people of African descent and their right to Mormon priesthood and temple attendance. But first of all, this report seems to indicate that not only did Walker Lewis hold LDS priesthood, but that his son Enoch did as well. Since it seems that Enoch Lewis was preaching Mormonism alongside an apostle (Orson Hyde?), as witnessed by John Greenleaf Whittier in late July 1844, it is possible Enoch too had been ordained by William Smith when Walker Lewis was. However, it is more likely that either William Appleby mis-reported Enoch's ordination to Young, or the scribe erred in his transcription of the meeting. In any case, Young was clearly opposed to white and black people intermarrying, and he related that to temple attendance (and by extension, priesthood ordination). Young unequivocally stated during this meeting that "the law is their seed shall not be amalgamated." Oddly, Orson Hyde, who was not present and may have preached with young Enoch Lewis, was quoted as teaching that white women who married mulatto men were "throwing themsevles away". Young also linked mules and mulattoes (and in fact, the words are etymologically related, mulato being Spanish for "young mule"), indicating his odd belief that mixed-race people, like mules, are sterile and "cant" reproduce - or did he mean "should not"? I also posit that "the curse" Young said is to be removed from Native Americans is their darker skin.


Certainly the Danites might have been successful in covertly carrying out Brigham Young's desire for this execution in Missouri, Illinois, or Nebraska, but not in Boston or Lowell, under a public magnifying glass in a hotbed of abolitionist activism. 


Note that Brigham Young was not opposed to "inter-racial marriage" per se. Young in fact had performed the marriage of Lewis Dana, a Native American who had been an Latter-day Saint Elder for four years, to Mary Gout in 1845, "she being a White Woman".[115]  Young however was horrified by the mixing of "the seed of Abraham" (all white people regardless of their lack of Semitic blood) with "the seed of Cain" or Ham or Canaan (variously), especially black men marrying white women.  Young would do all in his power to prevent that from happening both in his church as president and in his territory as governor.  Magnifying what Rigdon had said in the 1830s, and what Joseph Smith had done and said in the 1840s regarding marriages between blacks and whites, Young was outraged by Enoch Lovejoy Lewis' marriage to Matilda.  No doubt he was paranoid that if black men were allowed the priesthood and all temple benefits (including "celestial marriage", or polygamy), they would have lines of white women in tow.  Young seems to have fallen prey to the stereotype of the wild, exotic black man indulging his animalistic passions with "pure white womanhood".


Brigham Young, still quite vulnerable in his leadership position of the majority of the Latter-day Saints, may not have appreciated Walker Lewis' high Masonic rank either.  Young had only been a Mason since 1842, being initiated along with Joseph Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and the majority of other LDS leaders at the Nauvoo Lodge.[116]  Joseph Smith Sr. had been a Freemason since 1817, but he had died in 1840 before the Nauvoo Lodge was started.  The other pre-church organization Masons were Hyrum Smith, William W. Phelps, and Heber C. Kimball; but they had all become Masons between 1823 and 1826, which is the same timeframe that Walker Lewis was first raised as well.  According to John L. Brooke, Joseph Smith Jr. had espoused a "Masonic mythology" in which the descendants of Seth and Cain formed into "two races of men, good and evil, carrying pure and spurious versions of Masonic knowledge".[117]  Walker Lewis seemed to be living proof of this: a black man allegedly descended from Cain, and a past Most Worshipful Grand Master of African Grand Lodge #1, one of the most controversial lodges in existence and often held (by white Masons) as spurious indeed.[118]


Young's instigation of a priesthood ban against all men of African ancestry may have been partly due to Walker Lewis' high Masonic rank in a Grand Lodge that many white Freemasons esteemed as spurious and irregular.  That, coupled with the fact that many of the men in the mob that killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith were Freemasons, may have turned Young against Walker Lewis.  When Joseph Smith was assaulted, his last words were the first part of the Masonic distress call: "Oh Lord my God".  He was unable to finish the last half, "Is there no help for the widow's son?" as he fell from the second storey of the Carthage Jailhouse; stunned from the fall, he was set against a nearby wall and shot execution-style by several mobsters backed by the Whig Party.[119]  The failure of Masonic brothers to come to the aid of a fellow brother in distress caused many of the Mormon leadership to eschew Masonry and Freemasons.


I feel certain that William McCary's troubling actions at Winter Quarters in the spring and fall of 1847, Young's discovery of the Lewis-Webster marriage in December 1847, and Walker Lewis' high standing in African Freemasonry, were the three most important factors in Brigham Young's instigation of a priesthood ban against all men with African ancestry in late 1847 or early 1848.



Young on Abolition, Slavery & Black-White Sex


On June 1, 1851, Young preached during a regular Sunday meeting in Salt Lake City about his views on slavery, the divine calling of blacks to be servants to whites, and their curse that binds them to this.  According to Woodruff, Young said:


Their is great Excitement in the world about slavery & the Abolitionest are vary fearful that we shall have the Negro or Indian as Slaves here.  We have a few that were prisoners that we have bought to save their lives.  But what will the Abolitionest do?  If you owe them a dollar they will Jog you up.  Neither will they liberate the slave by buying them & setting them free.  The Master of Slaves will be damned if they Abuse their slaves.  Yet the seed of Ham will be servants untill God takes the Curse off from them.  But they are not all the Slaves their is in the world.  The whole world are Slaves to sin & wickedness & passion.


I Have two Blacks.  They are as free as I am.  Shall we lay a foundation for Negro Slavery?  No God forbid  And I forbid.


I say let us be free.  We will be rich but we must be rich in faith first or we shall be rich in no other way.[120]


Almost a month later, again during a Sunday sermon, Young exulted in the joys of the Mormon theocracy.  Demanding, "Give us the kingdom of God instead of the glories of the world", Young then launched into another tirade about blacks and the curse that dated back to God's rejection of Cain's sacrifice and his subsequent murder of Abel:


Their has been a great stir to exhalt the Negro & make him equal to the white man but there is a curse upon the seed of Cain & all Hell cannot wipe it out & it cannot be taken off untill God takes it off.  When A person unlawfully seeks for power & exhaltation by taking the blessings which belongs to Another He will sink far below the other.  As Lucipher the son of the morning sought Abels Blessing & took the life of his brother.  The consequence was Cain was cursed & his seed & this curse will remain untill Abels posterity will get all the Blessing their is for him.  Then the curse may be taken from Cain or his posterity but his posterity will be below Abels.  All are slaves.  Polititions are the worst slaves And if we dont do right we shall ketch the lash.  We are the freest people on Earth.  Queen Victoria is A slave.  Had to Ask the liberty to Marry prince Albert.  But we are free.  We have the right God & kingdom.[121]


After Appleby's meeting with Young and the Twelve in Council Bluffs, they wrote the historically monumental General Epistle from the Council of the Twelve Apostles, explaining to the scattered Saints the events at Nauvoo that led to the church's removal to the Utah territory.  The Epistle called all Latter-day Saints to gather "on the east side of the Missouri River, and, if possible, be ready to start from hence by the first of May next, or as soon as grass is sufficiently grown, and go to the Great Salt Lake City."  It counseled those unable to move to the Valley the following summer to settle for a time near Council Bluffs, urged the European Saints to immigrate speedily, by way of New Orleans to the Bluffs, and asked all those coming west to bring whatever seeds, plants, livestock, tools, machinery, books, maps, charts, and scientific instruments they can to the Valley.[122]


Brigham Young signed the General Epistle on December 23, 1847.  Appleby addressed a conference on December 26 in the Log Tabernacle "upon the Political state of the world the gathering of the Jews at Jerrusalem & many other interesting things."[123]  Then on December 28, 1847, "the manuscript was handed to Amasa Lyman and Ezra T. Benson, who in company with William I. Appleby, Erastus Snow, James H. Flanigan, and others, left Council Bluffs for the East on December 28, and on January 14, Lyman, Benson, Snow, and Appleby reached St. Louis. Three days later, from St. Louis, Benson and Appleby wrote to Brigham Young that they had "five hundred copies of the Epistle already struck off" the printing presses and were getting 3,000 printed at a cost of about $30.  They then scattered about the states, distributing them to the various Mormon branches, encouraging the faithful to migrate to the Utah territory.


Back in Lowell and Boston, the Lewis family was oblivious to the ecclesiastical crisis they had caused in the leading councils of the LDS church.  During the early to mid-1840s, the family grew through marriage and lost some to death.  Walker's youngest sibling, Simpson, after 1840 had married rapidly in succession three women, the most recent being Caroline F. Butler, a vocalist and abolitionist from Rhode Island, around 1845.  Another younger brother, Andress, had also married a second time, to Urania Silver, in 1846; and his older sister, Dinah, had married a second time as well, to Isaac Davidson, on December 2, 1847, the day before Brigham Young's threat to have her nephew and wife killed.  In addition, Walker's youngest daughter, Lucy Minor Lewis, married Horace B. Proctor in 1848.  Sadly, in 1844, the patriarch of the Lewis family, Peter P. Lewis Sr., died in Cambridge.  Almost exactly one year after the death of his namesake, Peter P. Lewis Jr. also died in Lowell.  And lastly, the only child of the controversial couple Enoch and Matilda Lewis, Enoch R. Lovejoy Lewis, died at the age of fifteen months.


In the summer and fall of 1848, Apostle Wilford Woodruff was back first in Boston, then in Lowell, where on October 16, he "Baptized and confirmed two in the evening Varanus [or Varanes] Libby & Mary Thornton of Lowell Mass.  The Church in Lowell gave me $8 dollars to assist me on my mission."  And on November 1, Woodruff "visited most of the brothering  staid this night with Br Pevey" (Merrill Cummings Peavey or Pevey) in Lowell.[124]  One month later, Brigham Young himself was "ordained King, Priest, and Ruler over Israel on Earth", following in Joseph Smith's steps toward a theocracy.[125] 


That September, Elder Albert P. Rockwood (1805-1897) arrived in Boston to proselytize.  Rockwood was a polygamist from Holliston, Massachusetts who had been a Danite (Mormon vigilante) since their inception in Missouri in 1838, a Freemason, a member of the Council of the Fifty, and also a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, making him a "general authority" over the church, just one tier lower than the Twelve Apostles.  On Sunday, September 24, 1848 Rockwood spoke at a regional conference being held in Boston, presided over by Wilford Woodruff.  Wilford records that Rockwood "exhorted the Saints to carry out the principles of the Epistles in emigating (sic) to the west."[126] Walker Lewis was probably in attendance and heard Rockwood's call to the Latter-day Saints to gather in Utah, for soon afterwards, he would begin preparations to do so. 


Rockwood then visited Lowell on December 16, 1848, where he stayed at Merrill C. Peavey's home, preached "to the Saints in Lowell" the following day (no doubt where he met Elder Lewis personally and sparked their friendship) on the following day, and then left to preach elsewhere, returning to the Peavey residence on December 23.  On Christmas Eve, Rockwood "preached to the Saints at the house of Br Lewis  had a verry attentive audiance".  That is the only time we know of that an LDS meeting was held in Elder Lewis' home.  That night, Rockwood stayed at the home of LDS member George Wilkins (1822- ).  The following day, Rockwood gratefully acknowledged in his journal the aid he received from Walker Lewis, as a barber:  "Br W Lewis  the coulerd Br gave 1oo [donation]   he lent me a raesor and brusch so I can shave with a raesor that is borrowed in stid of one that is pierced [or pitted?] as the Anas_____[Ananiases?] will be".  Almost two weeks later, Rockwood returned to Lowell, having breakfast with Peavey on January 6, 1849.  In a penciled section beneath this latest journal entry, Rockwood added "A Letter is to be maild to Br Darias Longee Lowell Mss / W Lewis of Lowell Mss [gave?] me       one dolr  1.oo".[127]  If Rockwood knew of Young's threat against Enoch, he did not show it, despite being a Danite likely to carry out what he might consider an order from Young; in fact, rather than any animosity at all, he seems only to have expressed camaraderie with Lewis.  Rockwood then left Massachusetts for Utah, on January 20, 1849.


Elder Albert Perry Rockwood, ca. 1876


Woodruff's published biography states that around this time he "asked Brigham Young if 'Coloreds' [i.e. mulattos] and white men with African blood were also banned from the Priesthood as were Negroes. Brigham Young replied: "Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot hold the Priesthood, and if no other Prophet ever spake it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ."  This exchange (by mail?) supposedly occurred on January 16, 1849, but Woodruff's journals from that period are silent on the topic.[128]



To Utah...and Back


Just as a cholera epidemic began sweeping through New York and Boston, on June 16, 1849, Woodruff was back in Lowell, where he spent the night at Merrill C. Peavey's (on Branch St.) and the following day, a Sunday, he "preached to the saints in Lowell".  Merrill and his brother (or possibly nephew?) Abiel Peavey (who was also a Mormon) were personally asked by Woodruff to migrate to Utah the following spring to set up iron foundries there for industrial purposes. Woodruff returned again to Lowell on January 19, 1850, and preached at Merrill's residence twice on the following day.  He sadly noted in his journal that "in the evening I called upon Abiel Pevey a few moments...But I think he has No interest in the kingdom of God.  I spent the night with Elder [Darius] Longee."


At the end of the month, Woodruff and Merrill Cummings Peavey went proselytizing together in Peterborough, New Hampshire.  The next month, Woodruff noted in his journal that upon returning to Cambridge from a trip to Maine, he had "received A letter to day from Walker Lewis" on March 4, 1850.  Although I searched through all of Woodruff's papers which I had access to in 1979 and 1980, I was unable to find this important letter.  I can only guess that, from the events that would unfold, Lewis might have informed Woodruff that he intended to gather with the rest of the Latter-day Saints in Utah.  On April 10, 1850, Woodruff left New York with 209 Mormons, heading en masse to Utah, 100 of whom were from the Boston area.  Walker Lewis was not among them, waiting another year to do so.[129]


Finally, in preparation for his journey to Utah, Elder Walker Lewis wrote and filed his last will and testament on March 26, 1851 in Lowell, leaving his wife, Elizabeth Lovejoy Lewis, as the executrix, and giving his estate to her and their four children.  As part of the probate, an inventory was taken of all his property, revealing that Walker Lewis (and members of his family) was very musically talented.  Among his two homes in Boston and Lowell, the inventory takers found that Lewis owned a French horn, a clarinet, two violins, and a grand piano made of rosewood.  (It's quite possible that Lewis had purchased this piano from Elder Alexander Badlam, a member of the LDS church who lived in Cambridge and manufactured piano fortes and furniture.)[130]


Walker Lewis' signature from his 1851 will

(Digital image courtesy of Connell O'Donovan , 2006)


Lewis must have left on his journey almost immediately in April 1851, for it was about a six-month overland journey to Utah from Massachusetts (per Wilford Woodruff's several trips back and forth), and we know Lewis was in Utah by early October at the very latest.


Just one month after his father's departure for Utah, the controversial young Mormon, Enoch Lovejoy Lewis, was arrested in Lowell for stealing clothing.  A Lowell newspaper informed the public of what happened:


A negro by the name of Enoch Lewis, last Sunday night, undertook the operation of breaking Into the clothing store of F.W. Tuxbury & Co, on Central Street. He was detected by watchman Sanborn, and by him arrested on Warren Street. Yesterday he was examined before the Police Court, and for want of $500 bail was committed.  He is an old offender.[131]


It's difficult to speculate why Enoch would have done this -his family was well-off and respectable, so he had no need to steal clothing.  I can only offer two speculative explanations.  The first may be that he was trying to steal clothing from the Tuxbury store to supply his uncle's clothing store with more clothing for fugitive slaves, a Robin Hood of sorts.  Secondly, we know that Enoch Lovejoy Lewis was declared insane in 1856, and this compulsion to steal unneeded clothing may have been early signs of his deteriorating mental condition.  In any case, young Lewis was convicted of attempted robbery and he spent two years in the state prison for his crimes in July 1851.[132]


In the meantime, Elder Lewis probably arrived in Utah around the end of September 1851.  We know from the Journal History of the Church that between September 1 and October 3, at least nine companies of Mormon immigrants arrived in Salt Lake City, either from Nebraska or California.[133]  Once there, Walker Lewis almost immediately met with the aging polygamous Patriarch to the Church, John Smith (1781-1854), the uncle of the murdered Joseph Smith and of William Smith, who had ordained Lewis to the priesthood.  On October 4, the Patriarch laid his hands upon Lewis' head and gave him his patriarchal blessing, giving the Elder spiritual guidance and direction.  For non-black Mormons, the recipient is also informed which of the "twelve tribes of Israel" he or she has been adopted into.  Most Anglo-Mormons are thereby spiritually adopted into the Tribe of Ephraim (as I was in my own patriarchal blessing).  In Lewis' case however, he was declared to be of the "tribe of Canan" (i.e. Canaan).[134]  The typewritten index to the early patriarchal blessings indicates the tribe of "Cainan" for Lewis (a rather Freudian conflation of Cain and Canaan), but when I was given the opportunity to actually view his blessing in person, I noted that John Smith had actually spelled it "Canan".  As I am not a descendant of Lewis, I was not allowed to copy the blessing, and unfortunately I do not recall anything more of the details of its contents.


Patriarch John Smith, uncle of Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith Jr.


This blessing, coupled with a statement made by Jane James in February 1890, is the only evidence from Utah I have found that Lewis was in the Salt Lake valley for about six months.  I can find no other Mormon/Utah record of his presence there.[135]  Unfortunately, none of the Mormons who knew him from Massachusetts and who were in Salt Lake or environs at the time recorded his stay that I have found.  But as will be seen, his presence was certainly felt, especially by Brigham Young, now freshly reminded of the marriage of Walker's son to a white Mormon.  In any case, Lewis certainly attended the semi-annual General Conference on October 5 and 6 at the Bowery.

While in the Salt Lake valley, Elder Lewis somehow met Jane Elizabeth Manning James (1822-1908), a black Mormon from Connecticut who had been a servant first in Joseph Smith's household and then in Brigham Young's household and in the Salt Lake Valley worked as a laundress.[136]  Faithful to Mormonism until her death, she had persistently requested permission to participate in temple rituals for many years.  Jane James claimed that while in Nauvoo, Emma Smith had come to her with a proposal from Joseph, that Jane be "sealed" to Emma and Joseph as a child (a temple ritual binding children to parents for "time and all eternity").  Although she had not understood what that meant at the time and refused the offer, she had since realized her error.  Jane therefore asked several church leaders that she be allowed to have this temple ordinance performed for her.  In one petition to Apostle Joseph F. Smith (son of Hyrum Smith, 1838-1918) in 1890, she wrote:


"Dear Brother - - Please excuse me taking the Liberty of Writing to you - but be a BrotherÉby answering my questions - There by satisfying my mind - - First, as Brother James [her husband Isaac] has Left me 21 years - And a Coloured Brother, Brother Lewis wished me to be sealed to Him, He has been dead 35 or 36 years - can i be sealed to him - parley P Pratt  or dained Him an Elder.  When or how[?] can i ever be sealed to Him."[137]


Jane Elizabeth Manning James


It is from Jane's letter that we find out that: first, somehow Jane continued to receive news about Walker Lewis after he returned to Massachusetts, since the 78 year-old woman knew rather accurately what year Walker had died many years before;[138] second, Walker wanted to participate in temple ordinances (both the endowment and sealing ceremonies); third, he was willing to marry polygamously; and fourth, he proposed to Jane James but it seems she turned him down.  We will never know what Young and other Mormon authorities would have done with Walker's request to practice plural marriage.  However, given Young's knowledge of William McCary's schismatic, polygamous indiscretions four years earlier, coupled with Young's emerging "curse of Cain" doctrine as "justification for a priesthood ban, I feel certain that, even if Jane James had agreed to marry Walker Lewis, Brigham Young would never have allowed a priesthood-blessed, polygamous sealing (or eternal marriage) ceremony for the two to take place in the upper floor of the Council House in Salt Lake (which was used for temple ordinances from 1851 until the Endowment House was completed on May 5, 1855).[139]


Lewis may have met other free blacks living in Utah (some 24 of them according to the 1850 Census); and he could not have failed to discover that a number of members of his church were slave owners upon his arrival; in 1851, 23 slave owners are known by name, including wealthy southern apostle Charles C. Rich.  This certainly must have been difficult for the nephew and namesake of the man who brought emancipation to his state almost 20 years prior to Walker's own birth.[140]


Once the Mormons received news from California that the US Congress had approved the proposal that Utah become a territory of the United States, with Brigham Young as the first governor in January 1851, the thoroughly theocratic legislature of "the State of Deseret" was disbanded on April 5 of that year in order to establish the official territorial government.[141]  The newly approved government for "the territory of Utah" convened for the very first time on September 22, 1851, just as Walker Lewis arrived in Salt Lake.  It consisted of a 13-member Council and a twenty-six-member House of Representatives.


With this Past Most Worshipful Grand Master and radical abolitionist present in the new "City of the Saints", Brigham Young, no doubt, was confronted yet again by his prejudice and fears.  He lashed out publicly, pushing the legislature to oppose extreme forms of abusive slavery but still support limited form of slavery; unlike "southern slavery", Utah slavery, for example, prohibited both physical abuse of, and sexual relations with, slaves, and mandated their education, or face still penalties.  And worse yet for Walker Lewis and his family, Young publicly opposed sex between white people and those of African descent, again invoking the "curse of Cain", as he had after the incidents with McCary and the revelation of the Lewis-Webster marriage.  Significantly, the first territorial legislature was composed of two of the men who knew Walker Lewis best, Albert P. Rockwood and Wilford Woodruff.  Other church leaders whom Lewis knew from Massachusetts, and who were now in the first legislature, were Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, Ezra T. Benson, and George A. Smith.  Patriarch John Smith, who had just given Lewis his blessing, was also the Chaplain for the House of Representatives at the time.  And finally, the man who had instigated the controversy in the first place by reporting the Lewis-Webster marriage, William I. Appleby, was also a member of that first territorial legislature.[142]


Partway into their first session, Young addressed the territorial legislature on issues of race According to Hubert Howe Bancroft's History of Utah,


In a message to the legislature, dated Jan. 6, 1852, Brigham, reviewing at length the internal policy of the territory, said that the system of slavery was obnoxious to humanity, but that the negro should serve the seed of Abraham, and not be a ruler nor vote for men to rule over him. 'My own feelings are, that no property can or should be recognized as existing in slaves, either Indian or African'.[143]


Michael Quinn has also documented that on January 23, Brigham Young instructed the territorial legislature to legalize slavery, because "we must believe in slavery".[144]


In a lengthy journal entry from sometime between January 4 and February 8, 1852, Wilford Woodruff recorded a speech of Young's (perhaps given on February 2) to the legislative assembly "upon slavery".  Since Young's remarks quite sternly deal almost strictly with the question of miscegenation between blacks and whites, I quote Woodruff's entry here almost in full:


The Lord said I will not kill Cane But I will put a mark upon him and it is seen in the [face?] of every Negro on the Earth And it is the decree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cane & the Curse untill all the seed of Abel should be re[deem?]ed and Cane will not receive the priesthood untill or salvation untill all the seed of Abel are Redeemed.  Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him Cannot hold the priesthood & if no other Prophet ever spake it Before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ.  I know it is true & they know it.  The Negro cannot hold one particle of Government But the day will Come when all the seed of Cane will be Redeemed & have all the Blessings we have now & a great deal more.  But the seed of Abel will be ahead of the seed of Cane to all Eternity.


Let me consent to day to mingle my seed with the seed of Cane[,] It would Bring the same curse upon me And it would upon any man.  And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the ownly way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground.  It would also take the life of his Children....


Their is not one of the seed of old Cane that is permitted to rule & reign over the seed of Abel And you nor I cannot Help it.


Those that do bear rule should do it in righteousness.  I am opposed to the present system of slavery.  The Negro Should serve the seed of Abram but it should be done right.  Dont abuse the Negro & treat him cruel....


As an Ensample let the Presidency, Twelve Seventies High Priests Bishops & all the Authorities say ["]now we will go & mingle with the seed of Cane and they may have all the privileges they want.  We lift our hands to heaven in support of this.["]  That moment we loose the priesthood & all Blessings & we would not be redeemed untill Cane was.  I will never admit it for a moment....


The Devil would like to rule part of the time But I am determin He shall not rule at all and Negros shall not rule us.  I will not admit of the Devil ruling at all.  I will not Consent for the seed of Cane to vote for me or my Brethren....Come here with a part of the Canaanite [i.e. African] Blood in them they are Citizens & shall have their rights but not to rule for me or my Brother....The Canaanite cannot have wisdom to do things as the white man has.  We must guard against Evil.  I am not going to let this people damn themselves as long as I can help it.[145]


From these comments we learn that by that point Young believed: that all black blood was cursed; that blacks could never rule or govern over whites (lacking the "wisdom" to do so); black votes did not count in ecclesiastical circles; and blacks would eternally trail behind whites.   He was very serious in his hatred of whites "mixing" with blacks, and he made several vicious doctrinal remarks to justify his prejudice, vowing that only the controversial Mormon doctrine of "blood atonement" for an entire racially mixed family (father, mother and their progeny) could wipe away the black stain from white blood.  Young also clearly linked his recent ban on the priesthood to the race mixing that so upset him; they were part and parcel of the same.  Young also obliquely confirmed that he believed Joseph Smith had not introduced the priesthood ban, when he stated with full prophetic authority invoking the divine, "any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him Cannot hold the priesthood & if no other Prophet ever spake it Before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ" (emphasis mine).


On February 4, the territorial legislature passed "An Act in Relation to Service", which gave legal recognition to limited slavery. As part of the act legalizing euphemistic "servitude", the legislature very pointedly added an onerous prohibition on consensual sex between any white person and any black person, even if married to each other, accompanied by a very heavy penalty.  In the second half of section 4, it declared that "if any white person shall be guilty of sexual intercourse with any of the African race, they shall be subject, on conviction thereof to a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars, nor less than five hundred, to the use of the Territory, and imprisonment, not exceeding three years"; the anti-miscegenation law was not repealed until the 1960s.[146]  Newell G. Bringhurst misinterpreted this portion of the statute as prohibiting only sexual intercourse between "white masters and their black slaves", but the wording clearly indicates a much broader prohibition that disregarded citizenship status.[147]  The man who had once helped publish and distribute David Walker's Appeal must have been personally and politically appalled at this bigotry from his church leaders whom he had esteemed, welcomed into his home, trusted, and assisted.  The "Act in Relation to Service" was not repealed until June 19, 1862, when Congress prohibited slavery in all US territories.


The day following passage of the Act, Young addressed the joint session of the legislature, telling them that slavery was "God decreed" and would be not only acceptable, but even "a great blessing", if only white people treated their "servants" paternalistically and compassionately:


I am as much opposed to the principle of slavery as any man in the present acceptation or usage of the term. It is abused. I am opposed to abusing that which God decreed, to take a blessing and make a curse of it. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam [Abraham?] to have the seed of Cain as servants, but those they serve should use them with all the heart and feeling, as they would use their own children and their compassion should reach over them and round about them, and treat them as kindly, and with that human feeling necessary to be shown to mortal beings of the human species.


Although there is no record of Walker Lewis' reaction to such rhetoric, this long-time abolitionist, whose uncle and namesake had courageously brought emancipation to all slaves in Massachusetts, could not have been anything other than profoundly offended.  His own wife had a black father and a white mother, and his son was married to a white woman.  It must have brought a crisis of faith to hear that for them to have forgiveness and salvation per Mormon doctrine, they would have to offer themselves up (including all their children) in a bloody act of atonement, a mass self-sacrifice. 


Perhaps with the coming of the spring and the first mail from back east, Lewis then learned that his son was in prison back in Massachusetts for attempted robbery.  With his frigid reception in "Zion", he left Utah for good, probably in March or April, when weather permitted.  Just as he was leaving Utah, his sister, Sophia Lewis Levy, died back in Cambridge.  Then half way through his journey home, Walker's oldest brother, Samuel Alexander Lewis died in Lowell.  No doubt this sad news crushed him upon his arrival in Massachusetts in October 1852, already burdened as he was with a religion that rejected him and his family, and by having a son in prison.


As soon as he could compose himself and rest from his exhausting, soul-trying journey, he went right back into the barber business.  The Lowell Advertiser published an ad written by Walker Lewis:


RETURNED FROM GREAT SALT LAKE VALLEY.  WALKER LEWIS feels thankful for the patronage and support which he has formerly received, and would respectfully inform the citizens of Lowell and vicinity, that he has returned from Great Salt Lake Valley, and has re-opened the BARBER'S SHOP, adjoining the Merrimack House, Dutton St., where he will be glad to wait upon all those that feel disposed to give him a call. Particular attention paid to Cutting Children's Hair.[148]


Within two months of his return, Walker Lewis' Mormon daughter-in-law, Matilda, died from "exhaustion" just after Christmas 1852 in the State Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, while her husband was still in prison.[149]


Other than some minor land transactions, nothing is known directly about the rest of Walker Lewis' life.  His daughter, Lydia Elizabeth, married George H. Bennett two days before Christmas, 1854.  We also know that Walker's younger brother, Simpson Harris Lewis, was one of 23 signers of a petition brought to the 1853 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention, requesting that the state constitution be amended so that all male citizens of color could legally serve in, or hold office or commission in the state militia.  The petition was not only voted down by the constitutional committee, but it was not even allowed to be "placed on the records of the Convention", nor be published with the official proceedings, a severe slap in the face of the black abolitionists, and ultimately contrary to the US constitutional right for all citizens to bear arms.[150] 


Simpson, his wife Caroline F. Butler Lewis, and their nine year-old son Frederick (named for Frederick Douglass) all participated in a "testimonial" to honor the fellow black abolitionist William Cooper Nell for his relentless efforts to have all public school systems become integrated statewide.  The law had passed in the spring of 1855 and so on December 17, 1855 a large assembly of black people met in a church in Boston to thank Nell for his work.  Simpson and his wife were organizers of the meeting.  Caroline sang "a floral invocation", and ten year-old "Master Frederick" Lewis, himself an attendee of an integrated school in Boston, addressed the assembly with an extremely florid, high Victorian speech called "Champion of Equal School Rights, We Hail Thee!"[151]


Enoch Lovejoy Lewis was released from prison around July 1853 and as Matilda had died tragically, he then married Elisa Richardson Shorter, a black woman from Topsfield, Massachusetts in September.


Quack Walker Lewis finally died on October 26, 1856 in Lowell, from "consumption", which was probably tuberculosis.[152]  Lewis, after his rejection by the LDS church, may have returned to the Episcopal Church of his wife, as the funeral and burial services were performed by St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Lowell.  However, that may simply have been what Elizabeth Lovejoy Lewis decided to do as his widow, since she had never left the Episcopal Church to begin with.  Elizabeth also purchased a beautiful family lot in the private garden-style "Lowell Cemetery" and Walker, Elizabeth, and nine other members of their family are buried there.[153]


Walker Lewis' estate went into probate in December and Elizabeth had his will published in the American Citizen in Lowell that month, per instructions from the court (to ensure that all creditors could make their claims).  Caleb G. Weaver, A. C. Varnum, and the former slave, Nathaniel Booth, took the inventory of the Walker Lewis estate.[154]  His home on River Street in Lowell was valued at $900 while his home in Boston, on the corner of Harrison Avenue and South May Street, was valued at $2,800.  Lewis' personal estate, in addition, was valued at nearly $1,500.


"Elssabeth" Lovejoy Lewis' signature from probate records of Walker Lewis

(Digital image courtesy of Connell O'Donovan , 2006)


In February 1857 Stephen Mansur, who was then the mayor of Lowell, and the City Aldermen, represented to the Middlesex County Probate Court that Enoch Lovejoy Lewis had become "an insane person".  A man named Perley Parker was appointed the "Principal" and legal guardian of Enoch.  I do not know whether his insanity was organic in nature, or whether Young's threat against him, the early death of his only child, the tragic loss of his first wife, his two-year imprisonment, and then his father's death, all coming so rapidly in succession, were what drove him insane.[155]


Walker Lovejoy Lewis, as a minor, was appointed a legal guardian by the Probate Court as well.  The court selected Hon. Linus Child, a white politician who opposed slavery (but like Joseph Smith refused the label of abolitionist) and former Whig senator who was now the Agent (similar to a CEO) of the Boott Mill in Lowell, employing some 2,000 textile workers, mostly women.[156]  Young Walker, like several of his Walker and Lewis cousins, fought in the Civil War.  He enlisted in the Navy at Boston on June 21, 1861 but initially was rejected until Congress passed acts on July 17, 1862 allowing African Americans to fight in the war.  His enlistment record says he was a 5'9", 22 year-old mulatto barber from Lowell.  After he was allowed to fight, young Walker Lewis served for over a year on the USS Rhode Island as a landsman. During a leave, in early December 1862 he was married to a woman of Irish descent, Mary F. Roche (or Roach).  Later that month, he also witnessed the sinking of the Monitor off North Carolina in December 1862 and heroically assisted in the rescue of survivors.  He was released from military service in October 1863, when he returned to barbering, like his father.  He and Mary had eight children together.  When he died and was buried in 1901, he was buried in the family plot near his parents, with full military honors and an official marker was put on his grave for his service during the Civil War.  When the Lewis family plot in the private Lowell Cemetery was recently refurbished, a new honor marker was placed on his grave and the old one was buried near him. The new one reads: "WALKER LEWIS, LANDSMAN, US NAVY, US RHODE IS, MAY 7, 1839-APR 18, 1901."[157]


The sinking of the Monitor and rescue of survivors by the Rhode Island


Walker's oldest daughter, Lydia Elizabeth Lewis Bennett, died in September 1908.  She and her husband George had no known children.  Walker's youngest daughter, Lucy Minor Lewis Proctor, had three children by her husband Horace, and she died in 1889.


Unfortunately I must report that no known descendants of Walker Lewis are alive today.  In fact, neither Martha Mayo nor I have found any known living descendants of Mingo and Dinah, despite the once-enormous size of the family, and we have both been working almost obsessively for many years to find a living member of this fascinating, influential family.  We both hope someday to hand over a complete and accurate genealogy and family history to descendants of Mingo so that they too can know the important roles which he and his descendants played in fighting the bigotry of racism in all its ugly aspects and ending at long last the inhumanity that is slavery.


When I reflect upon Quack Walker Lewis and the influence he had in his era as a black equal rights proponent, a black Freemason, and a black Mormon Elder (and his blackness, his otherness was intrinsic to those three identities), I see how visionary he truly was in hoping and dreaming toward a future far beyond racism, beyond political inequities and ecclesiastical injustices; far beyond fear, beyond despair, for everyone, regardless.  Hopefully, he no longer remains a mere curiosity, a minor footnote in LDS history; I hope to have shown that his life was not incidental but central to the solidification of Mormon priesthood denial based solely on ancestry.  William I. Appleby was correct; Walker Lewis was, in every sense, an example for his white brothers to follow. And they utterly failed to do so. The highest rank of Mormon leaders had a monumental opportunity to join Walker's vision of an unprejudiced faith and an unbiased polity. Instead, his existence and everything he stood for caused LDS leaders to increase their anti-black sentiments publicly, to uphold unjust and bigoted laws, and to diminish officially the role of blacks in the church for nearly 130 sorrowful years.


I must give a heartfelt expression of gratitude for the assistance that Martha Mayo has given in support of my research into the life of Walker Lewis and his relatives.  Martha is the Director of the Center for Lowell History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and the past president and current librarian of the Lowell Historical Society.  She has also diligently researched the lives and roles of African Americans in Lowell's long history, concentrating on the Walker and Lewis families.  She has provided invaluable insight and freely shared her own research with me.  In addition, I also thank Margaret Young of Brigham Young University and Dr. Newell G. Bringhurst of College of the Sequoias for their encouragement and support in publishing this life history.



[1] Certainly Elijah Abel held the higher Mormon priesthood, but there is some controversy over whether or not William McCary, a half-Indian, half-African Mormon, had been ordained to the priesthood by 1847.

[2] See his autobiography, The Life and Adventures of John Levy, edited by his 19 year old daughter Miss Rachel Frances Levy (by his second wife or domestic partner, Henrietta Williams), Lawrence (MA): 2nd edition printed at the Journal Office, Brechin Block, 1877. The first edition was published in 1871.

[3] The genealogical information here comes from vital records of Barre, Lowell, Dracut, Boston, and Framingham, Massachusetts, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; most can also be found on  Note that Frances Ellen Brown is listed in her marriage record as the fifth wife of Simpson, but only the names of four are known.

[4] Newbell Niles Puckett, Black Names in America: Origins and Usage, (Boston: G.K. Hall & Co.), pp. 197, 417-418, 422, and 433-444.

[5] For example, see the Peter Lovejoy Family Group Sheet in the Family History Library (Salt Lake City), submitted for temple work in 1959 by Virginia Call Morgan; the African American Peter Lovejoy was vicariously sealed to white "parents" who weren't his (Daniel Lovejoy and Mary Holt); he was also baptized, endowed, and sealed to his wife and children in the Idaho Falls Temple in 1960 and 1961, some 18 years before it was valid to do so.

[6] A woman named Rose Mingo married Toby Cambridge in Framiningham in 1738.  The Mingo/Walker family may have personally known Crispus Attucks, the famed Boston Massacre martyr, for he had escaped from his owner, William Brown of Framingham, in 1750.

[7] John Caldwell also owned at least one slave in 1773, a half-Indian, half-African man named Harry, who escaped from him in April of that year, (Boston News Letter, April 16, 1773).

[8] Matthew Walker, History of Barre, (handwritten manuscript, Family History Library, Salt Lake City) p. 10.  Isabel Caldwell had an inscribed marker placed on the spot, stating "This stone is erected in memory of the time when and place where Mr. James Caldwell died, which happened by the falling of a tree, July 18, 1763, in the 52 year of his age."

[9] Boston News-Letter, June 13, 1765, p. 3.

[10] See for example: Hon. Peter W. Agnes, "The Quork Walker Cases and the Abolition of Slavery in Massachusetts: A Reflection of Popular Sentiment or an Expression of Constitutional Law?", Boston Bar Journal, March/April 1992, pp. 8-19, and the original typescript of this article, submitted February 12, 1992 to the Massachusetts State Archives, copy in my possession; John D. Cushing, "The Cushing Court and the Abolition of Slavery in Massachusetts: More Notes on the 'Quock Walker Case'", The American Journal of Legal History, (vol. 5, 1961), pp. 118-144; Horace Gray, "The Abolition of Slavery in Massachusetts: A Communication to the Massachusetts Historical Society, April, 16, 1874" (Boston: John Wilson and Son Press, 1874); Albert Bushnell Hart (ed.), Commonwealth History of Massachusetts (New York: The States History Co., 1929), vol. 4, pp. 37-39, and 506-508; Timothy C. Murphy, History of Rutland, in Massachusetts, 1713-1968 (Northeastern University, 1928), pp. 42-43; John Nelson, Worcester Country: A Narrative History (New York: American Historical Society, Inc., 1934), pp. 163-167; James E. Sullivan, American Town (Barre, MA: Barre Historical Society, 1974), pp. 15-17.

[11] Matthew Walker, History of Barre, p. 62.

[12] According to Worcester County deeds, "Quork Walker" a "Negroe man of Barre...Labourer" purchased land from Francis Nurse in November 1786.

[13] Matthew Walker, History of Barre, p. 62.

[14] "Elizabeth Walker [Quacko's widow], singlewoman, Step Walker Laborer, Priscilla Walker singlewoman, Peter Luis yeoman, Miner Luis his wife, William Ebit yeoman, Rosannah Ebit his wife, Prince Walker yeoman, all of Barre," to William Robinson, deed executed September 19, 1812.

[15] Martha Mayo to Connell O'Donovan, emails, May 16 and 24, 2006, and her timeline, "Massachusetts Primary and Grammar Schools: Integrated Schools", copy in my possession.

[16] National Park Service, "Boston African-American National Historic Site", <> (24 May 2006), p. 3.

[17] Brent Ford, Yazmin Hazig, and Amy Scott, "The Appeal of David Walker", <>, (17 May 2006), Walker's Vision.

[18] David Walker's Appeal, in Four Articles, etc., Charles M. Wiltse, editor, (New York: Hill and Wang, 1965), p. 65.

[19] Walker's Appeal, pp. 25-26.

[20] National Park Service, "Historic Site", <>, (24 May 2006), p. 4.

[21] Henry Highland Garnet, Walker's Appeal, with a Brief Sketch of His Life (New York: J.H. Tobitt, 1848), preface.

[22] See "Statement of elections of officers of African Lodge, June 4, 1809, to June 9, 1828" (Exhibit 36), in Henry Wilson Coil, A Documentary Account of Prince Hall and Other Black Fraternal Orders (The Missouri Lodge of Research, 1982), p.144; and "Past M.W. Grand Masters",

[23] Recently converted LDS bishop George Miller became the Grand Master of the Nauvoo Lodge at LDS headquarters in Illinois, on December 29, 1841.  However the Nauvoo Lodge never became a Grand Lodge, as the Prince Hall Grand Lodge was at the time of Walker Lewis' two-year term as its Most Worshipful Grand Master.  Joseph Smith himself was irregularly raised to Master Mason in the Nauvoo Lodge on March 16, 1842 -and on May 4, 1842 gave the first "endowment ceremony", based closely on the secret Masonic ritual, to nine LDS leaders.  Smith however excluded Assistant Church President John C. Bennett - and the 2nd highest-ranking Mason of the Nauvoo Lodge - under whose spurious patronage the Nauvoo Lodge had been chartered in the first place.  This is because it was soon publicized that John C. Bennett was "any thing other than and good and true Mason" on May 7, had formal charges brought against him in the Nauvoo Lodge on May 18, was disfellowshipped from the LDS Church on May 25, and then fully excommunicated (as a consequence to his disloyalty to Joseph Smith, his multiple sexual liaisons with Nauvoo women, and his "buggery" with the men of the Nauvoo Legion under his command) on June 18 that year (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), pp. 491-3, 634-5; D. Michael Quinn, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996), pp. 266-268; Andrew F. Smith, The Saintly Scoundrel: The Life and Times of Dr. John Cook Bennett (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1997), pp. 75-76 and 89-91).  The irregularities of its founding, plus the activities of Smith in revealing Masonic secrets to non-Masons (especially the women of Nauvoo) under the aegis of the "Quorum of the Anointed", rendered all the "Masonic work" of the Nauvoo Lodge invalid.

[24] Coil, Prince Hall, pp. 146-148.

[25] Lowell Advertiser, November 9, 1852.

[26] Benjamin Quarles, Black Abolitionists (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 192. The Liberator, (Boston MA) May 28, 1831, p. 87; August 25, 1832, p. 135; November 24, 1832, p. 187; and June 2, 1837, p. 91. I am grateful to Erin Jennings for finding these articles.

[27] James Oliver Horton, Black Bostonians (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1979), p. 96.

[28] Horton, Black Bostonians, p. 70; Quarles, Black Abolitionists, p. 192; The Liberator, April 27, 1833.

[29] Joseph Sturge, A Visit to the United States in 1841 (London: Hamilton & Adams, 1842), Appendix A, pp. L-LI.

[30] "Profiles in Courage: African Americans in Lowell", <> (14 June 2006), The Quork-Lewis Family (1754-1954).

[31] Martha Mayo, "Re: Lowell Schools", 24 May 2006, personal email (24 May 2006).

[32] Boston Vigilance Committee Treasurers Accounts, 1850-1861, handwritten monograph, p. 54(unpaginated), which indicates that Simpson H. Lewis accompanied "Wm Taylor and Lewis Cobb" to Canada in July 1857 to avoid slave catchers.  In 1854, William H. Taylor had married Rosanna M. Bassett, Walker's niece.

[33] Boston Vigilance Committee Treasurers Accounts, p. 54. For an inaccurate and incomplete account of the Lewis family's participation in Boston abolition activities, see James Oliver Horton, "Generations of Protest: Black Families and Social Reform in Ante-Bellum Boston", The New England Quarterly, 49:2 (June 1976) pp. 253-4, available online. Horton incorrectly named Thomas Lewis as Walker's father.

[34] In a very real and dangerous way, what the black clothiers and barbers of Boston could offer fugitive blacks were new identities: clean, fashionable clothing and new haircuts or styling not only lifted their spirits but easily changed their identities in the days before photography, when most fugitives were only described not portrayed with images.

[35] Theodore Edson Diary, <> (25 May 2006), 8 March 1839.

[36] Martha Mayo, "Re: Lowell Schools", 24 May 2006, personal email (24 May 2006).

[37] Theodore Edson Diary, 5 April 1839.

[38] Lowell birth records, Family History Library. George A. Levesque, "Inherent Reformers-Inherited Orthodoxy: Black Baptists in Boston, 1800-1873," The Journal of Negro History 60: 4 (Oct. 1975): 491-525; for Walker Lewis's membership in Boston's African Church, see p. 502, note 19; for the participation of family members, see Table III-1, pp. 521-2; for the notation about dismissed members in 1843, see p. 521. I am again indebted to Erin Jennings for finding this article.

[39] Jane Elizabeth Manning James to Joseph F. Smith, 7 February 1890, LDS Church Archives, transcript in my possession.

[40] "History of Orson Hyde" sketch included in, "History of Brigham Young", published in the Millenial Star, 26, no. 49 (Dec. 3, 1864): 775-776, <> (17 May 2006).

[41] Autobiography of Parely P. Pratt, <> (12 May 2006), Chap. 16.

[42] Contributions (vol. 1), Lowell, Massachusetts, 1875. (p. 133)

[43] Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 111, v. 2-10, <> (17 May 2006).

[44] History of the Church, 2:464; Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet (New York: Knopf, 1971), pp. 192-3.

[45] Joel Damon to Rev. David Damon, 22 February 1842 <> (19 June 2006).

[46] Journal History of the Church, 11 September 1844.

[47] William I. Appleby noted that in May of 1847, "Elder Longee" was presiding over a branch in Lowell of 20 members, William I. Appleby Journal, 19 May 1847, LDS Church Archives.

[48] Journal History of the Church, 9 February 1843.

[49] Journal History of the Church, April 1, 1843.

[50] Journal History of the Church, March 29, 1843.

[51] As quoted in Elden J. Watson, Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1846-7 (Salt Lake City: Elden J. Watson, 1971), p. 255.

[52] Private Journal of William Hyde, 1818-1874, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University <> (14 June 2006).

[53] Calvin P. Rudd, William Smith: Brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Master's thesis, Brigham Young University, LDS Church Archives, p. 86. 

[54] History of the Church, <> (1 June 2006) Vol. V, Chap. XXIII.

[55] History of the Church, <> (1 June 2006) Vol. V, Chap. XIX (11 May 1843), Chap. XXI (23 May 1843), Chap. XXIII (18 and 25 June 1843) and XXV (7 July 1843); Journal History of the Church, 29 July 1843.

[56] Benjamin F. Grouard Journal, 4 August 1843, LDS Church archives, copy in my possession.

[57] Grouard Journal, 17 August 1843.

[58] Journal History of the Church, 9 September 1843.

[59] Wilford Woodruff Journal, 24 December 1848.

[60] Journal History of the Church, 9, 10, 11, 20, and 22 September and 9 October 1843.  For Grouard's later activities and departure from Mormonism, see the Addison Pratt family papers, <> (8 May 2006).

[61] <> for Maginn and Ricketson, who was the daughter of Elihu and Reliance Snow Ricketson, (17 June 2006).

[62] Journal History of the Church, April 15, 1844.

[63] Joseph Smith to the Daily Globe, April 14, 1844, as quoted in Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 124-5, and 362, note 107.

[64] See the ranked list of the members of the Council of the Fifty in Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 521-528; for Rockwood, pp. 529-530; for Benson, p. 539.

[65] Quinn, Origins of Power, p. 534.

[66] Note that Adams, when ordained by Smith, was called to be an "apostle" to the empire of Russia, but this was not as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  As Quinn has pointed out, Adams was "an apostle in a proselytizing context only and had no status among the general authorities", Origins of Power, p. 534.

[67] Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 132-134 and 523-526.

[68] For documentation that Joseph Smith ordained Elijah Abel, see Eunice Kenney to "Brother Watson", Bay Springs, Michigan, 1891, LDS Church Archives.

[69] Joseph Smith, General Smith's Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States, 7 February 1844, as quoted in Quinn, Origins, p. 119; Newell G. Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People Within Mormonism, (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1981), pp. 54-55 and 73 nn. 2 and 3.

[70] Newell G. Bringhurst, Fawn McKay Brodie: A Biographer's Life (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999), p. 191.

[71]Times and Seasons, (3:10:723-4)

[72] Times and Seasons, (3:10:723-4 and 3:15:808); for 1838 denial, see Joseph Smith Jr., "Elder's Journal," entry for "Far West, Missouri, July 1838," (Special Collections, Brigham Young University), p. 42, as quoted in Clyde R. Forsberg Jr., Equal Rites: The Book of Mormon, Masonry, and American Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), pp. 204, 206, and 283 n. 13.

[73] Smith, Views, p. 6.

[74] History of the Church, <> (3 June 2006) Vol. VI, Chap. X, 8  March 1844.

[75] Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 636 and 660; Nauvoo Municipal Court minutes, as quoted in Quinn, Origins of Power, p. 642 and D. Michael Quinn, "Quotes in Origins", 15 May 2006, personal email (16 May 2006).

[76] Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, p. 90.

[77] The Prophet, Mormon political newspaper published by the "Society for the Diffusion of Truth", New York, as quoted in Robert S. Wicks and Fred R. Frasier, Junius and Joseph: Presidential Politics and the Assassination of the First Mormon Prophet (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2005), p. 127

[78] Rudd, William Smith, pp. 90.

[79] Rudd, William Smith, pp. 90-92; Lyman Wight and Heber C. Kimball to Joseph Smith, June 19, 1844, as quoted in Quinn, Origins of Power, p. 124.

[80] Rudd, William Smith, p. 92; Woodruff Journal, June 29, 1844; and Journal History of the Church, June 30, 1844.

[81] Wilford Woodruff Journal, July 1, 1844.

[82] New York Herald, July 8, 1844, vol. 10, no. 188, special extra edition.

[83] Journal History of the Church, July 16, 1844.

[84] Wilford Woodruff Journal, July 11, 1844.

[85] John Greenlead Whittier, "A Mormon Conventicle", part IV, The Stranger in Lowell (Boston: Waite, Peirce and Co., 1845), pp. 26-32.  I am deeply grateful to Martha Mayo of the Lowell History Center for telling me about this essay.

[86] Whittier, "Conventicle", pp. 28-29.

[87] Connell O'Donovan, "The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature":  A Revised History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1840-1980, <> (10 June 2006), "Buggery in the Nauvoo Legion".

[88] Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 220 and 429, nn. 183 and 184.

[89] Quinn, Origins of Power, p. 213.

[90] Danites, or the "Daughters of Zion", were a group of secret, semi-official Mormon vigilantes organized by Joseph Smith to defend the Mormons and harass (or worse) its dissenters and enemies; see Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 92-103.

[91] Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 152-153.

[92] Wilford Woodruff Journal, October 9, 1844.  I am unable to ascertain the identity of this "Elder Ball".  He may be the same Elder Ball referred to as living in Cambridge or Boston, Massachusetts (on 12 Butoph Street) with his mother, when Woodruff visited Albert P. Rockwood in jail (for "religious persecution") as noted in his journal, May 11, 1838.  The jailor locked Woodruff up as well, but only until 10:00 pm and then released him.

[93] Wilford Woodruff to Brigham Young, November 16, 1844.

[94] Wilford Woodruff Journal, 16, 17, 18, and 19 October 1844; Ezra T. Benson to Brigham Young, as quoted Bringhurst, Saints and Slaves, p. 104 n. 40.

[95] Journal History of the Church, November 19, 1844.

[96] Jesse W. Crosby Journal (1844-45), p. 30, photocopy in my possession.

[97]  Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, chapter 43.

[98] Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, chapter 43.

[99] Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 214-215, and 534. For Brannan's activities in California, see The Discovery of Gold in California, Gen. John A. Sutter, <> (17 May 2006).

[100] Jesse W. Crosby Journal, p. 30.

[101] Jesse W. Crosby Journal, pp. 30-31.

[102] Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 220-221.

[103] Quinn, Origins of Power, pp. 222-223.

[104] Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, chapter 43.

[105] Albert Hart, Commonwealth History of Massachusetts, vol. 3, p. 295.

[106] Cambridge marriage records and Lowell birth records, copies in my possession; William I. Appleby to Brigham Young, May 31, 1847.

[107] Brigham Young Papers, March 26, 1847, LDS Church Archives.

[108] Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, pp. 84-87.

[109] General Minutes, April 25, 1847, LDS Church Archives, as quoted in Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, pp. 86 and 101, note 10; Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith, editors, Black and Mormon, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004), pp. 20-21.

[110] William Ivers Appleby obituary, Deseret Evening News, May 23, 1870.

[111] William I. Appleby to Brigham Young, May 31, 1847, LDS Church Archives.

[112] William I. Appleby Journal, December 2, 1847.

[113] Wilford Woodruff Journal, December 3, 1847.

[114] Minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, December 3, 1847, 6, Miscellaneous Minutes, Brigham Young papers, LDS archives, as quoted in Quinn, Origins of Power, p. 478 and Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, p. 247 and 532, note 145; Stirling Adams graciously provided me with a copy of Quinn's complete transcription of the minutes, which are located in the Beinecke Library at Yale.

[115] Quinn, Origins of Power, (Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1997) p. 653.

[116] Quinn, Origins of Power, p.

[117] As quoted in Bringhurst, "The ÔMissouri Thesis' Revisited", Black and Mormon, p. 27.

[118] In fact, the entire 1982 book by white Freemason Henry Wilson Coil, A Documentary Account of Prince Hall and Other Black Fraternal Orders (see note 20 above), is a mean-spirited attempt to provide documentary evidence that the Prince Hall African Lodges are completely irregular and spurious and therefore have no claim to be properly called Freemasons.  This Masonic controversy, clearly racialist based, started in Massachusetts as early as the 1830s and continues through today.

[119] Wicks and Foister, Junius and Joseph, pp. 177-180 and 204-206.

[120] Wilford Woodruff Journal, June 1, 1851.

[121] Wilford Woodruff Journal, June 29, 1851.

[122] General Epistle from the Council of the Twelve Apostles, etc., Winter Quarters, Omaha Nation (now Florence, Neb.), December 23, 1847, LDS Church Archives; History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Independence, MO: Herald House, 1951), vol 3, p. 20.

[123] Wilford Woodruff Journal, December 26, 1847.

[124] Merrill C. Peavey (1812-1873) worked at the Lowell Machine Shop and lived on Branch Street with his wife, Elizabeth.  See Martha Mayo, "Re: Image Permission", 6 June 2006, personal email (6 June 2006).

[125] Wilford Woodruff Journal, October 16 and November 1, 1848.  Quinn, Origins of Power, p. 610.

[126] Wilford Woodruff Journal, September 24, 1848.

[127] Albert P. Rockwood Journal, December 16, 17, 23, 24, and 25, 1848, and January 6, 1849.

[128] Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, Fourth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1909), p. 351; on the other hand, see Wilford Woodruff Journal, January 1849, which lacks any reference to this exchange.

[129] Wilford Woodruff Journal, January 20, 21, 29, and 30; March 4; April 9 and 10, 1850.

[130] Last Will and Testament of Walker Lewis, dated March 26, 1851, entered into probate on December 2, 1856, Middlesex County, Massachusetts probate records, Book 4, p. 358, no. 36420.  For Alexander Badlam's piano manufacturing business, see Wilford Woodruff Journal, August 13, 1848.

[131] Lowell Advertiser, May 6, 1851.

[132] Lowell Advertiser, July 10, 1851.

[133] Journal History of the Church, September 1, 12, 14, 24, 38, 29, and October 1, 1841.

[134] Patriarchal Blessing Book, vol. 11, p. 326, LDS Church archives.

[135] An ad from a Lowell newspaper, quoted below, informs us of his return to Massachusetts.

[136] Margaret Blair Young, "With My Comments", 6 June 2006, personal email (June 6, 2006).

[137] Jane Elizabeth Manning James to Joseph Fielding Smith, February 7, 1890, LDS Church Archives, transcript in my possession.

[138] By February 1890, Lewis had actually been dead only 33 years, not "35 or 36 years" as Jane thought at the time.

[139] From 1847 to 1851, temple ordinances were usually performed on Ensign Peak, just above Capitol Hill.

[140] Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, Tables 6 and 10, pp. 220-221 and 225.

[141] Wilford Woodruff Journal, January 28 and April 5, 1851.

[142] Quinn, Origins of Power, 538-539, 556-558, 569-573, 578-579, 581-583, 585-586, and 605-606; and William Ivers  Appleby obituary, Deseret Evening News, 23 May 1870.

[143] See Journal of the Legislature, 1851-2, pp. 108-110, as quoted in Bancroft, History of Utah, 1540-1886 (San Francisco: The History Company, 1889), p. 476.

[144] Quinn, Extensions of Power, p. 749.

[145] Wilford Woodruff's Journal 1833-1898 Typescript, Scott G. Kenney, editor, (Midvale UT: Signature Books, 1983), vol. 4, undated entry between 4 January and 8 February 1852, pp. 97-99.

[146] Acts, Resolutions, and Memorials, Passed by the First Annual, and Special Sessions, of the Legislative Assembly, of the Territory of Utah (Salt Lake City: Brigham H. Young, 1852), pp. 80-82, digital copy in my possession.  For its repeal, see Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, p. 180.

[147] Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, p. 129.

[148] Lowell Advertiser, November 9, 1852. This ad and the will he wrote before his trip to Utah are the only two known documents written by Lewis himself.  Again I am grateful to Martha Mayo for having found this ad, firmly establishing the date of Walker's return to Lowell.

[149] "Massachusetts Vital Records", 1852, quoted in Martha Mayo to Connell O'Donovan, email, May 24, 2006.

[150] William C. Nell, The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (Boston: Robert F. Wallcutt, 1855; reprinted, New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1968), pp. 107-111.

[151] "Proceedings", 17 December 1857 <> (2 June 2006).

[152] City of Lowell death register, entry 365 for 1856, copy in my possession.

[153] Middlesex County Probate Records, Rec. Lib. 38, Fol. 20 (vol. 274, p. 20); Martha Mayo, "Re: Elizabeth Lovejoy Lewis", 24 May 2006, personal email (24 May 2006).

[154] Middlesex County Probate records, February 10, 1857, Book 3, p. 290.

[155] Middlesex County Probate Records, February 17, 1857, Book 38, p. 32.

[156] Martha Mayo, "Re: Nathaniel Booth...and Linus Child", 23 May 2006, personal email (23 May 2006).

[157] Civil War Soldier and Sailors System <> entry for "Walker Lewis" (16 June 2006).