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This is the website for the Walker and Lewis families of Massachusetts - descendants of African slaves, Mingo and Dinah, brought to Colonial Massachusetts from western Africa in the 1730s or 40s. Mingo is Bobangi for "defiant" and Dinah is a common African Muslim name for women. Originally owned by Zedekiah Stone of Rutland District (Worcester County, Mass.) they were sold in 1754 to James Caldwell and his family, also of Rutland. The wooden frame house shown in the banner above is the origianl Caldwell home, the first frame house built in Worcester County. All but the eldest child of Mingo and Dinah were born there.
The genealogical and historical research presented here is the result of a nearly thirty-year passion of mine to uncover the fascinating life history of an early black Mormon named Walker Lewis. Brent Metcalfe, historian of Mormonism, first informed me in 1979 that not only was Walker Lewis a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), but that he had also been ordained to the office of Elder in that church's higher priesthood. I was sure at the time that Metcalfe was wrong as I had been taught that all black men had been banned from holding Mormon priesthood until 1978, when Mormon church president Spencer Kimball had finally reversed that church's racist policy. As I had access to primary documents in the LDS Church History archives, I began earnestly to research the life history of Elder Walker Lewis, both there and in the LDS Church's Genealogy Library (now called the Family History Library). What I discovered was one of the most remarkable colonial families in America. Elder Walker Lewis was the grandson of slaves Dinah and Mingo (later known as Nimrod Quago or Quameno), who were the heads of the Walker Family of Worcester County, Massachusetts. (Quago or Quaco is the anglicized version of the Ghanian name Kwaku meaning "boy born on Saturday".)
The Caldwells treated Mingo and his family well and we know they promised at least some of them eventual freedom. Unfortunately James and his wife Isabel both died unexpectedly before freeing the enslaved family. Mingo and Dinah's eldest son, Quaco (Walker), sued his new master, Nathaniel Jennison, in 1781 under the new state constitution of 1780 which guaranteed that "all men are free and equal". His case went to the state Supreme Court in 1783 and Quaco Walker was victorious - not only for himself, but every slave in the state of Massachusetts was freed by the court's decision. The family became famous and well-connected politically during the trial and afterwards. Mingo and Dinah's grandson, Quacko Walker Lewis (named for his uncle), became an early radical black abolitionist, along with several of his siblings and other family members. In Lowell and Boston Mass., members of the Lewis and Walker families harbored escaped slaves from southern states and helped them get to Canada and freedom. Q. Walker Lewis also became an early leader in black Freemasonry and eventually served as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the African Grand Lodge #1. He later joined the LDS Church as noted above and became an Elder in that church. In 1851, Lewis made the perilous journey to Utah, where he stayed only one winter. While there, church leaders whom he had known, revered, respected, and entertained in his own homes in Lowell and Boston unanimously passed a territorial law allowing slavery in Utah Territory and also banning sex between those of African descent and white people (whether married or not). Brigham Young also instigated a ban against all other black men from holding Mormon priesthood and against all blacks from entering Mormon temples, partially due to the fact that Walker Lewis' son, Enoch Lovejoy Lewis, also a Mormon, had married a white Mormon woman named Mary Matilda Webster in 1846. This ban was not rescinded until 1978. For further details on Walker Lewis' life and the origins of the racist Mormon priesthood ban, see the life history of Walker Lewis below.