Lewis, Quack Walker
Quack Walker Lewis was one of at least three men of Black-African descent ordained to the Latter-day Saint priesthood during the lifetime of Joseph Smith. At the time of his conversion, Lewis was a prominent figure in the Black communities in and around Boston and Lowell, Massachusetts. Not long after his baptism, LDS apostle William Smith, the brother of Joseph Smith, ordained Lewis an elder. Thereafter Lewis demonstrated an ongoing commitment to his new faith through tithing donations, a persistent devotion in the face of the misdeeds and disillusionment of others, and a presumably disappointing trip to Utah Territory. Unknown to Lewis, his ordination to the priesthood and the interracial marriage of his son drew negative attention from some Church leaders. Information about those events contributed to Brigham Young’s assertion of a racial priesthood restriction and his strident condemnation of race mixing. Lewis’s status as a Black priesthood holder thus had long-term implications, which shaped racial boundaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints both during his life and long after he died.
Quack Walker Lewis was born to Miner Walker and Peter Lewis in Barre, Worcester County, Massachusetts, on August 3, 1798. He was named after his maternal uncle, Quock Walker, who successfully sued for his freedom in an influential legal case. Quock had been born into slavery in Massachusetts in 1753. He toiled under the oversight of his enslaver James Caldwell. After Caldwell died, Quock continued to labor for Caldwell’s wife, Isabell, who later married Nathaniel Jennison. According to Quock, both James and Isabell had promised to free him. However, when Isabell died in 1773, Jennison took ownership of Quock and failed to deliver on those promises. In April 1781, Quock ran away from Jennison to work for the younger brothers of James Caldwell. Jennison soon recaptured and severely beat Quock, who sued Jennison for assault. A series of court cases followed through which Quock won his freedom. In Chief Justice William Cushing’s direction to the jury during the most influential case, he declared that slavery contradicted both the Bible and the Massachusetts Constitution (1780), a document that echoed the Declaration of Independence in stating that “all men are born free and equal.” Quock Walker’s legal victories thus contributed to the gradual abolition of slavery in Massachusetts and created a family legacy of fighting for freedom. His nephew Walker Lewis would carry on that legacy.
“Louis’s Two or Three”
Quock’s court cases and their aftermath produced significant outcomes for Walker Lewis, who was born free to Miner Walker, sister of Quock Walker. Extant records shed little light on Lewis’s childhood. His family attended the First Congregational Church of Barre, where Lewis was baptized in 1815, a few weeks after his seventeenth birthday, together with his father and brothers.
By May 1825, Lewis had moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where on the eleventh of that month he and Elizabeth Lovejoy “entered their intentions of marriage.” Elizabeth was the daughter of Peter Lovejoy, who was Black, and Lydia Greenleaf Bradford, who was white. Some records suggest that just over a week after entering their intentions to be married, Elizabeth gave birth to the couple’s first child, Enoch Lovejoy Lewis. A week after that, on May 25, Elizabeth and Walker married in Cambridge.
During the 1820s, the Lewis family continued to grow while Walker worked as a barber in Boston, where he was actively involved in the Black community. Walker became a Freemason when he was admitted to African Lodge #459 in Boston. This lodge had become the first Black lodge in America in 1784, when Prince Hall successfully petitioned for a charter. The lodge soon became a hub of Black interaction, education, and activity, including for those pursuing abolition and equal rights. During the last half of the 1820s, Lewis progressed to the office of Most Worshipful Grand Master.
Freemasonry offered Lewis and like-minded individuals a space to cultivate their relationships and pursue other causes. In 1826, Lewis became one of the founding members of the Massachusetts General Colored Association (MGCA). The organization included a number of Boston’s Black leaders, such as David Walker, John T. Hilton, Thomas and James G. Barbados, Hosea and Joshua Eaton, Coffin Pitts, and William Guion Nell. Nell’s son William Cooper, who became a historian, later wrote that these individuals saw the need to form “exclusive organizations among the colored people.” They created the MGCA because many abolitionists “supposed their Anti-Slavery mission was ended when they publicly protested against slavery, without being careful to exemplify their principles in every-day practice.” While spreading the message of abolition, or the “Anti-Slavery truth,” as Nell put it, members of the MGCA also worked to overcome the myriad legal restrictions limiting the rights of Black people, including suffrage and interracial marriage, which carried the threat of fees, incarceration, or worse. Through his involvement in the African Lodge and the MGCA, Lewis deepened his relationships with figures such as David Walker, who published his explosive abolitionist tract, Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, in 1829. Some members of the Lewis family, and perhaps Walker Lewis himself, may have assisted David Walker in distributing his pamphlet.
While the historical record does not detail Lewis’s involvement in the MGCA, or his relationship to David Walker, it does contain evidence of his sustained activism. For example, in May 1831, the newspaper of the radical abolitionist and editor William Lloyd Garrison reported a meeting in which Lewis was appointed to the MGCA’s Standing Committee. Two years later, the association merged with the New England Anti-Slavery Association, signaling a shift among Boston’s Black activists toward more integrationist approaches.
Lewis also served as President of the African Humane Society during this period. This organization was founded in 1796 for the purpose of assisting poor Black people, particularly those dealing with sickness. The organization existed alongside other important Black organizations in Boston, such as the African Masonic Lodge, the African School, and the African Baptist Church, all of which kept abolitionist activities alive during the early decades of the nineteenth century. The African Humane Society, which was renamed the Paul Humane Society during the mid-1830s, also functioned to foster alliances between Black and white abolitionists as a new generation embraced integrationist approaches to slavery and social inequities.
This was a time of transition for Lewis as well. During the late 1820s and early 1830s, he worked out of his barbershop on Fourth Street in South Boston. Records suggest that while working there, he lived on Washington Street in Boston, together with Elizabeth, their son, Enoch, and their two daughters, Lydia and Lucy. Lewis seems to have left Boston around 1833, the year in which he first appeared as a barber in Lowell’s directory, which shows that he also worked as a “watchman” at the Tremont Manufacturing Company. It was one of a number of manufacturing companies in Lowell, a new industrial town which quickly became the nation’s largest producer of textiles. The mills drew many workers to Lowell and Lewis may have recognized an opportunity there for economic uplift. While he worked for a short time as a watchman, Lewis focused on barbering.
Barbering was very much a family business for the Lewis family. Walker barbered with his father Peter on Merrimack Street in Lowell. In 1833, both lived in a house on Washington Street in Belvidere, Tewksbury, which was annexed by Lowell in 1834. Meanwhile, Lewis’s brother Andress began working as a barber in Boston in 1834, an occupation he pursued until the late 1850s. Back in Lowell, Peter and Walker continued to work as barbers. In 1835 and 1836, Walker appears to have conducted business in a barbershop on the corner of Lewis and Lowell Streets, while Peter continued to work a few blocks away at the location on the corner of Merrimack and Dutton Streets. Records suggest that in the years that followed, Walker worked out of the location in the Merrimack House Hotel (a picture of which is featured here), which opened in 1836, while Peter barbered at another location on the same block until his death in the 1840s.
During this time, Walker continued to conduct business in Boston, where he owned a home, and to pursue abolitionist and civil rights activities in both Boston and Lowell. Land records show Lewis’s continued involvement in the African Humane Society, which its members had renamed the Paul Humane Society in 1836. Tax records also show that during the late 1830s and early 1840s, Lewis owned land on Sullivan Street in South Boston and on South May Street across the South Boston Bay, where his home was located. Records also indicate that by around 1844 Lewis had moved to a house on Centre Street in Central Village—also called Centralville—which was located across the Merrimack River from downtown Lowell, where Lewis worked.
Although extant records do not fully outline Lewis’s abolitionist activities, they do demonstrate his ties to other prominent activists. In 1837, Garrison’s Liberator listed Walker Lewis among those who had sent payment for a subscription. On June 24, 1839, Ellis Gray Loring, a Harvard-trained Boston lawyer and prominent white abolitionist—he had helped found the New England Anti-Slavery Society—sold land and buildings in Dracut to Lewis and his brother Peter Jr. Earlier that day, Loring had purchased the same land from John Levy, a free Black man from the West Indies who had married Lewis’s sister Sophia. Levy was also a barber and an abolitionist. Lewis was thus well connected to Boston abolitionists and he continued to nurture his relationships with them after moving to Lowell.
Lowell was a useful staging ground for Lewis and others to pursue their abolitionist activities. The Massachusetts countryside proved more amenable to abolitionism than urban centers such as Boston. In Lowell, local manufacturing contributed to abolitionist sentiment. Scholars have shown that some workers at Lowell’s mills felt implicated in the system of slavery and channeled their guilt toward abolitionist ends.
Lowell’s Black-owned barbershops also functioned as a site of both industry and abolitionism. In the summer of 1842, Jeremiah Sanderson, a Black abolitionist from New Bedford, Massachusetts, arrived in Lowell. Sanderson, who had been lecturing in Massachusetts towns, began working at Horatio W. Foster’s barbershop, which was located on Central Street. He soon became familiar with other Black barbers in Lowell, including “Louis’s two or three,” as he noted in a June 19 letter to the formidable abolitionist and historian William C. Nell. Extant records do not indicate the precise nature of Lewis’s abolitionism, but they do demonstrate his prolonged interaction with other abolitionists in Boston and Lowell.
“One of the Best Elders”
Sometime during the early 1840s, while Lewis raised a growing family, conducted business, and engaged in social activism, he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In May of 1842, Eli Maginn, an elder in the Church, arrived in Lowell and began delivering a series of sermons in the City Hall, located across the Merrimack Canal on Merrimack Street, not far from Lewis’s barbershop. In a letter to Joseph Smith, Maginn noted that he had baptized nine individuals. A later report printed in the Times and Seasons added one more person to that number. Lewis may have been among those who accepted baptism at the hand of Maginn during this period. (While later records show that Walker’s son Enoch joined the Church, as noted below, those records do not indicate when, nor do they indicate whether Walker’s wife, Elizabeth, or other members of the Lewis family joined the Church.) According to Maginn’s reports at Boston conferences, the Lowell branch had grown to thirty-six members by September, and sixty members, including one elder, by the following February. In September of 1843, after a group of converts left for Nauvoo, Lowell had about forty-eight members.
Lewis, who was probably among this number, received the Latter-day Saint priesthood during this period. In 1843 or 1844, William Smith, Joseph Smith’s brother and an apostle, ordained Lewis as an elder in the Church. His ordination came soon before, or perhaps even in the midst of, a controversy that erupted in the fall of 1844, months after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. In October 1844, while passing through New York en route to Boston, apostle Wilford Woodruff learned that apostle William Smith and elders Samuel Brannan and George Adams had been soliciting Church members for money under various pretenses and that they had been “preaching the spiritual wife doctrine.” At least one New York member had been “turned out of the Church'' for calling Smith and Adams rascals. Smith, Adams, and Brannan were in Boston when Woodruff arrived there on October 7. After arriving, Woodruff learned that the Boston branch was meeting, and he hurried to the proceedings. The elders in question were at the meeting and they seemed surprised at Woodruff’s arrival. During the meeting, John Hardy resigned as Boston’s branch president and, at the urging of Smith and Brannan, Joseph T. Ball, a Latter-day Saint of Black-African ancestry who appears to have passed as white, took Hardy’s place. Woodruff soon learned from other sources that Ball had joined with Smith, Adams, and Brannan in their “spiritual wife claims,” and united with them “in Begging money.” Woodruff observed that these actions troubled Boston members who believed that Smith, Adams, and Brannan had used their “influence to remove all presiding Elders that would not favor their designs & [to] put in” those that would, as was the case with Ball.
The actions of Smith and Ball had also caused problems in Lowell. Woodruff learned that Ball “has taught as well as Wm Smith the Lowell girls that [it] is not wrong to have intercourse with the men what they please & Elder Ball tries to sleep with them when he can.” Presumably to secure support for their efforts, Smith, Adams, and Brannan had “tried to remove a good presiding Elder” in Lowell “to put in Br. Robins who is in their company, But they would not have this.” “The Lowell Church is shaking,” Woodruff added. On October 14, Woodruff sent a “package of letters” to Nauvoo reporting on these developments. The next day, he met with the Lowell branch and had a “squally time.” In a November letter to Young, Woodruff provided more details of this meeting in Lowell. He explained that “all the mail members resigned their offices … except one colourd Brother who was an Elder,” a clear reference to Lewis. It bears emphasizing that Woodruff did not raise questions about Lewis’s priesthood ordination at this time, nor did other leaders who met him during the mid-1840s.
In his letter to Young, Woodruff indicated that the officers had resigned because of “a complaint that has saluted my ears in most of the eastern churchs I have visited.” Woodruff likely had in mind the actions of Smith, Brannan, Adams, and Ball. Woodruff told the Lowell members to “hold their stations,” promised them that “they would be blessed” for doing so, and assured them that “they were not accountable for others faults.” The officers in Lowell received his counsel and kept “their places.” In summary, the members of the Lowell branch did not allow Smith, Adams, and Brannan to replace a presiding elder, but within days the officeholders had decided to resign, with the exception of Lewis, until Woodruff convinced them to remain.
Perhaps Lewis was following the direction Woodruff had given since his arrival in Boston a month earlier. From the start, Woodruff had urged members “not to throw themselves to ruin because others do wrong.” Lewis’s precarious place in American society also may have informed his decision to remain in the Church while others around him were willing to resign. During this period, Lewis and other Black Americans worked to end slavery and gain greater access to and equality in American society. In the abolitionist movement, the choice to protest slavery by “coming out” from traditional religious and political institutions, as Garrison did, was different for Black abolitionists, who had not yet gained full admittance into American society. This helps explain why Frederick Douglass ultimately engaged in political and constitutional abolitionism in antebellum America. Perhaps the fact that such choices carried different valences for Black Americans also sheds light on Lewis’s decision to keep his place while white officers resigned. As a Black man who had been ordained to an office—albeit in a Church viewed by many as a religious other—Lewis had gained a form of admittance often denied to his Black contemporaries. He would not give up that position without good reasons.
Regardless of how other factors informed Lewis’s decision, his faith was part of the equation. Tithing records demonstrate Lewis’s faithful response to the call of Wilford Woodruff and other Church leaders, who accelerated their petitioning for the Saints to donate to support the construction of the Latter-day Saint temple in Nauvoo. In January 1845, Elder Ezra T. Benson wrote to Brigham Young, reporting on the state of the Church in Boston and surrounding areas, including Lowell. He noted that apostle Parley P. Pratt, who had recently departed Boston, carried with him tithing donations offered by the Saints in the region. Writing somewhat obliquely, Benson also explained that some of the Saints had been shaken due to the actions of “wolves” among the flock, but that he would do his best to nurture them. In accounting for the members in the various branches, Benson noted that there were about 30 members in Lowell.
In light of the actions of William Smith and others, the Saints in Lowell and surrounding areas had good reason to worry that their donations would not make it to Nauvoo, but some of them, including Lewis, still made their offerings. In early February, The Prophet, the Latter-day Saint newspaper in New York, printed the names of those who had recently submitted their tithes, including Walker Lewis, who had offered $5. This offering was likely included in the donation that Pratt had carried from Boston to New York. Then in March, Benson wrote to Pratt and enclosed tithing donations totaling $400, including a $15 donation from Lewis. Pratt conveyed these donations to Elijah Fordham in Nauvoo. Two tithing book entries for April 8, 1845, confirm that Lewis’s donations of $5 and $15 arrived at their destination. These were no small sums; they translate into roughly $700 in 2021.
As was common, Lewis also sent non-monetary offerings. The July 4 entry shows that the tithing office had “received of Walker Lewis pr hand E. T. Benson 1 Trambone and box value $8. on tithing.” The reference to a trombone signals the place of music in the Lewis family. The inventory produced at the time of Lewis’s death shows that he owned a number of musical instruments, including two violins, a French horn, a piano, and a clarinet. Lewis submitted $5 as tithing on two other occasions in late 1845. These tithing records highlight the level of Lewis’s commitment to his new faith, as do the statements made by Brigham Young a few years later.
Young made his statements about Lewis in a March 1847 interview between Church leaders and William McCary, a Black member of the Church who claimed both African American and Native American ancestry. McCary’s assertions, including his claim to be Adam, along with his marriage to a white member of the Church (Lucy Stanton), had caused some alarm in Winter Quarters. In light of McCary’s claims, and the poor treatment he had endured among his coreligionists, Church leaders met with him. After a rather strange exchange regarding some of McCary’s religious notions, the issue of his prejudicial treatment came to the fore. He noted, “all I ask is, will you protect me.” In response, Young told McCary that it had “nothing to do with the blood for of one blood God has made all flesh.” In an effort to further convince McCary that his race was not at issue, Young referred to Lewis, noting: “we [h]av[e] one of the best Elders[,] an African in Lowell—a barber.” Presumably, Young had met Lewis while in Lowell in 1844, and he may have also received favorable reports from other Church leaders. A number of other Latter-day Saint leaders who attended the meeting were acquainted with Lewis, including Wilford Woodruff, Ezra T. Benson—then an apostle—and apostle Orson Pratt. Awareness of Lewis’s faith thus went well beyond Lowell, as indicated in his tithes recorded in Nauvoo and an apostle’s words spoken at Winter Quarters. Ironically, McCary’s subsequent actions, and news about Lewis’s own family, informed Church leaders’ efforts to institute the priesthood and temple bans.
“The Law is Their Seed Shall Not Be Amalgamated”
The interracial marriage of Lewis’s son Enoch contributed to the emergence of the ban. On September 18, 1846, Enoch Lovejoy Lewis, who was a Black member of the Church, married Mary Matilda Webster, who was a white member of the Church. The record in which their marriage appears often designated Black individuals as “colored,” as in the case with Enoch’s parents, Walker and Elizabeth. The entries for Enoch and Mary, however, carry no such designation. Even still, some Church members soon took notice of the interracial couple and made it a source of discussion among the highest leaders of the faith.
William Appleby, an elder of the Church, wrote about both Walker’s ordination and Enoch and Mary’s interracial marriage in a letter to Brigham Young and in his autobiographical recollections. In the summer of 1847, Young appointed Appleby to survey the condition of Church branches along the east coast of the United Sates. When Appleby arrived in Lowell, what he found there caused him alarm, so much so that he wrote Young a letter to report on his travels “through the Branches of the Church,” including the Lowell branch. Appleby noted that “there are some twenty members, rather in a cold state” at Lowell, but most of his report focused on the family of “a coloured brother, by the name of ‘Lewis,’ a barber, an Elder in the Church, ordained some years ago by Wm Smith.” Appleby’s letter is the most proximate extant source for Lewis’s ordination, even though Appleby questioned Lewis’ ordination in the letter. Appleby indicated that Lewis had a brother or a son “who is married to a white girl, and both are members of the Church.” Such news troubled Appleby, as did the fact of Lewis’s ordination. In response he pointedly questioned Young: is it “the order of God or tolerated in this Church ie to ordain Negroes to the Priesthood, and allow amalgamation[?] If it is I desire to know it, as I have yet got to learn it.” Appleby conflated both the order of God and the position of the Church as well as the question of ordination and amalgamation in ways that anticipated the emergence of the priesthood and temple bans. More significantly, in June 1847, after being a member of the faith for seven years, Appleby demonstrated an absence of understanding on the questions of Black priesthood ordination and interracial marriages. His questions show that such matters were not yet settled let alone universally understood.
In May of 1848, Appleby began writing a biography and compiling a journal. In doing so, he retraced his steps, including those he took in Lowell during the summer of 1847. Appleby recalled that in May of that year, he arrived in Lowell and “found a branch … of about 20 members, in tolerable good standing.” (Recall that in his letter to Young, Appleby had noted that the branch was “in a cold state.”) In his reminiscent account, Appleby noted, “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 on the Law of the Priesthood, as the Descendants of Ham are not entitled to that privilege) by the name of Walker Lewis.” Despite Appleby’s beliefs about the ordination of Black men, he proceeded to remark that Lewis “appears to be a meek humble man, and an example for his more whiter brethren to follow.”
While Appleby appreciated Walker Lewis’s humility, he did not feel the same about Enoch Lewis’s marriage to a white woman. In his entry for June 16, 1847, Appleby noted that in searching “for a Bo. in the Church, I called at a House, a coloured man resided there, I set myself down for a few moments, presently in came quite a good looking ‘White woman’ about 22 years old I should think, with blushing cheeks, and was introduced to me as the negro's wife, an infant in a cradle near by bore evidence of the fact. Oh! Woman, thought I, where is thy shame. (for indeed I felt ashamed and not only ashamed, but disgusted, when I was informed they were both members of a Church!) Respect for thy family, thyself,—for thy offspring, and above all the law of God?” Appleby did not name the individuals involved—and apparently could not bring himself to write that it was his church—but circumstantial evidence indicates that he was writing about Enoch and Mary Lewis, the same couple he had referred to in his June 1847 letter to Young. The shock of this interracial marriage shaped Appleby’s memory of that day. Precisely because he questioned and disapproved of Lewis’s ordination, as well as condemned Enoch and Mary’s marriage, Appleby’s accounts provide unique evidence of Lewis’s ordination. It is worth noting that Lewis’s ordination had failed to draw any unfavorable attention to that point but was accepted as fact by such leaders as William Smith, Ezra Benson, Wilford Woodruff, and even Brigham Young.
About six months after writing his letter to Young, Appleby met him in person at Winter Quarters, where he delivered a firsthand account of his visits along the east coast. According to the minutes of that meeting, Appleby reported that “Wm. Smith ordained a black man [as an] Elder at Lowell & he has married a White girl & they have a child.” This report, which conflates Walker with his son Enoch, touched a nerve in Young, who responded to the news of the Lowell interracial marriage with a violent (though untenable) resolution. Young stated, “if they [the couple] were far away from the Gentiles they wod. all [h]av[e] to be killed—when they mingle seed it is death to all.” Young, who was sustained as Church president within a few weeks, insisted that “the law is their seed shall not be amalgamated.” Fears of interracial marriage between Black and white people contributed to the emergence of a priesthood and temple ban, which Young would fully articulate by 1852.
“In Full on Labor … In Full on his Property”
Back in Lowell, Walker Lewis was unaware of the events that unfolded at Winter Quarters in response to his priesthood ordination and his son’s interracial marriage. He continued to work as a barber and live as a Latter-day Saint. Through the early 1850s, he retained his barber shop in the Merrimack Hotel and his house on Centre street in Centralville. In the same period, Wilford Woodruff returned to the region, where other Church leaders, including Albert P. Rockwood, a president of the Seventy, joined him in encouraging members to donate tithes and prepare to gather with the main body of Saints in the West. Both Woodruff and Rockwood arrived in Boston in August 1848, and both visited Lowell during their time in the region. On August 29, Woodruff traveled there and “held A meeting in the evening with A few of the saints” before traveling back to Boston the next day. Months later, on November 1, Rockwood visited with some of the Saints in Lowell and stayed at the home of Church member Merrill C. Pevey. Over a month later, on December 16, Woodruff also stayed at the home of Pevey, who hosted Rockwood two more times that winter and Woodruff three more times through early 1850.
During this period, Lewis became acquainted with Rockwood and reacquainted with Woodruff. On Christmas Eve in 1848, Rockwood preached to an attentive audience of “Saints at the house of Br. Lewis,” an indication that Lewis’s home was a place of both activism and faith. At his home and at his barbershop, Lewis nurtured relationships with fellow abolitionists and fellow members of the Church. Lewis supported both groups of people. On Christmas day, Rockwood noted that “Br W Lewis the coulerd Br gave [me] 1 00 [and] he lent me a raesor and brush.”
Lewis also interacted and corresponded with Woodruff. In his journal entry for February 27, 1849, Woodruff noted that he “received A letter from Walker Lewis of Lowell,” but Woodruff did not record its contents. If Woodruff responded to Lewis’s letter soon after receiving it, he did not note it in his journal. But exactly one year later, Woodruff recorded that he wrote letters to John Hardy, Pevey, and “Lewis,” and just a week later Woodruff noted that he “received A letter to day from Walker Lewis.” Perhaps Woodruff encouraged Lewis to join the Saints in the Great Basin. In any case, about a month later, Woodruff and a group of Saints left Boston to begin their journey West. Lewis soon followed.
In late March of 1851, about a year after writing to Woodruff and perhaps in anticipation of traveling West, Lewis filed his last will and testament. He appointed Elizabeth as executrix and stipulated that after the payment of debts and funeral expenses, each of their four children would receive $400 from the sale of his Boston real estate. Elizabeth would receive all else of his real estate and personal property as long as she remained his widow and cared for Walker Jr. until he reached the age of twenty-one. Walker Jr. was eleven, almost twelve, when Lewis created his will. Walker Jr. and his sister Lydia, who was twenty-three, lived with their parents at the time, while Enoch and Lucy lived with their spouses. Walker’s decision to create a will at this time suggests a desire to ensure the financial well-being of his family in light of his impending journey. However, extant records do not shed light on whether Walker intended to remain in Utah, as was the case with most of his coreligionists, or if he planned to return after visiting the Saints’ western Zion. In any case, with his will in place, Lewis soon set off for Utah in yet another clear demonstration of his faith.
That faith was likely tested after he arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Extant records do not indicate just when he left Lowell or when he arrived in Utah Territory, though he was there by early October 1851, when he received a patriarchal blessing at the hands of Patriarch John Smith. Smith designated Lewis to be a descendant of Canaan in the blessing, the contents of which are not publicly available. The reference to Canaan was a lineage designation that mixed contemporary Christian biblical interpretations with a developing Latter-day Saint racial theology to assign Lewis an ancestry outside of the twelve tribes of Israel, a typical assignation for Euro-American Saints. Many proslavery Protestants tied together the biblical mark of Cain and the curse of Ham’s son Canaan to justify enslaving Black people. Latter-day Saints adopted, revised, and supplemented this reading and then used it to justify an emerging ban that restricted Black men from receiving priesthood ordination and Black men and women from receiving prized temple ordinances. But Lewis and a few other Black men had already been ordained as elders.
The priesthood ordination restriction gained official credence during legislative debates held in early 1852. Ironically, as these debates enfolded, Lewis continued to offer up his tithes. A tithing record entry for January 8, 1852, notes his contributions, which demonstrates his consistent and persistent allegiance to his faith. Together with his patriarchal blessing, this tithing record constitutes the only known document to offer contemporary evidence of Lewis’s presence in Utah Territory. Both records speak to his engagement in the Church and his desire to obtain the blessings of the faithful.
While Lewis sought these blessings, a number of developments placed severe restrictions on his ability to fully participate in the society and Church he had chosen to embrace. While the reasoning to justify the priesthood restriction first emerged in the late 1840s, Brigham Young cemented both the reasoning and the restriction in 1852. This occurred during legislative debates over what laws would govern Black and Indigenous slavery in Utah. In January 1852, Young, as territorial governor, advised legalizing a form of Black “servitude” and criminalizing miscegenation. In a January 5 speech, Young suggested that “no property can or should be recognized as existing in slaves”—which recalls the language of constitutional framers such as Madison—but proceeded to explain that some peoples of the earth, including Blacks, were “naturally designed for” servitude. Later that month, apostle and legislator Orson Pratt gave a lengthy speech in which he argued against slavery. Pratt rejected multigenerational biblical curses and spoke stridently against legalizing slavery in Utah Territory. He warned that “when that is curse is pronounced by the authority of the priesthood [of the] Almighty unless he designates the individuals to inflict it they come into condemnation if [they] inflict it.” Pratt rejected any legislation that would condemn “the innocent African that has committed no sin and damn him to slavery and bondage without receiving any authority from heaven to do [so].” He felt “indignant” when he considered that after suffering persecution in the United States, the Saints would turn around and establish a new territory in which they bound “the African because he is different from us in color.” Pratt stated that the idea was “enough to cause the angels in heaven to blush,” and he wanted his “garments [to] be clear from this.”
Pratt’s warning about inflicting a curse of slavery on Black people without divine authority produced an equally strong response from Young. On February 4, Young signed the “Act in Relation to Service” into law. The next day, he gave a forceful speech in defense of slavery, and he used the occasion to fully justify a priesthood ban. He referenced Cain’s mark and Canaan’s curse and centered his rationale for the restrictions on his understanding of them. Young asserted that “the Lord told Cain that he should not receive the blessings of the priesthood nor his see[d] … until the redemption of the earth. If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are, I know that they cannot bear rule in the priesthood.” Young combined this assertion with his ongoing concerns over miscegenation to imagine a hypothetical scenario: “Let my see[d] mingle with the seed of Cain, that brings the curse upon me, and upon my generations.” Among other things, Young also condemned the efforts of “the abolishonists of the east,” a pointed rebuke that would have stung Walker Lewis had he heard it.
Lewis, a lifelong abolitionist, father of a son who married a white woman, and an elder, had arrived in Utah Territory from the east just months before Young declared Blacks ineligible for priesthood ordination and the Utah legislature legalized a form of slavery and criminalized miscegenation. Lewis may have noticed the presence of enslaved individuals in Utah Territory, some of whom had entered the region with the earliest Latter-day Saint arrivals, but Lewis’s knowledge of legislative developments would have been limited. With the exception of Young’s February 5 speech, the legislative debates were not published, and neither was the “Act in Relation to Service” until the end of the legislative session. Lewis could have learned about these developments from one or more legislators themselves, which included some of his acquaintances, including Wilford Woodruff, Ezra Benson, and Albert Rockwood. Even if Lewis did not speak to any of these individuals about the legislative developments, he may have at least known that the new legislature would be debating such issues. He no doubt had taken note of the Compromise of 1850, which made Utah a territory and allowed citizens of the territories to determine slavery’s legal status. While extant records do not indicate whether or not Lewis knew that the legislature had legalized a form of slavery and criminalized miscegenation, he certainly would have been among those most interested in such developments.
If Lewis knew about the priesthood ban during his life, he probably learned about it during his time in Utah Territory. In the months and years following Young’s imposition of the ban, a few leaders offered public defenses. For example, on April 3, 1852, Willard Richards published an article in the Deseret News in which he outlined a version of the Cain/Canaan argument to justify the new restriction. Perhaps Lewis learned about the ban through Richard’s publication. One might expect that less formal public and private discussions of the ban took place in the weeks and months following the legislative debates. Again, Lewis could have spoken with an acquaintance about these developments. While extant records do not indicate how much Lewis knew about Young’s words and the legislature’s actions, he certainly would have opposed those words and actions. He had spent his life seeking slavery’s abolition and Black equality. And, as suggested above, perhaps Lewis had viewed his baptism and ordination as another means toward egalitarian ends. If so, his visit to Utah Territory could have been deeply disappointing.
Although extant records do not indicate how Lewis responded to these developments, his short stay in Utah Territory might be indication enough. By early November 1852, he had returned to Lowell. That month, Lewis published an advertisement announcing his return from the “Great Salt Lake Valley.” He thanked prior customers and informed the public that he had reopened his barber shop at the location “adjoining the Merrimack House.” In the advertisement, Lewis indicated he would pay particular attention “to Cutting Children’s Hair.” Lewis ran this ad in at least two local newspapers, and continued to pay for it to be printed until at least September 1853. During the same period, William H. Johnson advertised that he had relocated to Lewis’s shop, where he offered “Johnson’s Hair Restorative” to “all those having bald heads or thin hair.” These ads show that Lewis attempted to return to the life he knew before he left Lowell.
But life was different there, and heartache awaited him. Soon after Lewis had started his journey west, his son Enoch had been arrested for stealing from a clothing store. When Lewis returned, Enoch was in the middle of a two-year prison sentence. A number of deaths likely added to Lewis’s emotional distress during this period. While he was away, a number of family members died, including his sister Sophia Levy and his brother Samuel Alexander. Then, within a few months of his arrival, his daughter-in-law, Matilda, died while Enoch was still confined to prison. Life went on, however. In September 1853, a few months after his release from prison, Enoch married Elisa E. Shorter. During this time, members of Lewis’s family, and presumably Lewis himself, remained committed to the causes of abolition and equal rights.
In 1856, after a life filled with family, work, activism, and faith, Lewis died of “consumption” in Lowell. He was fifty-eight at the time of his death. Lewis’s death set in motion the execution of his last will and testament, which yielded a series of documents that illuminate his life and the life of his family. Lewis’s possessions included items from his work as a barber, musical instruments, and a number of household items. The value of Lewis’s possessions totaled $485.62. The piano was the single most valuable item, appraised at $135. Lewis also had $1,000 in savings, notes, and interest at the time of his death. His real estate, comprised of land and his two-story “double House” in Centralville, and land and another similar house in Boston, was valued at $3,700. This demonstrates that Lewis and Elizabeth had managed to face and overcome a number of the crushing restrictions that Black Americans faced in antebellum America.
Lewis’s response to the restrictions of his faith tradition remains unclear. In accordance with his will, Elizabeth first used funds to pay for his funeral and burial services, conducted by St. Anne’s Episcopal Church. Lewis and his family members had associated with St. Anne’s before his conversion, and Elizabeth may have continued the association after his conversion. Elizabeth’s decisions regarding Lewis’s funeral and burial services tell us little about his own faith preferences and, unfortunately, little else exists in the historical records to answer the question of whether he maintained his commitment to the Latter-day Saint faith.
In 1890, Jane Elizabeth Manning James, a faithful Black Latter-day Saint, continued her efforts to obtain temple blessings. In a letter to apostle Joseph F. Smith, she echoed Joseph Smith in noting, “I am anxious for my Welfare for the future.” James indicated that “a Coloured Brother, Brother Lewis, wished me to Be Sealed to Him,” and asked, “Can I be sealed to him?” James knew of Lewis’s priesthood ordination and perhaps she hoped that his standing as an elder would lend support to her petitions. While this reminiscent account cannot tell us whether or not Lewis asked James to be sealed to him, much less whether he asked Church leaders if he could obtain temple blessings, Lewis’s recorded actions as a member indicate his desire to obtain the blessings of the faithful.
By Jordan T. Watkins
With research assistance from Brianna Moodie
A Constitution or Frame of Government. Boston: Benjamin Edes & Sons, 1780.
Appleby, William I. Autobiography and Journal. MS 2737, Box 2. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Appleby, William I. Letter to Brigham Young. 2 June 1847. Brigham Young office files, 1832-1878. CR 1234 1. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Baldwin, Thomas W. Compiler. Vital Records of Cambridge Massachusetts, to the Year 1850. Volume 2. Boston, 1915.
Benson, Ezra T. Letter to Parley P. Pratt, 10 March 1845. L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library. Brigham Young University. Provo, Utah.
“Conference Minutes.” Times and Seasons. Nauvoo, Illinois. 3:844.
“Deaths.” Lowell Daily Citizen and News (Lowell, Massachusetts). 3 November 1856.
Edson, Theodore. The Diaries of Reverend Theodore Edson. December 8, 1822 to April 2, 1839. Transcribed by Walter Hickey.
Floyd’s Lowell Directory. Lowell, Massachusetts, 1834.
Grouard, Benjamin F. Journal. MS 1388. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Historian’s Office. General Church Minutes, 1839-1877. CR 100 318. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Improvement of the Colored Population of This City.” Liberator, 28 May 1831.
James, Jane E. Letter to Apostle Joseph F. Smith, 1890. In The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History. Edited by Matthew L. Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.
Lewis, Walker. Last Will and Testament. Middlesex County. Massachusetts. Probate Records. In Probate File Papers, 1658-1871.
Lowell Advertiser. 9 November 1852.
Lowell Courier. July-September 1853.
Maginn, Eli to Joseph Smith. 1 and 3 May 1842. In Joseph Smith Papers. Documents, vol. 10. December 1841-April 1842. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2020.
Massachusetts. Boston. Tax Records, 1822-1918. Ward 11 and 12. City of Boston Archives. West Roxbury.
Massachusetts, Boston. Town Directories. 1828-1856.
Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915. Walker Lewis, 26 October 1856. Lowell, Massachusetts. State Archives. Boston. Microfilm 960,172. Family History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Massachusetts. Land Records, 1620-1986. Middlesex County Deeds, 1839.
Massachusetts. Land Records, 1620-1986. Suffolk County Deeds, 1836.
Massachusetts, Lowell. Town Directories. 1832-1856.
Massachusetts. Marriages, 1841-1915. State Archives. Boston. Family History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Massachusetts. Probate Records. In Probate File Papers, 1658-1871. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives. Boston, Massachusetts.
Massachusetts. Town Clerk. Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001. Walker Lewis and Elisabeth Lovejoy. 11 May 1825. Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States, v. 3, p. 16. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. Boston. Microfilm 7,009,826. Family History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Nell, William C. The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, with Sketches of Several Distinguished Colored Persons: Which Is Added a Brief Survey of the Condition and Prospects of Colored Americans. Boston: Robert F. Wallcut, 1855.
“Notice.” Liberator, 25 August 1832.
Proceedings of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Granting of Warrant 459 to African Lodge, at Boston. Boston: Franklin Press, 1885.
“Receipt of Tithing.” The Prophet, 8 February 1845.
“Remittances.” Liberator, 2 June 1837.
Rockwood, Albert P. Journal. MS 2606. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sanderson, Jeremiah B. Letter to William C. Nell, 19 June 1842. In The Black Abolitionist Papers, edited by C. Peter Ripley. Volume 3. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985-92.
Sidney and Neff. Plan of the City of Lowell, Massachusetts. Philadelphia: S. Moody, 1850.
Stimpson’s Boston Directory. Boston, Massachusetts, 1834.
The Black Abolitionist Papers. Ed., C. Peter Ripley. 5 vols. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985-92.
Trustee-in-Trust. Tithing and donation record, 1844 May-1846 January. CR 5 85. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Trustee-in-Trust. Tithing and donation record, 1846-1879. CR 5 79. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Trustee-in-Trust. Tithing and donation record. Daybook C. CR 5 71. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Trustee-in-Trust. Tithing and donation record. Daybook D. CR 5 71. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.
United States. 1800 Census. Massachusetts, Worcester County, Barre.
United States. 1810 Census. Massachusetts, Worcester County, Barre.
United States. 1820 Census. Massachusetts, Worcester County, Barre.
United States. 1820 Census. Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Cambridge.
United States. 1830 Census. Massachusetts, Suffolk County, Boston, Ward 12.
United States. 1840 Census. Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Lowell.
United States. 1850 Census. Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Lowell.
United States. 1855 Census. Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Lowell.
United States. 1900 Census. Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Lowell.
Vital Records of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1844-1860. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston.
Woodruff, Wilford. Letter to Brigham Young, 9 October 1844. 16 November 1844. Brigham Young office files, 1832-1878. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Woodruff, Wilford. The Wilford Woodruff Journals. Volumes 1 and 2. Edited by Dan Vogel. Salt Lake City: Benchmark Books, 2020.
Barney, Ronald O. “‘There is the Greatest Excitement in This Country That I Ever Beheld’: Mormonism’s New England Ministry of the Forgotten Eli P. Maginn.” Mormon Historical Studies 15 (Fall 2014): 157-271.
Bringhurst, Newell G. Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People Within Mormonism. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981.
Cameron, Christopher. To Plead Our Own Cause: African Americans in Massachusetts and the Making of the Antislavery Movement. Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2014.
Garvey, T. Gregory. Creating the Culture of Reform in Antebellum America. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006.
Harris, Matthew and Newell G. Bringhurst. The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.
Haynes, Stephen R. Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Hinks, Peter P. To Awaken my Afflicted Brethren: David Walker and the Problem of Antebellum Slave Resistance. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997.
Horton, James Oliver. “Generations of Protest: Black Families and Social Reform in Ante-Bellum Boston.” New England Quarterly 49 (June 1976): 242-56.
Horton, James Oliver, and Lois E. Horton. Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Antebellum North. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1979.
Kantrowitz, Stephen. More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889. New York: Penguin Books, 2012.
Mayo, Martha. “Profiles in Courage: African-Americans in Lowell.” 1993.
Newell, Quincy. Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.
O’Donovan, Connell. “The Mormon Priesthood Ban and Elder Q. Walker Lewis: ‘An Example for His More Whiter Brethren to Follow.’” John Whitmer Historical Association 26 (2006): 48-100.
Reeve, W. Paul Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Wirzbicki, Peter. Fighting for the Higher Law: Black and White Transcendentalists Against Slavery. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021.
 Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915, Walker Lewis, 26 October 1856, Lowell, Massachusetts, v. 103, p. 87, State Archives, Boston, microfilm 960,172, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 A Constitution or Frame of Government (Boston: Benamin Edes & Sons, 1780), 7.
 On these developments, see Christopher Cameron, To Plead Our Own Cause: African Americans in Massachusetts and the Making of the Antislavery Movement (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2014), 76-78.
 For Lewis’s baptismal record, see Connell O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban and Elder Q. Walker Lewis: ‘An Example for His More Whiter Brethren to Follow,’” John Whitmer Historical Association 26 (2006): 54-55. Census records show that Peter, Miner, and their younger children were living in Barre in 1820, while the older children, including Walker, lived elsewhere. United States, 1820 Census, Massachusetts, Worcester County, Barre. “Samuel Lewis” appears in the Barre census. “Adam Lewis” appears in the Cambridge census. United States, 1820 Census, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Cambridge. O’Donovan states that Lewis had relocated to Tewksbury, Massachusetts, by the early 1820s, though this is not clear from extant records. O’Donovan, "The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 55.
 Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001, Walker Lewis and Elisabeth Lovejoy, 11 May 1825, Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States, v. 3, p. 16, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston, microfilm 7,009,826, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 See Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915, Enoch L. Lewis, 26 February 1885, Lowell, Massachusetts, v. 365, p. 116, State Archives, Boston, microfilm 960,229, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Some data suggests that Enoch was born a year later, in May 1826. For example, the record of Enoch’s September 1853 marriage to Eliza Shorter indicates that Enoch was twenty-seven at the time of the marriage. “Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915,” Enoch L. Lewis and Eliza E. Shorter, 13 September 1853, Lowell, Massachusetts, v. 70, p. 153, State Archives, Boston, microfilm 43,287, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001,” Walker Lewis and Elizabeth Lovejoy, 26 May 1825, Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States, v. 3, p. 205, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston, microfilm 7,009,826, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; “Lewis, Walker” and “Lovejoy, Elizabeth,” in Vital Records of Cambridge Massachusetts, to the Year 1850, vol. 2 (Boston, 1915), 242, 248.
 See James Oliver Horton, “Generations of Protest: Black Families and Social Reform in Ante-Bellum Boston,” New England Quarterly 49 (June 1976): 243-45.
 Proceedings of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Granting of Warrant 459 to African Lodge, at Boston (Boston: Franklin Press, 1885), 19. See also, O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 56-59.
 William C. Nell, The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, with Sketches of Several Distinguished Colored Persons: Which Is Added a Brief Survey of the Condition and Prospects of Colored Americans (Boston: Robert F. Wallcut, 1855), 345.
 Peter P. Hinks, To Awaken my Afflicted Brethren: David Walker and the Problem of Antebellum Slave Resistance (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997), 75-78.
 See O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 56.
 Liberator (Boston, Massachusetts) 28 May 1831.
 See Stephen Kantrowitz, More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889 (New York: Penguin Books, 2012), 13-40.
 “Notice,” Liberator, 25 August 1832, 3.
 On these organizations, see Cameron, To Plead Our Own Cause, 84-100.
 Town directories published from 1828-1832 indicate that Lewis had a barbershop on Fourth Street. The directories for 1831 and 1832 show that Lewis lived in a house at 712 Washington Street. The Boston Directory (Boston, 1828-1832). The 1830 census also indicates that Lewis and his family lived in Boston. United States, 1830 Census, Massachusetts, Suffolk County, Boston. See also, “Walker Lewis,” in Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918, Transfer Books, 1829-1832, Ward 12, City of Boston Archives, West Roxbury.
 The Lowell Directory (Lowell, 1833), 80.
 Beginning in 1832, which appears to be the first year that Lowell published a city directory, Peter Lewis was listed as a hairdresser working on Merrimack Street. The Lowell Directory (Lowell, 1832), 38.
 The Lowell Directory (Lowell, 1833), 172. In 1834, Peter, Walker, and Simpson—Walker’s youngest brother—were all listed as hairdressers in the town directory. The same directory shows that Peter lived in Dracut, situated across the Merrimack River to the northeast, and that Walker continued to live in Belvidere. Simpson seems to have relocated to Boston the next year, where he soon began to sell clothes, an occupation he pursued for more than three decades. Floyd’s Lowell Directory (Lowell, 1834), 75; “Lewis, S.H.” and “Lewis, Simpson H.” in Boston directories from 1835-59.
 Stimpson’s Boston Directory (Boston, 1834), 374. With the exception of the 1839 directory, the directories published from 1834-1857 show that Andress was working as a barber. The 1860 Boston census indicates that Andress was working as a “Botanic Medicine Dealer.” United States, 1860 Census, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Cambridge, 5th Ward.
 See “Lewis, Peter” and “Lewis, Walker” in Lowell directories from 1835-1836.
 See “Lewis, Peter” and “Lewis, Walker” in Lowell directors from 1837-1844. For an image of the hotel, see Ephraim W. Bouvé’s engraving in Statistics of Lowell Manufactures, January 1, 1845 (Lowell, MA: Stearns and Taylor, printer, 1845).
 See Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986, Suffolk County Deeds, 1836, v. 412, p. 101-103, and 1838, v. 439, p. 6-7, County Courthouses and Offices, Massachusetts; “An Act in addition to the Act to incorporate the African Humane Society,” in Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Boston, 1836), 323.
 Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918, Transfer Books, 1837, Ward 12, p. 47, Transfer Books, 1838, Ward 12, p. 44, Transfer Books, Ward 11, p. 55, Transfer Books, Ward 11, p. 59, Transfer Books, Ward 11, p. 73.
 See “Lewis, Walker” in Turner's Lowell Directory (Lowell, 1844), 179. See also, Sidney and Nell, Plan of the City of Lowell, Massachusetts (Philadelphia: S. Moody, 1850).
 “Remittances,” Liberator, 2 June 1837.
 See Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986, Middlesex County Deeds, 1839, v. 384, p. 508. This land bordered land on Centre Street that Peter Jr. already owned.
 See Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986, Middlesex County Deeds, 1839, v. 384, p. 507-508.
 See Peter Wirzbicki, Fighting for the Higher Law: Black and White Transcendentalists Against Slavery (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021), 111-14.
 Jeremiah B. Sanderson to William C. Nell, 19 June 1842, in The Black Abolitionist Papers, ed. C. Peter Ripley, 5 vols. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985-92), 3:385. “Louis’s two or three” probably refers to Peter and Walker Lewis, perhaps along with Walker’s eldest sibling, Samuel. I was unable to access the 1842 and 1843 Lowell directories, but Samuel appears in the 1844 directory. Turner’s Lowell Directory (Lowell, 1844), 179. In his letter to Nell, Sanderson made note of the “Factory girls,” and suggested that they would reject the comparisons made between them and “the slaves of our country.” Sanderson to Nell, 19 June 1842, in The Black Abolitionist Papers, 3:386. On Nell, see Jordan T. Watkins, Slavery and Sacred Texts: The Bible, the Constitution, and Historical Consciousness in Antebellum American (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2021), 300-328.
 In April 1839, Elizabeth gave birth to Walker Lovejoy. United States, 1900 Census, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Middlesex. We know little about Lewis’s prior religious life. In March of 1839, Reverend Theodore Edson of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church made Friday evening visits to Belvidere for the purpose of meeting with those who he described as “the colored portion of my people.” This may have included Lewis and his family, as they resided in Belvidere. After an April 5 meeting, however, Edson ceased his Belvidere visits, which he deemed to be unsuccessful. See O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 62-64. See also, Theodore Edson, Journal, 5, 8, 15, 22, and 29 March, 1839. Edson made no mention of the fact that on or around the same day Elizabeth gave birth to Walker Jr.
 See Eli Maginn to Joseph Smith, 1 and 3 May 1842, in JSP, D10:8-15.
 “Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons 3:844.
 Journal History of the Church, 11 September 1842 and 9 February 1843, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 See Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 9 September 1843, in The Wilford Woodruff Journals, 6 vols., ed. Dan Vogel (Salt Lake City: Benchmark Books, 2020), 1:572. Benjamin F. Grouard reported on the Lowell branch at a conference held in Boston on September 9. On Grouard’s preaching in Lowell, see Benjamin F. Grouard, Journal, MS 1388, 4 and 17 August, and 9 September, 1843, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. The Journal History of the Church adds the tantalizing note that “no Elder able to speak was there [Lowell] at present,” which might suggest that was an elder there who could not speak, though the source for this information is unclear. Journal History of the Church, 9 September 1843. On LDS missionary efforts in Lowell during this period, see Ronald O. Barney, “‘There is the Greatest Excitement in This Country That I Ever Beheld’: Mormonism’s New England Ministry of the Forgotten Eli P. Maginn,” Mormon Historical Studies 15 (Fall 2014): 217-22, 241-44, 246-7; and O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 65-70.
 On July 16, 1844, Brigham Young and Orson Pratt learned of the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum while in Peterborough, New Hampshire. That night, they stayed in Lowell. Wilford Woodruff to Brigham Young and Orson Pratt, 16 July 1844, Brigham Young office files, 1832-1878, CR 1234 1, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. See also, Journal History of the Church, 16 July 1844.
 Wilford Woodruff to Brigham Young, 9 October 1844, Brigham Young office files, 1832-1878. See also, Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 7 and 8 October 1844, in Journals, 1:681. On these developments and Ball’s life, see Jeffrey D. Mahas, “Joseph T. Ball,” CenturyofBlackMormons.org.
 Woodruff to Young, 9 October 1844.
 Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 7 and 8 October 1844, in Journals, 1:681.
 Wilford Woodruff to Brigham Young, 16 November 1844, Brigham Young office files, 1832-1878.
 Woodruff to Young, 16 November 1844.
 On these developments and their effects, see also, O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 77-82.
 Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 7 and 8 October 1844, in Journals, 1:681.
 See T. Gregory Garvey, Creating the Culture of Reform in Antebellum America (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006), 121-60. See also, Watkins, Slavery and Sacred Texts, 204-5.
 Ezra T. Benson to Brigham Young, 22 January 1845, Brigham Young office files, 1832-1878.
 “Receipt of Tithing,” The Prophet, 8 February 1845.
 Ezra T. Benson to Parley P. Pratt, 10 March 1845, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
 Trustee-in-Trust tithing and donation record, 1844 May-1846 January, CR 5 85, 8 April 1845, 302-303, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. I’m grateful to Paul Reeve for directing me to tithing records associated with Walker Lewis.
 Trustee-in-Trust tithing and donation record, 1844 May-1846 January, CR 5 85, 4 July 1845, 431.
 Massachusetts Probate Records, in Probate File Papers, 1658-1871, Walker Lewis, Schedule to Inventory, exhibited February 10, 1857, Book 3, pg. 290, Middlesex County.
 Trustee-in-Trust tithing and donation record, 1844 May-1846 January, CR 5 85, 20 October and 22 December 1845, 573, 692.
 Historian’s Office, General Church Minutes, 1839-1877, 26 March 1847, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 On these developments, including their relationship to the Lewis family, see W. Paul Reeve, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 106-61; and O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 82-89.
 “Lewis, Enoch L.” and “Webster, Mary M.,” in Vital Records of Cambridge Massachusetts, to the Year 1850, vol. 2 (Boston, 1915), 241. See also, “Vital Records of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1844-1860,” p. 137, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston.
 William I. Appleby to Brigham Young, 2 June 1847, Brigham Young office files, 1832-1878.
 William I. Appleby, Autobiography and Journal, MS 2737, 24 May 1848, 234, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Appleby, Autobiography and Journal, 19 May 1847, 170-71.
 Appleby, Autobiography and Journal, 16 June 1847, 177. Mary was twenty at the time of Appleby’s visit. The infant in the cradle was probably Enoch Lovejoy Jr.
 See Reeve, Religion of a Different Color, 132-34.
 General Church Minutes, 3 December 1847.
 See Reeve, Religion of a Different Color, 134-36.
 See “Lewis, Walker” in Lowell directors from 1845-1851.
 See General Epistle from the Council of the Twelve Apostles, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Abroad, Dispersed Throughout the Earth (St. Louis, 1848).
 Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 12 August 1848, in Journals, 2:306; and Albert P. Rockwood, Journal, MS 2606, 11 August 1848, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah..
 Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 29-30 August 1848, in Journals, 2:308.
 Albert P. Rockwood, Journal, 1 November 1848.
 Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 16-17 December 1848, 16-17 June 1849, and 19-21 and 29 January 1850 in Journals, 2:326, 367, 411, 412; Albert P. Rockwood, Journal, 23 December 1848 and 6 January 1849.
 Albert P. Rockwood, Journal, 24 December 1848. Some sources indicate that Lewis and other members of his family worked on the underground railroad during this period. See O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 60-62; and Martha Mayo, “Profiles in Courage: African-Americans in Lowell” .
 Albert P. Rockwood, Journal, 25 December 1848.
 Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 27 February 1849, in Journals, 2:344.
 Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 27 February and 4 March 1850, in Journals, 2:415 and 416.
 Wilford Woodruff, Journal, 9-10 April 1850, in Journals, 2:422. On these developments, see O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 88-90.
 Massachusetts Probate Records, in Probate File Papers, 1658-187, Walker Lewis, Last Will and Testament, dated March 26, 1851, Book 4, pg. 358, Middlesex County.
 United States, 1850 Census, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Middlesex.
 See O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 91-2. The blessing is housed in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.
 On use of the curse of Canaan to justify American slavery, see Stephen R. Haynes, Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
 A tithing record entry for January 8, 1852, notes: “Received of Walker Lewis, our order on the Church Store returned, value $8_; an account of $4_ with Wm. Pitt as per Trustee's Books; In full on Labor Tithing to Jany 6th. 1852. Also an account of $4_ with Wm. Pitt as per Trustee's Books. In full on his Property Tithing in accordance with @ vote of conference Sepr. 10th 1851.” This somewhat confusing record seems to show that Lewis had obtained an order of goods valued at $8 from the Church store and that he was returning the order in exchange for tithing credit. It also suggests that William Pitt owed Lewis $8 and that Lewis turned Pitt’s debt over to the Church for tithing credit. If so, these transactions left Lewis with $16 credit on his tithing. Regardless of just what, in particular, this record means, it demonstrates Lewis’s ongoing commitment to his faith tradition., Trustee-in-Trust tithing and donation records, 1846-1879, CR 5 79, 8 January 1852, p. 284, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. I’m grateful to Jeffrey Mahas for helping me think through the meaning of this record.
 “Governor’s Message,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 10 January 1852, 18.
 Orson Pratt, 27 January 1852, Speech on Slavery Delivered in Territorial Legislature, Papers of George D. Watt, transcribed by LaJean Purcell Carruth, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Brigham Young, “Speech in Joint Session of the Legislature,” February 5, 1852, in The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History, eds. Matthew L. Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015), 37-40.
 On these developments, see Reeve, Religion of a Different Color, 140-61.
 “Governor’s Message,” Deseret News, 10 January 1852.
 “To the Saints,” Deseret News, 3 April 1852. I’m grateful to Paul Reeve for notifying me of this source.
 “Returned from Great Salt Lake Valley,” Lowell Advertiser, 9 November 1852.
 Lowell Courier, 8 September 1853.
 See, for example, Lowell Courier, 12 July 1853.
 Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915, Enoch L. Lewis and Eliza E. Shorter, 13 September 1853.
 On these developments, see O’Donovan, “The Mormon Priesthood Ban,” 91, 96-98.
 Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915, 26 October 1856, Lowell, Massachusetts, v. 103, p. 87, State Archives, Boston, microfilm 960,172, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Walker Lewis, Schedule to Inventory, exhibited February 10, 1857, Book 3, pg. 290, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Probate Records, in Probate File Papers, 1658-1871.
 Jane E. James to Apostle Joseph F. Smith, 1890, in The Mormon Church and Blacks, 54. On Jane Elizabeth Manning James’s petitioning during this period, see Quincy Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 104-118.
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