Manning, Isaac Lewis

Biography

photo of  Isaac Lewis Manning

Isaac Lewis Manning was an early convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints alongside his much better-known younger sister Jane Elizabeth Manning James.[1] In fact, James’s lifelong devotion to the Latter-day Saint cause, her status as an 1847 pioneer into the Salt Lake Valley, and her persistent petitioning for temple admission have overshadowed her brother and his own commitment to two Latter Day Saint faiths.[2] Isaac Manning worked in the Nauvoo Mansion House as a cook for Joseph Smith and his wife Emma Hale Smith, the founding couple of his new faith. That personal connection to the Smith family earned him esteem among his fellow Latter-day Saints for the rest of his life. Manning’s deepest connection to Joseph and Hyrum Smith, however, came in the service he provided in the wake of their murders. He eventually dug four graves for their bodies, an act of kindness which became a lifelong witness of his faith.

Isaac was born to Philles Eliza Mead and Isaac Manning in Wilton, Connecticut, on 15 May 1815.[3] Little information survives regarding his youth. His father was listed as the head of household and a free colored person in the 1920 Census.[4] The elder Isaac died, however, around the time the younger Isaac turned ten, leaving Philles a widow with five surviving children (she would eventually marry again to a Revolutionary war veteran named Cato Treadwell and give birth to three more daughters).[5] The 1830 census for Wilton listed Philles as a free colored woman and head of household. That census also listed two male children under age ten, likely Isaac’s brothers Peter and Israel. The census however did not include a male child in the fifteen-year age range where Isaac should have been. Isaac could have found work outside of the home by then, perhaps as a servant or apprentice in the region.[6] By 1840, Isaac headed his own household and had married a free Black woman named Lucinda.[7] The young couple made their home in Wilton, Connecticut close to Isaac’s mother Philles and her family.[8]

On 14 October 1842, Isaac’s younger sister Jane received baptism at the hands of Latter-day Saint missionary Charles Wesley Wandell.[9] Her enthusiasm for her new-found faith then spread among other Manning family members, including Isaac. In December of that year Albert Merrill, a Latter-day Saint leader of the local Norwalk congregation, baptized Isaac and his wife Lucinda, likely on the same day. The two may have waited several months, possibly as late as May 1843, before Merrill confirmed them members of the LDS Church and bestowed on them the gift of the Holy Ghost.[10]  Isaac was 27 years old when he converted. Unlike his sister Jane, he left no record behind to indicate what attracted him to the new faith, but his baptism and confirmation would nonetheless shape the rest of his life, perhaps in unexpected ways.

In May of 1843, when church official John M. Bernhisel passed through Connecticut he collected tithing donations from local Saints which he carried with him to church headquarters at Nauvoo. Isaac contributed 25 cents as did his wife Lucinda. Jane and her mother Philles added 25 cents each and Anthony Stebbins, Isaac’s brother-in-law, contributed 12 ½ cents for a combined family donation of $1.12 ½ .[11] Their monetary sacrifices were an indication of the family’s devotion to their new faith, something they indicated even more markedly when they decided to sell the family home that same year and move to Nauvoo, Illinois.

By the fall of 1843, several members of the Manning family including siblings Isaac, Jane, and Angeline Manning, their married sister Sarah Ann Manning Stebbins and her husband Anthony, Isaac’s wife Lucinda, and the matriarch of the group Philles Eliza Manning Treadwell had decided to gather with the main body of Saints at Nauvoo. (The group likely also included Jane’s oldest son Sylvester and Sarah and Anthony’s daughter Mary, and Isaac’s younger brother Peter, and possibly his stepfather Cato Treadwell[12]). Albert Merrill, as the family’s local ecclesiastical leader, signed a letter of reference for the Mannings and Stebbins on 10 September 1843. Merrill’s letter signified that the recent converts were Latter-day Saints in good standing and served as the family’s note of entry into Nauvoo.[13] Two days later, Isaac and his family appeared before Justice of the Peace Erastus Steerges to record the sale of the family home to a white resident of Wilton named Jemima Britto for forty-five dollars. The sale included a “tract of land” including “a dwelling house standing therein.” Sometime thereafter the family began what turned into a long and difficult journey to Nauvoo.[14]

Isaac and his family joined a migrant group of mostly white Latter-day Saints led by Charles Wesley Wandell who were also intent on uniting with the main body of believers at Nauvoo. For the Mannings, however, being black presented barriers that white Mormons did not face. At Buffalo, New York, the family was not allowed passage on the same ship as the white Latter-day Saints. Isaac and his family therefore disembarked and were forced to walk the rest of the way.[15] Late in life Jane remembered that the group arrived in Nauvoo on 22 November 1843, although they were not entered into the Nauvoo Record of Members list until months later.[16] After a warm reception by Joseph and Emma Smith at the Nauvoo mansion house, group members eventually found places to live across the city, except for Jane who stayed at the mansion house to live and work.[17]

There is no evidence that Isaac or any other male members of the Manning family were ordained to the priesthood. Lack of ordination, however, did not automatically signal that Smith somehow prevented them from receiving the priesthood or that he had implemented a racial priesthood policy by the time the Manning family settled in Nauvoo. Priesthood ordination in the nineteenth-century Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was not universal among white male members, let alone among black men. Ordination was not automatic and certainly not as systematic as it became by the early twentieth century. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, as more and more men served missions and/or married in temples—both of which included priesthood ordinations—the process became more universal. Even still, it was not until the early twentieth century when the church systematized ordinations to its Aaronic or lesser priesthood beginning at age twelve. Between 1908 and 1922, the church formalized a process whereby all practicing young men in a given congregation would rise through the priesthood ranks. This process thus ensured nearly universal male ordination (except, or course, for those of Black-African descent who were barred from ordination by that time).[18]

In Nauvoo and elsewhere in the 1830s through the 1860s, evidence suggests that most men were not ordained. Enough men were ordained in each congregation to ensure organizational function, but no more. It is an assessment that makes the ordination of at least a few black men in the first two decades of the Latter-day Saint movement that much more remarkable. It also means that Manning’s lack of ordination after his arrival at Nauvoo is not an indication of a racial restriction at play or even anything out of the ordinary.[19]

At Nauvoo, Isaac was welcomed into the Joseph Smith household and quickly found work as a cook at the “mansion house.” Late in life, in fact, Isaac recalled, “I was a cook in the prophet’s kitchen at Nauvoo, and he used to say I was a mighty good cook too. I cooked the prophet’s meals . . . when I was servant in the family.”[20] According to belated remembrances, Isaac found a variety of other ways to contribute to community life at Nauvoo: He quarried stone for the temple then under construction, he taught a dance school at the Masonic hall, and he joined the Nauvoo Legion, the city’s militia unit, or more precisely its band.[21]

Joseph Smith III, the son of Emma and Joseph Smith Jr., grew up in Nauvoo and would have been eleven when Isaac arrived. Later in life Smith fondly remembered watching the Nauvoo Legion march through town in military drill and reminisced over his fascination with members of the Legion’s band, including Isaac who played an oversized drum: “It was rather a thrilling sight to see the long train of drilled and uniformed men marching to the martial music of the band,” Smith recalled. “The drum itself was a mammoth affair, made by William Huntington, erstwhile sexton of the city and a man of some genius. I watched him work upon this drum, and when the barrel part was finished I stood up in it without stooping, which, since I was a pretty fair-sized chunk of a boy this gives an idea of its breadth.” Smith then specified that the hefty drum “was carried by a large Negro named Isaac Manning, who beat it so vigorously when the Legion was on parade in Nauvoo that its reverberations could be heard, it was said, in Fort Madison, twelve miles away.”[22] Isaac remained proud of his service in the Legion throughout his life and when Legion members held a reunion in Utah in 1901 he attended. At that celebration, the Deseret News noted Isaac’s presence and stipulated his role as “drummer in [the] Legion in Nauvoo.”[23]

Isaac’s most significant memory of Nauvoo, however, involved more tragic circumstances. Following the violent death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage, Isaac remembered being asked to dig two graves in the Nauvoo cemetery as decoys where caskets loaded with sand were then buried following a public ceremony. Latter-day Saint leaders were fearful that those who disliked the Saints would dig up the bodies of the two slain men and desecrate them, hence the decoys. The actual bodies were then buried in the basement of the unfinished Nauvoo House. Within months of the murders, tension between Emma and Brigham Young over who controlled what property prompted Emma to secretly move the bodies from the Church-owned Nauvoo House to the southwest corner of Joseph and Emma’s Homestead.[24] Isaac dug the graves for this second resting place, this time in the cellar of an outbuilding close to what he called the “Prophet’s old Log house on the banks of the river.”[25] Unbeknownst to Isaac, within two years Emma had the bodies temporarily moved again and then returned to the homestead location where Isaac believed they had always remained. In 1928, the bodies were disinterred yet again and moved to their current location, a few feet north of the gravesites Isaac had prepared in 1844.[26]

Isaac thus dug a total of four graves for the bodies of the Smith brothers, two decoy graves and two for their burial at the Smith homestead. His service in behalf of the two men whom he revered remained a source of satisfaction to him for the rest of his life.[27] In fact, when the Salt Lake Herald Republican interviewed Isaac in 1910, when he was ninety-five years old, Isaac recalled with a sense of honor that after Joseph Smith was “shot at Carthage and they brought him back home, I digged his grave.”[28]

It was such an important memory for Isaac and such an intimate and significant connection to Joseph and Hyrum Smith that in 1903 he wrote a signed declaration of his role in digging the four graves. Isaac’s statement, although brief and absent a sense of chronology, matches perfectly with recent scholarship on the remains of the Smith brothers, a fact that validates his memory.[29] As he recalled on 6 November 1903:

To whom it may concern Isaac Lewis Manning declares in truth that in the year 1844, in the city of Nauvoo, after the Prophet and Patriarch was killed, William Huntington[30] called on me to dig the graves to bury their remains. I dug the graves in [the] Prophet’s old Log house on the banks of the river.[31] I dug them in the cellar. I also dug two in the burying ground but the bodies were buried in the cellar—there were two extra coffins got and put in the burying ground to fool the mob[32] and as far as I know their bodies were never removed;[33] they were buried at night but I was not there.[34] I could go to the place where I dug the graves; they were dug to the west, right by the chimney, no one was there but myself. I have heard that they were moved to the cellar of  ^basement^ [of the] Nauvoo house but I do not believe it so; there was no roof on the house. it was not half built at the time. Isaac L. Manning[35]

For the rest of his life Isaac cherished the service he performed for the slain bodies of the person he claimed as a prophet and his brother the patriarch.[36]

Joseph and Hyrum’s deaths were devastating for Latter-day Saints and with no clear succession process in place a variety of men claimed to be Smith’s successor.[37] In the two years following the deaths of Hyrum and Joseph, Isaac Manning and the rest of the Manning and Stebbins families separated from Jane Manning. Jane married Isaac James, a Black convert from New Jersey who had also gathered to Nauvoo, and the new couple moved with Brigham Young and his followers to the Great Basin in 1847.[38] There is no indication that the separation was over doctrinal differences or a preference for one religious group over another. Evidence does not survive to indicate what Isaac and the rest of his family thought of competing claims among those who vied for followers after Joseph Smith’s death. Some members of the Manning family maintained an affection for Joseph and Emma Smith for the rest of their lives and some of them may have sided with Emma over Brigham Young in the years following Joseph and Hyrum’s deaths.[39] Even still, before the murder of the Smith brothers, Jane and her sister Angeline had moved to Burlington, Iowa, about thirty miles North of Nauvoo on the Mississippi River, because as Jane recalled, “there was not much work [at Nauvoo] because of the persecutions.”[40] The decision for Isaac and other family members to remain in the Midwest similarly could have been economic as much as religious.

Whatever the reasons, Isaac, his brother Peter and his sisters Sarah and Angeline along with his mother Philles, did not join his sister Jane and the main body of Latter-day Saints as they left Nauvoo in 1846 and migrated to the Great Basin. Instead, the 1850 census taker found Isaac working as a laborer in Muscatine, Iowa, a town about seventy-five miles north of Nauvoo, Illinois, on the Mississippi River. He and his brother Peter, his sister Sarah, and her three children all lived in the same household with their mother Philles Eliza Manning.[41] Isaac’s wife Lucinda was not enumerated with the rest of the family. She had likely passed away by that point, although no death record has been found and it is possible that she and Isaac separated or divorced.

Isaac remained in the Midwest for the next four decades, moving from Iowa to Michigan and then into Canada before eventually returning to Michigan and then Iowa. He moved from job to job as a carpenter and laborer and married three more times.[42] Sometime in the mid-1870s Isaac moved to London, Ontario, Canada where he found work and likely met his fourth wife, Rachel Ann Bryan from Whitby, Indiana. By April 1876, Isaac and Rachel had married and on the 23rd of that month they were baptized into the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They worshiped together in the London, Ontario branch and lived close to Isaac’s brother Peter and his wife. That is where Joseph Smith III found them in 1878 when he traveled to Canada to survey the condition of the RLDS church there. As Smith later recalled, “After the dispersion from Nauvoo I lost sight for a time of this . . . Isaac Manning, and also of his brother Peter. Years later, upon the occasion of a visit to London, Ontario, I met them both.”[43]

It is not clear what may have prompted Isaac and Rachel to join the RLDS faith, but for Isaac it could have been as simple as news that Joseph Smith III, the young boy he would have known in Nauvoo when he served as cook in the Mansion House, had organized a church in 1860 which represented a familial connection to Emma and Joseph and the warm welcome he received in their home after the long journey from Connecticut.

The RLDS Church ordained Black men to its priesthood and was successful enough at proselyting among African-Americans in the South that it established segregated congregations there presided over by Black priesthood holders. However, like the LDS faith at the time, the RLDS faith did not practice universal male ordination and there is no indication that Isaac was ordained in either tradition. Even still, in 1852 Brigham Young openly announced a racial priesthood restriction in the LDS faith.[44] The two restoration traditions, thus moved in decidedly different directions on racial matters, with the RLDS church canonizing a revelation designed to facilitate open ordination and the LDS church establishing a racial ban with no revelatory claim and no addition to its scriptural canon to substantiate Young’s outspoken stance.[45]

On 4 November 1878, Rachel gave birth to a baby boy who the couple named Peter, in honor of Isaac’s brother. From Isaac’s four marriages, it was his only known child. When the federal census taker found the couple in 1880 they had moved back to the United States and lived in Ionia, Michigan, where Isaac worked as a “common laborer.” He was sixty-five years old, Rachel was thirty-six, and their son Peter had not yet turned two. Rachel worked “keeping house,” which likely included taking charge of the four boarders who lived with the couple in 1880.[46] After Isaac moved to Salt Lake City, he reported that Rachel died in Ohio in 1891 and his obituary noted that “his wife and child both died before he came to Utah.”[47]

In the meantime, Isaac located his two surviving sisters. Family for Isaac thus created a safety net otherwise unavailable for someone like him who had worked his entire life moving from job to job on the economic margins. In 1887, the Clinton, Iowa, RLDS congregation received Isaac into fellowship; it was the same congregation in which his sister Sarah Stebbins worshipped.[48] Isaac thus enjoyed a renewed association with Sarah and she likely helped Isaac get settled in the community and find work. Sadly, Sarah passed away in 1889, and Isaac was once again left alone.[49] Sometime thereafter he moved to Salt Lake City to join his last surviving sister, Jane.

Jane welcomed her older brother into her home at 529 South 200 East in downtown Salt Lake City. From there Isaac set out to find a place for himself within the economic and religious life of the city. In 1892, Isaac appeared in a Salt Lake City directory wherein he listed his occupation as carpenter, an indication that at seventy-seven years old he still worked to support himself. The following year, Isaac decided to align his faith with that of his sister. On 28 March 1893, L. A. Wilson baptized Isaac into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the second time in his life, an indication that he was willing to abandon his membership in the RLDS faith. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know what reasoning went into Isaac’s decision or what discussions he and Jane may have had over his prior baptism into the RLDS Church or about race and faith more generally. James did include Manning in one of her petitions to receive temple rituals, but what Manning thought about her ongoing appeals is unfortunately lost to history.[50]

Isaac had joined Jane in the Salt Lake City LDS Eighth Ward where the brother and sister duo became highly regarded members of the Latter-day Saint community and pioneer celebrities of sorts, especially because they both represented living connections to Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of the Latter-day Saint tradition. Jane and Isaac were given prominent and reserved seats in the Salt Lake tabernacle “near the front in the center of the building” where the Deseret News reported that “Jane made cushions for the seats, and the old couple and their friends had the exclusive right to the seats.”[51] One article even noted that they were “conspicuous figures at all of the annual and semiannual conferences of the church and occupied the only cushioned seats in the vast auditorium, aside from those occupied by the leading officials of the organization.”[52] Another story honored their faithful attendance at the semiannual gatherings and observed that Isaac and Jane had not “missed a conference meeting and but few Sunday services” over the course of their years in the church.[53]

News reports, pioneer day celebrations, and “Old Folks Day” commemorations frequently featured Isaac and Jane. In 1903, the Women’s Democratic club sponsored an outing to Lagoon, a local amusement park, which Jane and Isaac attended. At that event the brother and sister team were honored with silk umbrellas as the prizes for “being the oldest Democratic couple at the resort.”[54] Most of the accounts which mentioned Isaac and Jane did so because of their connection to Joseph Smith and because they were black pioneers, an anomaly in an increasingly white church, especially in the era of American segregation.[55]

In 1908, Jane Manning James passed away and Isaac was again left alone. In her will James left Manning her home to use until he died and then it would revert to her two surviving children, Ellen M. McLean and Sylvester James. Instead, Manning accepted one hundred dollars in settlement of the estate and the remaining proceeds were split between her children.[56] Manning’s LDS membership record was transferred to the Salt Lake City Third Ward in June 1908, two months after James’s death. Manning moved in with his grandniece, Josephine Washington, James’s granddaughter, just a few blocks away from James’s home but within the boundaries of a new LDS ward.[57]

The members of the Third Ward welcomed Manning into their congregation and in 1910, at the occasion of his ninety-fifth birthday, the bishop of the Third Ward, Roscoe W. Eardley, personally hosted a reception at his home in Manning’s honor. The Deseret Evening News, the Salt Lake Tribune, and the Herald Republican all ran news of the event. The Deseret News headline declared, “‘Uncle Isaac Manning Celebrates His Birthday Today in Style,” and reminded its readers that Manning was a “colored cook for the Prophet Joseph in the old Nauvoo days.”[58]

Manning died in a Salt Lake City hospital on April 13, 1911, of pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding his heart.[59] He was one month shy of his ninety-sixth birthday. Newspapers throughout Utah ran stories of is death, all of which highlighted his connection to Joseph Smith, the founder of both faith traditions Manning had embraced in his life. Most frequently, they mentioned his work for Smith as a cook and his service digging the graves of Joseph and Hyrum at Nauvoo. Joseph F. Smith, nephew of Joseph Smith Jr., and son of Hyrum Smith, and now president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, honored Manning in attending his funeral as did LDS apostle, Anthony W. Ivins. He was laid to rest in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.[60]

Manning’s life as a Latter Day Saint had spanned nearly seventy years and included three baptisms into two different churches that claimed Joseph Smith Jr. as founding prophet. Manning left few clues as to what his commitment to the two restoration traditions meant to him, but the central theme that survives is his devotion to the memory of Joseph Smith and the personal connection he felt to the man he considered to be a prophet of God. That connection lasted a lifetime and is the most discernable source of is dedication to the Latter Day Saint cause. On one occasion after moving to Salt Lake City, Manning told a fellow Latter-day Saint, that “he hoped to live so that he could meet the prophet and be with him on the other side.”[61]

By W. Paul Reeve

Primary Sources

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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Record of Members Collection. Salt Lake Eighth Ward. CR 375 8, box 1862, folder 1, images 113, 233, 234, 351, 361. Church History Library. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Record of Members Collection. Salt Lake Third Ward. Salt Lake Third Ward. Microfilm 26,844. Family History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Doctrine and Covenants. Community of Christ. Independence, Missouri: Herald Publishing House, 1978.

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Evening Standard. Ogden, Utah.

Isaac L. Manning statement. November 6, 1903. MS 3974. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

James, Jane Manning. “Jane Manning James Autobiography” (ca. 1902), folio 1 recto, MS 4425. Church History Library. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Manning, Isaac. Clinton Branch. Eastern Iowa District. Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Microfilm 8,490,171. Family History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Manning, Peter. November 4, 1878. Registrations of Births and Stillbirths, 1869-1913. Series MS 929. Reel 34. Record Group 80-2. Archives of Ontario. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Manning, Rachel. London Branch. London Ontario District. Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Microfilm 8,490,156. Image 1134. Family History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Merrill, Albert. Albert Merrill autobiography, 1869-1871. MS 11399. Church History Library. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Nauvoo Record of Members, 1841-1845. Microfilm 581,219. Family History Library. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Smith III, Joseph. The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith III (1832-1914): The Second Prophet of the Church. Ed. Mary Audentia Smith Anderson. Independence, MO: Price Publishing, 2001.

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The Book of the Law of the Lord. MS 22507. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Trustee-in-Trust. Tithing Daybooks. Daybook B. CR 5 71, box 1, folder 1, item 365. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Trustee-in-Trust tithing and donation record, 1844 May-1846 January. CR 5 85, item 34 Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Utah State Board of Health. Death Certificate. File No. 573. Isaac Manning. April 13, 1911. Utah Division of Archives and Record Services. Salt Lake City, Utah.

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Bernauer, Barbara Hands. Still “Side By Side”: The Final Burial of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Second Edition. N.p.: Barbara J. Bernauer, 2001.

Black, Susan Easton. Early Members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 1993.

Carter, Kate B. The Negro Pioneer. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1965.

Gates, Susa Young. Comp., and ed. “Joseph Smith, the Prophet.” Young Woman’s Journal 16, no. 12. December 1905: 551-53.

Harris, Matthew L. and Newell G. Bringhurst. The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Hartley, William G. “From Men to Boys: LDS Aaronic Priesthood Offices, 1829-1996.” Journal of Mormon History 22, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 80-136.

Jensen, Andrew. Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 2. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson, 1914.

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Manning, Isaac Lewis. FindAGrave.com

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[1] This biography is a condensed version of W. Paul Reeve, “‘I Dug the Graves’: Isaac Lewis Manning, Joseph Smith, and Racial Connections in Two Latter Day Saint Traditions,Journal of Mormon History, 47, No. 1 (January 2021), 29-67. It is used here by permission of University of Illinois Press.

[2] The scholarship on Jane Elizabeth Manning James is extensive and expanding. See Quincy D. Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, A Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019) for a biography. See also the secondary source list at Quincy D. Newell, “Jane Elizabeth Manning James;" Isaac Lewis Manning is sometimes mentioned in connection with James but has rarely received the same type of historical examination as his sister, likely because of the paucity of sources. Scholars who mention Isaac typically do so in passing, with Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel (8-9, 14, 17, 26-27, 31, 101, 112, 114, 121-122, 128, 130, 133, 155-156n5, 159-160n6, 160n9) offering the most detail to date. See Kate B. Carter, The Negro Pioneer (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1965), 10-13; Lynette Roberson, “True to the Faith: African American Pioneers,” Eagle’s Eye, vol. 31, no. 2 (August 2000), 23; Roger D. Launius, Invisible Saints: A History of Black Americans in the Reorganized Church (Independence, Missouri: Herald Pub. House, 1988), 63-67; Russell W. Stevenson, For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2014), 223; Max Perry Mueller, Race and the Making of the Mormon People, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), 121, 139, 217, 260n1, 265n65; Newell G. Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism, 2nd Edition (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2018), 82n23, 218.

[3] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Salt Lake 8th Ward, CR 375 8, box 1862, folder 1, image 361, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[4] United States, 1820 Census, Connecticut, Fairfield County, Wilton.

[5] Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 10.

[6] United States, 1830 Census, Connecticut, Fairfield County, Wilton.

[7] United States, 1840 Census, Connecticut, Fairfield County, Wilton. Isaac’s wife may have been Lucinda Tonquin also from Wilton, but no definitive evidence substantiates this possibility. See Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 160n9.

[8] United States, 1840 Census, Connecticut, Fairfield County, Wilton.

[9] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Salt Lake 8th Ward, CR 375 8, box 1862, folder 1, image 113 and 351. Jane’s membership records from the Salt Lake 8th Ward list Jane’s baptismal date as 14 October 1843, however the year was a mistake. It should be 14 October 1842. The family left for Nauvoo in the fall of 1843 and received a signed recommend from Albert Merrill, their ecclesiastical leader in Connecticut on 10 September 1843. Jane would not have been baptized a month after receiving Merrill’s recommend. Jane was baptized in October 1842 and left for Nauvoo with her family the following year. This timeline matches Jane’s recollection that it was “one year after I was baptized I started for Nauvoo.” See also Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 20-22 and Jane’s autobiography, dictated to Elizabeth J. D. Roundy, in Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 144.

[10] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Salt Lake 8th Ward, CR 375 8, box 1862, folder 1, image 361. This membership record was created in 1893 at the occasion of Isaac’s rebaptism and is therefore reliant upon Isaac’s distant memory for information concerning his original baptism. Isaac could only remember that his first baptism happened in December but could not recall a specific day or year. He did remember that Albert Merrill performed the ordinance. He also recalled that Merrill confirmed him but could not remember the date, month, or year of the confirmation. According to Merrill’s autobiography (Albert Merrill autobiography, 1869-1871, MS 11399, 2, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; see also Andrew Jenson, Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 2, (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1914), 390-391) Merrill was ordained a priest on 10 April 1842 and appointed to preside over the newly organized branch at Norwalk. He was ordained an elder on 18 May 1843 and appointed president of the Norwalk branch on 2 November 1843. Merrill’s autobiography states that he baptized nine people in the winter of 1842-1843 but does not name them or record specific dates. Merrill was a priest in the Aaronic or lower priesthood at the time which meant he could baptize but not then confirm his nine proselytes members of the church and bestow upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost. In LDS practice, confirmations are only performed by men holding the Melchizedek or higher priesthood. Matching Isaac’s memory with what is known about Merrill’s ordination dates means that Isaac was likely baptized in December 1842 and then confirmed sometime after 18 May 1843 when Merrill was ordained an elder. Confirmations, however, more typically were performed on the same day as baptisms or within the same week. It is possible that Isaac misremembered who confirmed him and that it took place soon after his baptism but given the information on the 8th Ward membership record and Merrill’s autobiography, this is the scenario that matches most closely those sources.

[11] The Book of the Law of the Lord, MS 22507, item 331-332, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[12] Jane Manning James, “Jane Manning James Autobiography” (ca. 1902), folio 1 recto, MS 4425, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. See also Jane’s autobiography as reproduced in Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, appendix, 144. Future references to the autobiography will be to the Newell version. See also, Susa Young Gates, compiler and editor, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet,” Young Woman’s Journal 16, no. 12 (December 1905): 551-53, in Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 150 and Elivira Stevens Barney, “Jane Manning James, Deseret Evening News, 4 October 1899, 6 for Jane’s recollections about who made the journey with her. Her memory is not consistent about who the group included. She does not include Cato Treadwell in any of her remembrances, but the land sale at Wilton did include him. Peter Manning and Cato Treadwell were not listed in the Nauvoo Record of Members after the family arrived in Illinois, which means that if they did migrate with the rest of the family, they likely were not baptized members of the faith. Cato Treadwell died in Connecticut in 1849 so if he did move to Nauvoo in 1843 he returned to Connecticut by 1849. Peter lived with his family in Iowa in 1850 making it likely that he moved to Nauvoo with them in 1843. If the birthdate listed in Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint’s records are accurate, Peter could have been as young as nine years old when the family moved to Nauvoo. See Susan Easton Black, Early members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, vol. 4, (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, 1993), 216, which lists a birthdate of 4 July 1834.

[13] Nauvoo Record of Members, 1841-1845, Microfilm 581,219, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Merrill’s letter does not survive, but his name and date of the letter was entered into the Nauvoo Record of Members.

[14] Wilton, Connecticut, Register of Deeds, Vol. 9, 1843-1851, Microfilm 6,252, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 26. The family members who appeared before the Justice of the Peace included Isaac, his mother Phillis Treadwell, his stepfather Cato Treadwell, his brother-in-law Anthony Stebbins, his sisters Sarah Ann Manning Stebbins, Jane Manning, and Angeline Manning, and his brother Peter. Isaac’s wife, Lucinda, however, was not included. Cato Treadwell’s presence indicates that he was involved in the sale of the land. If he opted not to move to Nauvoo with his wife and family, it may have signaled that Cato and Philles separated as a result of her decision to move to Illinois.

[15] Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, chapter 2.

[16] Elvira Stevens Barney, “Jane Manning James,” Deseret Evening News, 4 October 1899, 6, in Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 142; Nauvoo Record of Members, 1841-1845, Microfilm 581,219, contradicts Jane’s memory that the group arrived together in November 1843. The Nauvoo Record of Members lists the names of those members received at Nauvoo, their “date of entry,” the date of their referral letter, the place from which the referral was given, and the name of the person who signed the referral letter. In the case of Isaac and his family, the information regarding the referral letter was the same for all members of the family. It was signed by Albert Merrill on 10 September 1843 in South Norwalk, Connecticut. The “date of entry” for the family, however, varied widely. Isaac and his wife Lucinda were the first names entered on 15 January 1844, followed by Jane on 25 January 1844. Angeline’s arrival was recorded on 4 March 1844, then Philles Eliza Manning Treadwell was entered into the record as “Eliza Treadwell” on 25 March 1844. Sarah Ann and Anthony Stebbins’s entry date was listed as 5 August 1845, over a year after the rest of the family. It is not clear why the “date of entry” for the Manning and Stebbins families varied as much as it did. Jane’s belated remembrances indicate that the group arrived together. Surviving records do not specify how the Nauvoo Record of Members was created. Family members may have sporadically presented their letter of recommend from Albert Merrill, their leader in Connecticut, to the clerk in Nauvoo who then entered their names into the Nauvoo Record of Members. It is not clear why they would have done so on different dates and why Anthony and Sarah Ann Stebbins would have waited until August 1845. The other alternative is that the family separated on their journey and arrived sporadically, with Anthony and Sarah perhaps finding work along the way and not arriving until August 1845. Jane’s recollection, however, that the family arrived together and then each found lodging seems more probable. The entry dates were thus likely a function of how a clerk created the record after receiving a person’s letter of reference. Peter Manning is not listed in the Nauvoo Record of Members which likely indicates that he was not baptized.

[17] James, Autobiography, in Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 145; Gates, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet,” in Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 150-151.

[18] William G. Hartley, “From Men to Boys: LDS Aaronic Priesthood Offices, 1829-1996,” Journal of Mormon History 22, no. 1 (Spring 1996): 80-136.

[19] For evidence to support these claims see Reeve, “‘I Dug the Graves,’” 43-46.

[20] “Was Cook for Prophet Joseph; Negro at Pioneer Day Fete,” Salt Lake Herald Republican, 26 July 1910, 10.

[21] E. J. D. Roundy, “Communicated,” Deseret Evening News, 17 April 1911, 3; “Slavery in Utah,” Broad Ax, 25 March 1899, 1; “Old Folks Day,” Broad Ax, 25 July 1896, 1; “Just one here of Original Band,” Salt Lake Intermountain Republican, 25 July 1906, 8.

[22] Joseph Smith III, The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith III (1832-1914): The Second Prophet of the Church, ed. by Mary Audentia Smith Anderson (Independence, Missouri: Price Publishing Company, 2001), 26.

[23] “Reunion of Utah Veterans,” Deseret Evening News, 25 June 1901, 1.

[24] Curtis G. Weber, “Skulls and Crossed Bones?: A Forensic Study of the Remains of Hyrum and Joseph Smith,” Mormon Historical Studies vol. 10, no. 2 (Fall 2009), 1-2; Lachlan Mackay, “A Brief History of the Smith Family Nauvoo Cemetery,” Mormon Historical Studies vol. 3, no. 2 (Fall 2002), 242; Barbara Hands Bernauer, Still “Side By Side”: The Final Burial of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Second Edition (n.p.: Barbara J. Bernauer, 2001), 2-3.

[25] Isaac L. Manning statement, 1903 November 6, MS 3974, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[26] Weber, “Skulls and Crossed Bones?,” 2-4; Bernauer, Still “Side by Side,” 9-18.

[27] E. J. D. Roundy, “Communicated,” Deseret Evening News, 17 April 1911, 3.

[28] “Was Cook for Prophet Joseph,” 10.

[29] Weber, “Skulls and Crossed Bones?”, 1-29; Mackay, “A Brief History of the Smith Family Nauvoo Cemetery,” 240-252; Paul DeBarthe, The Joseph Smith Homestead Complex, Nauvoo, Illinois: A Focus on the Outbuildings (Columbia, Missouri: The Joseph Smith Historic Center and University of Missouri, 1976), 77; Bernhauer, Still “Side by Side.”

[30] William Dresser Huntington was sexton at Nauvoo and according to his brother Oliver, William was involved in moving the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum from the Nauvoo House to the Smith homestead. For additional information about Huntington see his biography at josephsmithpapers.org, accessed 28 December 2019. For Oliver Huntington’s recollection, see Oliver Boardman Huntington, Journal, March 8, 1897, Book 18, 62, L. Tom Perry Special Collections Library, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

[31] This was the second burial place after Emma had the bodies removed from the basement of the unfinished Nauvoo House to the cellar of an outbuilding at Joseph and Emma’s Homestead. Isaac refers to the building as Joseph’s “old Log house,” and then he clarifies, “I dug them in the cellar.” Those scholars who have studied the homestead location more commonly refer to the burial location as in the cellar of an outbuilding. Bernauer, Still “Side by Side,” 3-4, mentions a “tradition passed down in Emma’s family that she and Cleveland, a trusted Negro servant, with perhaps another, handled the removal of the remains, and deposited them under the brick floor of a spring house near the Homestead.” Isaac’s statement clarifies that it was he who dug the graves but makes it clear that he was not involved in the moving of the bodies.

[32] Isaac here refers to the decoy coffins which were loaded with sand and buried at a public ceremony. See Weber, “Skulls and Crossed Bones?,” 2; and Bernauer, Still “Side by Side,” 2.

[33] Isaac was obviously unaware that within two years Emma had the bodies temporarily removed and then returned. See Weber, “Skulls and Crossed Bones?,” 1-4.

[34] Isaac was correct that the removal of the bodies from the Nauvoo House was done in secret. See Weber, “Skulls and Crossed Bones?,” 1-4; Bernauer, Still “Side by Side,” 2-4. According to Oliver Huntington, it was his brothers Dimick and William who moved the bodies from the Nauvoo House to the homestead. See Oliver Boardman Huntington, Journal, March 8, 1897, Book 18, 62,

[35] Isaac L. Manning statement, 1903 November 6, MS 3974.

[36] Isaac L. Manning statement, 1903 November 6, MS 3974.

[37] D. Michael Quinn, “The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844,” BYU Studies 16 (Winter 1976): 187-233.

[38] James, Autobiography, in Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 147; Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 57-59, 65-67.

[39] Sarah Manning Stebbins, for example, maintained an affection for Joseph Smith and eventually affiliated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although she was never formally baptized into the faith. Her obituary claimed that she often said, “You can just as easily make me believe that the sun never shone as that Joseph was not a prophet of God.” See, “Died,” Saints’ Herald (Plano, Illinois), 4 January 1890.

[40] James, Autobiography, in Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 147.

[41] United States, 1850 Census, Iowa, Muscatine County, Muscatine. Philles Eliza Manning’s second husband Cato Treadwell passed away in 1849 in Connecticut. It is unclear if he had joined the family in Nauvoo or if the couple had separated when Eliza moved to Nauvoo with her children. In any case, Eliza reverted to her former married name by 1850 and went by Manning.

[42] State of Iowa, 1856 Census, Jefferson, Greene County, Iowa; United States, 1870 Census, Michigan, Genesee County, Thetford Township. Isaac has not been located in the 1860 census. In 1906, the Salt Lake Intermountain Republican suggested that Isaac served in the U. S. Civil War during the 1806s and that he “carried a drum” as a part of that service. The claim is inaccurate. The newspaper likely conflated his service in the Nauvoo Legion, in which he did play the drum, with his supposed service in the Civil War. See “Just one here of Original Band,” Salt Lake Intermountain Republican, 25 July 1906, 8. A search of Civil War service records at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration came back “negative” for anyone matching Isaac’s biographical information. National Archives and Records Administration to Paul Reeve, 3 December 2019, Form 86 Military Service Records, Research Ticket, in possession of author.

[43] Smith III, The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith III, 26, 182-183.

[44] Brigham Young, 5 February 1852, Papers of George D. Watt, MS 4534, box 1, folder 3, CHL, transcribed by LaJean Purcell Carruth.

[45] Doctrine and Covenants, 116: 3-4, Community of Christ (Independence, Missouri: Herald Publishing House, 1978); Roger D. Launius, Invisible Saints: A History of Black Americans in the Reorganized Church (Independence, Missouri: Herald Publishing House, 1988), 127.

[46] United States, 1880 Census, Michigan, Ionia County, Ionia.

[47] “Communicated,” Deseret Evening News, 17 April 1911, 3; “Funeral of Isaac Manning,” Deseret Evening News, 17 April 1911, 3.

[48] Isaac Manning and Sarah Stebbins, Clinton Branch, Eastern Iowa District, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Microfilm 8,490,171, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[49] “Communicated,” 3; “Funeral of Isaac Manning,” 3; “Died,” 4 January 1890.

[50] Zina D. H. Young to Joseph F. Smith, January 15, 1894, in Matthew L. Harris and Newell G. Bringhurst, The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015), 53-55.

[51]“Funeral of Isaac Manning,” Deseret Evening News, 17 April 1911, 3.

[52] “Prophet’s Servant, Old Negro, Dead,” Salt Lake Telegram, 13 April 1911, 12.

[53] “Roberts, Young, Wells and Kimball Speakers at Mormon Conference,” Salt Lake Telegram, 7 April 1906, 2.

[54] “At the Resorts,” Deseret Evening News, 18 June 1903, 6; “Had Outing at Lagoon,” Salt Lake Herald Republican, 18 June 1903, 6.

[55] “Slavery in Utah,” Broad Ax, 25 March 1899, 1; “Old Folks Day,” Broad Ax, 25 July 1896, 1; “Old Folks at Ogden,” Salt Lake Tribune, 17 July 1896, 5; “Would Forget Past, Use Flowers Now,” Salt Lake Tribune, 25 July 1906, 12.

[56] Salt Lake County, district Court, In the Matter of the Estate of Jane E. James Deceased, Probate No. 5870, Utah Division of Archives and Records Service, Salt Lake City, Utah; Newell, Your Sister in the Gospel, 131-33.

[57] Record of Members Collection, Salt Lake City 8th Ward, box 1862, folder 1, image 361; Record of Members Collection, Salt Lake City 3rd Ward, Microfilm 26,844, Family History Library; United States, 1910 Census, Utah, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City.

[58] “Ninety Five Years Old,” Deseret Evening News, 31 May 1910, 1; “City and Neighborhood,” Salt Lake Tribune, 1 June 1910, 16; “City Brevities,” Salt Lake Herald Republican, 1 June 1910, 11.

[59] Utah State Board of Health, Death Certificate, File No. 573, Isaac Manning, 13 April 1911, Utah Division of Archives and Record Service, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[60] “Isaac Manning, Servant, Dead,” Easter Utah Advocate, 20 April 1911, 7; “Death of Isaac Manning,” Deseret Evening News, 13 April 1911, 2; “Former Body Servant of Mormon Prophet Dead,” Evening Standard (Ogden, UT), 14 April 1911, 1; “Prophet’s Servant, Old Negro, Dead,” Salt Lake Telegram, 13 April 1911, 12; “Former Body Servant of Mormon Prophet Dead,” Salt Lake Tribune, 14 April 1911, 14; “Funeral Notices,” Salt Lake Tribune, 15 April 1911, 14;Isaac Manning Servant of Prophet Joseph Smith Dies in Salt Lake,” Vernal Express, 21 April 1911, 1; “Funeral of Isaac Manning,” Deseret Evening News, 17 April 1911, 3. Isaac Lewis Manning, FindAGrave.com

[61] “Communicated,” 3.

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