The Full Wiki

Elijah Abel: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grave Marker of Elijah Abel.
Grave Marker of Elijah Abel (back).

Elijah Abel (July 25, 1808 – December 25, 1885)[1] was the first black elder and seventy in the Latter Day Saint movement, and one of the few black members in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to receive the priesthood.

Abel was born in Maryland as a slave, and is believed to have escaped slavery on the Underground Railroad into Canada. He was baptized into the Church of Christ in September 1832 by Ezekiel Roberts, and he married Mary Ann Adams, another African-American.

Abel was ordained an elder on March 3, 1836 in Kirtland, Ohio by Joseph Smith.[2] In December 1836, he was ordained a seventy by Zebedee Coltrin and became a "duly licensed minister of the Gospel" for missionary work in Ohio. In 1839, Abel was made a member of the Nauvoo Seventies Quorum. While living in Nauvoo, Illinois, he worked as a mortician at the request of Joseph Smith. He was also a carpenter by profession and assisted in the construction of temples in Kirtland, Nauvoo, and Salt Lake City.

In 1841, when Smith was arrested in Quincy, Illinois, Abel was among a group of seven elders who set out from Nauvoo to try and rescue him, although by the time they reached Quincy, Smith had been taken back to Nauvoo.[3] In 1842 he was a carpenter in Cincinnati, working for John Price at the corner of 6th and Smith Streets, per the Cincinnati city directory. He remained in Cincinnati for a number of years.

In 1843, Abel served a mission in New York, but returned to Cincinnati, where he married Mary Ann Adams about 1847. Their first child, Moroni Abel was born there in 1849, and in 1850, per the 1850 Census of Cincinnati, they were boarding Henry Nisonger and his family; Nisonger was an Apostle in the schismatic Williamite Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which recognized William Smith, the only surviving brother of Joseph Smith as its prophet.

In 1853 he and his family migrated in the Appleton Harmon pioneer company to Utah Territory, where he managed a hotel. As a carpenter, he assisted in constructing the Salt Lake Temple; however, in 1853 he was barred by Young from receiving his own Endowment. While there is some speculation that it had to do with race, there is no recorded history of why he was denied.

In Utah, Abel remained a seventy, and in 1884 he served a final mission in Canada, during which he became ill. He died upon his return home to Utah Territory.

At least two of Abel's descendants — his son Enoch and Enoch's son Elijah — were ordained to the priesthood: Enoch was ordained an elder on November 27, 1900; and Elijah was ordained an elder on September 29, 1935.[4]

In 2002, a monument was erected in Salt Lake City over Abel's grave site to memorialize him, his wife and his descendants. The monument was dedicated by LDS Church Apostle M. Russell Ballard.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Grave Marker of Elijah Abel. [front] [1]
  2. ^ Minutes of the Seventies Journal, Hazen Aldrich, entry for 20 December 1836. LDS Church Archives as cited by Alma Allred in, "The Traditions of Their Fathers, Myth versus Reality in LDS Scriptural Writings" in Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith (eds.) (2006). Black and Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press)
  3. ^ History of the Church, 4:365.
  4. ^ Newell G. Bringhurst, "The 'Missouri Thesis' Revisisted: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People" in Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith (eds.) (2006). Black and Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press) pp. 13–33 at p. 30.
  5. ^ Lynn Arave (September 30, 2002). "Monument in S.L. erected in honor of black pioneer". Deseret Morning News: p. B3. Retrieved 2009-06-30.  


  • "Elijah Abel and the Changing Status of Blacks Within Mormonism", 12(2) Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 22-36.

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address