Jane Manning James


Excerpt from an address given in the October 2017 LDS General Conference, by Apostle M. Russell Ballard: 1

“Among those first Saints to arrive in Utah was Jane Manning James—the daughter of a freed slave, a convert to the restored Church, and a most remarkable disciple who faced difficult challenges. Sister James remained a faithful Latter-day Saint until her death in 1908.

She wrote: “I want to say right here, that my faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is as strong today, nay, it is if possible stronger than it was the day I was first baptized. I pay my tithes and offerings, keep the word of wisdom, I go to bed early and rise early, I try in my feeble way to set a good example to all.”

Sister James, like so many other Latter-day Saints, not only built Zion with blood, sweat, and tears but also sought the Lord’s blessings through living gospel principles as best she could while holding on in faith to Jesus Christ—the great healer to all who sincerely seek Him.”


Excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Jane Manning James: 2

“She began to petition the First Presidency to be endowed and to be sealed, along with her children, to Walker Lewis, a prominent African-American Mormon Elder. Lewis, like Elijah Abel, had been ordained to the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime, and James therefore assumed that he would be eligible for temple ordinances. However, her petitions were consistently ignored or refused.

James continued to ask that she and her family be given the ordinance of adoption so that they could be sealed together forever. Her justification for asking to be the exception to the church’s rule was Emma Smith’s offer in 1844 to have her sealed to the Smith family as a child. James was now reconsidering her decision, and asked to be sealed to the Smiths. Her requests were again refused. Instead, the First Presidency “decided she might be adopted into the family of Joseph Smith as a servant, which was done, a special ceremony having been prepared for the purpose.” The ceremony took place on May 18, 1894, with Joseph F. Smith acting as proxy for Joseph Smith, and Bathsheba W. Smith acting as proxy for James (who was not allowed into the temple for the ordinance). In the ceremony, James was “attached as a Servitor for eternity to the prophet Joseph Smith and in this capacity be connected with his family and be obedient to him in all things in the Lord as a faithful Servitor“.

James was dissatisfied with that unique sealing ordinance, and applied again to obtain the sealing that was offered to her by Emma. According to the diary of Franklin Richards, the LDS First Presidency met on August 22, 1895, to consider her appeal, but again turned her down. James would petition the leaders of the church for the rest of her life, but with no success. She continued to have trials: all but two of her eight children (Sylvester & Ellen) preceded her in death, as did 6 of her 14 grandchildren.”