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Jane Manning James’ Pioneer Life in Utah (Part 4 of 5)

Dr. Quincy Newell discusses early black Mormon pioneer Jane Manning’s marriage to Isaac James.  The two travelled to Utah in one of the earliest wagon companies to settle in Salt Lake City.

GT:  Did they go with the first pioneer companies?

Quincy:  I don’t think they’re in the first wave. They’re in the second wave, now I’m remembering. Patty Sessions delivers Jane’s child essentially, on the trail in Iowa, at a place called Keg Creek. So Jane is traveling pregnant, which can’t have been fun. At some point, they get hooked up with the George Parker Dykes company. They continue to stay with and work for Dykes and his family when they’re in Winter Quarters.  Dykes goes off with the Mormon Battalion, and he writes letters home to his wives, who he refers to as Mrs. Dykes, to sort of cover up the fact that there are multiple Mrs. Dykes’s. He makes several remarks about, make sure you treat Isaac and Jane well, take care of them and so on.

GT:  Polygamy is such a can of worms. So, she gets into the Salt Lake Valley.

Quincy:  She’s in one of the first companies to enter the Salt Lake Valley. So they arrive in the summer of 1847. She has had another child, so she has given birth to a child on the way to Winter Quarters, and she’s pregnant with another child by the time they get to Salt Lake. They set up on some of the property that belongs to Brigham Young and continue working for him for some time, and then they get a piece of land down in the First Ward, I believe, and set up a farming operation. Jane starts doing laundry pretty soon as well.

We will discuss her other marriages, and her prominent role in Pioneer Utah.

Quincy:  So in 1870, Jane and Isaac get divorced.

GT:  1870?

Quincy:  1870. That’s the necessary background. So in the 1880s, and 1890s, when Jane is starting to request endowments and sealings, she requests endowments. She requests sealing as a child to Joseph Smith. And she requests sealing in marriage. And occasionally, she will request sealing and marriage to Walker Lewis, which is a really interesting move on her part. And I think it’s maybe because Walker Lewis has the priesthood.

GT:  That’s a fact I think most people don’t know.

Quincy:  Right. So if you request sealing to a black man who doesn’t have the priesthood, well, then there’s a sort of procedural problem there, right?

GT:  Yeah. Isaac, her husband didn’t have priesthood.

Quincy:  Exactly. And so, she may be thinking, “Well, okay, I will request sealing to somebody who does have the priesthood, but who is also black, so they can’t object to it being an interracial marriage. And they can’t object that he doesn’t have the priesthood. So I should be good to go.”

Quincy:  Yeah, they say no to that, too.

Quincy:  But so that’s, as far as I know, that’s the only evidence that we have Jane and Walker Lewis knew each other. I am not totally persuaded that that’s evidence that they knew each other. She may only have known of him but known that he had the priesthood.

GT:  So this was just kind of a strategic move on her part.

Quincy:  It may have been, It’s hard to say. There’s a lot about Jane that’s hard to say.

Check out our conversation….

Jane Manning James was part of the second wave of pioneers to enter the Salt Lake Valley.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Quincy!

315:  Jane’s One-Of-A Kind Sealing to Joseph Smith)

314: 19th Century Sexual Politics

313: Was Jane a Slave?

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Ordain Women Leadership (Part 4 of 5)

Kate Kelly was the founder of Ordain Women until her excommunication.  What happened next?  Bryndis Roberts discusses the aftermath, and the new structure of Ordain Women Leadership.

GT: Okay, and so how did you go from, “Hey, I’ve just got my profile on the web page,” to now you’re in charge?

Roberts:  Probably, because if I’m going to do something, I just believe in jumping in with both feet.  So, I put up a profile maybe in September 2014. I was invited to join the executive board in December 2014.  I helped with a number of projects, and then as time rolled on, and we needed to elect a chair-elect, I was nominated as Chair-elect and served four years chair-elect and then moved into the position of Chair of the Executive Board.

Check out our conversation….

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Addressing Gender Inequities (Part 2 of 5)

There are many people in the LDS Church who notice gender inequities within the church.  What are some of these disparities?  Bryndis Roberts tells what she noticed, and what she tried to do about it.

Roberts: One thing that just struck me and I still don’t understand, and particularly in a ward like ours, why the little boys and girls, the little boys had meetings every week, but the little girls only met every other week. In an inner-city ward, all of the children were just subject to so many temptations and so many things that made me think that the little girls needed a weekly bolstering or recharging or protection, whatever you said that the little boys got from meeting on a weekly basis, the little girls needed that just as much. So I didn’t understand that difference.

I found it interesting that while the church had fully embraced the Boy Scout program, the church had refused or did not embrace the Girl Scout program, which I had had involvement with prior to joining the church had actually been a troop leader. I felt because of my prior involvement, that that program would bring as much to the lives of the little girls as the Boy Scouting program was bringing to the lives of the little boys. I could see particularly in other converts, the joy in the men when, right after joining the church, or shortly after joining the church, they were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and it was like a progression, whereas the women converts had no real sign of progression for them. Then I started looking around at things in our Ward that we had to wait for things to get done, because there were not enough Melchizedek priesthood holders to do these things.  In fact, my own temple class, I joined the church in January of 2008, didn’t receive my endowment until October 2009. Part of that was because we were looking for a priesthood holder to teach the temple prep class.

Is there patriarchy in the Baptist Church (where she was a member previously?)

Roberts:   I felt that the priesthood lifted Mormon men above the patriarchal institution and made them administer it in a in a way that was full of benevolence and righteousness. So, I recognized it was a patriarchal institution. I guess, I dared to believe that it was somehow a benevolent patriarchal institution. {Chuckling.}

GT:   Okay, so different than the Baptist Church?

Roberts:   Yes, different in the sense that, I guess I put a lot of stock or a lot of hope, or a lot of faith in the concept of the priesthood, the whole idea of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the whole idea of reaching back to when Abraham was visited by the high priest or visited with the high priest. That whole concept made me think that somehow it was going to be different in Mormonism.

GT:   Is it different?

Roberts:   Sadly, I found that there were many examples, far too many examples of Mormon men engaging in what could only be called unrighteous dominion.

Check out our conversation….

Bryndis Roberts describes what she tried to do about Gender inequities in the LDS Church.
Bryndis Roberts describes what she tried to do about Gender inequities in the LDS Church.

Don’t miss our previous conversation with Bryndis!

270: From Baptist to Mormon