Mormon Priesthood Holder Elijah Abel
The first black man to hold the Mormon priesthood
did not receive it after June 9, 1978, nor did he live in the twentieth
century. He actually was born July 25, 1808. His name was Elijah Abel,
and he was ordained an Elder in the Melchizedek priesthood, March 3, 1836.
He was later ordained a Seventy, December 20, 1836, the latter ordination
being renewed April 4, 1841. Many years later in Utah, he was called in
1883 to serve a mission for the Church in Canada. He returned home, sick,
the following year, and died Christmas day, 1884 (Bush, "Mormonism's
Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview," Dialog, vol. 8, no. 1).
Not only was Elijah Abel ordained to the priesthood, at least two of
his descendants were also. Elijah's son, Enoch, was ordained an Elder November
10, 1900. Enoch's son, also named Elijah, was ordained a Deacon sometime
before 1925, ordained a Priest July 5, 1934, and ordained an Elder September
29, 1935. Records indicate at least three other blacks, a man with the
last name of Lewis, on Samuel Chambers, and another named Edward Leggroan,
were also ordained into the Mormon priesthood; Lewis as an Elder, Chambers
and Leggroan as a Deacons (Ibid.).