A Mother in Israel

Jane E. James and John Smith

Church History Library and Century of Black Mormons

In 1884, Jane James wrote to President John Taylor concerning temple admission: “I realize my race & color & cant expect my Endowments as others who are white,” she wrote.

“My race was handed down through the flood & God promised Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blest & as this is the fullness of all dispensations is there no blessing for me?”

-Jane E. James to John Taylor, Dec. 27th 1884, Church History Library.-

In 1889, Church Patriarch John Smith gave Jane a second patriarchal blessing:
“The Lord has heard thy petitions,” Smith assured James. He continued, “He knowest the secrets of thy heart, He has witnessed thy trials and although thy life has been somewhat checkered His hand has been over thee for good and thou shalt verily receive thy reward.” Smith reiterated that promise, telling James, “thy days and years shall be prolonged until thou art satisfied.” James may have taken Smith’s blessing as encouragement to persist in her campaign for endowments and sealings. Smith also promised James that “for thy kindness Many shall bless thee in thine old age and as a Mother in Israel thou shalt be known among the people,” reassuring her that her community would respect her and that her story would be remembered.

-John Smith, “1889 Patriarchal Blessing.”