Elijah Abel Find – “A significant seam of truth in Latter-day Saint history”

January 31, 2019

For more articles like this, please visit the Fall 2018 Issue.

Ordained an elder by Ambrose Palmer, 25 Jan. 1836!”

This document makes clear a significant seam of truth in Latter-day Saint history and storytelling. Elijah Abel was ordained an elder, on a particular day, by a particular person. The Joseph Smith Papers’ team made a crucial discovery, and made it available to the public—for the world to view. This, as Dr. W. Paul Reeve, suggests, opens up “a wonderful microburst of details that . . . might just cause an historian’s heart to race.” Reeve’s previous research and his diligent analysis of this new source is pivotal to our understanding of what happened and what it means. Although he is quick to dismiss his own role in this discovery, I appreciate Reeve’s careful work in shining a neon spotlight on the events surrounding Elijah Abel’s ordination by Ambrose Palmer and look forward as we begin new discussions regarding race, ancestry, the priesthood, and Mormon identity.

Dr. Cameron McCoy