SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Before the creation of a specialized Black history digital database, very few if any, would know about Isaac Manning’s contribution to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
That database called Century of Black Mormons was created by Dr. Paul Reeve, History Department Chair at the University of Utah.
He’s also the Simmons Chair of Mormon Studies and took considerable time and energy researching African American Mormon Pioneers and their ties to the early years of the church.
He didn’t come to Utah until 1892, but it was his contribution to the church that stood out to Dr. Reeve.
According to records Dr. Reeve found, Isaac Lewis manning was born in May 15, 1815 in Wilton, Connecticuthe was the brother of the more well-known LDS black pioneer, Jane Elizabeth Manning James.
“The thing that I found out about Isaac that no one had known before he dug four graves for the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum Smith who were both killed in Nauvoo, Illinois,” said Reeve.
History records indicate on June 27th, 1844 LDS founder Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith were killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois.
This happened while they were awaiting trial in the town’s jail, on treason and conspiracy charges.
“Two graves were dug in the Nauvoo cemetery but the Latter-day Saints were afraid that the mob who killed them would come and dug up the graves and desecrate the bodies,” said Reeve.
To prevent this from happening, caskets were filled with sand a buried in a cemetery.
“They filled the caskets with sand and buried them in the cemetery and Isaac dug both of those graves but then where they really buried them was at the Joseph Smith homestead and he dug those graves as well,” said Reeve.
Dr. Reeve explains it was Isaac Lewis Manning’s badge of honor and manning made sure his contribution to the church would not be forgotten, through an affidavit.