The following biographical sketch is adapted from
the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia.
Brigham Young, Jr. was a member of the Council of Twelve
Apostles from1868 and president of the Twelve from1890 until his death
in 1903. He was the son of President Brigham
Young and Mary Ann Angell, and was born Dec. 18, 1836, at Kirtland,
Geuaga (now Lake) county, Ohio.
His father was a widower, with two little girls,
Elizabeth and Vilate, in the year 1833. It happened that a fast and testimony
meeting was held in Kirtland, and among those present were Elder Young
and Sister Mary Ann Angell. The gift of tongues rested down Upon Elder
Young and the interpretation thereof was given by someone present. The
Spirit bore record through that tongue that these two faithful souls were
designed by God for each other. They were united in marriage, and Sister
Mary Ann assumed the care of the motherless children.
Brigham, the third child of this marriage, was born
amid all the untoward circumstances of the early days in the Church. He
was a twin; his sister, Mary, was a gentle, sweet little creature whose
life was brief yet none the less beautiful. She was brought to death's
door in infancy through an accident which was the direct result of the
mobbings and drivings of the Saints. When the cruel exterminating order
came for the "Mormons" to vacate Far West, Mo., in three days, Sister Young
procured a wagon, and put what few movables she could crowd therein, and
persuaded an Elder to help her to get away. She climbed in with the children
and the brother started the team. Sister Young sat on top of the load on
her baggage and bedding with a baby on each arm and three little children
clinging to her skirts. Just as they started out, the wagon ran into a
huge rut, and the baby girl was thrown out under the wheel. With a groan
of dismay the driver picked up the bleeding baby and laid it on the trembling
mother's lap, with the remark that "the poor little thing could not live;"
for the head was mashed almost flat, and the blood was pouring from mouth
"Don't prophesy evil, brother; take the other baby!"
With skilful hands the mother squeezed and pressed the head back into shape,
praying mightily all the while. The child lived and grew to be the finest
child of the family. But at seven years she passed out of her sweet existence
to the realms of peace and rest beyond.
After the accident which occurred to the little Mary,
Sister Young traveled on for two days in her sorry plight; at the end of
that time they were met by Elder Young, who had come back for them in a
wagon with two yoke of cattle. He immediately loaded them into his wagon.
Herein he also loaded Elder Orson Pratt and his family. They traveled thus for two days, reaching a small village.
Elder Young endeavored in vain to secure a house in which to leave them.
None could be procured, but he found a stable, which he at once cleaned
out and whitewashed, laying some boards on the floor, and making things
as comfortable as he could. Into this stable he moved his own and Elder
Pratt's family, leaving them there while he went back after more of the
In 1839 the family moved to Montrose, which was across
the river from Nauvoo; and in 1840 they moved to Nauvoo, where Brigham
was baptized by his father in the Mississippi river in 1845. "As a boy,"
writes Sister Susa Young Gates, "Brigham possessed an indomitable spirit,
a merriment which was as infectious as June sunshine, a love of sport and
adventure and a courage which nothing could daunt. He was devoted to the
magnetic man known as the prophet Joseph as was his father. Young as the
boy was, the black gloom which fell over Nauvoo at the martyrdom filled
his own Soul with despair. The laugh was stilled upon his lips, and the
merry jest was turned to weeping in the sympathetic young heart.
When the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo after the
awful struggles and throes of anguish which accompanied and followed the
assassination of the Prophet and Patriarch, Pres. Brigham Young led the
crowd of stricken Saints, that terrible day in February, across the river
to a place of greater safety, yet of such barren distress as surely has
been rarely witnessed on this earth. The boy Brigham was off at play in
Knight's mill with two companions when his mother and the rest of the children
were taken across the ferry. Returning in the afternoon, he found the house
open, furniture left standing, yet over the whole brooded the solemn silence
With the swiftness of despair he flew down to the
river; a boat, the last one for the night, was just pulling away from the
shore. It was loaded to the guards with wretched men, women and children.
The boy saw a barrel in the bow of the boat which would serve him as a
seat; without an instant's hesitation he jumped into the boat and sprang
upon the barrel. Arrived on the opposite shore, such a scene of misery
and desolation met his gaze as will never be forgotten, dogs, chickens,
cows and pigs ran bellowing and grunting in every direction, men, women
and children by the thousands ran hither and thither in the utmost confusion,
wagons were scattered about, here was one hitched up, the driver cracking
his whip and pushing recklessly through the crowd; babies screaming for
their mothers, and mothers calling piteously for lost babies and children.
Weeping and groaning sick ones lay here and there, while anxiety was in
The boy hunted long and vainly for his lost family.
No one had time or heart to devote to the little waif, there were too many
of the same kind everywhere. A yoke of oxen had been drowned in the river;
one was recovered, and some men tore off the hide and told the people that
any one who lacked provision was welcome to use the meat thus obtained.
The lonely, hungry boy with others seized this chance as a special providence
to themselves, and for three days they lived on this uninviting food.
At last Brigham heard of his father and mother at
Sugar Creek, ten miles farther west; and so he tramped the distance, and
at last he found and was found by parents and friends. Yet conditions were
not much better for the boy than they had been at the river. His mother's
wagon was as full as it was possible to crowd it; and there was no bedding
to spare to the ten-year-old boy who had just arrived, and indeed there
was none for any of the boys in the camp. All were exposed to the storms.
To add to the misery of all, a cold, biting storm of sleet and wind began
Brigham had tried to build up a barricade of cooking
utensils and saddles against one side of his mother's wagon so as to shield
him somewhat from the driving winds; but it was worse than useless. When
the storm settled down upon them, Brigham secured the help of his companions,
and they cut up enough brush to make themselves a tiny wickiup, into which
they crawled and huddled thus together for warmth.
The traveling through the swamps and bogs of Iowa
was slow and painful in the extreme. For miles and miles the wagons labored
heavily over a corduroy road, or rather bridge, made of logs withed together
with tough willows. This terrible swamp was full of danger and difficulty.
Here and there were swales, with a little sod over the seas of water and
mud below. If one wagon got across the swale in safety, no other would
dare to follow in its tracks, for they would have sunk out of sight. Each
wagon straddled the tracks of the last, and even then the wheels would
sink through the twelve-inch sod into the muddy lake below, and sometimes
hours would be consumed in traversing a quarter of a mile.
In one such swale, Brigham secured a stick twelve
feet long, and thrusting it down through a wagon track, it went entirely
out of sight in the muddy sea below. At last the company were located at
Winter Quarters (now Florence, in Nebraska), and the strong, willing hands
of husbands and sons built rude but comfortable cabins for the shelter
of women and children.
The pioneers took their dangerous and lonely way
across the Plains the following year, but the boy Brigham remained with
his mother in Winter Quarters. In April the first company in the spring
of 1848 left Winter Quarters, led by Pres. Brigham Young, who had returned
to bring the rest of his own family back to the retreat in the Valley.
Brigham, who was then a boy of twelve, was made driver of two yoke of oxen.
He was quite equal to the oxen and to the occasion. He was faithful to
his trust. One of his father's wives sat on the seat, while the boy trudged
by his oxen, cracking his whip and piping a song to beguile the weariness
of the way.
When the company halted at Sweetwater, women were
tired, men were discouraged. Day after day passed, and the discontent of
the party grew with every passing hour. Among any other people, there would
have been mutiny and sharp turn backward to the shelter of civilization.
Always alert to the pressure of influences about him, President Young felt
the resistance that manifested itself in silence rather than in words.
One afternoon at three o'clock he hitched up his coach and with the terse
statement that he was going to the Valley; if anybody wants to follow,
the road is open, the President put the whip to his horses and gave not
a glance behind
Like a flash, the boy flung the yoke upon his oxen,
hitched them to his wagon, picked up his whip and drove as rapidly as he
could after the coach rolling away to the west. This instance illustrates,
as perhaps no other could, the keynote of this boy's after life. The determination
which filled his whole soul and which stiffened the youthful lips into
the iron line across his face so much like his father's, was expressed
in the words which he uttered to his father's wife who hastily took her
seat in the wagon: 'Father's started; I'm not going to lose sight of his
wagon wheels while daylight lasts.' Fun may bubble, play may be fascinating,
but when 'father starts or leads the way,' there will his son Brigham follow—even
to the very courts of heaven.
Away flew the coach and one carriage and away clumsily
followed the double yoke of oxen not too far behind. The storm whistled
and raged, and the stiff fingers of the boy could scarcely hold the whip.
But on he ran beside his oxen, urging them on with word and lash. Evening
came early, and aided by the gloomy clouds overhead, the whole country
was enveloped in pitchy darkness. The road would loom up in the gloom as
if the little swale ahead were a precipice hundreds of feet to the bottom.
Even that much light was soon absorbed in night and
the storm, and the whip was lost from the half-frozen hands of the little
driver as he stumbled over a stump. His body was thinly clad; he wore only
a pair of jeans pants, no shoes or stockings, a thin, calico shirt, with
a bit of a cape made by his mother from a coat tail, and the cape was worse
than useless as it was blown constantly about his ears and head. Clinging
to the bow, the boy ran beside the clumsy beasts, knowing not where he
was going or what would be the end. But 'father was ahead,' and the boy's
heart leaned upon 'father' and upon the God of his father! The hours came
and went in that fearful drive. Upon the seat in mute despair sat Eliza
B., tossed from side to side with the dreadful jolts and lurches of the
wagon. She knew that speech or cry were useless and only God could protect
them or bring them into safety.
A light! 'Tis a camp fire! And the faithful oxen
moved heavily into camp. They had traveled about eighteen miles since three
o'clock and now it was just midnight! Such were the struggles and trials
that marked those pioneer journeys across the trackless prairies.
Nine hundred miles had the boy driven, from the Missouri
river to Fort Bridger. Arrived there, they were met by men and teams from
the Valley. No heart was lighter, when the tiny spot of green in the center
of the dreary Great Salt Lake valley was revealed to the travelers at the
top of the Big Mountain, then later at the mouth of Emigration Canyon,
than was that of the twelve-year-old Brigham. The removal of the clouds
of danger which had so long filled the skies of their every retreat gave
more than one heart such relief that the opposite extreme was reached and
gaiety became abandon, while peace was the vehicle in which rode thoughtless,
Brigham's early years in Great Salt Lake valley were
spent in herding stock, going into canyons and performing considerable
hard manual labor. He was also one of the "minute men" who spent much of
his time on guard, watching and fighting hostile Indians, and participated
in several dangerous expeditions to the mountains. Nov. 15, 1855, he married
Catherine Curtis Spencer, a daughter of Orson Spencer, and about sixteen
months later (early in 1857) he yielded obedience to the principle of plural
marriage by marrying Jane Carrington, a daughter of Albert
During the Echo canyon war, he did excellent service
as a scout, and when out reconnoitering in the mountains he often suffered
untold hardships. He was also one of a relief party sent back to meet a
hand-cart company of emigrants, on which trip he was attacked by inflammatory
rheumatism, which came near killing him, and from the effects of which
he suffered for many years afterwards.
At the April conference, 1861, he was called to act
as a member of the High Council of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, and in
the spring of 1862 he accompanied Delegate Bernhisel to the States. Having
arrived in New York, he received a letter from his father, who wished him
to go on a mission to Europe. He complied with this call, sailed for England
and arrived in Liverpool July 26, 1862. He labored principally in London,
in connection with Elder Wm. C. Staines, and visited Scandinavia and other
parts of Europe.
He returned home in 1863, sailing from Liverpool
Sept. 1st of that year. Feb. 4, 1864, he was ordained an Apostle by his
father, Brigham Young, but he did not become a member of the Council of
Twelve Apostles till October, 1868 when he was chosen to fill the vacancy
caused by Geo. A. Smith being selected as a counselor in the First Presidency.
In 1864, Elder Young was called on another mission to Europe for the purpose
of assisting Pres. Daniel H. Wells in the presidency
of the European Mission.
Accompanied by his wife Catherine, he left his mountain
home in April of that year and arrived in Liverpool, England, July 25th.
He located at 42 Islington, and in August, 1865, succeeded Daniel H. Wells
in the presidency of the mission. While acting in that capacity, he traveled
extensively in the British Isles, and also made several trips to the Continent,
visiting France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Russia
and other countries.
Agreeable to the request of his father to return
to Utah on a visit, he sailed from Liverpool Sept. 19, 1865, leaving Apostle
Orson Pratt in charge of the mission. In crossing the Atlantic a fearful
storm came up. Part of the ship's rigging was blown away, one man was washed
overboard, and the vessel came near going to the bottom. Elder Young and
a sister who emigrated to Utah were the only Latter-day Saints on board.
While the storm was raging, a big burly Irishman, a sort of a religious
crank, ascribed the cause of the storm to the fact that there was a Jonah
on board in the shape of a "Mormon" Elder. He made a terrible fuss and
insisted that Elder Young should be thrown overboard, in order to save
the ship from destruction. At last the captain had to interfere and compel
the Irishman to hold his peace.
After a hazardous journey Elder Young arrived in
Salt Lake City Oct. 25th. The following spring he returned to England to
bring his family home. He arrived in Liverpool March 20, 1867, resumed
the presidency of the mission, visited the world's exhibition, at Paris,
France, and finally, leaving the affairs of the mission in charge of Apostle
Franklin D. Richards, embarked with his family,
on board the Cunard steamer "Scotia" and sailed from Liverpool June 29,
1867; they arrived safely home in the fall. On this mission of Elder Young
and wife to Europe, two children (Mabel A. and Joseph A.) were born to
In 1868, when Pres. Brigham Young took the big grading
contract from the Union Pacific Railway Company, Elder Young and his brother
John W. acted as agents for their father in letting out jobs to sub-contractors.
Until the disorganization of the Nauvoo Legion, in 1870, Elder Young also
held prominent positions as a military man, and did valuable service at
the annual drills of the Territorial militia.
After the death of Apostle Ezra
T. Benson, he was called by his father to take charge of the affairs
of the Church in Cache valley, for which purpose he located at Logan. He
presided there until 1877, when the Cache Stake of Zion was organized.
At the general conference held in Salt Lake City in April, 1873, he was
chosen as one of the assistant five counselors to Pres. Brigham Young,
and acted in that capacity until his father's death, necessarily spending
considerable of his time in St. George, or southern Utah.
After the death of Pres. Young he was appointed one
of the administrators of the estate, in the settlement of which he showed
a just and amicable disposition, for which he won the respect and confidence
of the Saints generally. On July 12, 1879, for refusing to deliver certain
Church property into the hands of Receiver W. S. McCornick, he was adjudged
guilty of contempt of court, by Judge Boreman, in the Third District Court,
and arrested, in connection with John Taylor,
George Q. Cannon and Albert
Carrington. On the following Aug. 4th he, together with Elders Cannon
and Carrington, was confined in the Utah Penitentiary for not complying
with the court's order of exorbitant bail. After more than three weeks'
confinement, the order of Judge Boreman was reversed by the Utah Supreme
Court, and the prisoners were released Aug. 28, 1879.
In 1881 Elder Young went on a visit to Arizona, taking
his wife Catherine along. They remained one year and returned to Utah in
time for Elder Young to wait upon his sick mother during her last moments.
She died in Salt Lake City June 27, 1882. Elder Young served several terms
in the Utah legislature, made several trips to the East in the interest
of the Church, and occupied numerous other positions of honor and trust.
In 1890 he was again called to take charge of the
European Mission; he presided in that capacity until 1893, when he returned
home. After that time he spent most of his time in traveling and visiting
the several Stakes of Zion.
His sister, Susa Young Gates, described him as "a
noble representative of his father's family. His gentle wisdom, his merry
heart, and his integrity and truth are known to all the Saints. No matter
what may be his trouble, or troubles, he does not impose them upon his
friends. He has naught but contempt for all forms of hypocrisy or deceit.
His own life and soul is a clear open book, and he would not gain the whole
world were it to be secured through policy or subterfuge. He can keep still,
but must not deceive."
On October 17, 1901, Brigham Young Jr. was set apart
as President of the Twelve.
President Brigham Young, Jr. died April 11, 1903.