Y Facts

Brigham Young Biography: Young Brigham

Colonizer, territorial governor, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young (1801-1877) was born in Whitingham, Vermont, on June 1, 1801, the ninth of eleven children born to John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Following service in the Revolutionary Army of George Washington in 1783, John Young married and settled on a farm in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. After a brief interlude in the Platauva District of east-central New York, the Youngs returned to Hopkinton and then moved to southern Vermont, in Whitingham Township, where Brigham was born. When Brigham was three the family moved to central New York state and later to Smyrna, New York. Brigham helped clear land for farming, trapped for fur animals, fished, built sheds and dug cellars, and helped with planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops. He also cared for his mother, who was seriously ill with tuberculosis.

Brigham's mother died in 1815 when he was fourteen. Not long after her death, in search for someone to look after his younger children, John Young married a widow, Hannah Brown, in Steuben (now Schuyler), county New York, who brought her own children into the family. Brigham decided to leave his home in Tyrone Township in 1817. Living for a period with a sister, he became an apprentice carpenter, painter, and glazier in nearby Auburn. Over the next five years in Auburn, he assisted in building its first marketplace, the prison, the theological seminary, and the home of "Squire" William Brown (later occupied by William H. Seward, a governor of New York who also served as Lincoln's secretary of state). As a master carpenter, Brigham built door fittings, louvered attic windows, and carved ornate mantelpieces for many homes. Many old homes in the region to this day have chairs, desks, staircases, doorways, and mantelpieces made by Brigham Young.

Brigham left Auburn in the spring of 1823 to work in Port Byron, New York, where he repaired furniture and painted canal boats. He developed a device for mixing paints, and turned out many chairs, tables, settees, cupboards, and doors. He also helped organize the local forensic and oratorical society. On October 5, 1824, at the age of twenty-three, Brigham married Miriam Angeline Works. They initially established a home in Haydenville, Aurelius township, where they joined the Methodist Church.

After a later move to Port Byron, they welcomed their first child, Elizabeth, on September 26, 1825. After four years in Port Byron, Brigham and Miriam moved to Oswego, a port on Lake Ontario, where he added to his reputation for good craftsmanship, trustworthiness, and industry. He joined a small group of religious seekers, offering fervent prayers and singing enlivening songs. An Oswego associate testified that Brigham's conduct was exemplary, humble, and contrite.

Near the end of 1828, Brigham took his family to Mendon, Monroe County, New York, to be near his father and other relatives. At Mendon, Miriam gave birth to a second daughter, Vilate, but contracted chronic tuberculosis and became a semi-invalid. Brigham prepared the meals, dressed the children, cleaned the house, and carried Miriam to a rocking chair in front of the fireplace in the morning, then back to bed in the evening. In Mendon he built a shop and mill, made and repaired furniture, and put in window panes, doorways, staircases, and fireplace mantels.

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