Y Facts

Brigham Young Biography: Burned in my bones

In April of 1830, Samuel Smith, brother of Joseph Smith, passed through Mendon while on a missionary journey to distribute copies of the Book of Mormon. He left a copy with Brigham's brother, Phineas, an itinerant preacher for the Reformed Methodist Church. Phineas was favorably impressed with the book and lent it to his father, then to his sister Fanny, who gave it to Brigham. Though impressed, Brigham nevertheless counseled caution: "Wait a little while . . . I [want] to see whether good common sense [is] manifest" (Journal of Discourses 3:91; 8:38). After nearly two years of investigation, Brigham, moved by the testimony of a Mormon elder, Eleazer Miller, was baptized on April 15, 1832 (Journal of Discourses 13:211). All of Brigham's immediate family were also baptized, and they all remained loyal Latter-day Saints throughout their lives. Miriam, who also joined, lived only until September 8, 1832.

One week after his baptism, Brigham gave his first sermon. He declared "[After I was baptized] I wanted to thunder and roar out the Gospel to the nations. It burned in my bones like fire pent-up, so I [commenced] to preach.... Nothing would satisfy me but to cry abroad in the world, what the Lord was doing in the latter days" (Journal of Discourses 1:313). Brigham felt the impulse to "cry abroad" so strongly that he enlisted the assistance of Vilate and Heber C. Kimball to care for his daughters and abandoned his trade to devote himself wholeheartedly to building the "kingdom of God."

That fall, after Miriam's death, Brigham, his brother Joseph, and Heber Kimball, traveled to Kirtland, Ohio, where he first met the twenty-six-year-old Prophet Joseph Smith. Invited to evening prayer in the Smith home, Brigham was moved by the Spirit and spoke in tongues, the first speaking in tongues witnessed by the Prophet.

Brigham's subsequent missionary tours carried him north, east, west, and south of Mendon. He and his brother Joseph Young made several preaching trips into areas of New York and upper Canada. In the summer of 1833, he traveled to Kirtland with several of his Canadian converts, where he heard Joseph Smith teach about the gathering of the Saints, emphasizing that building the kingdom of God required more than just preaching. Thus instructed, Brigham returned to New York and, with the Kimballs, moved his household to Kirtland so he could participate in building a new society.

Among those whom Brigham met in Kirtland was Mary Ann Angell, a native of Seneca, Ontario County, New York, who had worked in a factory in Providence, Rhode Island, until her conversion to the Church and her move to Kirtland. Brigham married her on February 18, 1834. She looked after Brigham's two daughters by Miriam and subsequently had six children of her own.

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Brigham Young with his brothers (c. 1870). Left to Right, Lorenzo, Brigham, Phineas, Joseph, and John. Photographer: C.R. Savage

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