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Brigham Young
Brigham Young The exodus Mountain Meadows massacre


Brigham Young (born 1801) was Joseph Smith's immediate successor and thus the second prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Various Biblical like titles were used to acclaim him.

"The American Moses" or "The Mormon Moses" because, like the biblical figure, he led his followers in a long and dramatic exodus through a desert, to what they saw as a "promised land". (Utah)  He was also dubbed "The Lion of the Lord" for his bold personality.

Originally a Methodist he converted to Mormonism after reading The Book of Mormon

The exodus

In 1845 - the year after Smith's violent death - Brigham Young persuaded some 5,000 to 6,000 people to leave Nauvoo the following year in order to seek a new home in the American wilderness.

The residents of Nauvoo rose up against them and the Mormons suffered the fury of mob violence. The Nauvoo Mormon Temple was burnt several years later and finally destroyed by the town's residents two decades later.

Many of the Mormons crossed the Mississippi river early in February, 1846, and later that month Brigham Young and his family also set out. He was chosen president in the "Camp of Israel " and then captains of tens, fifties and hundreds were appointed to conduct the march.

When they arrived near what is now Florence, Nebraska, in July 1846, the Omaha and Pottawattamie Indians received them kindly, even urging the Mormons to establish a camp in their midst. Brigham Young accepted this offer after obtaining the consent of President Polk, and made his winter-quarters there.

In April, 1847, Brigham Young, with 142 men, set out in search of a suitable place for a final settlement.

They entered Salt Lake valley in Utah on 24 July, 1847, and, after a survey the first house was erected.  Eventually it grew to become Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City continues to this day to house the world wide headquarters of Mormonism.

About 70% of Utah residents are Mormons.

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Mountain Meadows massacre  

On September 11th 1857, at least 127 men, women, and children were massacred as they crossed Mormon land by wagon train - by order of the leadership of the Mormon Church under Brigham Young.

Bishop John D. Lee, Brigham Young's bodyguard, and an officer in the Mormon militia, became the scapegoat was eventually executed for the massacre. It was the second biggest ever massacre of Americans by Americans. Only the Oklahoma bombing surpassed this event in deaths.

On May 1, 1857, a train of over forty wagons, several carriages, 1000 head of cattle, hundreds of horses, and about 142 pioneer men, women and children left Arkansas for California. On Tuesday morning, September 8, 1857 the Indians attacked the emigrants, killing seven men and wounding sixteen others before they were turned back. The pioneers withstood the attacking Indians for four days, leaving the pioneers with no water and their ammunition nearly gone. Bishop John D. Lee approached the train under a flag of truce and convinced the pioneers that he had persuaded the Indians to let them go if they would leave their wagons and possessions to the Indians. After deliberating, the suffering group could find no other way out and they agreed. The pioneers were told that it should appear to the Indians that they were the Mormon's prisoners. Lee sent in a wagon and the emigrants' weapons were loaded in to it. The wounded were then loaded into two wagons and two other wagons were loaded with the youngest of the children. These wagons left first followed by the women and older children on foot. The men were lined up single file, and parallel to a single file of Mormon Militiamen and this group followed about a quarter of a mile behind. As the group moved out, the waiting Indians moved in and began to loot the goods the pioneers had left behind. A short distance later, Lee rose up in his stirrups and shouted "Do your duty!" and each Mormon shot the member of the train standing next to him. At about the same time up ahead, Mormon Militia disguised as Indians, and the real Indians, moved in on the women and older children, shooting, clubbing and axing them to death.

No effort was made to give the bodies a decent burial. Foraging animals scattered the bones over a great distance. In 1859, a passing detachment of U.S. Cavalry stopped and gathered what bones they could find into one grave. A rock cairn was erected with a carved stone and the words "Here lie the bones of one hundred and twenty men, women and children from Arkansas, murdered on the 10th day of September, 1857." An officer painted a cross-line beam above the cairn with the words "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I will repay."

The two wagonloads of children who had not been killed were adopted into Mormon homes. It is believed that 18 of the children survived. In 1859, Captain James Lynch of the U.S. Army took possession of these young survivors and returned them to relatives in Arkansas. Although there were many investigations, no punishment was handed out for the crime until 20 years later. Lee wrote out a full confession and was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad.

[Extract from Mountain Meadows web site]

Mountain Meadows Massacre Site
Photo by Terry Nolan Fancher

Memorial plaque

"The Mountain Meadows Massacre stands without a parallel amongst the crimes that stain the pages of American history. It was a crime committed without cause or justification of any kind to relieve it of its fearful character... When nearly exhausted from fatigue and thirst, [the men of the caravan] were approached by white men, with a flag of truce, and induced to surrender their arms, under the most solemn promises of protection. They were then murdered in cold blood" - William Bishop, Attorney to John D. Lee
"I had many to assist me at the Mountain Meadows. I believe that most of those who were connected with the Massacre, and took part in the lamentable transaction that has blackened the character of all who were aiders or abettors in the same, were acting under the impression that they were performing a religious duty. I know all were acting under the orders and by the command of their Church leaders; and I firmly believe that the most of those who took part in the proceedings, considered it a religious duty to unquestioningly obey the orders which they had received. That they acted from a sense of duty to the Mormon Church."  - Life and Confessions of John D. Lee

[Extract from Mountain Meadows web sit]

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Joseph Smith - who had somewhere between 27 and 84 wives - introduced the principle of Polygamy to Brigham Young, was in turn was a keen devotee of this 'divine doctrine'  He said..

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Journal of Discourses 11:268).

"Some of these my brethren know what my feelings were at the time Joseph revealed the doctrine; I was not desirous of shrinking from any duty, nor of failing in the least to do as I was commanded, but it was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave, and I could hardly get over it for a long time. And when I saw a funeral, I felt to envy the corpse its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin, knowing the toil and labor that my body would have to undergo; and I have had to examine myself, from that day to this, and watch my faith, and carefully meditate, lest I should be found desiring the grave more than I ought to do."  [page 100 of "Brigham Young - American Moses" by Leonard J. Arrington]

What follows is a listing of Brigham Young's wives.

An asterisk indicates "a wife not recognized in traditional histories, even though there is evidence of at least one of the following: the ceremony, sexual cohabitation, or a formal divorce"; names in parenthesis are the surnames of previous husbands; "divorce" indicates a formal dissolution of the marriage through secular or ecclesiastical procedures; "remarried" indicates later marriage of the wife to another husband. See D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1994, 685 pages, ISBN 1-56085-056-6; Appendix 6, "Biographical Sketches of Officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-47" pp. 607-608).

  1. Miriam Work 1824 (2 children), included in his will.
  2. Mary Ann Angell 1834 (6 children), in will.
  3. Lucy A. Decker (Seeley) 1842 (7 children), in will.
  4. Harriet E. Cook (Campbell) 1843 (1 child), in will.
  5. Lucy Augusta Adams (Cobb) 1843 (no children), requested cancellation of her sealing 1846, sealed by proxy to Joseph Smith 1848, from 1850 onward asked Brigham Young to give her to various men in civil marriage but still included in will.
  6. Clarissa C. Decker 1844 (5 children), in will.
  7. Clarissa Ross-Chase 1844 (4 children), in will.
  8. Louisa Beaman (Smith) 1844 (5 children).
  9. Zina D. Huntington (Jacobs, Smith) 1844 (1 child), in will.
  10. Emily D. Partridge (Smith) 1844 (7 children), in will. (daughter of Edward Partridge)
  11. Eliza R. Snow (Smith) 1844 (no children), in will.
  12. *Elizabeth Fairchild 1844 (no children), divorced 1855.
  13. *Clarissa Blake 1844 (no children).
  14. *Rebecca W. Greenleaf Holman 1844 (no children).
  15. *Diana Chase 1844 (no children), separated about 1848, remarried 1849.
  16. Maria Lawrence (Smith) 1844 (no children), separated 1845, remarried 1846.
  17. Susannah Snively 1844 (no children), in will.
  18. Olive G. Frost (Smith) 1844 (no children).
  19. *Mary A. Clark (Powers) 1845 (no children), divorced 1851.
  20. *Mary Harvey Pierce 1845 (no children).
  21. Margrette W. Pierce (Whitesides) 1845 (1 child), in will.
  22. *Rhoda Richards (Smith) 1845 (no children). (she was Young's 1st cousin)
  23. Emmeline Free 1845 (10 children), in will. (former fiancÚ of John D. Lee, her sister Louisa married Lee).
  24. Mary E. Rollins (Lightner, Smith) 1845 (no children), remained with legal husband yet considered herself deserted by Brigham Young 1846.
  25. Margaret Maria Alley 1845 (2 children), in will.
  26. *Mary Ann Turley 1845 (no children), divorced 1851.
  27. *Olive Andrews (Smith) 1846 (no children).
  28. *Emily Haws (Chesley, Whitmarsh) 1846 (no children), separated 1848.
  29. Ellen A. V. Rockwood 1846 (no children).
  30. *Abigail Marks (Works) 1846 (no children).
  31. *Mary E. Nelson (Greene) 1846 (no children).
  32. *Mary E. de la Montague (Woodward) 1846 (no children), divorced and returned to legal husband 1847, then returned to Brigham Young 1851.
  33. *Amy C. Cooper 1846 (no children).
  34. *Julia Foster (Hampton) 1846 (no children), separated 1846, married another man, returned to Brigham Young 1855 only to leave him bitterly later.
  35. *Abigail Harback (Hall) 1846 (no children), returned to legal husband 1846.
  36. Naamah K. J. Carter (Twiss) 1846 (no children), obtained cancellation of her sealing by 1871, anointed to deceased first husband but still included in will.
  37. *Nancy Cressy (Walker) 1846 (no children).
  38. *Eliza Babcock 1846-53 (no children), divorced 1853.
  39. *Jane Terry (Tarbox, Young) 1847.
  40. Mary J. Bigelow 1847 (no children), divorced 1851.
  41. Lucy Bigelow 1847 (3 children), in will.
  42. *Sarah M. Guckin (Malin) 1848 (no children).
  43. Eliza Burgess 1852 (1 child), in will.
  44. *Mary Oldfield (Kelsey) 1852 (no children).
  45. *Catherine Resse (Clawson, Egan) 1855 (no children).
  46. Harriet E. Barney (Sagers) 1856 (1 child), in will.
  47. Harriet Amelia Folsom 1863 (no children), in will.
  48. Mary Van Cott (Cobb) 1865 (1 child), in will.
  49. Ann Eliza Webb (Dee) 1868 (no children), divorced 1875; her story was fictionalized in Irving Wallace's 1962 novel The Twenty-Seventh Wife.
  50. *Elizabeth Jones (Lewis, Jones) 1869 (no children).
  51. *Lydia Farnsworth (Mayhew) 1870 (no children).
  52. *Hannah Tapfield (King) 1872 (no children).

[extract from Brigham Young on Wikipedia encyclopaedia]


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