Mormon History

Death Notice of Brigham Young - 1877

The Elyria Constitution September 6, 1877

Brigham  Young.

Brigham Young, who died on the 29th ult. of inflammation of the bowels, was born in Vermont, June 1, 1801. His father was a small farmer, and Brigham enjoyed very few advantages in the way of education. While yet quite a biy he was apprenticed and learned the trade of a painter and glazier. During his early youth he developed strong religious proclivities and united with the Baptist Church, and it is even said occasionally preached about the country as he traveled working at his trade.

In 1832 he was ordained an Elder of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," having been converted to the Mormon faith a short time previously, and began his peculiar and celebrated career as a preacher in the Mormon settlement at Kirtland, Ohio. Since that time he has been closely indentified with the rise, spread, and interior history of this religion, being for most of the time practically the "Church" itself.

The church had already been started as an organization in Manchester, N. Y., and in 1831 reemoved, with all its members, to Kirtland, Ohio, under the leadership of Joseph Smith. At the period of Young's ascension, the government of the church consisted of a Presidency, of which Smith, Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams were the incumbants. His telents and shrewdness speedily made him prominent, and in February, 1835, a further step in the organization was made by the institution of twelve apostles, and he was ordained one of the twelve and sent forth with the other apostles. His field of labor was the Eastern States, and he was signally successful in making converts.

In 1836 a large and costly temple, which had been for three years in process of building, was consecrated at Kirtland, and 1837 Orson Hyde and Heber C. Kimball were sent as missionaries to England. In 1838, the bank at Kirtland having failed, Smith and Rigdon fled to Missouri in the night, hotly pursued by their creditors.

The Prophets were soon surrounded by the faithful in Missouri, and the colony throve of a while notwithstanding the enmity of the Missourians. This broke out at last in a fiece contest, and the Saints to the number of 15,000 took refuge in Illinois. The town of Nauvoo was started under a charter from the Legislature of Illinois. When the revelation of celestial marriage became public, a great deal of indignation was felt even in Nauvoo, and serious disturbances took place, the result of which was that Smith and his brother Hyrum were thrown into prison at Carthage, Ill., where they were murdered by a mob June 27, 1844.

Smith's death caused great agitation and confusion among his followers, but the Council of the twelve apostles unanimously elected Brigham Young, and from that day to the day of his death the history of Brigham Young and the history of Mormonism are one.

In 1845 the Legislature of Illinois revoked the charter of Nauvoo, and the Saints determined to emigrate beyond the Rocky Mountains. In February, 1846, the first emigrants cross the ice-bound Mississippi, stopped a while in Iowa, and then marched under strict discipline across the great wilderness. BRigham Young arrived in the Salt Lake Valley July 24, 1847, and the main body of the Mormons in the fall of 1848.

Salt Lake City was soon founded, an emigration fund established, and settlers poured in from all over the world. In 1850 the Government admitted the new Territory under the name of Utah, and commissioned Brigham Young as Governor and Indian Agent. District Judges were also appointed by the Federal authority, but these were regarded with great dislike by the President of the church and the Saints generally, and were finally driven out of the country in 1851.

Brigham Young was now suspended from his office of Governor and Col. Steptoe appointed in his stead. He arrived in Utah in 1854, but found it prudent to withdraw from the country. The Mormon President said boldly at this time; "I am and will be Governor, and no power can hinder me until the Lord Almighty says" 'Brigham, you need not be Governor any longer.'" During the ensuing year collisions between the church and Federal officials became so frequent that the whole of the latter were forced to leave the Territory. A new Governor, Alfred Cummings, was appointed in 1857, as also a new Superintendent of Indian Affairs; beisdes a force of 2,500 was sent under Gen. Harney to enforce obedience to the national laws. Brigham Young attacked the supply trains anmd forced the expedition to winter at some distance from Salt Lake. Early next year negotiations were had, and the Mormons submitted to teh Federal authority.

A nominal regard for the supreme authority of the General Government has been maintained ever since the time alluded to, but there was and is but one law or authority recognized by the Mormons, and that is the church, through its hierarchy.

Brigham Young was assisted in the Presidency by Daniel C. Wells and Heber C. Kimball, with twelve apostles and two bodies of the priesthood, but, while the doctrines of the church give some authority, as a matter of fact everything and everybody over the length and breadth of the great Territory of Utah has bowed to the iron will of Brigham Young.

There are many dark and bloody pages in the history of the Mormon occupation of Utah, the most terrible and notorious of the list being the Mountain Meadow massacre, for which John D. Lee suffered death but a little while ago. The general history of that deed is so fresh in the minds of the people that it is unnecessary to speak of the details beyond the implication of Brigham Young in the crime. It is more than probable that had Brigham lived, the onus of that massacre would have been fixed upon him legally, even as he has borne it morally for many years. Evidence in the hands of the authorities is said to fix upon him beyond peradventure the instigation of the whole fiendish job, and there has been a growing determination on the part of the Government lately to bring him to justice.

Yest despite all that is charged against him there is a side to the late prophet's character which demands some attention. He found the greater part of the country occupied by his people as a wilderness, without rain, without verdure. He introduced a comprehensive system of irrigation, which has changed that wilderness, for the most part, to a garden. The public works of his capital are creditable, and the natural prosperity of the Mormons as a community is not only wonderful in itself, but still more wonderful in that it is so much due to this one man's perseverence, ability and unconquerable will.

The New York Times - August 30, 1877