Question: Joseph Young is mentioned in D&C 124:138. How was he related to Brigham Young? What important calling was he given in the Church?
Answer: Joseph Young was born 7 April 1797 in Middlesex County, Massachusetts to John and Abigail Howe. John and Abigail had six daughters and five sons: John, Joseph, Phinehas, Brigham, and Lorenzo. Father John was a veteran of three Revolutionary War campaigns under George Washington.
Joseph was four years older than his brother Brigham. He was reared in the wilderness of the eastern states. He attended various denominational services with his family, and although he practiced the trade of painting and glazing, he preferred being an itinerant preacher, traveling through the forest preaching the message of Jesus Christ.
Young family brothers
In June 1830, Joseph traveled with his brother Phineahas to Canada. Here they were shown a copy of the Book of Mormon by Solomon Chamberlain. “Nothing could have been more acceptable to my famishing soul. I hailed it as my Spiritual Jubilee, a deliverance from a long night of darkness and bondage.” Joseph was baptized on 6 April 1832 and ordained an elder a few days later. He soon began missionary labors in New York and Upper Canada among friends and relatives. Most of the family of eleven children of John and Abigail would join the Church.
By 1834 Joseph was residing in Kirtland. Joseph, newly married, was called with Brigham in 1834 to march with Zion’s Camp. He walked the thousand miles to Missouri and another thousand home again to Kirtland. He later commented, “I never went through a more severe trial of my faith.”
In February 1835 the Prophet confided in him his intention to organize the Quorum of the Seventy, and revealed, “Brother Joseph, the Lord has made you president of the Seventies.” For the next forty-six years, Joseph presided as one of the seven Presidents.
Haun’s (Hawn’s) Mill
One of his first assignments was to help the Kirtland poor remove to Far West, Missouri. In October 1838, en route they stopped at Haun’s Mill. He witnessed the Haun’s Mill Massacre where Joseph escaped into the woods. He and his family were miraculously spared. His story of this event was published in the Millennial Star.
Joseph and his family fled from Missouri to Quincy, Illinois and eventually settled in Nauvoo, where they built a nice red brick home. He was privileged to preside at the dedication of the temple, and on February 1846, he was appointed to preside over the Saints still residing in Nauvoo. His home in Nauvoo was across the street to the west of his brother Brigham. However, they too soon had to leave. In 1850 they trekked to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Joseph and his family suffered for lack of food for sometime after they arrived.
From 1856 to 1872 Joseph and Lorenzo’s families resided near Brigham and often joined his family for evening singing and prayers. During these years, Joseph’s valuable service was often noted. In 1870, Joseph fulfilled a mission to the British Isles. After returning to the valley, he journeyed to pioneer settlements in four states, organizing quorums of the seventies.
Joseph died on 16 July 1881 at the age of eighty-four. His funeral was held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and was attended by thousands of Latter-day Saints. He is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Source: Who’s Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black; “The Faithful Young Family, The Parents, Brothers and Sisters of Brigham,” By Leonard J. Arrington and JoAnn Jolley–Ensign, August 1980, p. 53