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Lorenzo Dow Young

Question: Did Lorenzo Dow Young, the younger brother of Brigham Young, go with him in his Vanguard Company to Utah in 1847?

Answer: Lorenzo Dow Young was born at Smyrna, Chenango County, New York, October 19, 1807 to John Hayden Young and Abigail Howe. He had four older brothers: John, Joseph, Phineas, and Brigham. Lorenzo’s health was feeble when a boy, and his mother died when he was a little over seven years old. Lorenzo’s schooling consisted of about six months in all.

When ten years old he was apprenticed to his brother-in-law, James Little, and remained with him five years, working hard and learning the trade of gardener and nurseryman, in which he became quite proficient. He was naturally inclined to gardening, fruit growing and a farming life generally, which proved helpful to him in later years. Lorenzo married Persis Goodall in June 1826, and they would have ten children together.

Lorenzo was first introduced to the Book of Mormon in 1829 by his brothers, Brigham and Joseph. He read it, recognized it was true and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January 1832 by John P. Greene. He followed his father to Kirtland, Ohio in 1833, where he helped to build the Kirtland Temple, having charge of the outside plastering. He was a member of the Second Quorum of Seventies and participated in Zion’s Camp. He was also called upon to preach the Gospel to the people of Ohio and the surrounding states.

Lorenzo next went to Missouri, where he bought a hundred and sixty acres of land and built a good log house, but when he had cultivated the land and had a thousand bushels of corn ready to harvest, the anti-Mormon mobs drove him away. They took his property, including three cows and a yoke of oxen. Lorenzo participated in the Battle of Crooked River, an attempt to protect the settlement from mobs. They were driven from Far West in October of 1838 and made their way to Scott County, Illinois, where they resided for a few years. Lorenzo’s father died in October 1839 in Quincy, Illinois.

In the spring of 1842, they moved to Hancock County where Lorenzo owned land in Nauvoo and several pieces in rural areas. In 1844, Lorenzo was called to serve a mission to Ohio. Upon his return to Nauvoo, Illinois, his stay was short lived, as the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo early in 1846 to Winter Quarters.

In 1847, Lorenzo D. Young was asked to be in his brother, President Brigham Young’s, Vanguard Company. Also going in the Company was his second wife, Harriet, his son Lorenzo Sobieski Young, from his first wife, and his step-son, Isaac Perry Decker, the latter two being the only children in the company. The two other women pioneers, Clara Decker Young, wife of President Young, and Ellen Sanders Kimball, wife of Apostle Heber C. Kimball, also accompanied them. The Company left on April 7, 1847, and entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24th. Lorenzo was one of the third Ten, of which his brother Phineas was captain. He made the trip with one two-horse team and one four-ox team.

His first act after arriving in the valley was to plant a few potatoes that he had brought with him. He succeeded in raising and saving a few small tubers for seed. Lorenzo was the father of the first white male child born in the Salt Lake valley. This child, the son of his wife Harriet, was born September 20, 1847, and was named for his father, but he died on March 22, 1848.

Lorenzo, after camping successively on the south and north branches of City Creek, and living a few weeks in the fort on Pioneer Square, built a house near the spot where the Beehive House now stands. He experienced the cricket plague of 1848, and the famine years following.

In the spring of 1849, he made a trip to Missouri, taking with him his wife Harriet, and his stepson, Isaac Perry Decker. He returned in 1850, bringing a flock of five hundred sheep and some fine cows. He claimed to have owned the first thoroughbred Devonshire bull ever brought to Utah. With the sheep and cattle that he brought from the Missouri, Lorenzo stocked a ranch opposite Willow Creek, on the west bank of the Jordan River.


Early in 1851 Lorenzo D. Young was ordained Bishop of the Eighteenth ward, Salt Lake City. He served in that capacity until 1878, when, his health becoming feeble, he resigned, and Orson F. Whitney became his successor. For three years he had traveled, preached and visited in most of the stakes of Zion, administering to the sick, and comforting the afflicted. Shortly before the death of President Young in 1877, Lorenzo was ordained a Patriarch. He held this office during the remainder of his days.

Lorenzo was married five times. By his first wife, Persis Goodall, he was the father of ten children, including Elder Joseph W. Young, President of the St. George Stake. By his second wife, Harriet Wheeler (Decker), he had two sons, John Brigham and Lorenzo D., Jr., who both died in childhood. His third wife, Hannah Ida Hewitt, had five children, one of whom, Brigham Willard Young, died July 20, 1887, while on a mission in New Zealand. The fourth wife, Eleanor Jones, was the mother of four. By his last wife, Anna Larsen, he had three sons.

A serious accident, and one from which he never fully recovered, befell the elderly Bishop in the summer of 1872. It was the 4th of July, and he was riding in a buggy behind a spirited mare, when a boy threw a lighted fire-cracker under the mare’s feet. Frightened by this, the mare jumped, and the Bishop was violently thrown out of the buggy. It was thought that he was dead. He was resuscitated, however, and taken to his home, but remained bed-fast for weeks, unable to speak above a whisper.

On November 21, 1895, Lorenzo passed away. He was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from History of Utah: Biographical, Lorenzo Dow Young, by Orson Ferguson Whitney,;

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