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Phineas Howe Young

Question: Did one Book of Mormon convert several of the Young family to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Answer: Phineas Howe Young was born February 16, 1799, in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the son of John Young and Abigail Howe. His family moved to Vermont in 1802 when he was three years old. They later moved to Syracuse, New York and lived there nine years. From there they moved to Genoa Cayuga County where he lived five years and worked on his father’s farm. There were five boys and six girls in their family. The boys were John, Joseph, Phineas, Brigham, and Lorenzo Young.

Phineas learned the printer’s trade when a boy and because of his later accomplishments, we are assured of his highly intellectual mind. He was a gifted poet. Some of his poems written in his own hand are still in existence.

First and foremost, Phineas was of a very religious nature, as were all of his brothers and sisters. He was a member of the Methodist faith and was an ordained itinerant Minister with a circuit and had preached in Canada and the states. There were many religious sects springing up in New England, and religion was first in the minds of the whole Young family.

Phineas was married to Clarrisa Hamilton, Sept. 28, 1818, in Auburn, New York. At that time Phineas held a good position at Ramsey’s printing office. When Samuel H. Smith, the first missionary from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought the Book of Mormon to the family of John P. Green, he was impressed to leave the book and told Mrs. Green, who was Phineas’ sister, Rhoda, that the spirit forbid him taking the book away, and he made her a present of it.

When Mr. Green came home, his wife requested him to read it, informing him with regard to what Samuel had said to her relative to obtaining a testimony of the truth of it. For a while, he refused to do this, but finally yielded to her persuasions and took the book and commenced reading the same, calling upon God for the testimony of his spirit. The result was that he and Mrs. Green were in a short time baptized. They gave this book to Phineas Young in April, 1830. In eleven days he had read it through twice and was fully convinced of its truth. He in turn took it to his brother, Brigham, and from him to a sister, Mrs. Murray. They all received its truth. On the 5th of April 1832, Phineas was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Ezra Landon at Bradford, Pennsylvania. He served a mission to Canada in 1832. In late 1833 he moved to Kirtland, Ohio.

The following year his wife, Clarrisa, died and was the first person buried in the cemetery next to the Temple Block in Kirtland, Ohio, leaving Phineas and his young son, Brigham H., alone. He assisted in building the city and Temple of Kirtland. He was a member of the school of Prophets when it was organized and with his brethren enjoyed its many blessings and privileges. He also was a member of the Hebrew class of 1835-36, and he and his cousin, Evan M. Green, always greeted each other in the language. He served a mission to New York with Oliver Granger in 1834. In September 1834, Phineas married Lucy Cowdery, a half sister of Oliver Cowdery, in Kirtland.

Phineas served several missions to Virginia, the eastern states, and Michigan Territory in 1835. He purchased some land at Caldwell County, Missouri in 1837. He was forced to flee Missouri in the fall of 1838. He lived in Morgan County, Illinois for about a year and then moved to Winchester, Scott County, Illinois. He moved to Nauvoo, Illinois in 1840. He was ordained a high priest by Brigham Young and George Miller in the fall of 1842.

Phineas moved to Cincinnati to preside over the church in the southern district of Ohio in late 1842. He visited his brother-in-law, Oliver Cowdery, and encouraged him to return to the Church in Nauvoo. He served a mission to the eastern states from 1843-1844, preaching mainly in Ohio and New York. He was admitted to the Council of Fifty on April 25,1845. After being forced out of Nauvoo in 1846, Phineas settled at Winter Quarters and Council Bluffs. Oliver Cowdery traveled to Kanesville with Phineas where Oliver was received back into the church. Phineas was present when Orson Hyde baptized, confirmed, and re-ordained Oliver to the Priesthood.

In 1847, Phineas was asked to be a member of his brother, Brigham Young’s, Vanguard Company headed to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving on July 24, 1847. In March 1850 Phineas and his wife were present, in Richmond, Missouri, when, before Oliver Cowdery died, they heard Oliver again testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon.

Phineas served as Bishop of the Salt Lake City Second Ward from 1864 to 1871. He died at Salt Lake City on October 10, 1879, at the age of 80, and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Source: Biographical content about Phineas Young which can be found in “the Joseph Smith Papers;” Life History of Phineas Howe Young;; Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, p. 60-63.

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