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John Young

(March 7, 1763 - October 12, 1839)

John Young was the father of Brigham Young

Included in this pages is the history of Joseph Young and his wife, Elizabeth Hayden. John Young was one of their sons and he married Abigail Howe. Brigham Young was their most famious son. They had eleven children, and we are descended from Lorenzo Dow Young, their youngest child.

Although not included in the text below, Lorenzo Dow had at least eight wives. Persis Goodall is the wife we are descended through. She and Lorenzo Dow had John Ray Young, who did an amazing amount of missionary work under the direction of Brigham Young. John Ray had four wives, including Albina Terry. Through Albina came John Royal (Roy) Young, who married Elizabeth Luisa Wilcock. They settled in Idaho and included in their family was Lloyd W Young. He married Verna Cook. Depending on our generation, we call them parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, and possibly great great grandparents.

The information below is from the book:
Here is Brigham: Brigham Young, The Years to 1844
by S. Dilworth Young


In her time


Has sneered,

Disclaimed, and

Ridiculed her most



But who would mention


If John Young had not

Stopped there in

1801, and if Abigail had not there

Brought forth this

Ninth child

That first day of



Dr. Joseph Young, grandfather of Brigham Young, was a veteran of the French and Indian Wars of the early colonial period. England and France were fighting on many fronts, but this war was of peculiar significance for its issue was whether the New World of North America would be controlled by the French or by the British. The final battle on the Plains of Abraham, near Quebec, in which Wolfe, while victor, lost his life, settled that issue for all time. Britain won and France withdrew.

Dr. Young being a surgeon had, as his main occupation, the amputation of arms and legs damaged in the fighting in the campaign to control the Canadian gateway near Lake George and Lake Champlain. He varied this work with the extraction of arrows from various parts of the soldiers' anatomy and probing for bullets fired at close range from the matchlock muskets of the French. These lead balls were more than one half an inch in diameter and made a hole large enough to make probing for a bullet a major operation- It seems impossible for men to have survived such a shock as these wounds must have inflicted, yet many of them lived. In those days it was a question of which was worse, the wound or the treatment, but men were tough fibered, and immune to many of the infecting bacteria of the day. Oftentimes the poultices and the ointment applied to these wounds were as effective as those treatments in use today.

After the war Dr. Young settled in the farming community of Hopkinton, Massachusetts. This town, a little east and south of Worcester, was new, with a good deal of new land, and a new opportunity, and here the doctor combined his practice of medicine with farming.

One fine day he received a call to come to the house of John Hayden, far gone with cancer. Dr. Young had a reputation in the neighborhood for successful treatment of cancer, but this particular case had resisted his best efforts. Nursing Mr. Hayden was his widowed daughter Betsy Hayden Treadway. She was fair and comely, so the visits had not only the effect of giving comfort to Mr. Hayden but also of giving interest in things other than medical treatment to Dr. Young. He fell in love with her, and in due course of time they were married. In the course of the next nine years six children were born to the couple.

Suzannah December 21, 1759

William February 28, 1761

John March 7, 1763

Joseph J. March 26, 1765

Anna July 30, 1766

Ichabod July 24, 1768

In 1769 Dr. Joseph Young died. Many years later, Brigham Young stated that he was killed by the falling of a fence rail, but Phinehas, Brigham's brother, reported that the death was due to being struck by a falling tree. Both could have been right. It could be that a tree felled for the purpose of making fence rails could have been called a fence rail. It would have been an odd accident, indeed, for a fence rail, once split and placed in a fence, to have fallen in such a manner as to fatally injure a man. Fences in that day were usually called "worm" fences, because of the irregular way they "wormed" their way over the landscape. Even the top rail was not in a position to do more than injure an arm or a leg. A falling tree seems more reasonable as a cause of death.

After the death of her husband, Elizabeth Hayden Young was hard put to earn a living, and during the next four years lost her possessions. She was forced to send her children out to work. John and Joseph (John was six years of age at the death of his father) were "bound out" to a man by the name of Jones who had both white and black servants. The ten-year-old John and the eight-year-old Joseph were worked along with the servants. The story comes down that they were cruelly treated, but this would not have been unusual for that day. There is no doubt that work was a daylight-until-dark proposition with scant variety in the food, and meager pay. There is an apocryphal story that the boys stood this for five years and then ran away and joined the continental army. The story then states that both were captured by the British. John escaped from his captors, but Joseph, so the story goes, fell in love with the British and refused to leave them. John never saw his brother again. Based on the American Historical Review, John in applying for a pension did not make any statement to verify this story. The actual date of his enlistment, according to his own statement, was June of 1780. He joined the 4th Massachusetts Brigade of Musketry, rendezvoused in July at Springfield, and was marched from there to Westpoint via Litchfield and Fishkill. From there he marched to Orangetown, New Jersey, at the time Major Andre was hanged as a spy, and from there he marched to Liberty Pole, then to Tantoway, where he stayed in camp until he was marched back to West Point for winter quarters. After serving six months he was discharged. This service was in the regular continental line army under command of General George Washington.

About August 10, 1781, he again enlisted in the Massachusetts Militia for three months. He again marched with the regiment to Westpoint and from there to Peekskill. Here he was assigned to an unattached party for "reconnoitering the line." He took yellow fever and lay in the hospital at Peekskill until able to go to the camp. This enlistment was for three months, when he was again discharged. He spent the winter at Hopkinton, presumably working for Mr. Jones, but when spring came he enlisted for a third time in March of 1782. This enlistment was for six weeks to go to Rhode Island to repair Fort Butte. From this enlistment he was discharged in due course. Thus he served three separate enlistments between the ages of 17 and 19. He was not engaged in any battles, although that is a matter of pure circumstance. Apparently his indenture master, John Jones, had some claim on his services, for Jones took his discharge papers and turned them in on the payment of his own taxes. From this it would appear that his master, Jones, collected on them, perhaps his pay.

From this it is apparent that John was never captured by the British, although his brother may have been. He fought in no battles, but he did acquire a cannon ball, said to have been fired in the Battle of Saratoga. From the fact that he possessed the cannon ball has come the legend that he fought at Saratoga (1)

(1)The above facts are taken from records printed in M Hamlin Cannon, "A Pension Office Note on Brigham Young's Father." American Historical Review (Oct. 1944, pp. 82-90).

During this period, the doctrines of the revolutionists would have become a part of his being. He subscribed to the right of a man to own land, to vote, to be free to express himself; he learned, too, that free men could band together, the very bond making them well nigh invincible in a righteous cause. He read the tracts of the firebrands of the revolution, or, more likely, heard them read at the informal gatherings at the village store. Sam Adams must have stirred him. The gossip over the doings of the Continental Congress would not only have come to him, but the indecisiveness of the Congress would have had effect on his comfort and safety as a soldier. Along with others he would have suffered because of the vacillation of this body of legislators. The ideals of Washington, the wisdom of Franklin, and later the Jeffersonian love for the common man were the meat on which he grew, as these thinkers and actors on the stage said their lines and vanished into the wings.

Yet the hard work of earning a livelihood was the chain which bound him to the earth-the good fresh-scented land. As a bound apprentice, John learned the care of the farm, and he farmed for his "vittles" and keep. He believed the folklore that was a part of the farming knowledge of the day. One planted potatoes in the dark of the moon just as one planted corn in its light, and one put his brand on a horse in the dark of the moon, or the brand would grow. What was good for potatoes was good for colts, apparently. Anyone in his right mind wore a bag of asafoetida suspended from a thong around his neck to ward off disease, but, mostly, its odor warded everyone off within smelling distance. One paid attention to the nostrums and cure-alls which, from time immemorial, had been the topic of fireplace conversation.

John Young served out his indenture or apprenticeship until he was released from it at the age of 21. This would be the spring of 1784. Meanwhile he could not have failed to notice Abigail Howe, Nabby to her friends, who was said to be the prettiest of the five Howe sisters. She had a "doll-like face, blue eyes, and yellow hair." She was of a lovable, gentle disposition, and had a pleasing personality. She was very popular with her associates; and she was pious. These characteristics were considered assets in that day, as they are today. John obeyed all of the social requirements of his time in his courtship, and succeeded in convincing Abigail that he was the right man for her. They were married October 31, 1785, at Hopkinton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Abigail (Nabby) Howe Young. A drawing made from an early pencil sketch by Nadine Bushman Barton, 1964.

Hopkinton offered sufficient work for John Young to earn enough to keep his little family fed and clothed for a time. The war for independence was barely over and there was gossip aplenty about the state of the colonies. Would the colonies band together or would each go its separate and ineffectual way alone? Hopkinton was close enough to Boston to be abreast of the times. John Adams was New England's most eloquent and solid citizen, so that his views probably found lodgment in the mind of John Young. But there wasn't much time for John to think of politics, even had he been of a mind to do it, for following on the heels of his marriage he soon was looking into the new-born face of Nancy. The date was August 6, 1786. Barely fifteen months later, November 8, 1787, Fanny was added to the household.

By this time the colonies had agreed to band together, and the Constitution had been signed by the delegates in Philadelphia, but it was the next year before Massachusetts ratified the Constitution, followed by several other states including New York. What this far-reaching event had to do with the move John made to Durham, New York, is not known, but he was there clearing land and farming in 1789.

Over the dim roads of the period he had worked his way to Albany and thence to Durham with his wife and two children. The fact that they went there at all would have been unknown, except for the entry in the family Bible to the effect that Rhoda, named after Abigail's sister, was born in Durham, New York, September 10, 1789. They didn't stay there very long, for 1790 found them back in Hopkinton, where they lived for the next ten years. At regular intervals, five more children were added to the flock. The firstborn son, John Jr., arrived May 27, 1791; Nabby, April 23, 1793; Suzannah, June 17, 1795; Joseph, April 7, 1797; Phinehas Howe, February 16, 1799. John Young's axe and hoe had to be kept moving to feed those eight hungry mouths.

Why John Young left Hopkinton at this point has never been explained. It is quite likely that he was caught up in the fever of the times to move west in order to better his condition. Massachusetts land was none too fertile, and with the conditions of that day even good land tended to play out. There was a good deal of talk about the opportunities over in New York. Here also there were tracts of land reserved for homesteads of Revolutionary soldiers. Phelps and Gorham had purchased an immense tract of land from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and had begun to advertise its advantages, but John didn't go there directly. Instead, he went to Whitingham, Vermont, moving in the winter of 1800-1801.

One wonders in this day of cozy, rapid transit why he chose winter to travel to Vermont, but one has but to know the condition of the roads of that day to discover the reason.

In spring, summer, and fall the tracks which passed for roads were impassable much of the time, and difficult all of the time. After storms all traffic was stopped until the roads dried enough to be firm. Wagons, heavily laden, cut into the soft soil of the countryside until the roads became a succession of deep chucks, first on one side, then on the other. Wet spots would let the wheels down until the wagon bed rested on the mud. In this situation all one could do was to unload, and then pry the empty wagon out of the mire. On particularly long stretches of wet land the travelers would build corduroy roads. These consisted of logs six to eight inches in diameter, laid at right angles across stringers which had been laid parallel to the track. This type of road was very uncomfortable to travel, being a series of short bumps as the wheels crossed each log. At times an ox or horse got a hoof between two logs laid a little too loose which caused a delay while the logs were lifted and the hoof pulled out. Successive users kept these in what repair was needed to make the passage sure. In summer during dry spells, roads were equally deep in dust, draft animals stirring up great clouds as they moved slowly along. Both of these disadvantages of warm weather travel were non-existent in winter. There was no dust; there was no mud; mosquitoes were non-existent. The frozen earth, covered with snow, gave little resistance to a bobsled, and no discomfort of bog hole or corduroy. Loads which were immovable by summer, or which could be pulled only with great difficulty with long delays for mire, broken reaches, axles, and wheels, or exhausted animals, slid over the snow with consummate ease. This may be the reason why John decided to move his family in January.

January-September 1801

The move of the Young family to Whitingham was fraught with dangers and difficulties. It would have been arduous in the summer; it was arduous, difficult, and dangerous in January. Winter grips the Massachusetts back country with bands of ice during much of the winter. It can raise a howling blizzard with subzero temperature which will leave a foot of heavy snow. Then the temperature can, within hours, rise to above freezing. Rain will begin to fall and, turning to ice as it strikes, will sheath the landscape, trees, houses, animals, and men in a thick coat of glittering ice. It is beautiful and terrible at once. Then, as if that isn't bad enough, the temperature will again rise and more rain will melt the ice and snow into sloppy slush. Not satisfied it yet again freezes, making any natural food completely inaccessible to the desperately hungry, surviving animals. Men caught out in one of these storms are hard put to it to survive.

On the other hand some winters will be barren of snow and storms. Wagons can move easily across the country, to some advantage, for the frozen ground easily supports them. Even then, clouds constantly threaten so that a man must be prepared for the worst even if he does not experience it.

There is always the problem of wagon versus bob-sled. If a man takes his family via bob-sled, they are immobile come spring. If he depends on wagons he faces the problem of exhausted animals pulling the equipment through the heavy snow. If he tries a road well beaten down by bob-sleds, the wagon wheels track in the loose unpacked snow on both sides, for the wheels are wider apart than the bob runners.

Another problem: Must the family camp out en route, or will there be sufficient funds to stay at inns?

The Young family was not given to making explanations. They were terse of speech, awkward with the written word; no one in the family was a diarist. So one is reduced to conjecture in explaining why or how. One fact is known. John Young, with eight children, the eldest girl fourteen, the eldest boy nine and one half, with a total of five girls and three boys, moved his family more than one hundred miles from Hopkinton to Whitingham, Vermont. It was four miles over the Massachusetts/Vermont line midway between the east and west branches of the North River, a fork of the Deerfield River. We wonder why he chose Whitingham. It was only one of many such places. It must have been that there, for some reason, he could obtain work or land. It would be interesting to know which route he took. In his going he was most likely to travel north to Framingham, where he could strike the Worcester Pike. Leaving Worcester he could angle off to Paxton, Barre, Dana, North Salem. He could then cross the Connecticut River, his greatest natural obstacle, near either Deerfield or Greenfield, if there was a ferry at these places. His last towns would be Shelburne and Colraine. A map of 1815 shows a dim trace road passing through these towns from Worcester. No mention has been made of the dozen or two creeks and brooks he would have to ford, nor the primitive road he faced once he left Worcester.

Did they all ride in the wagon box, bedded down in the straw, and covered with quilts, as we do today on a bob-sled party? Or was he so poor that he could afford only one wagon, forcing all but the small children to walk? The best team would average only three miles per hour for eight or nine hours. Fifteen miles per day with a load is the best they could do. Where did they get the hay for the stock? Did they use oxen or horses? They must have been at least ten days on the road, assuming there were no delaying storms.

What was at the end of the road? Was there a cabin ready, with firewood stacked, waiting to receive them? Did the settlers already on the ground expect them? Did they find shelter with some hospitable family, in a ten by sixteen foot cabin, everyone moving over to make room? Did they have farming tools, plows, harrows, hoes, and seed to plant in addition to furniture? Did they have furniture?

The veil of inarticulate time is drawn. However, this move to Whitingham, Vermont, indicates something of their character. John and Abigail Howe Young were determined people, not easily discouraged or scared; otherwise they would never have moved at all; or, moving, would not have chosen winter.

The early spring of 1801 was probably used to build the small cabin which they were to occupy. Cutting the logs for this small home was probably the first act in clearing land. By May, John would need to have enough land clear to plant his meager variety of vegetables, of which corn was the chief crop.

His son, Brigham said, many years later, that "he moved from Hopkinton to Whitingham, Windham County, Vermont, where he remained for three years opening new farms." "Opening new farms" could mean that he spent his time clearing, fencing, building for others; hiring out. We are sure that he worked.

The frontier economy was one of bare subsistence. Labor was limited to the business of farming and creating farms. Greater variety than that required manufacture of some sort, or transport. It would be nice, Abigail must have thought, to have clothes such as were worn in Boston. But well she knew that what they had was limited to what they could produce themselves. Coon-skin caps were popular, not because they wouldn't have liked the hats of the city, but because they could kill a coon and tan the fur. Cloth they made from flax (linen) or from wool, or at times they traded their produce for small amounts of material, "enough to make a suit" - "sufficient for a dress." Boots and shoes? They went barefoot except in most inclement weather. When foot covering was needed, moccasins made from skins were far more prevalent than boots or shoes. Within ten years times changed. But this was 1801.

The family, along with other settlers, were too isolated to be very much concerned with historical events taking place--for example, with the fact that Napoleon had taken over France and had conquered most of Europe. They voted, no doubt, in the election of 1801, when Thomas Jefferson was elected President. John Young as a revolutionary soldier had heard of Jefferson, but once the latter had been elected, he meant nothing to John Young at Whitingham. The economy of the country, the law of supply and demand- these factors affected him, but except as they applied to the things a dozen eggs, twenty pounds of maple sugar, or a block of potash would buy, he knew nothing about it.

Whatever the economic factors which influenced the cash economy, every family could be independent of fluctuation of profit and loss by the simple expedient of the ownership of a cow. One of the first purchases of John Young was this necessity. Caleb Murdock had a cow, a good cow. John bought the cow from Murdock. She was one of those rare critters which proved to be a good milker. During the summer when clover was blooming she produced "a bushel of milk," as John was wont to say. This meant not only milk, but butter, cheese, and cottage cheese. To the infant Brigham it meant life-for he was weaned soon after his birth because of the illness of Nabbie. She was ill for some time, so that the two older girls did much of the housework. Fanny could pacify Brigham when none of the others could, so she soon became his nurse and protector. Fanny also had the care of the cow. Like some cows, this one would give up her milk to one person only-Fanny. Fanny often carried Brigham in her arms out to milk, performing the operation with one hand while Brigham was cuddled with the other arm.

Yet their lives had compensations. Simple pleasures are often happiest ones. Even the most inarticulate cannot fail to be impressed by the beginning of spring in the Vermont forests. The hills glow with pastel colors faintly echoing the brilliance of the color of the previous fall. There are delicate lavenders, faint pinks, suggestions of red. Then as though a great hand were combing out the color, a flood of yellow-green takes command, quickly followed by the greens, shading from yellow to the deep blue greens of conifers. By June the first all of this miracle is accomplished.

The brilliance of fall by comparison leaves one breathless, whether he is surveying a distant hill which stretches upward like a great persian carpet, or lost among the trees, the air vibrating with yellow, orange, red, and all shades in between. John Young must have stood in his doorway in early October, looked over the hills and declared to Abigail, "It's mighty pretty, Nabbie," And Abigail, rocking her four-month-old son to sleep, would have a great artistic satisfaction in being in such a land, hard though it was. "Yes, John," she would respond, "it's right pretty."

But the baby, Brigham, born June 1, would sleep on, feeling safe in the security of his mother's arms, and from her heart and her soul gradually absorbing what she was and what he was to be.

1801 - June 1815

How is determination built into a character? or quick clear action? or clarity of terse expression? or great physical strength? or endurance? or steadiness of purpose? or reliability? or great religious faith and fervor? or gentleness with children? or understanding of animals? Quality is the basic material from which the facets of nobility emerge. All men can rise higher than they begin if they make the effort, but the qualities of greatness beyond the average man must be in the man to begin with. Then the proper environment and experience may become the shaping tools which in the end permit a man thus endowed to reach the heights. No man may look upon a new-born child and predict his future unless endowed with the gift of prophetic insight. Looking back after the life is finished, one may point out some of the shaping and polishing factors. Thus we have done with Washington and Lincoln. Thus we may do with Brigham Young.

If as a baby one grows into the knowledge of speech, learning the familiar words of the King James Bible as the vocabulary; if the attitude of speech in the family is respectful; if acknowledgment of the goodness of God is a daily expression; if the protection of the Almighty is sought in times of fear and danger, sickness and crisis-if this is the prevailing attitude in the home, the child then develops and grows in this attitude. Brigham Young's description of this factor of his development is short and to the point:

"My parents were devoted to the Methodist religion and their precepts of morality were sustained by their good example. ... I was taught by my parents to live a strictly moral life."

Phinehas, an older brother, said, "We moved to Whitingham, Windham County, Vermont, where we lived three years, and during this time I recollect being taught to pray and obey my father and mother."

These short references to early youth open a window through which one looks into a home of strict puritan influence. There was affection, but it was controlled. There was quick obedience, rigidly enforced. Abigail, a woman of quiet culture, tempered the vigor of John's applications of discipline. There was a deep abiding faith, controlled by religious form. This however had been modified from the early puritan Congregationalism to the more liberal Methodism. John Young early joined the reformed Methodist Church. So did Abigail.

The only readily available textbook was the Bible. It is likely that it took Brigham a long time to learn to read it, writing being likewise difficult. One learns to recognize the printed forms of words long before he learns to construct words in these forms. Brigham never did become facile at writing. His spelling was phonetic on words with which he was not familiar. He was self taught. What little schooling he gained in his youth could not have made much contribution to his education.

This was the common experience on the frontier. There wasn't time for education. The work of carving out a living required every working hour of every living soul. Some, staying in one spot and keeping their efforts centered, having first chosen a farm in the path of economic progress, became prosperous enough to afford schools for the children. Had this been the case with John Young the development of Brigham might have been different. John, however, seems to have been restless. This restlessness was not inborn but rather a thirst to improve his condition. He was not of a nature to "fight it out on one line" summer after summer, especially if there was a better chance elsewhere. Even had he been so constituted the economic conditions of the back country during the years 1800-1815 did not improve fast enough to save a farm if the mortgage holders pressed for payment. The big boom in New York began with the cash wages of the Erie Canal construction, and until its completion there was demand for food and labor. Many a successful farm in New York state could count the beginning of its prosperity by that operation. The number of dispossessed farmers who prior to that period were forced by the times to give up and move farther west, will never be counted. John Young was caught up in the whirlwind of that movement. Reading of him, one suspects that much of the time he was in the vortex of the storm. Yet he did not quail. He did not give up. He did not flee. He moved with the storm-and his sons learned to move with him.

All of his boys learned the pattern. Each developed resourcefulness. Each became an axeman par excellence. Each graduated from the school of land clearing for small farmers. Each put religion foremost in his life. And each developed loyalty one for the other, so that if one found good fortune he notified the others so they could enlarge on it.

The economy of that situation called for family loyalty. Yet not all families achieved it. Many a boy ran away. The fact that John could command the loyal support of his boys when he needed it, even after they married, bespeaks the fact that home life was good, that is, good for their day. They knew no other condition with which to compare theirs but, even so, intolerable conditions need no comparison. The victims of such conditions rise up in rebellion of their own choice.

John Young stayed in Whitingham town for three years. Then, in 1804, he started west.

Two girls had married, Nancy to Daniel Kent, and Fanny to Robert Carr. Nancy was eighteen years of age, Fanny sixteen. This left Rhoda, fifteen, to be the mainstay of the younger children. John, Jr., was now thirteen. Five other children were in the caravan, Brigham the youngest, being three. How did they travel? We have no record. They used wagons, of course, but whether or not oxen or horses were the motive power is not known. They crossed the Hudson at Troy, most likely, then wound their way over the primitive trace road that led to Cooperstown and Sherburne. This later became the Cherry Valley route. They stopped at Sherburne for nine years. The greatest increase in wealth was the addition of Louisa, born soon after their arrival there, and Lorenzo Dow, born three years later in 1807. The first death occurred here when Nabby died, aged fourteen.

It is quite possible that after nine years of back-breaking toil they had enough assets to trade for land farther west. The War of 1812 was on, but apparently it did not affect them, buried as they were in the deep forest. Whether or not their assets were adequate, they pulled up stakes and moved to Cayuga County in 1813. Brigham, now twelve, had learned some of the frontier lessons. His text was the forest, and he learned to read rapidly its lessons. His teachers were his older brothers. His keenness of observation was sharpened on the hone of experience. He was now large enough to work in earnest. The use of the ax, its sharpening, its balancing, its effectiveness in action, became second nature. He learned the ways of wild animals. The old muzzle-loading musket of his father's revolutionary war experience became familiar, from its spark-producing frizzen to the long ramrod reposing under the barrel. The family settled in the town of Aurilius, in the general neighborhood of Auburn. Rhoda, mainstay of her mother, was married to John P. Greene in 1813 in Cayuga County, and John Jr. married Theodosia Kimball in the same year. Then a year later Susannah was married to James Little. This left five children at home, Joseph, Phinehas Howe, Bighorn, Lorenzo Dow, and Louisa. The work of clearing and building went on apace. Then tragedy struck again. Worn out from giving birth to eleven children, rearing them, burying Cabby, her namesake, with the additional hardship of doing it all while making four major moves under primitive pioneer conditions, Abigail Howe Young, affectionately called "Nabby" by her loved ones, died June 11, 1815. She was forty-nine years of age.

She had suffered for many years from tuberculosis. Lorenzo's memory of his mother is of this illness. He remembered her as a "praying, fervent" woman. "She frequently called me to her bedside and counseled me to be a good man, that the Lord might bless my life. On one occasion she told me that if I would not neglect to pray to my Heavenly Father He would send a guardian angel to protect me in the dangers to which I might be exposed." Lorenzo was greatly impressed by his mother. She must have made a greater impression on Brigham who was fourteen when she died.

One wonders how tuberculosis, a highly infectious disease, could fail to conquer the children, but with the exception of little Nabby, they seem to have been immune during their growing years.

During the last months and weeks of Nabby's life, Fanny came home. She left Robert Carr because of his unfaithfulness to her, and returned to her father's house. It was a good thing she did, for she was able to give a guiding hand and a firm purpose to the younger children. She was especially helpful to Nabby in her last illness. She gave security to Lorenzo Dow during the weeks and days of Nabby's slow dying, and kept him occupied so that he was not conscious of the last struggles of his mother.

It should be remembered that death was a terrifying event in that day. There were no tranquilizing drugs. There were but few sedatives known to medicine and these were not obtainable in the back country. If a person died from a painful disease he suffered the full measure of pain right up to the last breath. Tuberculosis is a painful disease, and the slow disintegration of tissue suffered by its victims, plus the pain it causes, is distressing in the extreme to the onlookers as well as to the sufferer. But while Fanny managed to keep Lorenzo Dow's attention, the remaining children were given the experience of a loved one dying a slow painful death. It had a lasting effect upon them.

By now Brigham was old enough (14 years) to have a full realization of his mother's suffering. While it is not recorded it is quite likely that he took his turn at her bedside, making it as easy for her as he could when the wracking cough shook her emaciated frame, and wiping her lips free of the bloody sputum when she became too weak to do it herself. Compassion is a quality best come by when caring for a loved one with a serious illness. Brigham had full opportunity to learn it at this early age. He never forgot the lesson, it growing ever larger in his heart as he matured.

June 1815-1816

The movements of John Young are obscured after the death of Abigail, because of lack of record. Years later, some of the children told of events in their lives and named the approximate dates and places in which the events took place, but these details are conflicting. Certain it is that two events could not have happened to the same people on the same day at widely distant places.

It is certain, however, that John moved his family to Tyrone. John P. Greene had already located there with Rhoda, so it was natural that John should go there to be near them. Fanny handled the children and kept the household together. She was twenty seven. Brigham was past fourteen and growing fast. He had a natural aptitude for tools which rapidly developed into skill by the nature of the society in which the family lived.

The only account which mentions just where they settled states that they located a farm six miles from Greene's farm, which in its turn was twelve miles from Painted Post. This town was an old trading post and fort in the earlier times and was well known on the frontier.

It is not known why John and his boys were clearing land during the winter, living in a small cabin, without the two daughters. There is no way of knowing where Fanny and Louisa were. They could have been with Rhoda, or they could have been with Susannah at Aurilius. This latter is not likely. Wherever the girls were, John and the boys were clearing land at Tyrone.

All winter they labored with a stern, exacting father who expected a man's work from each boy. There were no comforts; just work-then more work. One catches a glimpse of the family rising in the early morning, blowing up the coals into a fire, hugging the fireplace as John prepared the simple meal. He would swing the kettle on the crane, warn Lorenzo to keep the fire going, then with Joseph, Phinehas and Brigham sally into the chilly dawn, where frost bit poorly shod feet and made hands ache with the cold. Later, Lorenzo would wander out to their place of work rather than be left alone where he would help as much as he could.

Toward spring John made some troughs and prepared to make sugar. This was the only cash crop he could produce. The bottom had dropped out of the potash market since the war had cut off the Canadian outlet, so no one leached potash any more. The flour in the barrel got low. Joseph and Phinehas left the farm in search of work which they could exchange for food. The sap began to run as spring brought the requisite warm days and cold nights, and soon John had all he could do keeping the fire under the sugar kettle and the syrup stirring. He made about sixty pounds of maple sugar. And the flour was gone from the barrel.

One morning John packed the sugar, all but a few pounds, into a pack for his back. He instructed Brigham and Lorenzo to go out and clear land each day. He hoped to be back the second evening, he said, with flour in exchange for his sugar. Painted Post was eighteen miles away, eighteen miles of heavy melting snow by day and freezing temperatures by night. Then he walked away into the forest and out of sight, carrying sixty pounds of sugar.

The boys ate a breakfast of sugar. Then they went out and worked at clearing land all day. There was no lunch. As they tramped home toward nightfall the singing of a bird attracted them. There, a few yards away, was a robin, a harbinger of the coming spring, perched on a swaying sumac twig. Brigham told Lorenzo to stand still and watch the bird while he ran to the cabin for the musket, the old muzzle-loader his father had carried during the revolutionary war. Returning with the heavy flintlock he primed the piece and adjusted the flint. Then aiming as best he could he fired. The bird fell fluttering to the ground. He skinned and cleaned it and at the cabin put the carcass in the pot to boil. While Lorenzo held a pan, he upended the flour barrel and by beating on the upturned bottom managed to collect about two spoons of flour, which went into the stew. That robin stew with some maple sugar was supper, breakfast, and lunch for the two hungry boys. It was all they had to sustain the heavy toil of the second day until, as darkness descended, the "hullo" of their returning father echoed through the trees. He brought a pack of meal and once more they had bread.

As summer came and seed was planted amid the stumps left in the cleared land, John came home one day with a bride. She was Mrs. Hannah Brown, widow of a neighboring farmer. She was the mother of several children, but the account does not say whether or not the children came too as a part of the marriage contract. It is assumed that they did, or if not that John went to live on her farm. Six years later, in 1823, a son, Edward, was born of this union. Meanwhile, Lorenzo went to live with Susannah at Aurilius. Brigham must have gone too, and for the next eleven years his growth and development centered in that neighborhood. His first experience as a mechanic was at Auburn in which he worked on a building at the site of the state prison. Before construction could start, the land had to be cleared. The clearing of this swampy and soft land was a difficult operation. Some of the trees were from five to seven feet through, and removing them taught Brigham many lessons in the use of the lever as well as in that of the saw and the ax.

One is curious to know whether Brigham was apprenticed out, or whether his father allowed him to make his own way. It was common to apprentice boys to the learning of a trade, and this was about the only way that beginners could break in. It is quite likely that Brigham served an apprenticeship until he was twenty-one.

Brigham never made any reference to having lived with his father after John's second marriage. Whether he found the changed condition unacceptable or whether he did not live there because he was now old enough to leave home and be apprenticed to a man who could teach him the arts of carpentry, painting and glazing, is not known. In his diary he stated that his half-brother, Edward, was born on July 30, 1823, six years after his father's second marriage, at Wayne, Steuben County. Wayne is the town bordering Tyrone. This must have been the location of the Brown farm. Whether she went home from Tyrone, to give birth, or whether John had moved over to Wayne to live on her farm, we can only surmise.


What could Brigham Young count as his assets as he began his life in Aurilius and Auburn. He possessed no tangible thing that could be sold for gold. Yet through the years he had received the best possible education for a sixteen-year-old boy in his environment. He was self reliant, he could work with the best of them. His well-knit frame was a mass of tough, hard muscle; he was used to lifting heavy loads; he understood the principle of bar and lever; he was an expert with the ax and adze; he could fell a tree so as to have it lie exactly in the position he wanted; he knew which trees make the best firewood, and which are to be avoided because of the sparks they explode. He knew how to split wood, taking advantage of the grain; he knew how to plant and harvest; he had learned a good deal about animals, both tame and wild; he could handle horses and oxen; one controlled them with the voice, he had learned. He had also noticed that, when angry, he could not get the best out of an ox. The calm, certain voice, determined and sure of what was wanted, was the best way.

He knew the lore of the woods. He could cross a section of heavily forested country and not get lost. He had an instinctive feel for direction which had been sharpened by the years of growing up in the back country. He knew when berries are ripe and where to find them; he knew which are edible plants, and he knew the medicinal properties of others.

Brigham had a healthy respect for the large wild animals which he and others of his kind drove farther back into the woods by the clearing operations. He was full of the folklore of the period, but he had scepticism for much of it. And while he had been taught honesty of purpose, truth of speech, and respect for religion, he did not feel drawn to espouse any one faith. Even though his father and mother had accepted (continues...)