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Lorenzo Dow Young

(1807-1895)
Lorenzo Dow Young

Lorenzo Dow Young's Life of Dedication

In two previous posts, we read about experiences of Lorenzo Dow Young, brother of Brigham Young, in his early life which showed his spiritual sensitivity and preparation.

Lorenzo and his wife Persis learned about the restoration in 1832 when they had a chance to read the Book of Mormon. They were quickly converted, and moved to Kirtland. Lorenzo assisted in the building of the Temple, "having charge of the outside plastering, which was pronounced a fine piece of workmanship." He also served as a missionary.

The family moved to Missouri, where he purchased 160 acres of land and built a log house. After working the land and bringing a good crop, he was driven from his home by the enemies of the Church, leaving almost everything behind. It was said he had "a thousand bushels of corn ready to harvest" which he left, along with his house, "three cows and a yoke of oxen; the latter being killed for beef to supply General Clark's mob militia." They escaped with only a light wagon and a team of horses, and a little bedding, and traveled to Nauvoo to start over.

In Nauvoo, Lorenzo was ordained a Seventy and received his temple endowment. He also married a second wife, Harriet Wheeler, before again being forced to leave their home in the spring of 1846.

The Youngs moved west with the Saints and were in Winter Quarters during the hard winter of 1846-47. When the first party was formed for the journey to the Great Salt Lake in spring 1847, Lorenzo was a part of the group, along with his wife Harriet (one of only three women included), his son Lorenzo, and his stepson Isaac Decker (the only two children in the first company).

Lorenzo's first deed in the valley was to plant some potatoes that he had brought across the plains with him. The first year's crop was barely successful, getting such a late start, but he was able to save "a few small tubers for seed." Those were replanted the next year with better success, and Lorenzo was able to have the potatoes "dealt out in two-quart lots to some of his fellow settlers."

His wife Harriet bore a child less than two months after their arrival in the valley, the first white male child to be born there- named Lorenzo Dow Young, like his father. The baby lived only a few months. Persis and the rest of the family joined them the next year.

In 1849, Lorenzo and Harriet traveled east. In Missouri, they collected provisions: 500 sheep, 80 cattle, several horses. During the return trip, they had some difficulties with Indians:

"Near one of the Pawnee Indian villages, a young man of the tribe rode in among the sheep, and with the utmost [boldness] speared one of the lambs and rode off with it. The Pioneer's blood was up in an instant. The Indian was pursued, shot at, and, as his fellows claimed, severely wounded in the leg by a young Irishman having charge of the sheep. As indemnity the savages demanded five beeves, which the owner refused, at the same time agreeing to give two beeves. The proffer was rejected and the Indians returned to their village. At sunrise next morning hundreds of Pawnees, armed and in war paint, rode into the camp, where their chief reiterated the demand for five beeves. Again 'Uncle Lorenzo' refused, reminding them that the young Indian was the aggressor and had deserved his fate; and while for peace sake he was willing to part with two of his cattle, he was not willing to be robbed and would not give more. The chief's eyes snapped angrily as this bold answer was interpreted to him, and he looked around significantly upon his assembled braves, who apparently where only awaiting the signal to help themselves to the sheep and cattle of the company. The sturdy pioneer also looked around; his wife and little stepson were sitting in the wagon, listening, and the teams were all ready to start. Taking up his rifle and a large pistol, both well loaded, he turned to the chief and said: 'I am prepared to defend myself and my property, and our men are likewise armed and ready. If you or any of your tribe attempt to molest us or stampede our stock, I'll kill you that instant.' He then gave the order to advance, and the train moved on, all the Indians following. A mile was traversed in silence, when suddenly the chief, turning to his band, uttered a peculiar yell, whereupon they all wheeled about and returned, leaving the intrepid company to pursue its way over the plains."

Lorenzo returned to Utah and established a ranch on the west side of the Jordan River. In 1851, he was returning home when he was mistaken for a thief, and shot by guards at the ranch, "the ball severing the main artery and causing him to bleed profusely. With characteristic doggedness he rode on, but nearly bled to death before reaching the house of Daniel Daniels, a friend, about half a mile from the scene of the shooting. Says Mr. Young: 'Brother Daniels went for Brother Thomas Jeremy, close by, and they two laid hands on me, and asked the Lord to stop the flow of blood from my wounded arm. It stopped immediately. The main artery was cut above the elbow, and but for this timely relief I should have bled to death.'"

That same year, he was ordained bishop of the 18th Ward in Salt Lake City, and served in that calling for 27 years until his health failed. He then served as a "home missionary": "For the following three years he traveled, preached and visited most of the stakes of Zion, administering to the sick and afflicted and encouraging the wealthy to aid and befriend the poor."

He was ordained a patriarch by his brother, Brigham Young, in 1877 shortly before President Young passed away. "In this capacity he ministered much comfort and encouragement, especially to the poor, the sick and the sorrowful. He held this office during the remainder of his days."

Lorenzo Dow Young passed away on November 21, 1895.

(See Carter, _Our Pioneer Heritage_, 2:518-19, 8:176; Jensen, _LDS Biographical Encyclopedia_, 2:95; Whitney, _History of Utah_, 4:53-54)

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