Young, B.

Root Marriage

Brigham Young, 23
Miriam Works, 18
1824-10-08

First Plural

Lucy Ann Decker, 20
1842-06-14
Previous Marriages:
William Seeley

Subsequent Plural

Mary Anne Angell, 34
1843-05-29
Harriett Elizabeth Cook, 18
1843-11-02
Augusta Adams, 40
1843-11-02
Clarissa Clara Decker, 15
1844-05-08
Emily Dow Partridge, 20
1844-09
Louisa Beaman, 29
1844-09-19
Eliza Roxcy Snow, 40
1844-10-03
Elizabeth Fairchild, 16
1844-10-03
Clarissa Blake, 47
1844-10-08
Rebecca Greenleaf Holman, 20
1844-10-09
Diana Severance Chase, 17
1844-10-10
Maria Lawrence, 20
1844-10-12
Susanna Snively, 29
1844-10-31
Olive Grey Frost, 28
1844-11-07
Mary Ann Clark, 28
1845-01-15
Margaret W Pierce, 21
1845-01-16
Mary Harvey Pierce, 23
1845-01-16
Emmeline Free, 19
1845-04-30
Mary Elizabeth Rollins, 27
1845-05-22
Margaret Maria Alley, 20
1846-01-14
Emily Haws, 22
1846-01-15
Olive Andrews, 27
1846-01-15
Clarissa Ross, 31
1846-01-21
Ellen Rockwood, 16
1846-01-21
Martha Bowker, 24
1846-01-21
Abigail Works, 64
1846-01-28
Cynthia Weston, 63
1846-01-28
Phoebe Ann Morton, 59
1846-01-28
Jemima Angell, 41
1846-01-28
Rhoda Richards, 61
1846-01-31
Mary Elizabeth Nelson, 33
1846-01-31
Zina Diantha Huntington, 25
1846-02-02
Mary Ann Turley, 18
1846-02-03
Mary A de la Montague, 42
1846-02-03
Julia Foster Hampton, 34
1846-02-03
Amy Cecilia Cooper, 41
1846-02-03
Abigail Harbach, 55
1846-02-03
Maria Chase, 44
1846-02-03
Naamah Kendel Jenkins Carter Twiss, 24
1846-02-06
Nancy Cressy Walker, 66
1846-02-06
Lucy Bigelow, 16
1847-03-20
Mary Jane Bigelow, 19
1847-03-20
Sarah Malin, 44
1848-04-18
Avis Ann Hakes, 20
1848-05-05
Mary Woollerton, 23
1850-09-10
Eliza D. Burgess, 22
1850-10-03
Mary Oldfield, 61
1852-12-16
Eliza Babcock, 24
1853
Catherine Reese, 51
1855-06-10
Harriet Emeline Barney, 25
1856-03-14
Harriet Amelia Folsom, 24
1863
Mary Van Cott, 20
1865-01-08
Ann Eliza Webb, 23
1868-04-07
Elizabeth Jones, 57
1869-07-03
Lydia Farnsworth, 62
1870-05-08
Hannah P. Tapfield, 65
1872-12-08
Amanda Barnes
UNK
Mary Ann Angell
Brigham Young, 1850
Lucy Ann Decker

Brigham Young and Miriam Angeline Works were civilly married in Cayuga, New York, in 1824 and joined the Methodists that same year. Five years later they moved to Mendon, New York and Brigham built a home and woodworking shop on his father’s property, just 15 miles from where the Joseph Smith family lived. The couple joined Smith’s Church of Jesus Christ in spring of 1832. Miriam died of tuberculosis the following September at the age of 26. The next year, Brigham and his two young daughters, aged eight and three, relocated to Kirtland, Ohio, where he civilly married another New Yorker, 30-year-old Mary Anne Angell, in 1834. She had joined the church in 1832 with her brother Truman, who later would serve as the Salt Lake temple architect. The family left for Far West, Missouri in 1838, and within a year fled to Nauvoo, Illinois. Almost immediately, Brigham was sent on a proselytizing mission to England with other members of the apostolic quorum. Upon his return in the summer of 1841, he was taught the principle of plural marriage and in 1842 was sealed to Lucy Ann Decker for eternity. Lucy had civilly married William I. Seely in 1837, when she was fourteen. They had two children by the time she left him to marry Brigham five years later. 

Brigham had earlier proposed plural marriage to Martha Brotherton, who had emigrated from England with her birth family in the fall of 1841. Not long after their arrival, the Brothertons became alienated from the church and moved to Warsaw, Illinois, apparently intending to return to England. Whatever the basis for this decision, it was likely aggravated by Brigham’s proposal of a plural marriage to Martha, who was so offended by the idea that she not only rejected the proposal but also published a widely circulated exposé of the practice. Her sister Elizabeth, however, remained in Nauvoo and was sealed to Parley Pratt a few months later.  

In the fall of 1842, Brigham was sealed to Augusta Adams, also known as Augusta CobbHe met Bostonian Augusta earlier that summer while serving a mission in New England. She and her sister-in-law had joined the church in 1832, though Henry, her husband of twenty-one years, did not. When Brigham left for to Nauvoo, Augusta went with him taking only a young daughter and an infant son, who died en route. She left her husband and six older children behind.  

In 1843, Brigham was sealed to Harriett Elizabeth Cook. A well-educated daughter of a successful New York machinist, Harriett first heard of and believed in Mormonism at the age of eleven. Forbidden by her Quaker parents to pursue it, Harriett was not baptized until she was eighteen. She arrived in Nauvoo in June of the following year and was sealed to Brigham five months later. The two may have met through his brother-in-law, John P. Greene, from whom she learned of the church. Harriett’s son, Oscar Brigham, was born in 1846. When her father learned she was determined to go West with the Youngs, he helped finance her preparations.  

In late spring of 1844, Brigham was sealed to Clarissa Clara Decker, the younger sister of his first plural wife, Lucy Ann. Clara was sixteen when she was sealed to Brigham. The Decker family had embraced Mormonism in the mid-1830s and moved from Portage, Ohio, to Kirtland and continued in the Church through its western movement. In fact, Clara and her mother Harriet were, with Heber Kimball’s plural wife Ellen Sanders, the only women included in Brigham’s advance company of pioneers who first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. By then Harriet had left Clara and Lucy Ann’s father to be sealed as a plural wife to Lorenzo Young, Brigham’s brother. Isaac, Harriet’s husband and the father of Clara and Lucy Ann, was apparently amenable to the change and himself took two wives in Nauvoo and another five in Utah, who bore him fifteen children in addition to the six he had with Harriet.  

From Winter Quarters, Augusta Adams sent a letter to Brigham in the Salt Lake Valley requesting a release from their sealing in order to be sealed by proxy to Joseph Smith. Despite the change in eternal kinship ties, Augusta travelled to Utah in one of Brigham’s pioneer companies in 1848, like his other wives. Augusta also lived in the Lion House and received a “widow’s pension” after Brigham’s death in 1877. Lucy Ann, Clara, and Augusta all remained with the Young family throughout their lives. Lucy Ann bore seven children and, beginning in 1849, Clara added five the family. The sisters died in Salt Lake City almost exactly one year apart, in January 1889 (Clara) and 1890 (Lucy Ann). Harriett Elizabeth Cook bore one child, and worked as a school teacher and bookkeeper for the Young family until her death in 1898.  

Mary Ann Angell never joined the Salt Lake City wives in the Lion House, but lived with her children a block away. By the time Brigham died in 1877, she had been married to him for forty-three years. She died in Salt Lake City five years later, leaving no record of her experiences with or opinion of her husband’s many wives and children.  

This sketch is limited to the Young family marriages entered into from 1824 to mid-1844, when Joseph Smith dies and the transition in church leadership begins. During this period Brigham was sealed to four women; all of whom lived as part of his household their entire lives and named in his will at his death in 1877. More will be said about Brigham’s additional sealings at each successive phase of the development of early Mormon marriage. For an overview of the later Young household, please see Jeffrey Johnson, “Determining and Defining ‘Wife’ — The Brigham Young Households,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 20 (3) (Fall 1987), 57–70.  


Sources

“Adams, Augusta (KWVC-BPB),” and “Young, Brigham (KWJH-9QN),” FamilySearch database, https://www.familysearch.org/ 

Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–1844,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (Fall 2005): 1–74. 

Brigham Young Granddaughters Association. “Getting to Know: Lucy Ann Decker,” https://www.brighamyounggranddaughters.org/bygablog/lucyanndecker. Accessed 17 Aug 2020. 

Jessee, Dean C. “Brigham Young’s Family: PART 1 1824–1845,” Brigham Young University Studies 18, no.3 (Spring 1978): 311–27. 

Johnson, Jeffrey Ogden. “Determining and Defining ‘Wife’: The Brigham Young Households,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20, no.3 (Fall 1987): 57–70. 

Turner, John G. Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).  

“Young, Brigham,” The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/brigham-young

“Young, Mary Ann Angell,” The First Fifty Years of Relief Societyhttps://www.churchhistorianspress.org/the-first-fifty-years-of-relief-society/people/mary-ann-angell-young?letter=Y&lang=eng