Brigham Young As a Missionary
November 1977

“Brigham Young As a Missionary,” New Era, Nov. 1977, 30

Brigham Young As a Missionary

Brigham Young’s conversion to Mormonism in April 1832 brought a dramatic release of language in him that included speaking in tongues and beginning his first diary. At the same time, he began, hesitantly then avidly, to preach the restored gospel in the area near his home in Mendon, New York. Like many other early converts, even before receiving a formal call from the Prophet, he felt the truth of the Lord’s reminder that “it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”1 At a cottage meeting he attended only one week after his baptism, he was suddenly called on to speak—for the first time in public—and occupied over an hour under the press of the Spirit. As he said, “I opened my mouth and the Lord filled it.”2

His first diary is essentially a missionary journal covering the years 1832–35. It is our earliest holograph (personally handwritten) evidence of Brigham Young’s experience and feelings, and it is a miracle, given the persecutions, travels, and sharp disruptions of Brigham’s life, that that small notebook, and three others like it covering parts of the years until 1844, survived at all. The diaries are not particularly introspective, reporting mainly places visited on his numerous missions; distances traveled; and names, sometimes merely numbers, of those baptized; but they do give us the most direct early evidence of how Brigham perceived his work and what he sometimes felt in his missionary travels. And read in conjunction with the fairly large number of holograph letters written after 1840, they reveal a man of tenderness, spiritual warmth, and insight, as well as the more commonly known Brigham of great energy and devotion.

The first entries increase gradually in detail as Brigham’s facility and actual involvement in the work increase. For April and May of 1832 he noted only that he “preached as opportunity presented. Baptized Rachel Flumerfielt.” Then: “June—Went to Hector, preached at Henrietta. July 6—Baptized John D. Morgan.”3 Late summer was occupied in caring for his wife Miriam, who had accepted the gospel with him in April but who had been weakening for years under the advance of tuberculosis. She died on September 8 at the nearby home of the Heber C. Kimballs, the Youngs’ closest friends, where she was taken during her last illness. In late September Brigham left his two little girls with Heber’s wife Vilate (the youngest daughter had been named after Vilate) and traveled with Heber and Brigham’s brother Joseph the 200 miles to Kirtland, Ohio, to meet Joseph Smith, preaching and baptizing all along the way and back.

They first met the Prophet as he was chopping wood with his brothers-in-law in the forest behind Newell K. Whitney’s store, where Joseph and Emma were then living. To find a prophet thus employed assured much more than it surprised a hardworking man like Brigham. The visitors were invited to stay for supper and for a gathering of some of the brethren that evening. Heber much later remembered that they “had a glorious time; during which brother Brigham spoke in tongues before brother Joseph, it being the first time he had heard any one speak in tongues. We had a precious season and returned with a blessing in our souls.”4 Brigham himself recalled, “We tarried about one week in Kirtland, held meetings nearly every night, and the blessings of the Lord were extensively upon us. I baptized one man while in Kirtland, by the name of Gibson Smith, the father of Newell K. Whitney’s wife, who had just come from Connecticut to learn the things that were being revealed. Being convinced of the truth of the work, he requested me to go into the waters with him.”5

On their return to Mendon, Brigham and Heber continued with local preaching journeys that fall, and then in late December Brigham went on what could be called his first real mission. He traveled with his brother to Canada, where Joseph Young had before preached Methodism and was quite well known. Apparently the two brothers had been given a specific commission to convert a man by the name of Artemus Millett, whom Joseph Young had known during his earlier work in Canada and whom they had recommended in September when Joseph Smith had talked with them in Kirtland about the need for a mason to help build the proposed temple there. The Prophet had said to the brothers, “I give you a mission to go and baptize him into the church and tell him to bring $1,000 with him.”6 They traveled over 500 miles on foot, “most of the way through snow and mud from one to two feet deep,” and finally crossed six miles of thin ice (that bent so much that water filled their shoes) at the eastern end of Lake Ontario (where the St. Lawrence River begins) to get to Kingston. Brigham later reported in his Manuscript History: “We commenced preaching and bearing our testimony to the people. Proceeding [north] to West Loboro, we remained about one month preaching the Gospel there and in the regions round about. We baptized about 45 souls, and organized the West Loboro and other Branches. In the month of February 1833, we started for home, crossing from Kingston on the ice, just before it broke up.”7 Artemus Millett had been baptized by Brigham on February 18 in Loboro and that summer sold his property and moved to Kirtland with more than the requested $1,000 to help with the temple.

When Brigham returned to Mendon, he lived awhile with the Kimballs, and then in April he again started for Canada with his brother. This time he took a boat on the Erie Canal from Palmyra to Auburn, where he visited his dead wife’s mother in nearby Aurelius and left his daughters for a while; he then spent about two weeks preaching in that area where he had been a respected craftsman until moving to Mendon only four years before. The brothers then went on by steamboat to Kingston and retraced the former route in Canada, where they preached, baptized, encouraged the previously formed branches, and organized a new one—all with increasing confidence, as Brigham’s diary indicates:

“May 27 Monday—Went to Loboro, had a prayer meeting in the evening, found the Brethren in good health and in good spirits. There have been seventeen baptized since Brother Joseph and I left here. …

“30 Thursday—Went to Brother N. Lake’s, held a meeting at one o’clock. Had good liberty in preaching.

“June 1, 1833—Preached at 10 A.M. at Peter Rice’s—took dinner at Brother Picksley’s, then attended Reformed Methodist quarterly meeting in the afternoon.

“2 Sunday—Held meeting at Brother Daniel Wood’s at 10 A.M. At 4 P.M. at Stiles Barn and baptized three. …

“8 Saturday—Met in conference with seven Elders and the Brethren. Two teachers ordained. …

“17—Preached at the log school house west of Brother Millett’s.”

Joseph Smith, after receiving revelations commanding that a stake of Zion and a temple be established at Kirtland, had begun to counsel the Saints to gather there. Therefore, in July Brigham brought Brother Lake’s family and other Canadian converts to Kirtland, where he helped them get permanently settled, and he visited with the Prophet. Then Brigham returned home for a few months but went again on local preaching missions throughout western New York, including one extended trip east along the Erie Canal. (“July 26—We went to Aurelius after my children and found them and Mother Work’s family well.”) The diary entries reveal growing success and confidence:

“July 28 Sunday—At 10 A.M. I preached to a large congregation. Had a good time and liberty in speaking. …

“August 25 Sunday—We had a precious time and the Power of God was manifest. …

“September 1, 1833—Preached in the town of Lyons at 10 A.M. to a large congregation and again at 4 P.M. and the presence of the Lord was with us.”

On September 4 Brigham wrote in his diary a formal record of performing his first marriage, and then late in the month he and Heber gathered their families and belongings and moved to Kirtland as Joseph had directed. Brigham later recalled, “I tarried all winter, and had the privilege of listening to the teachings of the Prophet and enjoying the society of the Saints, working hard at my former trade.”8

Indeed he was very busy establishing a new home and providing for his daughters, as well as courting and marrying Mary Angell, a firm-minded convert from New England, who had delayed marriage until she could find someone to fully share her religious concerns and faith. Brigham’s diary is silent during this period except for an entry on November 12: “This morning between day and sunrise went to the river and baptized Brother J. M. Hill.” Probably because he thought of the diary as only a missionary record, the next entry is not until May 1835, when Brigham embarked on his first mission after being called as an apostle.

A few months after his marriage, in May of 1834, he had volunteered, with two hundred others, to go with Joseph Smith to the aid of the persecuted Saints who had been driven from Jackson County, Missouri. This “Zion’s Camp” marched 2,000 miles (averaging 40 miles per day while traveling).

Brigham learned much from the physical and spiritual trials of that forced march, confirming his assurance of Joseph’s calling and his own willingness and ability to be loyal to the Prophet. On the long journey he saw the disasterous results of contention and rebelliousness and formed a deep and permanent aversion to them. And he and a number of others also began to impress the Lord and Joseph with what they had learned. In fact, that testing seems to have been a central purpose of the march, and the next February the Lord chose from those well-tried volunteers the first Quorum of Twelve Apostles and the first Quorum of Seventy in the modern dispensation.

During the fall and winter Brigham had been engaged in quarrying rock for the temple and in painting and glazing for the printing office and school, but as an apostle his time was much taken up with meetings of instruction and counsel—and specific missions for the Prophet. In May he was sent to the Indian tribes living in New York (“Brother Joseph said, ‘This will open the door to all the seed of Joseph’”).9 On the way east he called on a relative at Dunkirk on Lake Erie and preached the gospel to him, but he was “not inclined” to receive it, and, Brigham coolly notes, “to avoid calling on me to ask a blessing at table, he asked the blessing himself, probably for the first time in his life.”10

In June Elder Young revisited the branches in Canada and then crossed northern New York into Vermont and traveled down to Boston, preaching and baptizing along the way:

“July 19 Sunday—The barn and yard were crowded. It was thought there were between 2 and 3 thousand people. There were 144 carriages that were counted by the Brethren. Here we found Fathers and Mothers, Brothers and Sisters.”

After preaching in the Boston area during August and early September, Brigham traveled 20 miles southwest to Hopkinton to visit and teach some relatives, including “Nehemiah Howe where I was received with much rejoicing. I found Grandmother alive and comfortably well for her. She expressed great joy for the privilege of seeing one of mother’s children once more.”11

When he got back to Kirtland in late September (having traveled, he notes, 3,264 miles “this season”), Brigham took some time for his family’s own needs. But he was soon asked to superintend the painting and finishing of the temple. He possibly designed and quite certainly glazed the lovely windows—both the dramatic Federal-style arched windows that frame the triple-tiered pulpits at each end of the temple, and the unusual gothic but sectioned side windows with their intricate panes. And he was able to work closely with his early convert, Artemus Millett, who was supervising the exterior masonry work. Brother Millett had invented for the exterior of the temple a remarkably hard and beautiful plaster that shone in the sun because of the china dishes sacrificed by the Mormon sisters to be broken up in it.12

The women of the Church, as well as the men, had already sacrificed much. Heber Kimball recorded, “Our women were engaged in knitting and spinning, in order to clothe those who were laboring at the building; and the Lord only knows the scenes of poverty, tribulation and distress which we passed through to accomplish it.”13 For the new Church, still less than 500 in membership in the Kirtland area, and all struggling for basic survival after being uprooted to gather to Kirtland, the large, three-story, $60,000 building was a magnificent accomplishment, and the sacrifices and faith brought forth great spiritual manifestations, including visitations of angels, at the time of its dedication services in late March 1836.14

Brigham spent much of that year and the next on a series of successful missions throughout New England. In the spring and summer of 1836 he traveled through New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine, baptizing many and helping with Church instructions and organization, for which he was joined for a while by the Prophet Joseph in August. In his diary he reports that at one time in Boston he received a visit from a priest named Taylor: “We bore testimony of the Book of Mormon and drowned him in his own words and let him go.”15

Whenever he was in New England, Brigham was anxious to visit and teach his many relatives there. In October, after he had returned to Kirtland, his cousin Willard Richards, who had read the Book of Mormon, visited him:

“I invited him to make his home at my house, which he did, and investigated thoroughly the principles and doctrines set forth by the Prophet and Elders of the Church. Dec. 31st, he requested baptism at my hands, which ordinance I administered to him in the presence of Elder Heber C. Kimball and others, who had spent the afternoon in cutting the ice to prepare for the ceremony.”16

A skilled doctor for that time and a fine thinker and writer, Willard Richards came to have great influence on the developing Church—as a missionary with Brigham in England, later as Brigham’s secretary and historian, and finally as his counselor in the First Presidency. The next March (1837), he went with Brigham on another mission to New England, where as part of their work they successfully preached to many other members of their related families. And in June, Willard was appointed by Joseph Smith to accompany Heber Kimball and Orson Hyde in the enormously important mission to England, the first one overseas.

In a later reminiscence Heber reports that when Joseph called him to go to England, he felt great inadequacy; he poured out his feeling to the Lord in the temple and asked the Prophet if Brigham could go with him. But Joseph, probably foreseeing Brigham’s continued effective aid in the gathering storm of apostasy in Kirtland, replied that he wanted Brigham to stay with him and promised Heber that he “would prove the source of salvation to thousands, not only in England but in America.”17

This was fulfilled literally. In fact, it was the success of that mission to England—and then the one three years later when Brigham and six others of the Twelve did accompany Heber—that counterbalanced the internal divisions in Ohio and the external persecutions in Missouri with an influx of new converts and optimism that literally saved the Church. Joseph, with prophetic courage on both these occasions when the emergencies pressing in on him would have seemed to require him to keep his strongest supporters close about him, sent the apostles out to spread the kingdom abroad. The results vindicated Joseph’s courage and also the faith of the loyal Saints. They had seen their leaders flee Ohio in fear of their lives (Brigham actually left in December 1837, a few weeks before Joseph, because of threats brought on by his effective defenses of the Prophet) only to see persecution in Missouri lead to the imprisonment of many of those leaders and the infamous extermination order place their own lives in danger. The converts made by Elders Kimball, Hyde, and Richards in just one year in England provided a foundation that Brigham and the apostles built on in 1840 to bring a literal explosion of converts (over 5,000 the first year alone). These converts supplied the great influx of immigrants to build Nauvoo and later the Zion in the mountains.

Brigham’s mission to England, as the head of the Quorum of the Twelve, began with two dramatic departures that reveal his growing confidence in the Lord and his own developing ability as a courageous and prophetic leader. Indeed, the two years between April 1839, when Brigham led a majority of the Twelve in a daring, necessarily secret, formal farewell ceremony while surrounded by their enemies in Far West, and April 1841, when he triumphantly led them back from England, were among the two most important of his life—both in accomplishment and in personal development. We need to remember that in England he participated in the justly famous mass conversions in Herefordshire along with Wilford Woodruff; that he preached in London and visited St. Paul’s Cathedral and the British Museum; that in England he healed the lame and sick, compiled a book of hymns, published the Book of Mormon and prepared an index for it, established and for a time edited the Millennial Star—these things while welding the Quorum of the Twelve into a unified, smoothly working executive and apostolic body, with himself firmly at its head.

The first departure came as the result of a revelation Joseph Smith received in Missouri in July 1838, commanding that the Twelve, recently riven by the apostasy in Kirtland, be organized again and expand upon its assigned task of proselyting by going to England. They were to “take leave of my saints” in Far West the next April 26 on the building site of the temple.18 But before that time came, Joseph and many of the leaders had been jailed, leaving Brigham suddenly in charge of a desperate winter exodus back across the state to Illinois. The Governor’s extermination order was in effect, so enemies of the Saints were openly boasting that they would kill anyone who tried to fulfill “Joe Smith’s prophecy” about the Twelve leaving for England from Missouri.

Some of the Saints who were gathered in Quincy, Illinois, argued that in their persecuted condition surely the Lord would not require them to fulfill his word to the letter, but Brigham had been learning from Joseph the value of something more important than practical expediency. He knew the value of energetic, even dangerous, effort and sacrifice in keeping faith with the Lord and His prophet, and he knew the value of great example in motivating faith in the Saints. The three other apostles in Quincy agreed with Brigham that “the Lord God had spoken and it was our duty to obey and leave the event in his hands and he would protect us.”19 The four traveled back by carriage, picking up apostle John E. Page (who was still bringing his family out of Missouri) on the way and meeting Heber Kimball in Far West, where he had been in hiding awaiting them. Heber recorded that the Lord cast a deep sleep on the town.20 They met while it was still dark (Brigham was practical as well as courageously faithful) on the morning of April 26, ordained Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith apostles, thus providing a minimum Quorum of seven to do business, directed the laying of a token stone for the foundation of the temple, and “took their leave … agreeable to revelation.”21

The Twelve then returned to Illinois (taking with them the last group of refugees, who had risked their lives to fulfill the Lord’s command to the Twelve to “take leave of my saints”), assisted in settling the scattered Saints on the future site of Nauvoo, and spent the summer getting ready for their missions—preparing physically for their families as much as their destitute condition would allow, and preparing spiritually through meetings with the Prophet, who had been released from jail in time to join them in founding the new city. Then a memorable meeting was held at Brigham Young’s cabin across the river in Montrose on July 2, where “brother Joseph taught many important, glorious principles calculated to benefit and bless [us] on [our] mission,”22 especially advising the apostles to be merciful with each other and pray for each other, to avoid all pride and backbiting such as had brought on the past troubles with dissension and apostasy.23

When the apostles tried to leave in August, the malaria that infested the low, swampy ground where they had settled along the Mississippi had disabled nearly everyone. Brigham’s description is typically simple and restrained, leaving us to imagine the physical and emotional suffering of this second dramatic departure: “My health was so poor I was unable to go thirty rods to the river without assistance. … I left my wife sick, with a babe only ten days old, and all my children sick and unable to wait upon each other.”24 His family was even without adequate clothing because of losses to the mob in Missouri; Brigham himself was wearing a cap made out of a pair of old pantaloons, and he took along a quilt because he had no overcoat until some Saints in New York made him one. He commented that he thus “had not much of a ministerial appearance.” But though deathly ill for a time, and literally carried from place to place as he and a few companions were shuttled by the Saints across Illinois, he gradually recovered strength and began to have experiences commensurate with his calling—even though he lacked the “appearance.”

Traveling without purse or scrip, Brigham found that $13.50 given them by the Saints and kept in his trunk became like the Old Testament widow’s cruse of oil and barrel of flour that were continually replenished; drawn from again and again, it provided $87 worth of fares and meals as they traveled by stage across Indiana and Ohio to Kirtland. There they found John Taylor; he had left earlier while in good health but had been stricken enroute by a near fatal illness from which he was just then recovering. Brigham, showing the expanding dimensions of his spiritual leadership, met with the apostles in the temple where he anointed and blessed Elder Taylor and washed the apostles’ feet.25 This quality, Brigham’s growing confidence in the power of the Lord available to him, associated closely with the humble recognition of his own roughness and his need for polishing, is revealed again in his entry on crossing Lake Erie:

“The lake was so rough that no boat came into port until the 26th, when we went on board the steamboat Columbus. … The wind rose about one o’clock in the morning. I went up on deck and felt impressed in spirit to pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus, for a forgiveness of my sins, and then I felt to command the winds to cease, and let us go safe on our journey. The winds abated, and I felt to give the glory and honor and praise to that God who rules all things.”26

The missionary journey took great physical courage as well as faith. While jumping onto a ferryboat in New York, Brigham slipped and fell against an iron ring on the deck, severely dislocating his shoulder:

“I directed brothers Kimball and Hedlock to lay hold of my body, and Brother Pratt to take hold of my hand and pull, putting his foot against my side, while I guided the bone with my right hand back to its place. … When I came to a fire I fainted, and was not able to dress myself for several days.27

Brigham reported that on the voyage across the Atlantic “I was sick nearly all the way and confined to my berth. … When I landed on the shore I gave a loud shout of hosannah.”28 When he arrived in England on April 6, 1840, he was so emaciated that his own cousin Willard Richards (who had remained in a leadership role there since coming with Heber Kimball in 1837) did not recognize him.

But Brigham did not let his physical condition delay the work he was sent to do. He immediately took stock of the work accomplished in Liverpool by Elder Taylor (who with Wilford Woodruff had come earlier on January 12) and called him and Elders Richards and Woodruff to Preston, the traditional Church center in Lancashire, for Quorum meetings and a general conference. There Willard was ordained an apostle, bringing the Quorum’s strength to eight. Wilford reported on the astonishing success he had been having in Herefordshire; the Spirit had directed him to the home of John Benbow, who had provided access to a large group of “dissenters” from the established church—the United Brethren. President Young (during the conference he was sustained as “Standing President of the Twelve”) demonstrated growing executive skill and sensitivity as he established committees for the various tasks decided on at the Quorum meeting, and then carefully followed through in succeeding months to get approval from the widely separated apostles for various actions taken.

After the conference Brigham immediately took Willard Richards and went with Elder Woodruff to personally survey the remarkable harvest of converts among the United Brethren in Herefordshire. And there he did not merely check things out like a good administrator, but joined fully in the preaching with all its risks and rewards. As Elder Woodruff recorded in his marvelously detailed diary:

“May 14—I walked to Ledbury with Elder Young, from thence to Keysent Street and preached but amid much disturbance and as the meeting was about breaking up the congregation was besmeared with rotten eggs. …

“June 3rd … A notable miracle was wrought by faith and the power of God in the person of Sister Mary Pitt at Dymok. She had been confined six years to her bed, with the spine, which mostly deprived her of the use of her feet and ankles, and had not walked for 11 years, only with the use of crutches. Elders Young, Richards, and Woodruff laid hands upon her and rebuked her infirmity and her ankle bones received strength and she now walks without the aid of crutch or staff.”29

When two of the new converts, John Benbow’s wife Jane and Thomas Kington, a former United Brethren minister, offered to lend the Church the capital needed to publish the Book of Mormon, Brigham obtained approval from the apostles and returned to Manchester. There he supervised that printing and the founding of the Millennial Star. Then, at the July mission conference, President Young inaugurated an extensive, continuing missionary force for the British Mission to supplement and extend the work of the apostles with the help of British converts. He also gave the Saints an inspiring taste of prophetic vision by calling and ordaining a member of the English army who was on his way to the East Indies to carry the gospel there as a missionary. He also ordained 17-year-old William J. Barrett to preach the gospel in the new English colony he was going to in South Australia.

President Young personally engaged in preaching and baptizing in the Manchester and Preston areas while he continued his various administrative and publishing activities. He had hired the huge Carpenter’s Hall in Manchester for meetings for one year and mentions preaching there “to an attentive congregation of about 1,500.”30 He also tells of organizing the priesthood in Manchester to gather on Sunday mornings and go out street preaching. This provided about 40 “preaching stations,” both for teaching and for notifying gatherers about the regular meetings in Carpenter’s Hall, a procedure that is a regular and effective Mormon proselyting tool even today. But Brigham didn’t just send the elders out. As he recorded, one Sunday in November he “went to the Priesthood meeting in the morning and felt impressed to tell the Brethren to go home. The police, who had been instructed to arrest all street preachers that morning [because of Methodist complaints against the Mormons], took up about twenty, who all proved to be Methodists. When the magistrate learned they were not ‘Mormons,’ they were dismissed.”31

In early December President Young spent two weeks with the somewhat discouraged Elders Kimball and Woodruff, who had been assigned to London. Since their arrival in August, the work had gone slowly, and just before Brigham arrived Wilford had written, “There is so much agoing in the city to draw the attention of the people that it almost requires a trump to be blown from heaven in order to awaken [them] to the subject of the fulness of the gospel.”32

President Young’s visit must have served its purpose well because within a week he and the others were preaching to the largest gatherings the missionaries had yet been able to attract in London. Several indicated a desire to be baptized, and an independent minister talked of joining and bringing his congregation with him. Brigham visited the College of Surgeons with a Dr. Copeland, who had been attending seriously to the apostles’ message, and the doctor was baptized the next month. Then the president of the Quorum returned to Manchester and began a flurry of activities, completions, and arrangements for the future that brought the great apostolic mission to a close.

Orson Hyde arrived in March on his way from Nauvoo where Joseph had commissioned him to dedicate Palestine for the gathering of the Jews. The Quorum gathered nine strong in early April for a final conference. They administered the sacrament to the large congregation that now represented nearly 6,000 Saints in England, and all nine apostles bore testimony in turn. Elder Hyde spoke on the gathering of Israel, in which all realized with special poignancy that he himself was playing an important, long-prophesied part. At the end of the last conference meeting, the minutes tell us, “Brigham Young and William Miller then sang the hymn, ‘Adieu, my brethren,’ etc., and President Young blessed the congregation and dismissed them.”33

The growth and achievements of the Quorum of the Twelve as missionaries in England under the leadership of President Young were clearly recognized by the Lord through his Prophet. A few days after Brigham’s return, Joseph visited him in his home and conveyed a revelation to him that “it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me. I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name.”34 And the next August at a special conference of the Church presided over by President Young, Joseph arrived to make the momentous announcement “that the time had come when the Twelve should be called upon to stand in their place next to the First Presidency, and attend to the settling of the immigrants and the business of the Church at the Stakes.”35 The Twelve were thus established in their proper governing role over all the Church, and Brigham Young was unknowingly embarked on the course that would lead beyond Carthage and make him the Church’s second prophet and president and its leader west.

In the next few years Brigham would go on other special missions for Joseph, traveling to the East to combat the slanders of John C. Bennett and to aid in Joseph’s campaign for the U.S. Presidency in 1844. But for now he could only be grateful for a relatively stationary and peaceful ministry and an opportunity to learn from Joseph to be a prophet. On April 25, 1840, on the ship coming home from England, he wrote, “I felt as though I could not endure many such voyages as I had endured for 2 years … and were it not for the power of God and his tender mercy I should despair.”36 The single entry in his diary covering this period (1842) reads:

“January 18th—This evening I am with my wife alone by my fireside for the first time for years; we enjoy it and feel to praise the Lord.”

Ronald Esplin assisted greatly in providing material for this article


  1. D&C 88:81.

  2. Journal of Discourses, 13:11.

  3. Brigham Young Diary 1832–35, Manuscript in Brigham Young Papers, Church Archives. Spelling and punctuation have been modernized and regularized for ease in reading.

  4. Deseret News, 31 March 1858.

  5. Brigham Young’s Manuscript History, September 1832, Church Archives.

  6. Reported by Daniel G. Millett in the Church News (30 August 1975), p. 45.

  7. Manuscript History, September 1832.

  8. Manuscript History, Ibid.

  9. Manuscript History, 2 May 1835.

  10. Manuscript History, Ibid.

  11. Brigham Young Diary, 1832–35, 7 September 1835.

  12. Joseph Millett Journal, Appendix, Manuscript in Church Archives.

  13. Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City, 1967), p. 68.

  14. D&C 110:4, 6–7.

  15. Brigham Young Diary, 1832–35.

  16. Manuscript History, October 1836.

  17. Millennial Star, 10 September 1864, p. 585.

  18. D&C 118:5.

  19. Manuscript History, April 1839.

  20. Stanley B. Kimball, unpublished biography of Heber C. Kimball, p. 127.

  21. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:339.

  22. Manuscript History, 2 July 1839.

  23. Wilford Woodruff Diary, Church Archives, 2 July 1839.

  24. Manuscript History, 14 September 1839.

  25. Manuscript History, 17 November 1839.

  26. Manuscript History, 22 November 1839.

  27. Manuscript History, 2 February 1840.

  28. Manuscript History, 6 April 1840.

  29. Wilford Woodruff Diary.

  30. Manuscript History, 11 October 1840.

  31. Manuscript History, 8 November 1840.

  32. Wilford Woodruff Diary, 8 November 1840.

  33. History of the Church, 4:335.

  34. D&C 126:1–2.

  35. History of the Church, 4:403.

  36. Brigham Young Diary, 1840–44, Manuscript in Brigham Young Papers, Church Archives.

Photos by Longin Lonczyna, Jr.

Kirtland Temple, which Brigham Young helped to build in 1835–1836

The shore of Lake Erie at Ashtabula, Ohio, where Brigham and Joseph spent an afternoon on a missionary journey

Window behind the triple-tiered pulpits in the Kirtland Temple. Possibly designed and probably built by Brigham Young

Rock school house near Auburn, New York, where Brigham may have preached in 1833