Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Death of Brigham Young

Excerpts of  Brigham Young grave site vandalized

A marker at Brigham Young's grave site was vandalized Sunday.  Two men kicked loose a bronze Book of Mormon from a statue of Brigham Young, but were later arrested.

Brigham Young  passed away on  Aug 29th, 1877 and is best known for leading Mormons west after the death of church founder Joseph Smith, and for his practice of polygamy which he had announced exactly 25 years before his death.

Possibly dying of an appendicitis, is last words were "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph!"

Brigham Young left burial instructions including leaving his body in a "clean and wholesome state" with the coffin appearing large enough "that if I wanted to turn a little to the right or to the left, I should have plenty of room to do so."  About 25,000 passed through the Tabernacle to pay their respects.

Brigham Young had recently rearranged the seniority of the Quorum of the Twelve with Orson Pratt no longer the senior member. On Sept. 4th, the apostles sustained senior quorum member John Taylor as President of the Quorum of the Twelve and Brigham Young's two counselors as "counselors to the Twelve." 

A month later Daniel H. Wells, one of the counselors suggested the newest member of the quorum, Joseph F. Smith, become the next president of the church.  Joseph F. Smith was the nephew of church founder Joseph Smith, the closest relative loyal to the "Brighamites" (LDS Church).  Joseph Smith's oldest surviving son was president of the RLDS church (today called the Community of Christ).

Daniel H. Wells and Apostle Orson Pratt would again suggest Joseph F. Smith become president in 1880, and Apostle Heber J. Grant would suggest the same after the death of John Taylor 1887.  Joseph F. Smith eventually became the 6th president of the LDS church.

Difficulties had arisen in settling Brigham Young's estate. Young often did not differentiate between personal property and church property, sometimes putting church property in his own name.

On Nov. 19th, 1877, John Taylor received a revelation regarding Brigham Young's estate; "You have ask of me, and others of the Twelve have asked of me, that wisdom might be given you to adjust these property matters of the Church; Thus saith the Lord: Be one, be united, be honest, act upon the principles of justice and righteousness to the living and to the dead and to my Church, and I, the Lord, will sustain you and will acknowledge your labors. Amen"

On Apr. 10th, 1878, Wilford Woodruff, chairman of Young's estate noted that all of Brigham Young's descendants but one had agreed on a settlement, and the one had lost their case in court.  The descendants owed the church $999,632.90.

Three years after Brigham Young's death on Oct. 10th, 1880,  senior apostle John Taylor was sustained as the 3rd President of the LDS Church.  Today, succession in the church presidency automatically falls on the senior quorum member.

Brigham Young's grave site is a popular attraction and is located at 140 E 1st Avenue just east of Temple square in Salt Lake City.

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