Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Dreams of Brigham Young

Excerpts of The Dreams of Brigham Young by Clair Barrus,
Dreams were an important component of early Latter Day Saint spirituality. Many Mormons attached a high level of importance to their dreams, seeing them as heavenly communications. Recorded below are the dreams of Brigham Young, second prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Brigham Young had a wide variety of dreams. Some were of those he missed, such as a dream of his family while he was overseas. He anxiously asks his daughter where her mother is -- and on meeting his wive, repeatedly kisses her. Or in another dream, he meets Joseph Smith 2 1/2 years his death and repeatedly kisses his hand, expressing how much he missed him.

One dream pokes fun at one of his rivals, making fun of his ears that grow larger and larger. Sometimes, his dreams may have affected decisions he made, such as the decision to sell the Nauoo Temple, or allowing saints to leave Utah for California.

Some of his dreams were quite gruesome, probably the result of stress, such a dreaming of devils after fainting while having four teeth extracted.  In another bloody dream, he watches a man shoot himself, who then hands the gun to Brigham.

he most common theme in his dreams was of the deceased Joseph Smith.  He tells of conversations, advise and assurance received from Joseph Smith. Like WIlford Woodruff, he attached religious significance to some of these dreams, feeling that Joseph Smith was communicating to him from the spirit world.

His dreams were recorded in his journals, letters, were preached in sermons, or  recorded by others.

Below are Brigham Young's dreams, listed in chronological order.
-- June 11, 1840

"We went to the Zoological Gardens. It rained, and I returned, thankful that I had a comfortable lodging-place in my own hired house. After a conversation with Brother Pratt on the necessity of the elders having the power of God with them, I retired to my bed and soon fell asleep, and had a dream about my family being well. They informed me that the Church was not able to sustain the families of the elders on missions." (1)
-- Jul 9, 1843
... I dreamed that Brother Joseph called us home. (2)
[Brigham Young Journal] sunday. this morning I dreamed I saw brother Joseph Smith and as I was going about my business he says brother Brigham dont be in a hurry this was repeated the second and third time when it came in a degree of sharpness. Spent the forenoon in business at the Temple office. Went to the stand found brother Wm Smith preaching a spiritual wife sermon -- in the afternoon had a fine shower of rain (10)
-- Jan 6, 1846. Tuesday.
[William Clayton Journal] ...Elder H. C. Kimball came into the temple at 5 minutes before 11 o clock and in a few moments called upon all the others of the Twelve to unite with him in consecrating some oil for the anointing. ....
At 20 minutes past 11, President Young came in with Mrs. Young, his health not very good, but being quite comfortable. He slept at home and dreamed the same dream three times in the course of the night.... (3)
-- Mar 17, 1846
Brigham Young relates a dream he had the night before: "I was pursued by a beast which threatened my life, and I fled into a house for safety, the beast following me appeared to change into a human being which I attempted to shoot with a seven shooter, to save my own life but it would not go off, then to bluff off the person I drew my small six shooter which went off contrary to my expectations, the ball passed through the brain of the individual, soon as the blood started the man came to his senses and was sorry for what he had done. I felt so bad because I had shot a man, that I awoke and was thankful that it was but a dream." (4)
-- Apr 27, 1846
[Brigham Young Sermon] I related a dream I had the night previous which is as follows: I saw myself employed in the service of an aged man, a Lord, Superintending the affairs of his dominions (assisted by the council); I directed some important steps to be taken, which I considered necessary, notwithstanding the Lord had not instructed me to do so. By and by he come to me smiling, his hair was as white as the purest wool. I told him what I had done, and asked him if I had done right. Pausing a moment, he turned to me with a smile on his countenance and said, "You have done well. I intend to buy a large store filled with all kinds of commodities all of which shall, be under your control as you understand the affairs of my government and will do my people good." Whether Bishop Whitney's doubts were removed or not after hearing the dream he voted to sell the Temple. (5) [Note: That day they made the decision to sell the temple to the Catholic church, in order to provide funds for the poor to cross the planes]
-- Feb 23, 1847
[Brigham Young Sermon] I met with the brethren of the Twelve in the Historian's office. Conversation ensued relative to emigration westward. I related the following dream:
While sick and asleep about noonday of the 17th inst., I dreamed that I went to see Joseph. He looked perfectly natural, sitting with his feet on the lower round of his chair. I took hold of his right hand and kissed him many times, and said to him: "Why is it that we cannot be together as we used to be? You have been from us a long time, and we want your society and I do not like to be separated from you."
Joseph rising from his chair and looking at me with his usual, earnest, expressive and pleasing countenance replied, "It is all right." I said, "I do not like to be away from you."
Joseph said, "It is all right; we cannot be together yet; we shall be by and by; but you will have to do without me a while, and then we shall be together again."
I then discovered there was a hand rail between us, Joseph stood by a window and to the southwest of him it was very light. I was in the twilight and to the north of me it was very dark. I said, "Brother Joseph, the brethren you know well, better than I do; you raised them up, and brought the Priesthood to us. The brethren have a great anxiety to understand the law of adoption or sealing principles; and if you have a word of counsel for me I should be glad to receive it."
Joseph stepped toward me, and looking very earnestly, yet pleasantly said, "Tell the people to be humble and faithful, and be sure to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead them right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go; it will yield the fruits of the kingdom. Tell the brethren to keep their hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it. They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God. Tell the brethren if they will follow the spirit of the lord they will go right. Be sure to tell the people to keep the Spirit of the Lord; and if they will, they will find themselves just as they were organized by our Father in Heaven before they came into the world. Our Father in Heaven organized the human family, but they are all disorganized and in great confusion."
Joseph then showed me the pattern, how they were in the beginning. This I cannot describe, but I saw it, and saw where the Priesthood had been taken from the earth and how it must be joined together, so that there would be a perfect chain from Father Adam to his latest posterity. Joseph again said, "Tell the people to be sure to keep the Spirit of the Lord and follow it, and it will lead them just right." [Winter Quarters] (5)
-- Apr 6, 1847
[George Laub Diary] Conference April 6, 1847, at Winter Quarters. B. Young was teaching the people to get the spirit of the Lord and to keep the spirit of the Lord for he seen Joseph in a dream and he told him to tell this people to get the spirit and to keep it and that he told him again and again and to try all spirits that they may know good spirit from evil ones and not to bar their hearts against any but cleave to the good for this is the way to try the different spirits. (6)
-- Jan 13, 1857
[Brigham Young Letter] Arapeen, Chief of the Utahs, -- I received your letter, which Bro. [Edgar?] wrote for you, as also your presents which you sent by Bro. Snow. You are my Bro. And I am you Bro. and the Bro[ther]s of all good men: I shall send you the things you sent for, if I can get them. I am glad to hear of your going around and preaching and doing good, I am glad to hear you feel well, and to learn you have so good an influence over your people. I hope they will listen to your teachings, and be willing to do as you say. We hope to see the time when you and all the Lamanites, will become the same as we, that we may be one in all things, that your people may learn to work and raise grain, vegetables, and stock, and live in houses as we do: We continually pray for you and Kanoah and all your Brothers, and Antero And Soweette and his boys, also for Peteteneek and all the head men, that the Lord may give you visions, and dreams, and send His Spirit to direct you, and lead and them back to a knowledge of the Lord-God of your Fathers, and cause you to become a people in whom he will take delight.... (7)
-- Sep 26, 1858
[Wilford Woodruff Journal] ...The following Dream was related which President Young [had] on Friday night Sept 24, 1858: He dreamed that 4 men came into his room and tried to get in. He tried to shoot them with his pistol but Could not get it off. He then drew a Bowie knife but found it to be a Carving knife with a saw on one side. At the same time Mr Clarkson reached over his shoulder & drew a large Bowie knife from between his shoulders & attempted to kill Presidet Young who said to him you may think that you are going to do sumthing but I will show you. He then threw his saw knife at Clarkson & Just as it was about to enter his body Brigham Young reached out his hand Caught it so that it did not hurt him saying at the same time you now see what I Can do. Clarkson said I see that my life is in your power. At the same time he plunged his knife into his own breast & split it open then handed the handle of the knife all Bloody to B. Young & walked a short distance & fell dead.... (8)
-- Jun 12, 1860
[Wilford Woodruff Journal] ...President Young told the following drem which he had last night. He said I dreamed that I was in a room with Phineas Young and I saw a smooth faced young man setting beside him. I asked Phineas who it was. He replyed this is the saviour. (I did not believe it.) I smiled and said I wonder if he is the saviour. Phineas said he was. I then asked the person if he was the Savior. He said he was. I asked him if [so] how long have you been here? He said 14 days. I said have you a wife? He said yes this is my wife pointing to a woman dressed in black with a thick dark veil over her face. Said this is my wife. I thought it a funny idea. I felt that I wanted to prove him. Soon the woman vanished and he turned into a woman himself. Then I awoke and the thought Came to me that it was a representation of young Joseph & Emma Smith who had undertook to Esstablished a Church but it was upon fals ground & principles in oposition to the true Church of Christ. I was satisfied he was not the saviour.... (8)
-- Mar 25, 1862
Brigham Young has four teeth extracted by his secretary who is a dentist as well. In the evening he tells friends that some years ago while "with the Prophet Joseph a Dentist endeavored to extract a tooth the pain being very severe he fainted and dreamt he was in hell and saw the Devils." (4)
-- Jun 23, 1874
[Brigham Young Sermon] Now I am going to tell a dream that I had, which I think is as applicable, to the people today- the 21st day of June, 1874, as when I had it. There were so many going to California, and going this way and that way, and they did not know what they wanted, and said I- stay here, we can raise our food here, I know it is a good stock country, a good sheep country, and as good a country for raising silk as there is in the world, and we shall raise some of the best of wheat. There stands a man-Burr Frost, and there is Truman O. Angell, who were present at the time. Said I, "We can raise all we want here, do not go away, do not be discouraged." That was when the pioneers came; the next year, it was California, California, California, California. "No," said I, "stay here." After much thought and reflection, and a good deal of praying and anxiety as to whether the people would be saved after all our trouble in being driven into the wilderness, I had a dream one night, the second year after we came in here. Captain Brown had gone up to the Weber, and bought a little place belonging to Miles Goodyear. Miles Goodyear had a few goats, and I had a few sheep that I had driven into the Valley, and I wanted to get a few goats to put along with the sheep. I had seen Captain Brown and spoken to him about the goats, and he said I could have them. Just at that time I had this dream, which I will now relate. I thought I had started and gone past the Hot Springs, which is about four miles north of this city. I was going after my goats. When I had gone round the point of the mountain by the Hot Springs, and had got about half a mile on the rise of ground beyond the Spring, whom should I meet but brother Joseph Smith. He had a wagon with no bed on, with bottom boards, and tents and camp equipage piled on. Somebody sat on the wagon driving the team. Behind the team I saw a great flock of sheep. I heard their bleating, and saw some goats among them. I looked at them and thought - "This is curious, brother Joseph has been up to Captain Brown's and got my goats." There were men driving the sheep, and some of the sheep I should think were three and a half feet high, with large, fine, beautiful white fleeces, and they looked so lovely and pure; others were of moderate size, and pure and white; and in fact there were sheep of all sizes, with fleeces clean, pure and white. Then I saw some that were dark and spotted, of all colors and sizes and kinds, and their fleeces were dirty, and they looked inferior; some of these were a pretty good size, but not as large as some of the large fine clean sheep, and altogether there was a multitude of them of all sizes and kinds, and goats of all colors, sizes and kinds mixed among them. Joseph stopped the wagon, and the sheep kept rushing up until there was an immense herd. I looked in Joseph's eye, and laughed, just as I had many a time when he was alive, about some trifling thing or other, and said I -"Joseph, you have got the darndest flock of sheep I ever saw in my life; what are you going to do with them, what on earth are they for?" Joseph looked cunningly out of his eyes, just as he used to at times, and said he - "They are all good in their places." When I awoke in the morning I did not find any fault with those who wanted to go to California; I said, "If they want to go let them go, and we will do all we can to save them; I have no more fault to find, the sheep and the goats will run together, but Joseph says, "they are all good in their places." (9)
1 - Elden J. Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801-1844 (Salt Lake City: Smith Secretarial Service, 1968). A longer version of this dream was recorded in his journal:
I first dreamed of being at home in the states & first saw Elizabeth asked her where her mother was she said she was about the house she soon came in I shook hands her hartly as I had don with Elizabeth I imbraced her in my arms and kissed 2 or 3 times and asked hir whare my dear Children was
she & Elizabeth both ansard and said they ware at chool and they ware well and injoyed the chool and loved there Books my wife says we feele well but you must provide for your own family for the church are not able to doe for them,
I next saw a small company on the north which I thought ware saints and another company on the south then both ware in west while the mane boddy of the inhartence of the Kingdom ware East of the 2 small companys, these 2 small ons was at ware with Each other the north company would over come the south from time to time and as they the south deminished they ware replinished from the mane boddy from time to time who as a Community took no notice of the contenchon be tweene the small parties I saw the proces but not the end thee off [Brigham Young Journal.]
2 - Elden J. Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801-1844 (Salt Lake City: Smith Secretarial Service, 1968)
3 - George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1995,
4 - On This Day in Mormon History
5 - Elden J. Watson, ed. Brigham Young Addresses, 1801-1877: A Chronological Compilation of Known Addresses of the Prophet Brigham Young, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Privately published, 1971).
6 - George Laub Diary diary excerpts,
7 - Letters of Brigham Young--Excerpts, 1856-1866,
8 - Wilford Woodruff's Journal: 1833-1898 Typescript, Volumes 1-9, Edited by Scott G. Kenney, Signature Books 1993
9 - Journal of Discourses
10 - Brigham Young Journal

Note: Joseph Smith died, June 27, 1844
-- Aug 17 [1845]
... I fell asleep & dreamed a dream