Brigham Young (1801 – 1877)

Born in Whitingham.

Converted from Methodism to Mormonism in 1832, two years after Joseph Smith’s brother passed through Mendon, New York, leaving a copy of the Book of Mormon with Young’s eldest brother, Phineas, an itinerant preacher. Young, who had gained a substantial reputation for industry and trustworthiness operating a mill and carpentry shop, had wanted to investigate the premise thoroughly. He preached his first sermon two weeks later.

Sometimes referred to as the “American Moses” he personally organized and led the “Exodus” of some 16,000 Mormons from Missouri and Illinois to the “Promised Land” of Utah, where he founded Salt Lake City.

He served as second President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death. In 1851, he was appointed Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Utah Territory by President Millard Fillmore. Six years later, controversy over the separation of church and state (not to mention cries of immorality over Mormon polygamy) found President James Buchanan replacing Young with an “outsider”.

In 1876, he founded Brigham Young Academy, which became Brigham Young University in 1903.