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Brigham Young was born in 1801 into the poor farming family of John Young and Abigail Howe He was the ninth of eleven children His family and he lived together in upstate New York At the age of sixteen Young left home to start a career as an itinerant carpenter painter farmer and general handyman He married his first wife in 1824 and in 1829 they moved to Mendon where Joseph Smith was in the final stages of preparing the Book of Mormon for publication Although converted to Methodism Young was strangely drawn to the Mormon religion Two years later he was a baptized member The rest of Youngs life was spent in service to the Mormon Church He went to Missouri in 1834 when hostile gentiles non-Mormons threatened the Mormon community there traveled the eastern states as a missionary and staunchly supported Joseph Smith when the Kirtland settlement foundered in 1837 The next year he followed Smith to Missouri and when anti-Mormon mobs drove the community out helped organize the move to Nauvoo Illinois Young carried the Mormon message to England in 1840-41 gaining many converts among the urban working class By 1841 his devotion had so impressed Joseph Smith that he was made the President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles the governing body of the church second in authority only to Smith himself When Joseph Smith was murdered by an anti-Mormon mob in 1844 Brigham Young was on the East Coast gathering converts and raising money for the construction of an enormous temple in Nauvoo On his return Young played a critical role in keeping the savagely persecuted church together by organizing the exodus that would take the Mormons westward first to Winter Quarters Nebraska in 1846 and finally on to Utahs Salt Lake Valley where Young and an advance party arrived on July 24 1847 Here Young hoped the Mormons would at last find the freedom to worship and live as
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