A Man of God and a Good Kind Father: Brigham Young at Home

*This article is cited as a reference in an expanded Gospel Topic at LDS.org.

On January 31, 1857, Brigham Young walked into the Church Historian’s Office in Salt Lake City and gave instructions that he wanted very little about his family included in the history of the Church. His reticence no doubt stemmed from people’s curiosity about the Mormon leader’s polygamous lifestyle, which subjected his family to an inordinate amount of scrutiny and ridicule in the public press. Consequently, during his lifetime, the story of Brigham Young’s family remained largely untold. Even now, the literature about Brigham Young focuses disproportionately on his public life, his accomplishments as Church President, colonizer, governor of Utah Territory, superintendent of Indian affairs, and businessman. But in addition to these responsibilities, he was the patriarch of probably the largest family of any public figure in the history of the United States. Brigham Young’s role as a parent is a subject that deserves closer scrutiny. To appreciate what caring for Brigham Young’s children entailed, it is necessary to define his family and consider his domestic experience in the context of his life as a whole. During the years plural marriage was practiced by the Church, Brigham’s family was one of the largest, consisting of fifty-six wives (many of whom were sealed to him for eternity only and were not connubial wives) and fifty-seven children. This article describes the family’s homes, lifestyle, and child rearing. 



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