List of Brigham Young's wives
|Mormonism and polygamy|
Portrait of Ira Eldredge with his three wives: Nancy Black Eldredge, Hannah Mariah Savage Eldredge, and Helvig Marie Andersen Eldredge.
Brigham Young was perhaps the most famous polygamist of the early Latter Day Saint movement, marrying a total of 55 wives, 54 of them after becoming a Latter Day Saint. He stated that upon being taught about plural marriage, "It was the first time in my life that I desired the grave." By the time of his death, Young had 59 children by 16 of his wives; 46 of his children reached adulthood.
Number of wives
Sources have varied on the number of Young's wives due to differences in what observers have considered to be a "wife". There were 55 women that Young was sealed to during his lifetime. While the majority of the sealings were "for eternity" (i.e., in the afterlife), some were "for time only" (until death). However, it is suspected that not all of the 55 marriages were conjugal, and Young did not live with a number of his wives or publicly hold them out as wives, which has led to confusion on numbering. A book published in 1887 gives brief biographical sketches and photos of a total of 26 wives.
Of his 55 wives, 21 had never been married before; 16 were widows; six were divorced; six had living husbands; and the marital status of six others are unknown.
At the time of Young's death, 19 of his wives had predeceased him, he was divorced from ten, and 23 survived him, with the status of four unknown. In his will, Young shared his estate with the 16 surviving wives who had lived with him; the six surviving non-conjugal wives were not mentioned in the will.
In 1856, Young built the Lion House to accommodate his sizable family. This building remains a Salt Lake City landmark, together with the Beehive House, another Brigham Young family home. A contemporary of Young wrote: "It was amusing to walk by Brigham Young's big house, a long rambling building with innumerable doors. Each wife has an establishment of her own, consisting of parlor, bedroom, and a front door, the key of which she keeps in her pocket".
Chart of wives
Chart of Brigham Young's wives.
|No.||Marriage date and Young's age at marriage||Photo||Name, lifespan, and age at marriage||Wife's status at marriage||Notes|
|1||October 8, 1824(aged 23)||Miriam Angeline Works (1806–1832) (aged 18)||first marriage||2 children; died a few months after she and Brigham Young were baptized|
|2||March 31, 1834(aged 32)||Mary Ann Angell (1803–1882) (aged 27)||first marriage||This was not a plural marriage, as Young was a widower at the time; 6 children; mother of Brigham Young Jr., John Willard Young and Joseph Angell Young.|
|3||June 14, 1842(aged 41)||Lucy Ann Decker (1822–1890) (aged 20)||abandoned by non-Mormon husband William Seeley (not divorced)||First plural wife of Brigham Young; 7 children|
|4||November 2, 1843(aged 42)||Augusta Adams (1802–1886) (aged 40)||married to non-Mormon Henry Cobb (divorced in 1847)||Young later married her son's ex-wife, Mary Van Cott Cobb (No. 51 below). Grandmother of architect Henry Ives Cobb.|
|5||November 2, 1843(aged 42)||Harriet Elizabeth Cook (1824–1898) (aged 19)||first marriage||1 child|
|6||May 8, 1844(aged 42)||Clarissa Caroline Decker (1828–1889) (aged 15)||first marriage||5 children and a servant Sally|
|7||September 1844 (aged 43)||Emily Dow Partridge (1824–1899) (aged 20).||plural widow of Joseph Smith Jr.||Daughter of Edward Partridge; sealed to Joseph Smith Jr. for eternity and Young for life; 7 children; mother of Don Carlos Young.|
|8||September 10, 1844(aged 43)||Clarissa Ross (1814–1857) (aged 30)||first marriage||4 children; mother of Maria Young Dougall and Willard Young|
|9||September 19, 1844(aged 43)||Louisa Beaman (1815–1850) (aged 29)||plural widow of Joseph Smith Jr.||sealed to Joseph Smith Jr. for eternity and Young for life; 5 children|
|10||October 3, 1844(aged 43)||Eliza R. Snow (1804–1887) (aged 40)||plural widow of Joseph Smith Jr.||sealed to Joseph Smith Jr. for eternity and Young for life|
|11||October 3, 1844(aged 43)||Elizabeth Fairchild (1828–1910) (aged 16)||first marriage||divorced 1855|
|12||October 8, 1844(aged 43)||Clarissa Blake (1796–?) (aged 48)||widow of—Morse; married to Mormon husband Lyman Homiston|
|13||October 9, 1844(aged 43)||Rebecca Holman (1824–1849) (aged 20)||first marriage|
|14||October 10, 1844(aged 43)||Diana Chase (1827–1886) (aged 17)||first marriage||divorced prior to 1849|
|15||October 31, 1844(aged 43)||Susanne Snively (1815–1892) (aged 29)||first marriage||one daughter|
|16||November 7, 1844(aged 43)||Olive Grey Frost (1816–1845) (aged 28)||plural widow of Joseph Smith Jr.||sealed to Joseph Smith Jr. for eternity and Young for life|
|17||January 15, 1845(aged 43)||Mary Ann Clark (1816–?) (aged 28)||previously married to —— Powers (unknown if she was widowed, divorced, or separated)||divorced June 1851|
|18||January 16, 1845(aged 43)||Margaret Pierce (1823–1907) (aged 22)||widow of Morris Whitesides||sealed to Morris Whitesides for eternity and Young for time; 1 child|
|19||January 16, 1845(aged 43)||Mary Pierce (1821–1847) (aged 25)||first marriage|
|20||April 30, 1845(aged 43)||Emmeline Free (1826–1875) (aged 18)||first marriage||10 children|
|21||May 22, 1845(aged 43)||Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (1818–1910) (aged 26)||married to non-Mormon Adam Lightner and plural widow of Joseph Smith Jr.||sealed to Joseph Smith Jr. for eternity and Young for time; remained living with Lightner|
|22||January 14, 1846(aged 44)||Margaret Alley (1825–1852) (aged 20)||first marriage||2 children|
|23||January 15, 1846(aged 44)||Olive Andrews (1818–?) (aged 27)||posthumous plural wife of Joseph Smith Jr.||sealed to Joseph Smith Jr. for eternity and Young for time|
|24||January 15, 1846(aged 44)||Emily Haws (1823–?) (aged 22)||widow of William Whitmarsh|
|25||January 21, 1846(aged 44)||Martha Bowker (1822–1890) (aged 23)||first marriage||one daughter|
|26||January 21, 1846(aged 44)||Ellen Rockwood (1829–1866) (aged 16)||first marriage|
|27||January 28, 1846(aged 44)||Jemima Angel (1803–1869) (aged 42)||divorced from Valentine Young (no relation)|
|28||January 28, 1846(aged 44)||Abigail Marks (1781–1846) (aged 69)||widow of Asa Works||sealed to Works for eternity and Young for time; Abigail Marks was the mother of Young's first wife, Miriam Works|
|29||January 28, 1846(aged 44)||Phebe Morton (1786–1854) (aged 59)||widow of James W. Angel||sealed to Angel for eternity and Young for time|
|30||January 28, 1846(aged 44)||Cynthia Porter (1783–1861) (aged 62)||married to William Weston (unknown if she was widowed, divorced, or separated)|
|31||January 31, 1846(aged 44)||Mary Eliza Nelson (1812–1885) (aged 33)||widow of John P. Greene||sealed to John P. Greene for eternity and Young for time; divorced by 1850|
|32||January 31, 1846(aged 44)||Rhoda Richards (1784–1879) (aged 61)||plural widow of Joseph Smith Jr.||sealed to Joseph Smith Jr. for eternity and Young for time|
|33||February 2, 1846(aged 44)||Zina Diantha Huntington (1821–1901) (aged 25)||married to Mormon Henry Bailey Jacobs; plural widow of Joseph Smith Jr.||sealed to Joseph Smith Jr. for eternity and Young for time; not sealed to Jacobs; lived with Young; 1 child|
|34||February 3, 1846(aged 44)||Amy Cecilia Cooper (1804–1852) (aged 41)||married to (non-Mormon?) Joseph Aldrich; separated later and he remarried|
|35||February 3, 1846(aged 44)||Mary Ellen de la Montaigne (1803–1894) (aged 42)||divorced from James Boyd Woodward||divorced 1846-12-13 and remarried Woodward; both Woodward and de la Montaigne were adopted to Brigham Young at Nauvoo|
|36||February 3, 1846(aged 44)||Julia Foster (1811–1891) (aged 36)||widow of Mormon Jonathan Hampton, who died in Nauvoo in 1844.||Stayed in Illinois when Brigham Young emigrated to Utah in 1847. Young sent for her in 1855, and she came with her children and managed the Lion House.|
|37||February 3, 1846(aged 44)||Abigail Harback (1790–1849) (aged 55)||previously married to John Calvin Hall (unknown if she was widowed, divorced, or separated)|
|38||February 3, 1846(aged 44)||Mary Ann Turley (1827–1904) (aged 18)||first marriage||divorced 1851|
|39||February 6, 1846(aged 44)||Naamah Carter (1821–1909) (aged 24)||widowed from John S. Twiss, who had died September 10, 1845 |
|40||February 6, 1846(aged 44)||Nancy Cressy (1780–1872) (aged 65)||widow of Oliver Walker|
|41||February 10, 1846(aged 44)||Jane Terry (1819–1847) (aged 26)||widow of George W. Young (no relation)||requested on deathbed to be sealed to Brigham Young; died four days after marriage|
|42||March 14, 1847(aged 45)||Lucy Bigelow (1830–1905) (aged 16)||first marriage||3 children|
|43||March 14, 1847(aged 45)||Mary Jane Bigelow (1827–1868) (aged 19)||first marriage||divorced 1851|
|44||April 18, 1848(aged 46)||Sarah Malin (1804–1858) (aged 43)||first marriage||later divorced|
|45||October 3, 1852(aged 51)||Eliza Burgess (1827–1915) (aged 25)||first marriage||1 child|
|46||December 16, 1852(aged 51)||Mary Oldfield (1793–1875) (aged 59)||widow of Eli Kelsey|
|47||before 1853 (aged 51)||Eliza Babcock (1828–1868) (aged 24)||first marriage||divorced 1853|
|48||June 10, 1855(aged 54)||Catherine Reese (1804–1860) (aged 51)||widow of Zephaniah Clawson|
|49||March 14, 1856(aged 54)||Harriet Barney (1830–1911) (aged 25)||divorced from W. H. H. Sagers||1 child|
|50||January 24, 1863(aged 61)||Amelia Folsom (1838–1910) (aged 24)||first marriage||Rumoured to be Brigham's favorite wife.|
|51||January 8, 1868(aged 66)||Mary Van Cott (1844–1884) (aged 23)||divorced from James Thornton Cobb (son of wife no. 4) ||1 child|
|52||April 7, 1868(aged 66)||Ann Eliza Webb (1844–1917) (aged 24)||divorced from James L. Dee||divorced 1875; later became an outspoken critic of polygamy|
|53||July 3, 1869(aged 68)||Elizabeth Jones (1814–1895) (aged 55)||widow of David T. Lewis and Dan Jones|
|54||May 8, 1870(aged 68)||Lydia Farnsworth (1808–1897) (aged 61)||married to Elijah Mayhew||Sealed to Brigham Young for eternity but remained living with husband Mayhew|
|55||December 8, 1872(aged 71)||Hannah Tapfield (1807–1886) (aged 65)||married to non-Mormon Thomas O. King||Sealed to Brigham Young for eternity but remained living with husband King|
- Jeffrey Odgen Johnson, “Determining and Defining ‘Wife’ — The Brigham Young Households”, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 20, no. 3 (Fall 1987) pp. 57-70.
- "Polygamy and the Church: A History". The Mormons: People & Events. WGBH Educational Foundation. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
- "Brigham Young Biography". Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
- Crockwell, James H. Pictures and biographies of Brigham Young and his wives.Being a true and correct statement of the birth, life and death of President Brigham Young, second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and brief biographies of his twenty-six wives, and names and number of children born to them. Salt Lake City,Utah.
- DeHegermann-Lindencrone, Lillie. "The Sunny Side of Diplomatic Life, 1875-1912". Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 2006-07-18.
- Age on January 1, 1853
- Hal Schindler, "Brigham Young's Favorite Wife", Salt Lake Tribune, 1995-07-30, p. J1.
- The marriage year of 1868 is according to her obituary and Broadhurst, Dale R. "James Thornton Cobb: the Don Quixote of Deseret; A Spalding Saga Episode". The Spalding Research Project. Retrieved 2010-03-29.; "Family Group Sheet". Brigham Young Family Ancestors. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- Other sources suggest a marriage on this day in 1865. See Jeffrey O. Johnson and Susa Young Gates and Mabel Young Sanborn (July 1920). "Brigham Young Genealogy". The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine. 11 (3): 133. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- Media related to Wives of Brigham Young at Wikimedia Commons
- List of Brigham Young's wives on familysearch.org
- Young Family Genealogy. MSS SC 981; Young Family genealogy; 20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
- Brigham Young's Wives, Children, and Grandchildren. MSS SC 1995; 20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
- *Wives of Brigham Young. MSS 664; 20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.