Zina D. H. Young

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Zina D. H. Young
Photo of Zina D. H. Young
3rd Relief Society General President
April 8, 1888 (1888-04-08) – August 28, 1901 (1901-08-28)[1]
Called by Wilford Woodruff
Predecessor Eliza R. Snow
Successor Bathsheba W. Smith
First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
June 19, 1880 (1880-06-19) – April 1888[1]
Called by Eliza R. Snow
Predecessor Sarah M. Cleveland
Successor Jane S. Richards
Personal details
Born Zina Diantha Huntington
(1821-01-31)January 31, 1821
Watertown, New York, United States
Died August 28, 1901(1901-08-28) (aged 80)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′38″N 111°51′29″W / 40.7772°N 111.8580°W / 40.7772; -111.8580 (Salt Lake City Cemetery)
Spouse(s) Henry B. Jacobs
Joseph Smith
Brigham Young
Children 3, plus 4 adopted.
Parents William Huntington
Zina Baker
Website Zina D. H. Young

Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young (January 31, 1821 – August 28, 1901) was an American social activist and religious leader who served as the third general president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1888 until her death. She practiced polyandry as the wife of Joseph Smith, and later Brigham Young, each of whom she married while she was still married to her first husband, Henry Jacobs.[2]


Zina Huntington was born in Watertown, New York the eighth child of William and Zina Baker.[3] She was taught household skills, such as spinning, soap making, and weaving, and received a basic education. She developed musical talent by learning to play the cello. In 1835, when Zina was fourteen, her family was contacted by Hyrum Smith and David Whitmer, missionaries of the Church of the Latter Day Saints. With the exception of her oldest brother, the entire family joined the church. Zina was baptized by Smith on August 1, 1835.

After receiving advice from Joseph Smith, Sr., Zina's father sold their property and relocated to the church's headquarters in Kirtland, Ohio. Zina was a member of the Kirtland Temple Choir. Nineteen months later, the family moved again to Far West, Missouri. They arrived in Far West at a time of violence between Missouri residents and the newly arrived Mormons. After Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs issued the Extermination Order, Zina's father helped coordinate the evacuation of church members to Illinois. During an 1839 cholera epidemic in Nauvoo, Illinois, Zina and her mother became ill. Her mother died but Zina recovered after receiving care in the home of Joseph and Emma Smith. Zina was eighteen years old.

Marriages and children[edit]

Painting of Zina Young by John Clawson

Zina recorded in her autobiography that when she was twenty and being courted by Henry Bailey Jacobs, she received a secret proposal from Joseph Smith[4][5] As Smith was already married, Zina claimed Smith explained to her that God was restoring the ancient order of plural marriage.[6] Zina declined the proposal and on March 7, 1841, she married Jacobs. Nauvoo mayor John C. Bennett conducted the ceremony.

Zina wrote that within months of her marriage to Jacobs, Smith sent word to her that he had "put it off till an angel with a drawn sword stood by me and told me if I did not establish that principle upon the earth I would lose my position and my life."[4][7] She and Smith were married on October 27, 1841.[8][9] At the time of her marriage to Smith, she was about seven months pregnant with a child (Zebulon William Jacobs),[10] who has been confirmed by DNA evidence to be fathered by Jacobs.[11] Jacobs eventually was made aware of the wedding to Smith, because after Smith's death in 1844, Jacobs stood by while Zina was sealed to Smith in the Nauvoo Temple.[10] After the 1841 wedding, Zina and Henry Jacobs continued to live together, except when he was away serving a mission.[12] Zina and Henry Jacobs had another son, Henry Chariton Jacobs, on March 22, 1846, almost two years after Smith's death.

Soon after Smith's death in 1844, Zina was married to Brigham Young. In May 1846, Young called Henry Jacobs to serve a mission to England. During Jacobs's absence, Zina began living openly in a marital relationship with Young and continued to do so for the rest of her life, without ever obtaining a divorce from Jacobs.[13][14] She had one child with Brigham Young, Zina Prescinda Young, in 1850.[2]

One account, written by a former Mormon, states that just before Jacobs was to leave on his mission, after the Latter Day Saints had left Illinois and were camped in Iowa:

"Brigham Young spoke in this wise, in the hearing of hundreds: He said it was time for men who were walking in other men's shoes to step out of them. 'Brother Jacobs,' he says, 'the woman you claim for a wife does not belong to you. She is the spiritual wife of brother Joseph, sealed up to him. I am his proxy, and she, in this behalf, with her children, are my property. You can go where you please, and get another, but be sure to get one of your own kindred spirit.'"[15]

Jacobs struggled with the arrangement and, in later years wrote to Zina, "the same affection is there .... But I feel alone ..... I do not Blame Eny person .... [M]ay the Lord our Father bless Brother Brigham .... [A]ll is right according to the Law of the Celestial Kingdom of our God Joseph".[16]

In later life, Zina commented that women in polygamous relationships "expect too much attention from the husband and ... become sullen and morose". She explained that "a successful polygamous wife must regard her husband with indifference, and with no other feeling than that of reverence, for love we regard as a false sentiment; a feeling which should have no existence in polygamy."[17]

Church service and leadership[edit]

Zina ca. 1887

After the death of Joseph Smith, Zina Young joined the Mormon Exodus to the Rocky Mountains, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in September 1848. In Utah, Zina Young became involved in a number of public service activities. She became a school teacher and studied obstetrics under Willard Richards. As a midwife, she "helped deliver the babies of many women, including those of the plural wives of Brigham Young. At their request, she anointed and blessed many of these sisters before their deliveries. Other women in need of physical and emotional comfort also received blessings under her hands."[18] In 1872, she helped establish Deseret Hospital in Salt Lake City and served on its board of directors and for twelve years as president. She also organized a nursing school, with courses in obstetrics. In 1876, Zina was appointed president of the Deseret Silk Association,[19] a group which for 30 years attempted to cultivate silk worms and mulberry trees for the local production of cloth. She was also involved in LDS temple work, acting as matron to female temple workers.

When the LDS Church's Relief Society was reorganized in 1880, Zina was selected as first counselor by president Eliza R. Snow. The new presidency was active in refining the society's organization and functions, and helped develop additional church auxiliaries, including the Young Ladies' Retrenchment Association and the Primary Association for children. Zina was active in the temperance and women's suffrage movements, and, in the winter of 1881–82, attended the Women's Conference in Buffalo and a National Woman Suffrage Association convention in New York. In addition to Snow, Zina counted other prominent women in the Relief Society as her friends, including Bathsheba Smith and Emmeline B. Wells.[20]

In 1888, following the death of Snow, Zina succeeded her as the Relief Society's third general president and served until her death in 1901. In 1891, she was a vice president for the Utah National Council for Women. Zina died on August 28, 1901 at age 80.


  1. ^ a b Ludlow, Daniel H, ed. (1992). "Biographical Register of General Church Officers". Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. p. 1651. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140 Free on-line version here. 
  2. ^ a b Allen L. Wyatt (August 2006). "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young". 2006 FAIR Conference. FairMormon. Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  3. ^ "Young, Zina D. H.". Brigham Young University. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 1997, pp. 77–79.
  5. ^ Bradley & Woodward 1994, p. 93
  6. ^ Van Wagoner 1992, p. 44.
  7. ^ Zina Young, "Joseph the Prophet His Life and His Mission as Viewed By Intimate Acquaintances", Salt Lake Herald Church and Farm Supplement, January 12, 1895.
  8. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 81–82.
  9. ^ Bushman 2005, pp. 439–40; Brodie 1971, pp. 465–66; Quinn 1994, pp. 633.
  10. ^ a b Brodie 1971, p. 465.
  11. ^ Perego 2005.
  12. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 81–82
  13. ^ Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 1997, pp. 84, 88, 90–91.
  14. ^ Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History, pp. 44–45.
  15. ^ William Hall, The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed, 1852, pp. 43–44.
  16. ^ Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 1997, pp. 81–82.
  17. ^ Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 1997, pp. 108, 466–67.
  18. ^ Ludlow, p. 654.
  19. ^ Charity Never Faileth at lds.about.com
  20. ^ Bradley & Woodward 2000, p. 197

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Eliza R. Snow
Relief Society General President
April 8, 1888 (1888-04-08)–August 28, 1901 (1901-08-28)
Succeeded by
Bathsheba W. Smith
Preceded by
Sarah M. Cleveland
First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
June 19, 1880 (1880-06-19)–April 1888
Succeeded by
Jane S. Richards