Clarissa Clara Decker

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Relationship: Sister to Harriet Amelia Decker

Clarissa Clara Decker
Brigham Young - 2nd President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints



  • Born: (22 Jul 1828) (Freedom, Cattaraugus, New York, USA)
  • Died: (5 Jan 1889) (Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA)
  • Buried: (Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA)
  • Plot: I_22_4__


Brigham Young m. (8 May 1844) (Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA)


Isaac Decker b. (29 Nov 1799) (Taghkanic, Columbia, New York, USA)
Harriet Page Wheeler b. (7 Sep 1803) (Hillsborough, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, USA)


  1. Lucy Ann Decker b.(17 May 1822) (Phelps, Ontario, New York, USA)
  2. Charles Franklin Decker b. (21 Jun 1824) (Phelps, Ontario, New York, USA)
  3. Harriet Amelia Decker b. (13 Mar 1826) (Phelps, Ontario, New York, USA)
  4. Clarissa Clara Decker b. (22 Jul 1828) (Freedom, Cattaraugus, New York, USA)
  5. Fannie Maria Decker b. (24 Apr 1830) (Freedom, Cattaraugus, New York, USA)
  6. Isaac Perry Decker b. (7 Aug 1840) (Winchester, Scott, Illinois, USA)


Clara Decker Young was born July 22, 1828 at Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York, the daughter of Isaac Decker and Harriet Page Wheeler. The Decker family moved to Ohio, Missouri, thence to Illinois. When she was sixteen years of age she married Brigham Young, May 8 , 1844, and remained at the side of her husband in the exodus from Nauvoo and Winter Quarters. When the pioneer band, led by her great and wise husband, set out on their momentous journey in the spring of 1847, she made that pilgrimage to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.

Clara Decker Young was not a public woman. She took no part in affairs outside of her home, though her sympathies were with women who were doing charitable and religious work. She was a great reader and always kept in touch with vital subjects, especially those perta ining to literature and the arts. She was small in stature, of medium complexion, a loving wife, devoted mother, and a faithful friend to all needing her friendship. She was the mother of five children: Jeanette R., born December 14, 1849, Nabbie Howe, born March 22, 1852; Jedediah Grant, born January 11, 1856; Albert Jeddie, born 1858 and Charlotte Talula, born March 4, 1861.

Clara Decker Young died January 5, 1889 in Salt Lake City in her old home on State Street, near the former site of the famous Social Hall. She was the last of the three original pioneer women of Utah to pass from mortality. Jeanette Young Easton

Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 1, Brigham Young - His Wives and Family

The First Utah Pioneer Women

The Three Pioneer Women

It was not at first intended that any women or children should join the pioneer company because of the hardships and dangers which necessarily must be faced on so long and hard a journey, but Harriet, the wife of Lorenzo Young, pleaded so earnestly to accompany her husband, because of the damp malarial climate on the Missouri bottoms which aggravated the condition of her health, that permission was finally granted by President Young for her to make the journey with him. Clara Decker Young, wife of Brigham Young, and Ellen Saunders Kimball, wife of Heber C. Kimball, and two children, Isaac Perry Decker Young and Sobieski Young also made the journey with the pioneer company. The women were ministering angels to the sick along the route.

Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 2, p.481

A Woman's Experiences With the Pioneer Band
By Mrs. Clara Decker Young

Clara [Clarissa] Decker was born in Freedom, Cattaraugus Co. New York, on the 22nd of July, 1828. Her parents subsequently moved to Portage Co., Ohio [1833]; thence to Davies [s] Co. Mo., in 1837—forced to leave there, being Mormons, they fled to Far West where then [sic] remained this winter of 37-38. In February 1839 went to Quincy and later moved to Nauvoo [1841].

While they were living in Davis [Daviess] Co. they were warned that they must leave the place immediately. Two of the children were ill from some protracted illness, but they had to be moved notwithstanding. One team was got ready, a bed placed on the bottom of the wagon and the children laid on it, as much else was piled in as could be carried and the rest of the family provided for as best they were able; there were six children. Few of the household goods were taken, as they expected to return soon. Mr. Decker returned to the house to load up another team or to look after his grain, when he was warned that he would be scourged, or his place burned if he remained. At four in the afternoon he started to overtake his family, and at 8 o'clock he saw in the distance his buildings and hay stacks in flames. The children became so ill that night, that Mrs. Decker stopped the teamster two or three times thinking one or the other was dying; they eventually recovered, however.

As crowded as Far West was, every house was obliged to receive these fugitives. They were thus received themselves. While Mr. Decker was gone for a load of wood he was arrested and taken a prisoner to the camp. It was a week before his family knew anything about him. He was not badly treated; with his jolly good-natured temperament he made friends everywhere. He was released and remained with his family through the winter. They had of course lost everything and had to gain their support as best they were able. Their meal, for one item of food, was of the coarsest; it had to be ground in a coffee mill much of the time, as they could get none out side the place.

Clara Decker was sixteen when she was married to Brigham Young; he had already four wives; she says she cannot remember a time when she did not know him. She was married from her father's house in Nauvoo, and afterward when the temple was ready the ceremony was repeated; as that was the consecrated building it was required of them, altho' the first marriage ceremony was legal.

When they went to Quincy, Capt. Pitt's band was with their company; they left Nauvoo in '46, all going to the Mo. in companies, one following another. The final departure of the Pioneer Band was from Winter's Quarters on the 7th of April. Brigham Young called upon the people for Pioneers; it was necessary for them to be strong and young enough to endure hardships; they must go well provisioned. Several of their number could play on instruments, so they frequently had music. There were two other ladies beside herself; her mother [Harriet Page Wheeler Decker], Lorenzo Young's second wife, whose asthmatic trouble induced her to accompany them; her going induced the others, Mrs. Clara Young and Mrs. Heber C. Kimball.

Mrs. Clara Young continues by saying she never felt so badly in her life as when she was actually starting on this uncertain pilgrimage; they didn't know where they were going; only that it was across the plains; still she firmly believed all would be right. Throughout that winter life had been so social, and this going away from so large a number seemed dreadful to her. But when they had really reached their destination she was relieved and really satisfied. It didn't look so dreary to her as to the other ladies. They were terribly disappointed because there were no trees and to them there was such a sense of desolation and loneliness.

They first camped beside some high grass and willows near the creek; "my poor mother was heart-broken because there were no trees to be seen;" says her daughter, "for I don't remember a tree that could be called a tree."

The Pioneers reached Salt Lake City on the 24th of July and left there on the 24th of Aug. On their journey they had had an attachment to their wheel which measured the distance they travelled. In that short time the men accomplished marvels. They cut down and hauled timber from the canons and built the east side of the fort. Mrs. Clara Young says the house had a door and a wooden window, which thro' the day was taken out for light and nailed in at night. They were the first to move in to the fort. Mentions also a little port hole at the east end of fort, which was taken out, and put in at night. They had some crude contrivance for sawing lumber; a hole dug in the ground and men working from above, it was a whip-saw. They made puncheon floors—of logs split thro' the middle and the rounded sides underneath. They had adobe chimneys, and a fire-place in the corner with a clay hearth.

And now but a small number was left and no one could tell how long it might be before they could see, or hear from one another. But they had grown braver and stronger as they had grown accustomed to their surroundings. On the 19th of September news was brought in of the second company, which was about coming in. Families, too, from Pueblo, left there by the Mormon Battalion came in, and being but scantily provided with food, the older residents were obliged to divide their store. Before reaching Laramie, three of the pioneers were sent to Pueblo to tell the families there to strike their trail and follow them to their settlement. After awhile several of the Mormon Battalion also came on and joined them; the original stores were still further drawn upon.

Mrs. Clara Decker Young

Brigham Young followed no trail. There were wagon tracks along the Platte River. "As I remember there was no trail after leaving Laramie, going over the Black Hills, except very rarely. For a short distance, before reaching the Sweetwater, we saw a wagon track, and it was a great surprise and great curiosity." At Platte and Green Rivers they left men to ferry their followers across.

When the Pioneers returned they took their wagons, of course. These they had been used to sleep in. One of the number left Mrs. Clara Young his feather bed; but she had so long been accustomed to sleep on the ground or a wagon-bed, that it was some time before she could appreciate that luxury. Mrs. Young says her chest was her only table; the bedstead was built in to the house in the corner; that formed two sides, then two poles formed the opposite sides, holes being bored in the walls and thus secured; then the bed cords were tightly wound around some pegs for that purpose. After the Second Emigration came in Sister Eliza Snow and Sister Clara Young occupied the same bed and table for a long time. Mrs. Lorenzo Young had a cow and occasionally churned butter as a luxury. The Emigration Companies always carried hen-coops on the back of their wagons—The Pioneer Band probably had no chickens or eggs. When the crickets began destroying the crops, word was sent back that probably no food could be raised that year, and no further emigrations should come in that season. Plenty of people were going East but none were coming in. It was almost a year before letters or any word was received from Brigham and his band. But in August two men, Brothers Green and Taylor, sent on in advance of the Company brought the first news. The excitement was intense. Letters were brought in, without envelopes, tied with buckskin thongs wound around again and again. They reported that everything was all right; that a large company was coming; that everybody was bringing plenty of food. All this was very cheering. They brought in peas for one thing which were indeed a luxury.

When the crickets were here am sure the wheat was in head, and that it averaged two or three crickets on every head, bending them down. One couldn't step without crushing under foot as many as the foot could cover.

Mrs. Clara Young lived for awhile in the first house that was built which was that of Lorenzo Young's where the Beehive now is. Her mother planted the Locust trees and only saved those she kept covered with buckets. The house she afterward lived in has since been called the "Corncrib" and is still [1884] standing.

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