Harriet Maria Young

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Relationship: Step sister to Harriet Amelia Decker



  • Born: (21 Jul 1834) (Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, USA)
  • Blessed: by the Prophet Joseph Smith
  • Died: (16 Feb 1928) (Kanab, Kane, Utah, USA)
  • Buried: (18 Feb 1928) (Kanab City Cemetery, Kanab, Kane, Utah, USA)


Joseph Gurnsey Brown m. (31 Dec 1851) (Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA)


Father: Lorenzo Dow Young b. (19 Oct 1807) (Smyrna, Chenango, New York, USA)
Mother: Persis Goodall b. (26 Jun 1826) (Watertown, Jefferson, New York, USA)


  1. William Goodall Young b. (21 Feb 1827) (Canadaigua, Ontario, New York, USA)
  2. Joseph Watson Young b. (12 Jan 1828) (Mendon, Monroe, New York, USA)
  3. Lucy Ann Young b. (27 Nov 1832) (Pittsburg, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, USA)
  4. Harriet Maria Young b. (21 Jul 1834) (Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, USA)
  5. John Ray Young b. (30 Apr 1837) (Winchester, Scott, Illinois, USA)
  6. Franklin Wheeler Young b. (17 Feb 1839) (Winchester, Scott, Illinois, USA)
  7. Lorenzo Sobieski Young b. (9 Mar 1841) (Winchester, Scott, Illinois, USA)
  8. Lucius James Young b. (12 Jul 1843) (Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA)
  9. Lucia Jane Young b. (12 Jul 1843) (Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA)
  10. Brigham Willard Young b. (Sep 1844) (Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA)
  11. Frances Elizabeth Young b. (27 Jun 1845) (Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA)


Harriet Maria Young was born in Kirtland, Ohio July 21, 1834, the fourth child Lorenzo Dow and Persis Goodall Young, both of New York State. Lorenzo was the youngest brother of Brigham Young.

From her diary we learn that her parents were among the first to join the Restored Church and gather to Kirtland, Ohio, which was then the Headquarters of the Church. From Kirtland they moved to Missouri (Far West) and were driven from there to Illinois. "I saw the Prophet many times and remember sitting on his knee more than once as a child ... he loved children. When we lived with them in one room in Missouri, I saw him ruffle brother John's hair and give him some glorious promises. They were all fulfilled."

On October 1, 1838, Maria's father was arrested with 29 others and all were sentenced to death for their part in the Battle of Crooked River. Only because their guards softened toward them were they able to escape at night.

The family moved to Quincy, Illinois, then to a place near Carthage and finally, in the fall of 1843 to Nauvoo.

"Mother and we younger children were in Nauvoo when the Prophet and Hyrum were killed in Carthage Jail by the mob. I can still sense and feel the spirit of sadness that was over the whole place at that time. I wanted to take my brother John and go to the Mansion House, about a mile away, to see them while they lay in state, but mother was not able to go and would not let us out of her sight because of the threats of the mobs."

Harriet crossed the plains in the first emigration company on the Emigration Fund Plan with Bishop Hunter in charge. "Mother, Aunt Fanny, Nancy Green, a cousin, and myself came with the Richards family. We started July 5th . . . and arrived in Salt Lake Valley the 28th of September 1850 with no trouble to speak of enroute."

"When I first saw the Valley it looked grand to me because I saw the whole valley with majestic mountains rising all around and the blue lake in the distance and I knew that here was home and rest."

"When the University of Deseret (called the Parent School) met for its second term in the Council House, I started to School, but after a couple of months, I stopped and went to work for Aunt Fannie Young to help her and learn dressmaking. While there I met Joseph Gurnsey Brown, and we were married on the last day of the year, Dec. 31, 1851 by (President) Brigham Young at the home of Feramorz Little."

Harriet was just seventeen, a small beautiful girl with her hair in ringlets. In Draper, her first child, Homer Achilles, was born on October 25, 1853, followed December 23, 1855 by Persis Ann.

In 1856 Gurnsey was asked along with others to meet the belated handcart and wagon companies of English Saints struggling to get to the Valley before winter. As he neared the company he picked up two English girls walking ahead, Lizzie White and Esther Brown. Since they had no relatives in America he took them to his home in Draper for the winter. On January 18, 1857 he made Esther his second wife. On March 22, 1857 Harriet's husband married a third wife, Lovina Manhard.

Harriet was among others celebrating the 24th of July in the Big Cottonwood Canyon in 1857 when word was brought that Johnson's Army was coming. "My what excitement this caused. President Young quieted the people down and told them to go to camp and get ready to start back to the City early next morning. He said he intended to be the last to leave in order to see that all were safely on their way."

Joseph Gurnsey served a mission (2 1/2-3 years without purse or script) in England, leaving his wives and a dozen children in the Lord's hands. When he came home in 1867 Brigham Young asked him to take Harriet and go to the "Muddy Mission" promising that Harriet's health would improve. The "Muddy," a desolate area west of Washington County at the mouth of the Muddy River was a test of endurance and strength. It was so hot, Harriet said, that the milk soured before the cream could rise.

In May of 1870 baby Juliette died. In the fall Gurnsey brought Lovina down to the Muddy; Esther remained in Draper. In 1871 they were released from the "Muddy Mission" when a survey disclosed the Muddy, an area now known as Moapa Valley, to be in Nevada, and Nevada taxes were impossible to pay.

They were persuaded by Harriet's brother, John R. Young, to settle in Kanab where they arrived in February 1871. Lovina and her children joined them and the two families lived in a tent until a two-room adobe house could be built, with one room for each wife. Later another house was built for Lovina. Harriet gave $300, which she had been willed, to Gurnsey to buy windows and hardware for Lovina's home.

In Kanab, Harriet had three more children. She raised ten of her eleven children to adults, but buried four of her five sons in early manhood. When Esther died in Draper in 1881 her oldest married daughter, Lettie (Celestia) cared for her baby sister, Harriet Luetta, until she was 14 years old when she joined the other three children, Isaac O., James Arthur, and Rose Anna. Harriet loved and cared for them as for her own.

Sorrow came to Gurnsey and Harriet on March 30. 1886. Their oldest son, Homer Achilles, still unmarried, died of pneumonia at the age of 33. The second son, Joseph Gurnsey Jr., died of consumption July 23, 1887, leaving his wife Clara Little, and two children, Joseph Gurnsey III and Curtie. Clara later married his brother, Ebenezer. On February 13, 1893 another son, Lorenzo Young, died after a long illness. He left a wife, Elizabeth Haycock, and four children. Harriet related that after her third son, Lorenzo, died a cloud hung over her and she was constantly apprehensive. Less than a month later her youngest son, Feramorz Little, only 21, was fatally injured during a horse race. She said, "Well it has happened, now I can rest."

In 1894 Gurnsey bought Harriet a large red brick home built by John Rider. The thing Harriet said that, attracted her most about the house was the large deep basement with rock walls, white-washed interior, and dirt floors that could be wet down each morning making a cold place to keep milk and butter and other foods.

Persis Ann and her children came to live in the home to care for Joseph Gurnsey and Harriet in their old age. Gurnsey died January 7, 1907 and Persis Ann, after a short siege of pnumonia was buried June 12,1919. Then Harriet's daughter, Angeline, passed away May 24, 1924. This was another hard blow. Her two grandsons, Gurnsey Spencer and Homer Spencer and their wives were still in the home. Harriet moved her things into a large east bedroom where she spent her time sewing, reading, and visiting with friends and relatives, coming out for meals and to visit with her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Harriet lived a very busy life. Even in her last years he made her own dresses and ironed them herself. She hemmed Temple veils, made quilts, some when she was 90 and 91 years old. She loved to read and wrote many letters At age 83 Harriet read Redpath's History of the World, volume by volume, and enjoyed it all.

There was in her life a perfect blending of all the graces and virtues. Complete honesty and sincerity, coupled with a charming manner - a good companion for a quiet chat; the life of the party in a social gathering; a gracious manner that made people love to do things for her and with her; pride, which kept her always well dressed, perfectly groomed, and as she would tell you in confidence, kept her from putting on weight. She was a small woman with a head of beautiful wavy hair.

There was a great love between Harriet and Joseph Gurnsey. Joseph E. Robinson, her son-in-law, wrote, "How Grandmother loved Grandfather Brown. To her he was the Beau Brummell among men. One day she came to the store and asked, "Joseph have you any good men's shirts?" I thought to tease her and said, "You mean men's good shirts, don't you, Mother?" I'll never forget how she replied. "No! I mean GOOD MEN'S shirts, for I want one for Gurnsey and he is the best man I know."

Harriet said in closing her record, "I have had the honor of knowing all the Presidents of the Church from Joseph Smith to Heber J. Grant, and many other leading men and women, and now that I have lived to a good old age and feel that my work is about done, I look back and think that I would not care to live it over for I might not do so well as I have done."

This account was abridged by Ruth Robinson from the writings of Seymour McAllister, Clara M. Shields, and Clara E. Spencer: Joseph E. Robinson; Bessie Spencer Bateman: Sandra Robinson Day


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