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Memoirs of John R. Young (1920)

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Memoirs of John R. Young (1920)

by John R. Young

$20.95

Quick Overview

John R. Young (nephew of Brigham Young) left one of the most interesting and varied of all pioneer legacies. Intimate with most of the General Authorities, he shares many insights into their personalities and relates experiences not found in other works. Brother Young had the " knack" for being where history was made and gives several first-hand accounts of key events in the lives of the early Saints.
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John R. Young (nephew of Brigham Young) left one of the most interesting and varied of all pioneer legacies. Intimate with most of the General Authorities, he shares many insights into their personalities and relates experiences not found in other works. Brother Young had the " knack" for being where history was made and gives several first-hand accounts of key events in the lives of the early Saints. Yet his own life - although full of adventure and spiritual encouragement - was hardly privileged. He tells of pioneer life as a time of poverty and struggle. In his Memoirs, he recounts the cricket invasion into the Salt Lake Valley; several experiences as an Indian scout; his missions to Hawaii and meeting with Walter Murray Gibson (an apostate missionary); his mission to England; and community life in Orderville, Utah. His narrative is interspersed with dreams, spiritual promptings, and testimony-building experiences for the reader. 341 pages Reviewed by Roy Schmidt for the Association for Mormon Letters (Note: This book was originally published in 1920 by The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah.) John Ray Young was born in Kirtland, Ohio to Lorenzo Dow and Persis Goodell Young on April 30, 1837. He died in Provo, Utah on September 15, 1931. He married and outlived four wives, and fathered twenty-two children. As you will see, he not only lived a long time, his days were action filled and very productive. While John was born in Kirtland, and his family later resided in Missouri, Young's earliest memories are from the Nauvoo period. He recalls, “One day father took me for a walk, to give me air and sunshine. We met Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Sidney Rigdon. Father shook hands warmly with Joseph and Hyrum, but he merely bowed to Brother Rigdon. Joseph asked if I was the child father had asked the elders to pray for. Being answered in the affirmative, the prophet removed my hat, ran his fingers through my curly locks and said, 'Brother Lorenzo, this boy will live to aid in carrying the Gospel to the nations of the earth.' “Not long after that, Joseph was martyred at Carthage. I remember how my mother wept, and how shocked and prostrated everybody was, when the bloodstained bodies of the Prophet and his brother were brought home. Father was away doing missionary work when that fearful tragedy took place. A little later, while attending meetings, I noticed that Uncle Brigham [Young] sat in the place where Joseph was wont to sit, and one evening, after father's return from Ohio, I heard him say, 'They will now seek for Brigham's life as they did for Joseph's, just so long as he proves true to the trust God has placed upon him' (10).” Both Joseph's prediction about John R., and Lorenzo Young's about his brother, Brigham, proved accurate. John was called on a mission to the Sandwich Islands when he was just seventeen years old. After his company, led by Parley P. Pratt, arrived in San Francisco, it became necessary for the missionaries to find employment to earn funds to pay for their passage to the islands. Parley assigned young John to go tracting throughout the city, which he did with some success. During that time he met Sister Eleanor McLain [McLean]. Pratt was informed by Elder William McBride that her husband, Hector, was planning to have his wife sent to an insane asylum for having joined the Mormon Church. Parley sent John R. to prevent him from doing so. McLain hired Young as a cook, and he spent a month in his employ. At the end of the month, McLain discovered John was a Mormon Elder, and became so agitated by this he was ready to kill the young man. Instead, McClain, who at the time was acting as a minister for the Unitarian Church, offered to prove the Mormon Church was not true, that revelation had ceased, and the laying on of hands was blasphemy. Unfortunately, McLain was not able to find any of the passages he sought, so he paid John forty dollars in wages, and fired him. In later years, Parley Pratt would marry Eleanor McLain. As it happened, Eleanor was still legally married to Hector at the time. McLain then took his revenge by murdering Elder Pratt in Arkansas. While on his mission, John Young would sit outside his living quarters in order to avoid the fleas inside the place. However, the strong reflections of the sun and sand affected his eyes to the extent he almost went blind, and was forced to remain in a darkened room. John decided he would, on fast day, pray to the lord for healing. “It was arranged for the Saints to go on a fast-day to the mountains; the women to weave mats, the men to gather pili grass to thatch the meetinghouse. As soon, therefore, as the family was gone, I fastened the doors, and commenced praying. I was faint from fasting, but I continued my pleadings until a glorious vision was given me. “I saw Joseph and Hyrum coming from the north. When they came to the gate that opened into the yard of the house, Joseph said: 'Let us call in here.' Instantly the house was filled with light, and they were standing in the room. I sprang to my feet and reached out to shake hands with Joseph; but he moved his hand away. I thought he was displeased; but he smiled and said,'Hyrum will bless you.' I saw Hyrum hold his hands above my head, and rays of light came from the palms of his hands and rested on my head: 'Be of good cheer; you shall be healed, and you shall speedily learn the language and do a good work. Now do not worry any more.' “They passed out the west door and moved southward; and when I came to myself, I was standing out of doors on the west side of the house, weeping with joy. My eyes were healed, and when the Saints came home, I was capering like a freed colt, from house to house bearing testimony, as best I could, to the truth of Mormonism. I soon began visiting the Saints in the different branches, asking blessings and praying with the families in the native tongue." (76-77) Young would eventually serve a second mission to the Sandwich Islands as well as one to Great Britain. In addition to his other talents, John Young liked to write poetry. Examples of his poems are found throughout this memoir. Here is a brief sample: “Sitting 'neath the pines in the cold mountain air, Inhaling the inspiration of the old chaplain's prayer; Breathing the spirit of the orator's theme, Memory sweeps backward o'er the troubled stream Of my people's lives." (267) Cowboy poetry is most popular today, and I think Brother John's verses would be a good fit. In fact, one of the things I have enjoyed most about this book is Young's clarity of thought, and the straightforward way he tells his story. This is a very wonderful book. While I enjoy reading about the lives of the leaders of the LDS Church, I find the lives of “ordinary” members to be most exciting and interesting. John R. Young is, I believe, typical of the men and women of his era. They loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ, served where they were asked to serve, and dedicated themselves to establishing the Kingdom of God on Earth. I can recommend this work without reservations. I tip my hat to Archive Publishers for making this reprint available at a reasonable price, and suggest my readers visit Archive's website at the above link for more great titles.

Additional Information

ISBN 9781930679382
Author John R. Young
Age Group age 12-18
Book Type paperback

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