John Willard Young

John Willard Young (October 1, 1844 February 12, 1924) was a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He is one of the few individuals to have been an LDS Church apostle and member of the First Presidency without ever being a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

John Willard Young
Counselor to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
October 6, 1877 (1877-10-06)  October 3, 1891 (1891-10-03)
Called byJohn Taylor
End reasonResignation (formally released on October 6, 1891)[1]
First Counselor in the First Presidency
October 8, 1876 (1876-10-08)  August 29, 1877 (1877-08-29)
Called byBrigham Young
PredecessorGeorge A. Smith
SuccessorGeorge Q. Cannon
End reasonDissolution of First Presidency upon death of Brigham Young
Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency
May 9, 1874 (1874-05-09)  October 8, 1876 (1876-10-08)
Called byBrigham Young
End reasonCalled as First Counselor in the First Presidency
Counselor in the First Presidency
June 8, 1873 (1873-06-08)  May 9, 1874 (1874-05-09)
Called byBrigham Young
End reasonCalled as Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency
LDS Church Apostle
November 22, 1855 (1855-11-22)  February 12, 1924 (1924-02-12)
Called byBrigham Young
ReasonBrigham Young's discretion[2]
at end of term
Personal details
BornJohn Willard Young
(1844-10-01)October 1, 1844
Nauvoo, Illinois, United States
DiedFebruary 12, 1924(1924-02-12) (aged 79)
New York City, New York, United States
ParentsBrigham Young and Mary Ann Angel

Early life and apostolic ordination

Young was born in Nauvoo, Illinois to Brigham Young and Mary Ann Angell. As a young boy, John traveled with the Mormon pioneers from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley.

Young was privately ordained an apostle by his father on November 22, 1855, when he was eleven, without a public announcement or being added to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.[4] Young's ordination was reconfirmed on February 4, 1864, when his brothers Brigham Young, Jr. and Joseph Angell Young were ordained apostles by their father. However, none of them became members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles upon their ordination because the Quorum already had twelve members. Although Brigham Jr. eventually became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, John and Joseph never did.

Activity in western territories

In 1869, Young opened the "Salt Lake City Museum and Menagerie", which was the predecessor of the Deseret Museum.[5] He was also involved with the construction of a railroad in Arizona Territory.

LDS Church service

First Presidency

On April 8, 1873, Brigham Young added John, Brigham Jr., George Q. Cannon, Lorenzo Snow, and Albert Carrington as additional counselors to him in the First Presidency. After Young's first counselor, George A. Smith, died in September 1875, John Willard Young was called as first counselor to his father on October 8, 1876. Young served in this capacity until the First Presidency was dissolved by his father's death less than a year later on August 29, 1877. During his time in the First Presidency, John Willard Young never spent much time in Salt Lake City attending to church leadership duties; since 1863 he had preferred living in New York City, where he was engaged in a number of business ventures that ultimately failed and resulted in him assuming a large amount of debt.[6]

Counselor to the Twelve Apostles

Having never been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve but holding the priesthood office of apostle, Young was called as a counselor to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 6, 1877.[7] However, Young's business practices and practice of living in New York City soon brought him into conflict with other church authorities. At a church general conference on April 6, 1881, Young's name was withheld from the names of general authorities who were presented for sustaining.[8] Between 1881 and 1885, he was tried before the Quorum of the Twelve on three separate occasions; each time he was reconciled with the Twelve and he retained his position.[8] In 1888, Joseph F. Smith accused Young of unethically using church funds to maintain a lavish lifestyle, and by April 1889 the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve were discussing removing Young from his position.[1]

Young resigned from his position on October 3, 1891; Young was aware that on that date the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were again discussing possible release from his position.[1] After Young's resignation, he was formally released as a counselor to the Twelve at a conference of the church October 6, 1891.[1]

Denial of church presidency

Although he lived another 33 years, Young never again served as a general authority of the LDS Church, though he remained an apostle for the rest of his life. On December 9, 1899, apostle Franklin D. Richards died. Richards had been the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the second-most senior apostle in the church. The death of Richards left Young as the second-most senior apostle in the church. Although Young did not become the President of the Twelve, under the then-existing rules of presidential succession in the church, Young would become the church president when Lorenzo Snow died, since Snow was the only living person who had been ordained an apostle prior to Young.[9] Snow was 85 years old and in poor health, while Young was only 55 years old; it therefore appeared to many that Young would be the next president of the church.

However, many of the general authorities disliked Young and felt that his succession to the presidency would be a disaster for the church.[9] On March 31, 1900, the First Presidency—which consisted of Snow, Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith—changed the policy of presidential succession.[10] The new president of the church would no longer be the person who had been an ordained apostle the longest; rather, the new president of the church would be the person who had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the longest period of time.[10] Since Young had never been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, he could not become the president of the church if Snow died. On April 5, 1900, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve unanimously approved the new policy.[11]

On October 10, 1901, Snow died. Five days later, Young arrived in Salt Lake City from New York City, possibly with the intent of assuming the presidency of the church.[12] However, due to the new policy, Joseph F. Smith was ordained the new church president on October 17, 1901.[12] Young returned to New York City, where he lived for the rest of his life. After he died in New York City, Young was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Later life

After returning to New York City, Young was employed as an elevator operator in an exclusive hotel where he had once lived.[12] In 1902 and 1903, his son, Hooper Young, was involved in a sensational murder investigation and trial after it was determined that a woman had died in John Willard Young's apartment while he was in France on business. The "Pulitzer Murder" case ultimately resulted in Hooper pleading guilty to second degree murder and being sentenced to life imprisonment in Sing Sing prison.[13] Hooper's conviction had a devastating effect on John Willard, who had initially believed that his son was innocent.[13] John Willard Young continued to attend a branch of the LDS Church in the city for the rest of his life,[14] and he died of cancer in New York City at the age of 79.[13]

See also


  1. Compton 2002, p. 125
  2. Compton 2002, pp. 111–12
  3. Since Young was not a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the First Presidency at the time of his death, no one was called to the apostleship as a replacement after he died.
  4. Compton 2002, pp. 111–112
  5. Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1941) p. 185.
  6. Compton 2002, p. 121
  7. He was the only person to do this after being in First Presidency and holding the office of apostle, although Alvin R. Dyer returned to being an Assistant to the Twelve.
  8. Compton 2002, p. 126
  9. Compton 2002, p. 127
  10. Compton 2002, pp. 128–129
  11. Compton 2002, p. 129
  12. Compton 2002, p. 130
  13. Compton 2002, pp. 129–130


  • Adkins, Marlow C. Jr. (1978), A History of John W. Young's Utah Railroads, 1884-1894 (M.S. Thesis), Department of History and Geography, Utah State University, OCLC 4100857.
  • Bishop, M. Guy (2001), "John W. Young: Counselor to Brigham Young (1873-1877)", in Michael K. Winder (ed.), Counselors to the Prophets, Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, pp. 182–189, ISBN 1890718041.
  • Bishop, M. Guy (Winter 1980), "Building Railroads For the Kingdom: The Career of John W. Young, 1867-91", Utah Historical Quarterly, 48 (1): 66–80.
  • Compton, Todd (Winter 2002), "John Willard Young, Brigham Young, and the Development of Presidential Succession in the LDS Church" (PDF), Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 35 (4): 111–134.
  • Keller, Charles L. (Summer 1977), "Promoting Railroads and Statehood: John W. Young", Utah Historical Quarterly, 45 (3): 289–308.
  • Watson, Charles W. (1984), John Willard Young and the 1887 Movement for Utah Statehood (Ph.D. Thesis), Department of History, Brigham Young University, OCLC 16777831.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.