Fanny Young was born November 8, 1787 to John Young and Abigail Howe.  Her younger brother, Brigham, would eventually ascend to the top Mormon leadership position.  Fanny’s mother, Abigail, died in 1815, and Fanny took on much of the responsibility for raising the Young children.  Her younger brother, Lorenzo recalls, “As she was the oldest of the girls of my father’s family then at home, from that time forward she was a mother to me and to the rest of the family...”

Living near the Young family in Monroe, New York, was the family of Heber C. Kimball.  Fanny would occasionally help out in the Kimball home.  Heber’s daughter, Helen Mar fondly wrote, “Aunt Fanny Young...took care of me, and she was always ready to defend me if necessary...[She] had  been a great reader; and I was named by her after the Scottish Lady, Helen Mar...[She] was a true Saint, and was beloved by all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance...”

In 1832, Fanny married Roswell Murray.  The marriage drew the Kimball and Young families closer together, as Roswell was Heber’s father-in-law.  In April of that year, Fanny was baptized into the Mormon church along with others in the Young family, including Brigham.  Roswell, however, did not join.  Helen Mar remembers, “My Grandfather Murray was not a member of any church....A more noble kind-hearted man never lived, he was generous to a fault, and some were unprincipled enough to take advantage of it...He was never known to refuse a favor, and he would often rise from his bed when he was sick to go and do a job of work to accommodate a neighbor. He was a man of but few words and some called him an Infidel.”

Fanny and Roswell moved to Kirtland, Missouri and eventually Nauvoo, arriving in 1839. Shortly after arriving, Roswell died and Fanny was left single.  In Nauvoo, Brigham Young became a close friend of Joseph Smith and accepted Joseph’s teachings on plural marriage.  Brigham remembers the fall of 1843 when he, Joseph and Fanny were discussing the Mormon belief in the necessity of entering plural marriage in order to obtain exaltation and enter the celestial kingdom.  Not won over, Fanny remarked, “Now, don’t talk to me; when I get into the celestial kingdom, if I ever get there, I shall request the privilege of being a ministering angel; that is the labor I wish to perform. I don’t want any companion in that world; and if the Lord will make me a ministering angel, it is all I want.”  Joseph replied, “Sister, you talk very foolishly, you do not know what you will want.” and then turned to Brigham, “Here, Brother Brigham, you seal this lady to me.”  Brigham said that Fanny submitted to Joseph’s impromptu proposal and he “sealed her to him.”  Joseph was killed less than a year later and Fanny was once again widowed.

In 1846, when the Nauvoo Temple was nearly complete, most of Joseph’s wives were “resealed” to him, via a proxy husband, within the dedicated structure.  For some reason, Fanny was not resealed to Joseph.  Perhaps she longed for her “kind-hearted” Roswell.


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