Sunday, October 18, 2009

GQC: The Brigham Young Estate

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a religious corporation directed by a “trustee-in-trust,” which is usually the president of the Church. In 1862, in an effort to force the Church to abandon polygamy, Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act that limited the value of real property the Church could hold to $50,000. Any property owned by the Church greater than $50,000 in value would escheat to the United States. At the time the Anti-Bigamy Act passed, the Church technically held no real property rights. That is because the Salt Lake Valley was in Mexican Territory in 1847 when the Mormons arrived. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a treaty signed by Mexico and the United States in 1848 to end the Mexican-American War, what is now the entire state of Utah was ceded to the United States. Until the land titles were granted, the Mormon settlers were squatters, arranging property rights under their own system.[1]

The Town Site Act, passed by Congress on March 2, 1867, led to the formal entry of properties in Utah in the books of the United States Land Office. On November 21, 1871, Daniel H. Wells, the mayor of Salt Lake City, entered the lands within his jurisdiction in the land office, and in turn, from 1871 to 1873, conveyed those lands to the persons who held them under the land system developed by the Mormons. To the extent the land was owned by the Church, the conveyance was made to Brigham Young, as trustee-in-trust.[2] Of course, this was well after the Anti-Bigamy Act had come into existence.

Although the Anti-Bigamy law was generally considered unconstitutional, the Church could not risk open violation of the provisions. Therefore, Brigham Young adopted a policy of placing properties acquired by the Church in his name, individually, in an oral trust, and the names of other trustworthy individuals in an individual capacity, in oral trusts. This led to later confusion in determining which properties belonged to the Church and which properties belonged to Brigham Young.[3]

In April 1873, President Young resigned as trustee-in-trust of the Church. His counselor, George A. Smith, was appointed in his place along with twelve assistant trustees-in-trust.[4] The following properties, “possessed” by the Church in the first survey of Salt Lake City in 1848, and conveyed by Mayor Daniel Wells to Brigham Young, as trustee-in-trust in 1872, were deeded to Smith, as trustee-in-trust, in November 1873: (a) the Temple Block, including the Mormon Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall, the Endowment House and the partially completed Salt Lake Temple; (b) the Tithing Office grounds, including the two lots east of the Temple Block, used as a church mint, tithing office, the Deseret (or tithing) Store and the Deseret News; and (c) the Council House corner, where the Council House, a square, two story structure with walls of red sandstone and adobe was located (Walgreen drugstore was later located there). Only the most valuable pieces of property were transferred to Smith, as trustee-in-trust.[5]

Other properties were assigned to various Church leaders other than Brigham Young, to be held by them in oral trust for the benefit of the Church. These arrangements are difficult to trace because they were necessarily verbal and secret, but included (a) stock in the Deseret Telegraph Company and Zion’s Savings Bank and Trust Company, and (b) title to the Deseret News properties, the Church Historians Office and the quarry in Big Cottonwood Canyon which furnished the granite for the Salt Lake Temple.[6]

This disguised ownership created concerns about what would happen when Brigham Young died. Difficulties President Young had with one of his wives and several of his children heightened his concern that he needed to straighten out the most important of the Church properties before his death.[7]

As part of this process, Brigham Young sent his son, Brigham Young, Jr., and George Q. Cannon, east in 1873 to get a form of will that “would be suitable to his circumstances and family relations.”[8] At the suggestion of Thomas L. Kane, they used the services of a skilled Philadelphia attorney, E. K. Price, who was also enlisted along with attorney A. G. Clay, [9] presumably to come up with a suitable form of will. This form of will was adopted by Brigham Young, “and under his direction, … George Q. Cannon prepared it and was made the principal executor.”[10] The will was signed on November 14, 1873. The will was five pages and included a seven page codicil. It was on paper 17 ½ by 12 inches. Each page was signed at the bottom right by Brigham Young Sen. and each page was witnessed at the bottom left by Joseph F. Smith (a counselor to Young and later a president of the Church), David McKenzie (Young’s private secretary, manager of the Salt Lake Theater and an engraver) and James Jack (financial clerk of the Church and treasurer of Utah Territory).[11]

Also in 1873, general authorities were urged to settle their accounts with the trustee-in-trust. During this period when private banking was nonexistent in Utah, Brigham Young and other church authorities drew on the tithing resources of the Church and later repaid part or all of the obligation in money, property, or services. This practice were justified on two grounds. First, the general authorities were consecrating their time and fortunes to the Church and were entitled to draw from the treasury when the need required. Second, the projects for which they borrowed were largely beneficial to the community, such as the construction of railroads, woolen mills, canals, and gas works. To some extent, these drawings were a form of compensation in lieu of salary for work and time expended on behalf of the Church, and to that extent, they were not required to repay them.[12]

The ability to draw on the Church was a great advantage to Brigham Young and the other general authorities and was one of the reasons some of them were quite successful financially. For example, George Q. Cannon obtained $27,488.67 in credits from the Church during the first thirteen years of his apostleship (1860 to 1873). Most of the drawings were in the form of tithing office scrip. The accounts were balanced at the time of the general settlement in 1873 by crediting Cannon with that amount for “services rendered.” Ten years later, Cannon repaid the Church for these credits (in effect, providing those 13 years of service for no compensation) by giving his “magnificent house” on South Temple to the Church. However, the straightening up of accounts, and particularly that of Brigham Young’s, was not completed.[13] In fact, George Q. Cannon wrote in his journal, “On one occasion he [Brigham Young] said to me that he would like to turn his property into the Church and I remarked that I thought he had done sufficient for the Church. I was then under the impression which I entertained until some time after his death that the Church was owing him. Familiar as I was with him and his business I had never seen his account with the Church and had not heard how he stood.”[14]

Brigham Young died on August 29, 1877.[15] In the last few days before his death, Young was suffering from diarrhea. George Q. Cannon called on him daily, administering to him on one occasion. At 4:00 a.m. on August 28th, the day before his death, Cannon was called to the Young home as Young was failing fast. Cannon remained by his bedside all through the day, the night, and most of the next day. In his journal, Cannon recorded, “[Brigham Young] ceased to breathe at 4 P.M. on Wednesday and this was so gradual as to be almost imperceptible even to those who were nearest to him…I stood close…to his head during his last moments in company with Bro’s. Wells and John W. Young.”[16]

Cannon, Young’s counselor Daniel Wells, and Youngs son’s, John W. Young and Brigham Young, Jr., sent a telegram to Thomas L. Kane in Pennsylvania: “President Brigham Young died at one minute past four this afternoon of inflammation of the Bowels superinduced by cholera morbus.”[17]

The Young family asked George Q. Cannon to take charge of preparing the body for burial and the funeral. Cannon arranged to have a plaster cast taken of Young’s face and hand and careful measurements were taken of his head, body, and limbs.[18]

Cannon spoke at Brigham Young’s funeral. He said, in part, “I have been much with him. I look upon this association as the greatest privilege of my life, to have heard his counsels and to witness his life as I have. And in contemplating that life, it seems to me perfect. In my eyes and to my feelings he was as perfect a man as could be in mortality. He certainly never uttered any counsel or gave any instruction or taught any doctrine which I do not endorse with all my heart.”[19]

On September 3, 1877, Young’s will was read in the presence of his wives, children and a few friends.[20] Under the will, Brigham designated certain properties to go to each of his 17 wives and 44 children (16 sons and 28 daughters), taking into consideration property already given to them before death. He specifically designated certain properties which each wife was to get. In general, he left the wives the homes in which they were living. All of the estate properties were held together, however, until the later of (a) the youngest child reaching majority (13 years in the future as the youngest child was age 8), or (b) the death of the last surviving wife. Until that time, $25.00 per month was to be distributed to each wife for the support of her children.[21] Specifically, wives Eliza R. Snow Young, Naamah K. J. Young and Martha Bowker Young were given the right to occupy the Lion House, and Harriet Amelia Folsom Young and Mary Ann Angell Young were given the right to occupy the Gardo House.[22] As for the properties Young held in trust, the executors were directed to turn them over to the Church. George Q. Cannon, Brigham Young, Jr., and Albert Carrington, all apostles, were named executors of the will.[23]

Young’s will was filed September 4, 1877 with the clerk of the Probate Court in Salt Lake County, Utah Territory.[24] The estate was primarily real property and the value was estimated at $2 to $2.5 million.[25]

The majority of the Quorum of the Twelve were not anxious to organize another First Presidency. In early September, less than a week after Young’s death, nine members of the Quorum of the Twelve and Young’s two counselors, Daniel H. Wells and John W. Young, met to discuss the situation. It was determined that John Taylor would be sustained as the president of the Twelve and that Young’s two counselor’s, Daniel H. Wells and _______, who had been ordained apostles, but not admitted to the Twelve, would act as counselors to the Twelve. The Quorum of the Twelve would guide the church.[26]

In October general conference, 1877, John Taylor was elected trustee-in-trust to succeed Brigham Young.[27] Shortly thereafter, President Taylor appointed Wilford Woodruff to serve as chairman of a committee to audit the accounts of Brigham Young, as trustee-in-trust, and all other church accounts. The committee also included Erastus Snow, Joseph F. Smith and, later, Franklin D. Richards. The auditing committee, President Taylor and the executors conducted joint investigations and many joint conferences. They found it necessary to go back to the commencement of accounts in the Salt Lake Valley, about November 6, 1848, and ultimately determined that the accounts were “strictly correct,” with “very slight exceptions.”[28]

On November 19, 1877, John Taylor had a revelation about the Brigham Young estate. Taylor indicated he had “been asking the Lord to show [him] how to adjust the property of the Church, held in the name of the late President Brigham Young, so as to do justice to his estate and yet not wrong the Church…” The revelation was, as follows: “You have asked of me, and others of the Twelve have asked of me, that wisdom might be given to you to adjust these property matters of the Church; Thus saith the Lord: Be one, be united, be honest, act upon the principles of justice and righteousness to the living and to the dead and to my church, and I, the Lord, will sustain you and will acknowledge your labors. Amen.”[29]

During the period from January through March, 1878, President Taylor put pressure on the executors, George Q. Cannon, Brigham Young, Jr. and Albert Carrington, threatening to drop them from the Quorum of the Twelve if they did not agree to transfer the bulk of Brigham Young’s estate to the church.[30]

During this time of uncertainty and pressure (on January 17, 1878), George Q. Cannon wrote in his journal: “Some of my brethren, as I have learned since the death of President Brigham Young, did have feelings concerning his course. They did not approve of it, and felt opposed, and yet they dared not exhibit their feelings to him, he ruled with so strong and stiff a hand, and they felt that it would be of no use. In a few words, the feeling seems to be that he transcended the bounds of the authority which he legitimately held. I have been greatly surprised to find so much dissatisfaction in such quarters.”[31] “To describe my feelings upon the death of this man of God, whom I loved so much and who had always treated me with such kindness and affection, is impossible. He was in my eyes as perfect a man as I ever knew. I never desired to see his faults; I closed my eyes to them. To me he was a prophet of God, the head of the dispensation on the earth, holding the Keys under the prophet Joseph, and in my mind there clustered about him, holding this position, everything holy and sacred and to be revered.”[32] “The thought that was ever with me was: If I criticize or find fault with, or judge Brother Brigham, how far shall I go; if I commence where shall I stop? I dared not to trust myself in such a course. I knew that apostasy frequently resulted from the indulgence of the spirit of criticizing and fault-finding. Others, of greater strength, wisdom and experience than myself, might do many things and escape evil consequences, which I dare not do.”[33]

On April 10, 1878, an agreement was reached among all the parties interested in the settlement of Young’s estate. Wilford Woodruff wrote in his diary, “This is a very important day in the history of my life and the Church…After six months of hard labor we have effected a settlement with the executors of the estate, George Q. Cannon, Brigham Young and Albert Carrington…have done all in their power to settle the business in [fairness?] and righteousness.”[34]

The next day, on April 11, 1878, Alfales and Ernest Young, two of Young’s sons, applied in Third District Court for an injunction against the executors to prevent them from transferring any of the properties pursuant to the agreement.[35]

Four days later, on April 15, 1878, Young’s beneficiaries petitioned the Probate court for a quick winding up of affairs, selected a committee to appraise and divide the property, and signed documents agreeing to accept the April 10th settlement. Receipts were signed by all of the beneficiaries except three or four and the Probate Court approved the settlement.[36]

The settlement listed three classes of property. Class I dealt with properties in Young’s name that belonged to the Church and were of two types. One type was property that clearly belonged to the Church. These properties included the Temple Block, Tithing Office and grounds and Council house corner, identified previously as conveyed by Young to George A. Smith, as trustee-in-trust, in 1873. Following Smith’s death, on September 1, 1875, these properties had reverted back to Young, as trustee-in-trust. The second type of Class I properties were those that had not been conveyed to George A. Smith, as trustee-in-trust, but were determined to belong to the Church after a study was made of the history of their acquisition and use. These included five properties, including the Church stock farm on the Jordan River and property on the block east of the Temple block where the L.D.S. Business College is now located. All of these properties were conveyed by the executors to John Taylor, as trustee-in-trust.[37]

Class II properties were properties Brigham Young claimed as his own and the Church agreed it had no interest in them.

Class III properties were those in Young’s name and ownership was uncertain. These included properties which once belonged to the Church but which had been deeded by Young to himself. All of the uncertain property was credited to Young in the settlement. This uncertain property included (a) the Salt Lake Theatre and grounds; (b) land in the Red Butte area east of Salt Lake City (from which the Church once planned to quarry red sandstone to build the Salt Lake Temple); (c) the property immediately south of the center of the Temple Block; (d) the Social Hall building and lot, constructed and maintained, at least partially, with Church funds; (e) the Gardo House and grounds (on the corner of South Temple and State, where the Federal Reserve Bank building now is), despite the fact that Young had given himself a 99 year lease at $1 a year on the property; (f) stock in ZCMI, about one-third of which had been purchased with Church funds; and (g) stock in the Utah Southern Railroad. The Union Pacific Railroad Contract of 1869 was entered into by Young to construct the railroad from Echo Canyon to Ogden. Because Union Pacific officials claimed an inability to pay cash, rails and rolling stock were paid over instead. These rails and rolling stock were used to construct the Utah Central Railroad, a line from Ogden to Salt Lake City, financed almost entirely with Church funds and donated labor.

The value of the property, above, belonging to the estate, was $1,626,000.00, an amount less than the initial estimate and less than the popular belief at the time. Further, Young owed the church $999,632.90. Some of the debt related to un-reimbursed drawings and some related to property he held in trust. The debt Young owed to the Church included the following: (1) the Union Pacific Railroad Contract of 1869; (2) one-third of the stock of ZCMI, held by Young in his own name, but discovered to have been obtained with Church funds; and (3) the Social Hall lot and building, the LDS Museum lot and building, the Council House lot and building and other pieces of real estate which Young had deeded to himself, but were constructed and maintained partly, or entirely, with Church funds. The Church was entitled to a claim against the estate for the amount of such contributions.[38]

However, In determining Young’s debt to the Church, no credit had been given for Young’s service to the Church. The Church granted to the estate a credit of $300,000 for those services. As Young was president almost 30 years, it was the equivalent of about $10,000 per year. After this adjustment, the Church was entitled to $699,632.90 worth of property from the estate. The property returned to the Church, among others, were the Gardo House and lot for $120,000 in value, the Salt Lake Theatre and lot for $125,000, the Social Hall and lot for $17,438.97 and 1,180 shares of ZCMI stock for $118,000.[39]

The net amount available for distribution to the beneficiaries was $224,242.42, after (a) debts owed to the Church, (b) properties held on behalf of the Church, (c) other debts and (d) executors fees were subtracted.[40] The high expectations of the beneficiaries, in relation to what they actually received, plus the desire of some federal officials and anti-Mormons to wrest from the Church as much of the property as possible, was responsible for the litigation to challenge the settlement agreement.[41]

Two days later, on April 17, 1878: Alfales Young, Hyrum S. Young, Louisa Y. Ferguson, Elizabeth Y. Ellsworth and Vilate Y. Decker filed a complaint in Third District Court to restrain the executors from conveying to John W. Young certain stocks and bonds until his claim was established. This complaint, along with the original complaint filed on April 11th, brought the settlement entered into in the Probate Court before the Third District Court.[42]

Wilford Woodruff recorded the following in his diary on April 19, 1878: “The 12 Apostles met with the family of the late President Brigham Young, and plainly talked over the matter of the settlement of the estate. Most of the family seemed to be satisfied, but Alfales Young had carried the case into U.S. Court and he was not present.”[43]

The next day, April 20, 1878, Woodruff recorded in his diary: “I met with the family of late President Brigham Young and a general conversation ensued about the settlement of the estate: Alfales and another of the sons were determined to go to law before the Gentile courts.”[44]

On May 30, 1878, President John Taylor signed a statement of release, accepting the settlement of the Young estate on behalf of the Church.[45]

On November 18, 1878, George Q. Cannon donated the funds he had received as executor to the education of poor Church members.[46] Later In November, after leaving Utah to go to Washington D.C. for Congress, Cannon wrote, “In leaving home I had the satisfaction of knowing that all the legatees excepting one (Nabbie Young Clawson) had been settled with and they have signed releases; all the debts, excepting one or two trifling amounts have been paid and everything closed up as far as possible.”[47]

On April 22, 1879, the court found in favor of Mrs. Orson Pratt, “who claimed the half lot and house her husband had sold to the Pres. and for which they had been paid. This was a proceeding on the part of this woman and her family which Bro. Orson entirely repudiated.”[48] Another claim by a different beneficiary was dismissed.[49]

Some time later, Emeline A. Young and six other beneficiaries filed suit in Third District Court, before Judge Emerson. They charged the executors with violating their duties and having wasted $1,200,000 of the estate. This figure included $200,000 as compensation for their services and for other expenses of administration and for fraudulently allowing the claim of $1,000,000 by the trustee-in-trust on behalf of the Church.[50] They sought an injunction against the executors and against John Taylor, as trustee-in-trust, from disposing of properties and requested the appointment of a receiver to hold the property. Emmeline had received $21,000 as her full share of the estate and had signed receipts and releases which technically barred her from pressing suit. There is evidence the district judge encouraged her to file the action.

On June 14, 1879, W.S. McCornick, a Salt Lake banker, was appointed receiver and M. Shaughnessy, a U.S. marshal, was appointed co-receiver to insure the staff necessary to possess the property and to take charge of the real estate. McCornick demanded all property in the hands of the executors and John Taylor, as trustee-in-trust. The executors yielded possession, but Taylor delivered only a fraction of the properties, claiming he had since disposed of the property or lacked a clear title.

In their answer, filed June 30, 1879, the executors stated that they had only taken $50,677.37 (rather than the $200,000 claimed) from the estate.[51]

On July 12, 1879, Judge Boreman found evidence that (a) the executors had received a commission on property that was assigned to John Taylor, (b) paid $31,000 in debts barred by the statute of limitations, (c) paid $53,682.22 for debts of John W. Young (even though the executors had found that these debts were assumed by Brigham Young before his death), (d) paid $566 to Margaret Joe Young, although she was not provided for in the will, and (e) that total “wastes and frauds” of the executors amounted to $142,995.52.[52] The executors refused to pay an additional $142,995.52 to the receiver and were found in contempt of court.[53] Although the executors had previously posted $300,000 in bonds ($100,000 each), Judge Boreman demanded an additional bond of $50,000 each. He also requested a bond of $200,000 for John Taylor.[54]

Taylor posted bond for $200,000 and the contempt order was discharged as to him.[55] The executors had previously pledged everything they owned for the existing bonds. Since they had already made settlements on the estate and since most of what the Young family had been given was covered by the bonds, George Q. Cannon believed this to be a trap. He believed the opposing attorneys wanted additional bonds so that if the decision went against the executors, the attorneys could elect to take the “new sureties in preference to [the executors’] old ones and thus relieve the [the Young claimants]” of all responsibility.[56] Cannon felt it was better to go to prison than to further obligate themselves and their friends financially.

On August 1, 1879, the executors refused to put up the additional bonds. Most of the leading men of the Church offered to put up their own property to help cover the bonds, but Cannon insisted that it was better to go to prison.[57]

On August 3, 1879, the day before going to the federal penitentiary, Cannon spoke at the funeral of Joseph Standing, who had been a missionary in Georgia. Standing and his companion, Rudger Clawson, had been accosted on a country road by 12 men. Standing was shot and killed and Clawson managed to retrieve the body and return it to Salt Lake.[58]

On August 4, 1879, the executors went to prison for contempt of court. Marshall Shaughnessy treated them kindly, at least “as much so as we could expect or ask.” He had the guards move out of their own rooms and turned them over to the Church leaders, apologizing for not having better accommodations for them.[59]

On August 5, 1879, the Church and John Taylor, as trustee-in-trust, commenced a suit against the executors and the beneficiaries for recovery of the property and to quiet title.[60] The Deseret Evening News, of this same date, reported that Cannon had said it was his “personal knowledge” that Brigham Young’s chief desire was to give the larger portion of his property to the Church. “There were reasons which interposed to prevent his doing this, though the last time he conversed with me upon the subject of his Will he proposed to change it and to give each of his heirs ten thousand dollars apiece and the remainder to the Church…President Young’s constant desire was that the Church should have a large share of his property. As the Will now stands, there is a clause which gave, as he supposed, ample powers to the executors to fully settle everything of a trust character, so that the interests of the Church should be fully protected.”[61]

On August 7, 1879, five Congressmen and the assistant sergeant at arms, who were visiting Utah, went to the prison with President Taylor, Mayor Little and the city council to pay their respects. Some of the members of Congress told Cannon they were glad he “had the courage to resist a tyrannical order and [go] to prison rather than submit to it.”[62]

The Deseret Evening News reported that on August 10, 1879, “divine service was held in the Utah Penitentiary. The inmates of the place having expressed an earnest desire to hear from Elder George Q. Cannon, it was communicated to the latter by the warden General Butler, and the request cheerfully acceded to, the hour of 3 p.m. being set for the opening of the meeting. The prisoners went to work, sprinkled the ground well, and arranged rows of seats under the shadow of the high wall on the west for the accommodation of those who should assemble. The warden kindly consented not only to the Choir of the Sugar House Ward being invited to furnish the music, but also admitted others who came with them to attend the services, and quite a good-sized congregation listened with much attention to the discourse of Elder Cannon. Numbers of the prisoners afterwards expressed their delight and satisfaction with the instructions given.”[63] Another source indicated that Cannon had been invited to “preach to the spirits in prison.”

On August 12, 1879, non-Mormon Governor Emery visited Cannon in prison and told him he was “astonished at Boreman’s decision.” Emery also thought that the “respectable non-Mormons” also believed it to be an outrage.[64]

On August 28, 1879, C. H. Wilcken, a trusted bodyguard and assistant of John Taylor, carried Cannon and the other executors back to the courtroom in his carriage.[65] The all non-Mormon Utah Supreme Court, in Emeline A. Young et al. v. George Q. Cannon et al., 2 Utah 560 (1879), reversed the decision of the district court and the executors were released from prison.[66] Cannon noted in his journal, “The air of liberty is sweet. My family were delighted.”[67]

On October 4, 1879, the litigation was settled out of court. The Church agreed to pay the litigant beneficiaries a combined sum of $75,000 in return for which the beneficiaries dropped their suit. The receivers returned the properties to the Church and were discharged. B.H. Roberts said the $75,000 “granted to the dissatisfied heirs was allowed in the interest of the estate, since the cost of the litigation threatened to far exceed that sum if the case was continued in the courts; and also the compromise was made in the interests of the peace of the large number of heirs…”[68]

On May 4, 1880, the seven members of the Young family that had been guilty of “going to law with a brother,” were excommunicated from the Church.[69]

Leonard Arrington stated, "It is probable that no estate in America presented so many difficulties and complications as this one, because of the interests involved, the number of heirs and the types of property."[70]

Given my own profession as a trusts and estates lawyer, I greatly enjoy the role that George Q. Cannon played in procuring and drafting Brigham Young’s will, arranging his burial and funeral and in acting as a co-executor over this very large and contentious estate. It gives me great appreciation for his wisdom, courage and political astuteness.


[1] Leonard J. Arrington, “The Settlement of the Brigham Young Estate, 1877-1879,” Pacific Historical Review, XXI (February, 1952), pp. 1-4 (hereafter “Arrington”).
[2] Arrington, p. 5, note 16.
[3] Arrington, pp. 1-4; George Q. Cannon stated, “It is well known that the Church property and his own [Brigham Young’s] private property were for years before his death intimately interwoven. He well understood the weighty reasons for this. His surviving associates and his Executors were also well acquainted with these reasons. But though this was the case, he was not satisfied to have things remain so. Upon several different occasions he seriously discussed plans by which he could safely transfer the bulk of the estate that stood in his name to the Church.” Arrington, pp. 4-5; On another occasion, Cannon wrote, “[Brigham Young] and I had conversations a number of times about his property. He was desirous to leave a portion to the Church, but the great difficulty that constantly presented itself to him was the risk of it escheating to the government…after it [the will] was drawn up he frequently expressed the wish that he could leave his property some way to the Church and had a law of Congress not threatened the Church with the confiscation of all over $50,000 I have no doubt that he would have left it a considerable portion of his estate.” Arrington, pp. 9-10, note 31; Cannon, Mark W., The Mormon Issue in Congress, 1872-1882, Drawing on the Experience of Territorial Delegate George Q. Cannon, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., 1960, pp. 213-214 (hereafter “Harvard”), citing, in part, Arrington, p. 11.
[4] Arrington, p. 5, including note 18. The position of assistant trustee-in-trust was later dropped in 1875 after President Young once again became trustee-in-trust.
[5] Arrington, p. 6.
[6] Arrington, pp. 6-7.
[7] Young’s wife, Ann Eliza Young, ultimately sued for divorce in 1874 demanding $1,000 per month pending the hearing, $6,000 for lawyers fees, a divorce with a payment of $14,000 and a final award of $200,000. The suit was ultimately settled for $3,600. Ann Eliza later wrote a book titled, Wife No. 19; or the Story of a Life in Bondage. Arrington, p. 5. When we were in Nauvoo in June 2005, a local bookstore had an original edition of Ann Eliza’s book, published in 1875, for about $650.00. I thought for awhile about purchasing it, but decided it was an extravagance we should do without.
[8] Arrington, p. 8, note 26, citing Andrew Jensen, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City, 1901) (hereafter “Jensen”). George Q. Cannon had developed a very close relationship with Brigham Young. After serving over 3 ½ years in the presidency of the British and European Missions, Cannon arrived in Salt Lake City in December 1864 and was called, within a day or two, to visit Brigham Young in his office, where Young called Cannon to be his “private secretary.” He became “Young’s spokesman at times, his companion in travels, his occasional speech writer, [and] his confidant.” In a letter to Orson Hyde, dated October 22, 1867, George A. Smith said that Cannon “is the best person to address because he is constantly with the President.” Davis Bitton, George Q. Cannon: A Biography, (Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City: 1999), pp. 140-141 and notes 8 and 10 (hereafter “Bitton”)
[9] Bitton, p. 212, note 186, citing Memorandum of Interview with Hon. Eli K. Price, Philadelphia, May 27, 1873 in the Kane Collection.
[10] Arrington, p. 8, note 26, citing Jensen. The complete text of the will can be found in Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Heart Throbs of the West (11 vols.; Salt Lake City, 1936-1951), VII, 338-352. I have tried unsuccessfully to find the cited source. However, I did find that a copy of the will is located at the Church Historical Department in Salt Lake City with restricted access. I made a request to look at it, citing my background as a descendant of George Q. Cannon, who prepared the will, and as a probate and estates lawyer, but my request was denied.
[11] This description was in a listing for sale of the Brigham Young will on Ebay live auctions on May 20, 2005, the auction to be held by Alderfer Auction in Hatfield, Pennsylvania (hereafter “Auction”). Only limited portions of the will were described and shown on-line. The will appears to be a pre-printed document with spaces for insertions, such as specific bequests. Although the 7 pages are referred to as a codicil, they appear to be added on to the pre-printed portion of the will and to have the same date as the will. These add on pages may have been prepared by George Q. Cannon.
[12] Arrington, p. 7.
[13] Arrington, pp. 7-8, and note 23.
[14] Arrington, pp. 8, 11-14
[15] Arrington, p. 8.
[16] Bitton, p. 210, citing George Q. Cannon Journal, August 25, 1877.
[17] Bitton, p. 210.
[18] Bitton, p. 210. This is of particular interest because upon the death of the previous president of the Church, Joseph Smith, Cannon’s father, George Cannon, had made plaster casts of the faces of Joseph and his brother, Hyrum.
[19] Bittion, citing the Comprehensive History of the Church 5:517.
[20] Arrington, pp. 8-9, and note 27. George Q. Cannon was likely the person to have read the will.
[21] Arrington, p. 9. Arrington states that income was to be distributed, without stating the amount. The $25.00 figure comes from a short description of the will in Auction.
[22] Each wife is listed in the will along with a list of the number of children each was then supporting. The wives were Mary Ann Angell Young (with 5 children), Lucy Ann Decker Young (with 7 children), Emmeline Free Young (with 9 children), Emily Dow Partridge Young (with 5 children), Clara Decker Young (with 3 children), Lucy Bigelow Young (with 3 children), Eliza Burgess Young (with 1 child), Margaret Pierce Young (with 1 child), Zina D. Huntington Young (with 1 child), Harriet E. Cook Young (with 1 child), Harriet Barney Young (with 1 child), Mary Van Cott Young (with 1 child), Susannah Snively Young (with 1 adopted child), 2 daughters of Miriam Works Young, who was deceased, 3 children and 2 grandchildren of Clara Ross Young, who was deceased, 2 children of Margaret M. Alley Young, who was deceased, and Eliza R. Snow Young, Naamah K.J. Young, Martha Bowker Young, Harriet Amelia Folsom Young, and Augusta Adams Young, who did not have children. Auction. The will was purchased at auction for $80,500 (including the $10,500 premium paid to the auction house). Because there were so many clerical copies of the will in existence, there was a lengthy and detailed process to authenticate it. First, it was checked for inconsistencies for the time period, such as paper, ink, printing or folding. Then the signatures were compared to other known original signatures. 35 samples of Young’s signature were used and six signatures of Joseph F. Smith were used. It was purchased from the family of James Clifford McNally, a Salt Lake probate attorney and judge during the late 1800s, a non-Mormon. It is not known how McNally acquired the will. Amelia Nielson-Stowell, “Bidder to pay $70,000 for Young’s will”, Deseret Morning News, June 9, 2005.
[23] Arrington, p. 9.
[24] Auction; Arrington, p. 9.
[25] Arrington, p. 9.
[26] Quinn, D. Michael. The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997, p. 40 (hereafter “Quinn”).
[27] Arrington, p. 8.
[28] Arrington, pp. 10-11.
[29] (Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 1, compiled by Fred C. Collier, Collier’s Publishing Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1979)
[30] Quinn, pp. 647, 775. In one reference Quinn stated Taylor threatened to drop them from the Quorum of the Twelve. In the other reference, however, Quinn stated that Taylor threatened them with excommunication.
[31] Quinn, pp. 41-42, n. 138, p. 774.
[32] Bitton, p. 212.
[33] Bitton, p. 212.
[34] Arrington, p. 11
[35] Arrington, p. 16
[36] Arrington, p. 11
[37] Arrington, p. 11-12.
[38] Arrington, pp. 10-15.
[39] Arrington, pp. 14-15
[40] Arrington, p. 10.
[41] Arrington, p. 10.
[42] Arrington, pp. 16-17
[43] Arrington, p. 17
[44] Arrington, p. 17
[45] Arrington, p. 11
[46] Harvard, p. 277, citing George’s journal.
[47] Arrington, p. 17.
[48] Bitton, p. 232, citing George Q. Cannon Journal for April 22, 1879.
[49] Bitton, p. 232.
[50] Arrington, p. 17, note 52; Bitton, p. 32.
[51] Arrington, p. 17, note 52.
[52] Arrington, p. 18, note 54.
[53] Bitton, p. 233, note 55, citing George Q. Cannon journal, dated July 31, 1879.
[54] Arrington, p. 18.
[55] Arrington, p. 18
[56] Harvard, pp. 214-215, citing Cannon journal of July 31, 1879.
[57] Harvard, p. 215, citing Cannon journal.
[58] Bitton, p. 233.
[59] Harvard, p. 215, citing Cannon journal.
[60] Arrington, p. 19.
[61] Arrington, p. 9.
[62] Harvard, p. 215, citing Cannon journal.
[63] Harvard, p. 212
[64] Harvard, p. 215, citing Cannon journal.
[65] Bitton, p. 234
[66] Arrington, p. 18
[67] Harvard, p. 215
[68] Arrington, p. 19
[69] Arrington, p. 19
[70] Arrington, p. _.


  1. Did the UPRR 'pay' Briggy for the labor that LDS people (men) did for the RR? (Briggy contracted with the UP) Was the payment UP Stock? who then owned the stock, Brig. or LDS?

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