Brigham Young, the first Brigham Young, was the second president, prophet, seer and revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as “L.D.S.” or “The Mormons”). He was also the founding father of Salt Lake City, Utah. Fleeing persecution in Illinois and Missouri, he led the Mormon pioneers across the great plains of the United States to Salt Lake City in 1847, earning him the nickname the “American Moses.” As a leader, Brigham Young’s reputation was mythical. His decisions were swift and final, if not always well thought out, and his countenance stern.
Although practiced and advocated by his predecessor and many of his fellow members, Brigham Young was the figure most closely associated with polygamy. In his lifetime, Brigham Young married fifty-five women and fathered fifty-six children. In 1890, God, through his prophet Brigham Young, commanded the Saints to abolish polygamy. However, the American Moses had already planted many a seed in the intermountain area, and the roots of their family tree ran deep.
It is common for a modern day L.D.S. family to have five, ten, or even fifteen or more children, as Mormon doctrine teaches that women have a moral obligation and duty to bring as many awaiting spirit children to earth through their bodies as they can bear. Brigham Young’s first wife died giving birth to Brigham Young II in 1825 soon after being married. He named his first son after himself, starting an unbroken tradition of Young patriarchs naming their firstborn sons “Brigham.” Brigham Young II proved to be as gifted an entrepreneur as his father was a leader. He opened his first hotel in 1850. As converts to the new faith began pouring into SLC, he provided them with a clean, affordable, safe place to stay. Business boomed, assisted largely by the enthusiastic support of his prophet father. Two more hotels were built in rapid succession in 1852 and 1853, and the Brigham Young International hotel dynasty was born.