Seymour Bicknell Young

Andrew Jenson, comp., Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 1:200–202

Young, Seymour Bicknell, one of the First Seven Presidents of all the Seventies since 1882, is the son of Joseph Young and Jane A. Bicknell, and was born in Kirtland, Geuaga (now Lake) county, Ohio, Oct. 3, 1837. He was carried through a rain of bullets in his mother’s arms at the massacre at Haun’s Mill, Missouri in 1838. He came to Nauvoo in 1839, and remained in that city until June, 1846, when, with his father’s family, he started for the West. Brother Seymour well remembers being lifted up in the arms of his mother to obtain a view of Joseph and Hyrum as they passed some fifty rods away on the road to their martyrdom, June 24, 1844. On the morning of the 28th, at five o’clock, their neighbor, the late Pres. Jacob Gates, awakened his mother and her family of little children, and told them that the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum had been murdered the evening before in Carthage jail. Seymour well remembers the sorrow of the Latter-day Saints at the awful event, and the scenes of grief at the funeral and burial of these two great leaders. During the month of February, 1846, Presidents Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball and others, with their families, left the city of Nauvoo, crossed the Mississippi river on the ice, and started west, bidding adieu to their loved city and Temple, well knowing they would never see them again. As soon as his father could complete his arrangements, which was not until the 13th of June following, he, with his family, took up their line of march towards Winter Quarters, arriving there late in the fall, and overtaking Pres. Young and brethren who had preceded them. Here the Saints remained until the following spring (1847), when Pres. Brigham Young and his pioneer band went to Great Salt Lake valley. Seymour B. Young’s father and family, not having the means necessary to emigrate in 1847, and not obtaining sufficient until three years later, remained in Winter Quarters until the spring of 1848, when, with the rest of the people who were unable to take up their long journey to the mountains, they re-crossed the Missouri river into the State of Iowa. Winter Quarters was then in the Indian Territory and reservation, and hence the Saints were compelled to vacate this temporary abiding place and seek new homes in the State of Iowa. During the stay of his father’s family for the three intervening years, Brother Seymour was baptized in 1848, at Carterville, Iowa, by Ezekiel Lee; he also gained his first experience as a cowboy, and like others of his brethren was exposed to the raids of hostile Indians and white cattle thieves. About the middle of June his father’s family bid good-bye to their home in Pottawattamie county, Iowa, and started for the Valley. On the Platte river the camp was stricken with that terrible scourge, the Asiatic cholera, and within twenty-four hours two of the strongest men lay dead and a third was down writhing and screaming with pain from the awful spasms and cramps of the disease. At this time was witnessed the power of God in restoring this third victim of the disease, for by his request Pres. Joseph Young administered to him, and he was instantly healed. The family arrived in Salt Lake City, Sept. 29, 1850, and were warmly welcomed by Pres. Young and his brethren. In the fall of 1854 Brother Seymour B. went with a party of men sent out by Pres. Brigham Young under the direction of Elder Bryant Stringham and settled Cache valley; he helped to build the first house and establish the first colony in that region. He was ordained a Seventy Feb. 18, 1857, by Edmund Ellsworth. In 1857 Pres. Young called seventy-two missionaries for Europe, the United States and Canada, with the request that this company of missionaries should travel with hand carts from Salt Lake City to the Missouri river. This they did, not having any teams or wagons in the company, but drawing their carts, laden with their provisions, bedding, etc., over the mountains and across the plains to old Winter Quarters, now Florence, Nebraska, a distance of 1050 miles. Brother Seymour B. was one of these missionaries, and the youngest member of the company. Brother Young proceeded with others to Great Britain, where he labored as a missionary in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire until the spring of 1858, when he, with other missionaries, was called home on account of the “Utah war.” In 1862 Pres. Abraham Lincoln telegraphed to Pres. Brigham Young to furnish a battalion of one hundred and five men to enlist as United States soldiers in the service of the United States, to be sent east on the plains to protect the overland mail and telegraph lines between the Missouri river on the east and San Francisco on the west. Elder Young was in this battalion and remained in the service until March, 1863, when the company was honorably discharged and paid in greenbacks at par, when they were only worth forty cents on the dollar. When the Black Hawk war broke out in Sanpete county and on the Sevier river, Pres. Young sent many small companies to assist the brethren and protect them from the rifle and scalping knife of the Indians. The subject of this sketch was in this service during 1866. In 1868 he engaged in railroad building, working on a contract of Brigham Young, jun., and George Crismon, in procuring ties and bridge timber for the Union Pacific Railroad Company. In 1869 he contracted with the Utah Central Railway Company and built a mile of grade and furnished ties therefor, near the Hot Springs, north of Salt Lake City. In 1870 he was called by Pres. Brigham Young to take a second mission to Great Britain, this time to accompany his father, the late Pres. Joseph Young, to that field of labor, in conformity with a prediction made to him by the Prophet Joseph Smith at the time that Elders Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were called to their first mission to England, that at some time in the future Brother Joseph Young should take a mission to Great Britain. This visit to the British Mission occupied about six months, and during their absence the conferences throughout England and Scotland were visited, and visits were also made through portions of New York State and Ohio; Brother Joseph Young visiting relatives and familiar places of many years previous. In 1871, after having studied the theory and practice of medicine and surgery for ten years with Dr. W. F. Anderson first, then with the Doctors Benedict, he matriculated in October of that year at the University Medical College of New York, and in March, 1874, received his diploma as a medical and surgical graduate from that famous institution. He returned home early in the spring of 1874, hung out his sign of M.D. in front of the old Seventies” Hall on State Street, on the spot where the new building of the Co-op. Wagon & Machine Company now stands. Soon after he became quarantine and city physician of Salt Lake City, and a little later, by invitation of Pres. Brigham Young, became his physician and medical adviser, which position he held until Pres. Young’s death, August 29, 1877. Elder Young continued in active practice as surgeon and physician until 1882. On October 14th of that year he was called by revelation through Pres. John Taylor to be one of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies; and in eleven years from that time, by reason of the death or promotion to the Council of the Apostles of his seniors in that quorum, be became, in 1893, the senior president of that council. Since his call to this responsible position, his time has been spent visiting as a teacher and missionary nearly all the Stakes of Zion, generally in company with some of the Twelve and occasionally with the First Presidency, and sometimes alone, going far and near to all the conferences to which he has been appointed by his presiding officers; on these visits he has often ministered to the sick, the wounded and the afflicted, not only in the ordinances of the gospel, but surgically and medically, bringing relief to numerous sufferers, to which many have testified. In connection with the above named labors, he was called to be an aid to the Deseret Sunday School Union Board, and finally, a few months since, he was chosen a member of that Board. (See also “Juvenile Instructor,” Vol. 37, p. 225.)