Historic Brigham Young Family Cemetery opens after renovation, rededication
Mormon Pioneer Monument and resting places of Brigham Young, Eliza Snow and other Young family members restored by work crews
The Brigham Young Family Cemetery and Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument is open again in downtown Salt Lake City after a renovation designed to better protect the site, dozens of graves and multiple statues and monuments.
The cemetery, which includes the graves of Brigham Young, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Eliza R. Snow, the church’s second Relief Society general president, was rededicated on Saturday in a small ceremony, according to a news release.
Parts of the historic sandstone wall around the cemetery had been deteriorating, and vandals and dogs were entering over wrought-iron fences and damaging the site prior to the renovation.
The Salt Lake City Historic Landmark Commission refused to allow the church to raise the historic, decorative fences by adding more wrought iron to the bottoms of the bars because it said the work would ruin the historic nature of the site.
The church took other precautions to protect the site from vandalism, a spokesperson confirmed.
Brigham Young died in 1877 after more than 30 years leading the church as an American Moses who led the Latter-day Saints out of persecution in the United States to what became known as Utah.
The cemetery at 140 E. First Avenue includes a monument to the 6,000 pioneers who died trying to make the journey from Illinois and around the world from 1847 to 1869.
Elder Kevin W. Pearson, the church’s Utah Area president and a General Authority Seventy, presided at the rededication ceremony. He praised those pioneer sacrifices.
“It would be impossible to overstate (Brigham Young’s) impact on the state of Utah and the ‘pioneer corridor,’” Elder Pearson said. “It has been said that ‘history is the fulfillment of prophecy.’ Nowhere is that truer than in the times and lives of the early pioneer Saints who came to the Great Salt Lake Valley.”
Renovation workers using ground-penetrating radar discovered dozens of previously unknown gravesites, the church said.
The cemetery is located in the South Temple National Historic District and the Avenues Local Historic District in Salt Lake City.
A monument for Snow, a renowned Latter-day Saint poet, also was renovated during the work. It memorializes the words of one of her poems, which was adopted as the hymn, “Oh My Father.”
Snow was married to the church’s first president Joseph Smith. After his death, she was married to Brigham Young. The cemetery includes some of Young’s others wives — Mary Ann Angell, Lucy Ann Decker, Emmeline Free and Mary Van Cott — and at least two of his children, Joseph Angell Young and Alice Young Clawson.
Most of the graves are unmarked.
“The Young family buried here gave their all to this vision of community because of their unflinching belief in the eternal nature of the human soul and the eternal nature of the human family. They worked out together on this very land the things that would make their family eternal,” said Emily Utt, historic sites curator with the Church History Department.
The quarter-acre cemetery sits amid single-family homes and apartment buildings and is about half a block east of the Church Office Building and larger Temple Square.
The cemetery is defined by two sections, the upper courtyard’s Mormon Pioneer Memorial with the All Is Well statue and the lower courtyard with the Brigham Young family graves.
Workers restored and reinforced the site’s original workmanship.
“We have tried to create an open, inviting, peaceful atmosphere where the Spirit can be felt,” project manager Greg Green said during the rededication service. “Also, a place to reflect on the past, and help inspire us as we move forward with our lives.”