Brigham Young Family Cemetery in SLC rededicated after renovation
Photo supplied, Intellectual Reserve
Just a block east of the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young’s family had a wonderful strawberry patch. That bit of land became to burial spot for the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Governor of the Utah Territory. Many members of his family tree are also buried there.
On Saturday, after two years of renovation, the Brigham Young Family Cemetery in downtown Salt Lake City was rededicated.
In addition to Young, 150-year-old landmark is the burial place of Eliza R. Snow, the Church’s second General Relief Society President and renowned Latter-day Saint poet.
Kevin W. Pearson, Utah Area President, presided at the rededication ceremony and praised the sacrifices of early pioneer Latter-day Saints who settled Utah under Young’s leadership.
“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.”
Photo supplied, Intellectual Reserve
Part of the cemetery is dedicated to the legacies of early pioneers including William Clayton and Snow, whose poems were later adopted as Latter-day Saint hymns that continue to be sung in church congregations today.
A monument for Snow was also restored during the renovation. It memorializes the words of one of her poems, later adopted as the hymn, “Oh My Father.”
“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.
Planning for the family cemetery’s renovation began in April 2020. Multiple church departments worked together to preserve the historical integrity of the site. The cemetery has more than 40 graves, the vast majority of which are unmarked. To avoid disturbing the graves, ground penetrating radar technology was used to find their precise location, according to a church press release.
Contractors conducted all digging by hand, which proved challenging when two layers of concrete, about 10 inches thick, were discovered under the sandstone-paved walkway. Special care was taken in restoring and reinforcing the site’s original workmanship, such as the pioneer-era wrought iron fence and sandstone wall on the cemetery’s perimeter.
“We have tried to create an open, inviting, peaceful atmosphere where the Spirit can be felt. Also, a place to reflect on the past, and help inspire us as we move forward with our lives,” Project Manager Greg Green said during remarks given at the rededication.
Aside from Brigham Young, other marked graves in the cemetery include his wives — Mary Ann Angell, Lucy Ann Decker, Emmeline Free, Mary Van Cott and Snow — as well as his children, Joseph Angell Young and Alice Young Clawson.
The Brigham Young Family Cemetery was dedicated as the Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument on June 1, 1974, the 173rd anniversary of Brigham Young’s birth. A statue in the center of the park honors the 6,000 Latter-day Saint pioneers who lost their lives while crossing the western plains of the United States to Utah. Other monuments in the cemetery honor the life of Brigham Young and early Latter-day Saints.