About the Collection
Feramorz Little Young
by Susan L. Fales
Feramorz Little Young was born 16 September 1858 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, to President Brigham Young and his first polygamous wife, Lucy Ann Decker. Feramorz, the sixth of seven children, grew up in the Beehive House, where he was part of the large household of Brigham Young and where he was educated, along with his numerous half–brothers and sisters, in his father’s private school. 1 He was baptized on 5 September 1866, just prior to his 8th birthday. Apparently an excellent student, he subsequently attended the Deseret University, and in 1874, at the age of sixteen, he entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Although successful in his studies he resigned after two years and concluded his studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where he graduated in Engineering in 1879.
After returning to Salt Lake City he was set apart for a mission to Mexico by Apostle Wilford Woodruff on 13 November 1880, and said good bye to his family on the 16th of November. He accompanied Apostle and Mission President Moses Thatcher to Mexico, where they arrived in Mexico City on 5 December. In a diary full of cultural observations, Feramorz leaves the reader only occasional glimpses of missionary work. By the 10th of December he had begun to read the Book of Mormon and to study Spanish with Señor Altamirano an educated Indian who spoke French, German, Italian, and Spanish and added a reading knowledge of English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Elder Young characterizes him as “very intelligent looking and graceful in manner.” 2 He also assisted in publishing articles and pamphlets explaining the doctrines of the LDS Church.
His studies continued and demonstrate a deepening testimony and by 3 February he writes “was reading history of Joseph Smith, near noon, and felt a powerful sensation through my whole body and the words ‘I know it is true’ sprung directly to my mind.” 3 On 29 June Elder Young records what, were probably, his only baptisms while on his mission. At Ixtacalco he baptized Adrian Osorio, his wife Gregoria Miranda Osorio and his stepdaughter Carmen Mercado Osorio and stated that he “felt truly thankful to Him that He has permitted me to be instrumental in bringing even these few into His church, even though I am but the servant. My prayer is that they may be faithful to the end and I feel to say that their blessings will be according to their faith.” 4 This humble entry was written after he had been re–ordained an Elder by Moses Thatcher who had indicated that Feramorz “should be an honor to my father’s name.” 5
His last recorded entry in his diary was 31 August 1881 when Elder Arteaga was set apart as the new branch president in Mexico City. 6 This abrupt ending to his diary may have been due to poor health. His mother, Lucy Decker Young, received a letter dated 9 September where he told her of his “feeling unwell.” 7 He accompanied Elder Moses Thatcher on 6 September and left Mexico City to travel home. They boarded the steamer, Knickerbocker, on 16 September, and began their sea voyage. Unfortunately Elder Young grew sicker with what has been described as either typhoid or malarial fever. He died the night of 27 September 1881, at the age of 23, about 110 miles from Havana, Cuba, where he was buried at sea. 8 Apostle Moses Thatcher reported at the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October that “he did not think his missionary companion was about to leave him. … when he asked him his feelings, he replied, ‘I think the Lord will call me home… . If it is right for me to return, I should like to return; for I have learned enough and witnessed enough to be willing to make a covenant with God to devote all my life to the work of the ministry.’ … But he never, to the speaker’s mind, manifested any faith in regard to his return.” 9
1 Ibid., 29 June 1881.
3 Ibid., 31 August 1881.
4 “In Memoriam,” Deseret Evening News, 12 October 1881.
5 Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, vol. 3 (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1971): 742.
6 “Fifty-First Semi-Annual Conference,” Deseret News Weekly 12 October 1887.
7 The 1860 U.S. Census of Salt Lake City lists 85 members of Brigham Young’s household residing at both the Beehive and Lion houses. See United States Federal Census, 1860, available from http://www.ancestry.com/
8 Feramorz Little Young, “Missionary Journal, 1880-1881,” 10 December 1880, MSS SC 2142, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
9 Ibid., 3 February 1881.
“Fifty-First Semi-Annual Conference.” Deseret News Weekly. 12 October 1881.
Hendricks, Rickey Lynn. “Landmark Architecture for a Polygamous Family: The Brigham Young Domicile, Salt Lake City, Utah.” The Public Historian 11 (Winter 1989): 25-47.
“In Memoriam.” Deseret Evening News. 12 October 1881.