About the Collection
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Lorenzo Brown was born on 2 February 1823 in Ponifret, Chautauqua County, New York, to Benjamin Brown and Sarah Mumford. As a child he demonstrated an interest in and aptitude for education. When he was ten years old he first heard the restored gospel as taught by a Mormon missionary, and his father was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1835. In 1837 Lorenzo became acquainted with the head of the church, Joseph Smith, when he and Sidney Rigdon stayed at the Brown house for a few days to escape persecution. Still, Lorenzo did not receive baptism until 2 December 1838 when he became “firmly convinced of the truth and…could resist its impressions no longer.” 1
The following year the Browns moved to Illinois to gather with the saints at Nauvoo. In the first year several members of the family died, but Lorenzo and his father succeeded in obtaining land, building a home, and raising crops. Much of this work fell to Lorenzo as his father was often away serving missions. In April 1842 Lorenzo was ordained an elder in the church. On 24 March 1844 President Joseph Smith married him to Frances Crosby, who had been living for some time with the Browns. She bore him four children, the first of whom, Benjamin, was born in Nauvoo the following year.
In addition to farming, Lorenzo worked as a barge laborer on the Mississippi and devoted time to building the Nauvoo temple. He also served in the Nauvoo Legion after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, protecting the people from the anti-Mormon mobs. But growing persecution eventually drove the saints out of Illinois in the winter of 1846. Due to a lack of supplies, Lorenzo and his family remained and worked until 12 May 1846, when they crossed the Mississippi for the last time and started the trek west. They arrived in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, on August 4 and made preparations for staying there until spring. Lorenzo spent the year 1847 raising crops and working odd jobs, waiting for the opportunity to emigrate to the Salt Lake Valley. Finally on 25 May 1848 Lorenzo and his family left Winter Quarters and joined the 1848 Brigham Young Company. They arrived at the fort in Salt Lake Valley on 21 September 1848 and there began establishing their new home.
When Brigham Young organized a company to settle Las Vegas in 1856, Lorenzo was chosen to assist them. That settlement failed the following year, however, and he returned home to his family. To his surprise, he found them in better shape materially than when he had left, recording that he felt “truly thankful to [his] Father in Heaven that he has blessed and prospered [his] family during [his] absence with means of subsistence.” 2 In 1857 and 1858 Lorenzo served in the militia that prepared to fight Johnson’s Army should the need arise. Once peace had been negotiated, he worked as a carpenter for the army at Camp Floyd. In 1862 he received a call to settle Washington County, Utah, so he took his family and established a new home in St. George.
In 1875, at the age of fifty-two, Lorenzo received a call to serve a mission. Accordingly, he left his home in St. George on 31 March 1875 and upon arriving in Salt Lake City was assigned to the British Isles. After completing the journey to Liverpool, England, he was assigned to the Leeds Conference. In his diary Lorenzo wrote lengthy entries on the sights of England and about how the English people lived. For example, he noticed that “one thing is quite in contrast with American custom is the plainness of dress here of all classes. Not much of a gaudy or showy nature while in N.Y. or Salt Lake all is vanity and show.” 3
Lorenzo possessed great humility and a desire to spread the gospel, lamenting how “miserably diffident, deficient and weak” he was, but still expressing a “hope to do some good while here.” 4 He further recorded: “I am not my own master but wish to do the will of Him that sent me.” 5 This dedication to the work served him well and he baptized around twenty investigators into the church. He also received a call to preside over the Leeds Conference. On 25 October 1876 Lorenzo left England aboard the ship S. S. Wyoming and arrived home on December 17. In his journal he simply wrote: “To St. George by noon. Found all well.” 6
On 1 January 1877 Lorenzo attended the dedication of the St. George temple and thereafter recorded: “I have felt my heart filled to overflowing with gratitude to my Father in Heaven for the great privilege of today.” 7 In 1883 he and his wife moved to Arizona to be near their sons; all three of them had been sent there on settlement missions. Lorenzo Brown died at Eagar, Apache County, Arizona, on 28 January 1902.
1 Lorenzo Brown, “Diary and Autobiography, 1856–1899,” 1838, MSS 497, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Ibid., 22 March 1857.
3 Brown, “Diary, 1875–1880,” 20 May 1875, MSS SC 1880, LTPSC.
4 Ibid., 18 June 1875.
5 Ibid., 4 July 1875.
6 Ibid., 14 December 1876.
7 Ibid., 1 January 1877.
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 17 December 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm.
Andrus, Hyrum Leslie. Mormon Manuscripts to 1846: A Guide to the Holding of the Harold B. Lee Library. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1977.
Bitton, Davis. Guide to Mormon Diaries & Autobiographies. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1977.
Brown, Lorenzo. “Diary and Autobiography, 1856–1899.” MSS 497, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
________. “Diary, 1875–1880.” MSS SC 1880, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Carter, Kate B., ed. Our Pioneer Heritage. Vol. 18. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958.
Esshom, Frank. Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah. Salt Lake City: Western Epics, 1966.
Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003. 31 October 2003 available from http://www.lds.org/churchhistory/library/pioneercompanysearch/.
United States Census, 1870, 1880. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 17 December 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/census/usfedcen/main.htm.