The Brigham Young Family Cemetery — located one block east of Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City — has reopened after extensive renovations and rededication.
Part of the 150-year-old historic cemetery – which is the final resting place of Brigham Young, the second President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as some of his family members – is dedicated to the legacy of early pioneers, such as William Clayton and Eliza R. Snow.
And since the majority of the more than 40 burial sites are unmarked graves, the renovations required special care.
Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy who serves as president of the Utah Area of the Church, presided over services on October 22 and offered the prayer of redemption. He praised the sacrifices of the early pioneers, who settled the Salt Lake Valley and beyond under the guidance and direction of Brigham Young.
“It would be impossible to overstate its impact on the state of Utah and the ‘pioneer corridor,’” Elder Pearson said, quoted in a report published on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. “It has been said that ‘history is the fulfillment of prophecy.’ Nowhere is this truer than in the times and lives of the early pioneer saints who came to the Great Salt Lake Valley.
In addition to being the final resting place of the pioneer-era namesake church leader who died on August 29, 1877, the Brigham Young Family Cemetery includes marked graves for wives Mary Ann Angell, Lucy Ann Decker , Emmeline Free, Mary Van Cott and Eliza R. Snow and children Joseph Angell Young and Alice Young Clawson.
The family and others used the family cemetery on the property – which had previously been the Youngs’ strawberry field – rather than burial grounds in the larger city-owned cemetery.
“The Young family buried here gave their all to this vision of community because of their unwavering belief in the eternal nature of the human soul and the eternal nature of the human family,” said Emily Utt, curator of historic sites at the Church History Department. “They worked out together on this very earth the things that would make their family eternal.”
A monument to Snow, second general president of the Church’s Relief Society and famous Latter-day Saint poet, was restored during the renovation. With some of his poems adopted as Latter-day Saint hymns, the restored monument commemorates his poetry used in the hymn “O My Father.”
Planning for the renovation began in April 2020 and involved multiple Church departments in an effort to preserve the historic integrity of the site. With so many unmarked graves, ground penetrating radar technology, known as GPR, was used to mark the precise locations of burial sites.
The contractors did all the digging on site by hand, which presented challenges, including hammering two layers of concrete totaling 10 inches thick that were uncovered under the graveyard’s sandstone-paved driveway. .
Workers have painstakingly restored and reinforced the site’s original work, from the pioneer-era wrought-iron fence to the sandstone wall on the perimeter of the cemetery.
“We have tried to create an open, inviting and peaceful atmosphere where the Spirit can be felt – also a place to reflect on the past and help us be inspired as we move forward in our lives,” said the project manager. Greg Green during his remarks. during the rededication ceremony.
On June 1, 1974—the 173rd anniversary of Brigham Young’s birth—the Brigham Young Family Ceremony was dedicated as a Mormon Pioneer Memorial. A statue in the center of the cemetery/park honors the 6,000 Latter-day Saint pioneers who lost their lives crossing the planes of the western United States to present-day Utah.
Other monuments in the cemetery honor the life of Brigham Young and early Latter-day Saints.
The Brigham Young Family Cemetery at 140 E. First Ave. is open daily to the public to stroll the grounds.