Abigail Howe Young

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Abigail “Nabby” Howe Young was born on May 3, 1765 or 1766, in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to Phineas and Susanna Goddard Howe. She was one of five sisters who were known to be pretty girls with “sweet voices” who sang English madrigals at many social gatherings.[1]

Nabby had historical figures in her family, such as Elias Howe Jr., who invented the sewing machine, and Julia Ward Howe, who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

She married John Young—a Revolutionary War veteran—on October 31, 1785, and she bore eleven children, including Brigham Young, mostly under primitive conditions, one record saying that she often lived in a covered wagon. She and her husband were members of the Methodist church. All but one of her children later joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She taught her children to read, write, and do sums and expected them to behave according to her tradition of decorum.

Brigham Young wrote: “My mother . . . taught her children . . . to honor the name of the Father and Son, and to reverence the Holy Book. She said, ‘Read it, observe its precepts, apply them to your life as far as you can. Do everything that is good; do nothing that is evil, and if you see any persons in distress, administer to their wants. Never suffer anger to arise in your bossoms, for if you do, you may be overcome by evil.’”[2]

Nabby died of consumption on June 11, 1815, in New York, after suffering many years of deteriorating health from the disease.


Leonard Arrington, Susan Arrington Madsen, and Emily Madsen Jones, Mothers of the Prophets, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2009).