Joseph Young was the elder brother of the famous Brigham Young. But for that accident of birth, this shining luminary would have been known as among the great ones of early Mormonism. As it is, he is normally thought of in terms of his brother.
He was born 7 April 1797 in Hopkinton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. the son of John Young and Nabbie Howe.
His childhood and early youth were spent at home, where his kind and affectionate nature was stimulated by the tender treatment and Christian precept, characterizing his parents and their family. He imbibed at an early period of life the spirit of religion, and became an enthusiastic church member. Joining the Methodists, he soon began to preach their doctrines and was thus engaged, when, in the early spring of 1832, his brother, Brigham Young, brought the glad tidings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as announced by the Prophet Joseph Smith. His religious enthusiasm proved to be a genuine love of truth, rather than bigoted devotion to a sectarian creed, and he was easily converted to the principles of the gospel, which he received in a grateful and believing heart.
He was baptized 6 April 1832 by Daniel Bowen in Columbia, Pennsylvania and ordained an Elder April 1832 by Ezra Landon. Preached in New York in the spring of 1832. He served a Mission to Earnestown-Loughborough, Upper Canada, in the summer of 1832 and traveled to Kirtland, Ohio in November 1832. He served a second mission to Earnestown - Loughborough in the winter of 1832-33.
He married Jane Adeline Bicknell 18 February 1834 in Kirtland. He fathered eleven children by her : Jane A., Joseph, Seymour B., Marcus De LaGrande, John Calvin, Mary L., Vilate, Chloe, Rhoda, Henriette, and Brigham.
Answering the call to relieve the suffering saints of Zion, he accompanied Zion's Camp in 1834. Perhaps because of his faithfulness in answering this call, he was ordained seventy 28 February 1835. He was ordained one of the seven Presidents of First Quorum of Seventy 1 March 1835 under the hands of the Prophet. After it was discovered that the senior president, Hazen Aldrich had previously been ordained a High Priest and surrendered his position in the quorum, Joseph became the senior or seventh president. He served in this position 1835-81.
Elder Young served a mission to New York and Massachusetts with Burr Riggs in 1835. Then, returning to Kirtland, he participated in dedication of Kirtland Temple in 1836. Later in 1836, after having received his blessings in the Temple at Kirtland, agreeable to the Prophet's instructions, he accompanied his brother Brigham to the East, to visit among their relatives and friends; they preached the gospel to them and bore testimony of the latter-day work. This mission occupied several months, and subsequently many of their relatives and friends came into the Church.
He was a charter member of and owned stock in Kirtland Safety Society. Then with the apostasy occasioned by the failure of that institution swirling about him he became a member of the Kirtland Camp in 1838 and left the apostates in Kirtland 6 July 1838.
He arrived at Haun's Mill, Missouri 28 October 1838. Just two days later he witnessed Haun's Mill massacre on October 30, 1838. He was expelled from Missouri 1839 by Governor Lilburn Boggs despicable and infamous "Extermination Order." He located temporarily in Quincy, Illinois in May of 1839, then moved to Nauvoo in the spring of 1840. There he was occupied in painting and glazing business
Joseph Young received his endowment 3 February 1844. He became a member of Council of Fifty 1 March 1845, then went on a mission to Ohio 1844 to campaign for Joseph Smith as president of United States.
Elder Young was sealed to Lucinda Allen in Nauvoo 1846 by whom he fathered four children: Josephine, Phineas Howe, John C., and Willard. In 1846 he was sealed to Lydia Hemming who bore him two children: Isaac and Caroline. He was sealed to Mary Ann Burnham in Nauvoo 1846. Two children: Elmyra and Clarentine.
Because of the continueing persecutions after the Prophet's Martyrdom Joseph left Illinois 1846. He remained in Winter Quarters and Carterville, Iowa, until 1850 and arrived in Utah September 1850. He settled in Salt Lake City.
After arrival in the west he was sealed to Sarah Jane Kinsman 1868 at Salt Lake City, Utah. She bore him two children: Edward and Sarah K.
He served a final mission, this time to the British Isles 1870. He was greatly beloved by the people everywhere, being one of those lovable dispositions that always attract those with whom they become associated. He was a benevolent and merciful man, full of kindness and good works, and full of integrity to the cause he had espoused. He never wearied of proclaiming its principles.
"Uncle Joseph," as he was familiarly called, died in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 16, 1881. He had for several weeks succumbed to general weakness and debility incident to old age, and quietly fell asleep, surrounded by loving kindred and friends. His body was free from disease, and his last days were devoid of pain. Like a shock of corn fully ripe he was gathered home. Having fulfilled his mission on the earth and lived beyond the time usually allotted to man, he realized in his closing hours on earth that "the end of the righteous is peace."