In essence the Mormons faced a lot of persecution and violence along the way. In Kirtland Ohio, they were forced to leave. In Liberty, Missouri, they were forced to leave. In Nauvoo, Illinois, where they thought they would be safe, they constructed a town and a temple in six years. Only Chicago was a bigger city in Illinois in 1844, and only by a little. But, in the end, they were forced to leave Nauvoo also. History has told their story a lot of times and ways, but the reason for their persecution comes down to being different.
Mary Ann Angell struck out on her own from Vermont at the age of 25. She had been given a Book of Mormon by a missionary and decided to join them in Kirtland, Ohio. This is where she met Brigham Young. His first wife had died two years earlier, leaving him with two daughters. He and Mary Ann were married in Kirtland. They began their family there, adding children. It was the calm before the storm.
It was in Kirtland that violence was first brought to bear on the family. Brigham Young had his home ransacked in the middle of the night. He was thought to be a leader of the church, although Joseph Smith was clearly the visionary. The Mormon leaders fled Kirtland and found a home in Liberty, Missouri. The Governor of Missouri ordered them to leave the state or they would be exterminated. They were taken in by the people of Quincy, Illinois, for one winter. About 1500 residents of Quincy took in over 5000 Mormons, before they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois.
Brigham Young actually had a house in Montrose, Iowa, just across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo. Shortly after arriving in Nauvoo, he was sent on a mission and left Mary Ann and the children in their home in Montrose. She would have to row across the river, in winter, for any supplies or food she needed. When he returned Mary Ann had already arranged to buy land in Nauvoo for a home site.
While Brigham Young was on another mission, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyram were taken prisoner and locked up at the Carthage, Illinois jail, where a mob killed them both. It was left to Mary Ann to write Brigham and tell him what had happened. Her letter is on display at the Brigham Young home in Nauvoo. Also there were pottery she used. The house is original and was built by Brigham Young. It was in this house that the plans were made to move to the west. We saw the fireplace that Mary Ann would have cooked on, the outdoor root cellar built by Brigham Young and displays of her dishes and pottery.
Nancy would be Mary Ann's second cousin, three times removed. She is considered Brigham Young's "real" wife. She was known as "Mother Young" to friends and family. She was skilled at the healing arts and especially good with roots and herbs for those afflicted. When Brigham Young reached Utah and established the Mormon community there, he sent missionaries all over the Utah Territory. Brigham Young also took her mother, Phebe Angell, and her sister, Jemima Angell as his wives. Phebe was 59 and Jemima was 42 when they were sealed to Brigham Young. These were marriages of duty or obligation, as were most of his plural marriages. The Mormon Church no longer practices plural marriages.
Mary Ann also became the first lady of the Utah Territory following Brigham Young's appointment to be Governor of the Territory by President Millard Fillmore. A statue of Brigham Young is in the United States Capitol Building.
The scope of Mary Ann's life is amazing. And we got to see her life in Nauvoo depicted on stage at the "Nauvoo Pageant" as well as meet the actors that portrayed her and Brigham Young. Because of Nancy's kinship with her, we were provided front row seats by an eager missionary.