Brigham’s rocker returned to its home

Rocking chair used by President Young donated to Church by kin

A rocking chair once owned by Brigham Young and recently donated to the Church is being called a "microcosm" of the pioneer prophet. The walnut and oak chair is, at once, detailed and understated — traits shared by President Young.

Church Historian Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy accepted the chair on behalf of the Church on Nov. 3 at the Beehive House, Brigham Young's Salt Lake City home. It was a gift of Robert and Skip Young, descendents of Brigham Young who live in the southern United States.

"We're going to find a worthy place for this chair to be exhibited — perhaps in the Beehive or Lion House," said Elder Jensen, who spoke of Brigham Young's pivotal role in the development of the Church.

"To have this (chair) connects us even more closely to Brigham," he added.

The chair is believed to have been owned and used in the Beehive House by Brigham Young's wife, Lucy Young. Its lightweight frame is both ornate and functional, said Richard Oman of the Church's Historical Department. "You can move it about — it would be cool and lightweight for summer use."

The chair had been in Robert and Skip Young's family for generations. The men, who are not Church members, were raised with the understanding that Lucy Young had brought it along her pioneer trek west to the Salt Lake Valley. Robert Young — who recently served as mayor of Augusta, Ga. — worried the chair may not be valued by future generations. So the family contacted the Church and made arrangements to donate the family heirloom.

"(We) thought the most appropriate place (for the chair) would be the place it came from — Salt Lake City," Robert Young said.

The origin and builder of the chair remain mysteries. It is small by today's standards and obviously built by a craftsman experienced in the art of building quality furniture, Brother Oman said.

The free-hand engravings on the chair's backrest are simple yet skillfully carved. The chair would have likely passed muster with President Young, himself a furniture builder who knew his way around a hammer and lathe. He taught people the divine value of building things of worth with one's hands.

"Brigham Young was very much a man who narrowed the distance between the physical and spiritual," Brother Oman said.

The chair is in good repair and will require little restoration.

E-mail to: [email protected]