Lucy Ann Decker was born May 17, 1822 in Phelps, Ontario, New York. She was the first of Isaac and Harriet Decker’s children. The family moved several times while the children were still young. They moved from Ontario, to Chattaraugus County, NY, and then on to Portage, Franklin, and Kirtland, Ohio.
It was in Portage, Ohio that the Decker family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lucy was approximately 13 at that time. The Decker family became good friends with the Prophet, Joseph Smith, and with Brigham Young and Lorenzo Snow.
While in Portage, Lucy married a man by the name of William Seely. William was 21 and Lucy was 14. Together they had two children, Isaac and Harriet.
These were turbulent times for the Saints. They were forcefully removed from their property and William was taken and shot by Captain Bogart’s company (1). Although William survived the incident, the lasting effects of his wound caused him great suffering.
Eventually, William and Lucy divorced, leaving her alone to care for their two small children in Nauvoo.
According to the book, Saints, “Both Brigham [Young] and his wife Mary Ann had come to know through prayer and inspiration that they should practice plural marriage. With Mary Ann’s consent, Brigham had been sealed to a woman named Lucy Ann Decker in June 1842, a year after Joseph had first taught him the principle. Lucy had separated from her first husband and had young children to care for.” (2) Lucy was 20 at the time of her marriage to Brigham Young.
Lucy was “of fair complexion and medium height, and quite nice looking. She was a kind and loving mother, a devoted wife, of a charitable disposition, and true in every particular to her religion, her husband, and friends” (5). She crossed the plains and came to Salt Lake with the rest of the Young family in 1848.
Lucy was a well organized and efficient homemaker. She was “always diligent, energetic and attentive to every duty reposed upon her.” (5) She and her seven children were the primary occupants of the Beehive House, which Brigham Young deeded to her upon his death (4).
One daughter reported, “Aunt Lucy Decker… kept the Beehive House as clean and spotless as a scoured silver plate, and yet made it so comfortable and homelike that father found infinite peace and rest in his own quarters there, for his bedroom and sitting room was there, for many years, separated from the more crowded and noisier Lion House” (6).
Lucy died January 24, 1891 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Sources and Further Reading:
2 - Saints, Vol I
5 - Pictures and Biographies of Brigham Young and His Wives. James H Crockwell.
6 - Susa Young Dunford Gates in her biography of and with her mother, Lucy Bigelow Young