The untimely death of Joseph Smith led to a splintering of the Church, with what became the main body of the Church following Brigham Young (1801-1877), the president of the Quorum of 12 Apostles at the time. Young established the Church on a successful foundation. In terms of influence he is second only to Joseph Smith in the history of the LDS Church. After the violence in Nauvoo, Young led the main body of Mormons west through desert and barren prairieland, many Mormons dying along the way. They reached Great Salt Valley in what is now Utah in 1847. The land at the time belonged to Mexico; it was incorporated into the United States in 1848. The LDS Church founded the State of Deseret in 1849, and then the Territory of Deseret in 1851. It was essentially a theocracy run by Brigham Young and the early leaders of the Church until the intervention of the US Government from the 1860s, which objected to the practice of polygamy, leading to the seizure of Church property, the disfranchisement of Mormon voters, and in 1857 the intervention of federal military forces known to Mormons as ‘Johnston’s Army’.
Other early Mormons are worth noting. Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) joined the Church in 1833 in Kirtland, and he later became the fourth prophet. His tenure saw the founding of the state of Utah on 4 January 1896, after he had banned polygamy in 1890, despite having married 9 different women himself. He also ended the practice of ‘the gathering’, which was the settling of converts in Mormon communities in Utah. From then on converts were encouraged to build churches locally, which began the process of the international spread of the Church. The first non-US ‘stake’ was founded in 1895 in Canada.
Eliza Roxey Snow (1804-1887) was married to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and was the sister of the fifth prophet, Lorenzo Snow. She was a poet, intellectual, and role model for Mormon women, who was important in the founding of the Relief Society, a women’s education and charitable works organisation within the Church, and which still claims today to be the world’s largest women’s organisation. The Relief Society provides a way for women to participate in the ordinances and blessings of the priesthood, though they are not ordained.
Parley P. Pratt (1807-1857) was a missionary, who went on over 20 mission tours, and created a popular exposition of Mormon doctrine for mass consumption in Voice of Warning, published in 1837, and produced numerous hymns and works of fiction.