Brigham Young, the famous Mormon leader, lived in Aurelius from 1817-1825. He was born in Vermont in 1801. He came to Auburn in 1815. He resided in Auburn for two years. Because his family had died, he lived with families and worked for his board and some small pay in Aurelius. One of the families was a famous wood worker named Thomas Jeffries. Brigham learned the art of wood working from Thomas.
While living in Aurelius in 1823, Brigham met and married Miriam Angela Works, the daughter of Asa and Jerusha Works of Aurelius. She was a beautiful young woman of 18, and he was a handsome man five years her senior.
Brigham joined the Methodist Church when he was 22 and living in Aurelius. Four members of his family had been Methodist ministers.
The places that Brigham worked, either as a farm laborer or as a wood worker, while a young man in Aurelius, were mostly between Half Acre and Auburn. The Moses Lyon Farm, where the Power family lived, the first farm east of Half Acre, was one.
There was a spot at the rear of this farm where a stone foundation indicated a dwelling stood. Howard Power was told that Brigham Young spent his honeymoon there in 1824. This is where the new BOCES accommodations are being built. When it is finished, it will be a beautiful complex of buildings and land.
There was a woodworking shop in the rear of Murray's Blacksmith shop in Half Acre. Brigham was thought to have worked there. The present Wait home in Aurelius was positively thought to have been worked on by this famous Mormon leader. The Dunning family, for many years, had a cherry desk made in the Aurelius woodworking shop by Brigham Young. It may still be around somewhere.
Also, as a young man, Brigham worked as a stable boy at Reed's Tavern in Aurelius. Several barns near Half Acre were claimed to have been built by Brigham Young, most notably the one that burned up west of the L. S. Riford home on the corners of Half Acre.
Brigham left Aurelius in 1825 and moved to the Port Byron area where he stayed until 1829.
Mary Van Sickle Wait of Aurelius wrote a book about Brigham Young. She also wrote a poem about him. One of the seven stanzas seem to describe him very aptly:
“Censured by critics throughout the land,
Feared for the power of his growing band
Whose prophet and Leader he became:
Ruled by compassion, his fertile brain
Devised a state of theocracy
Preached, as he practiced, Plurality.”
Ruth Probst is historian for the town of Aurelius