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Persis Richards (Goodall)

Also Known As: "Young"
Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, United States
Death: September 16, 1894 (88)
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
Place of Burial: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Joel Goodall and Mary "Molly" Swain Goodall
Wife of Levi Richards, Dr.
Ex-wife of Lorenzo Dow Young
Mother of William Goodall Young; Joseph Watson Young; Lucy Ann Young; Harriet Maria Young; John Ray Young and 6 others
Sister of Mary Goodall; Joel Goodall; Nathan Goodall; Elizabeth Goodall; Persis Goodall, twin and 7 others

Managed by: Richard Frank Henry
Last Updated:

About Persis Richards

Persis Goodall Young Richards (1806 - 1894) - Persis Goodall, one of thirteen children born to Joel Goodall and Mary Swain, was born 15 March 1806 in Watertown, Jefferson County, New York. Joel Goodall, originally from Massachusetts, is listed among the earliest settlers of Watertown, a settlement that was founded in 1800. She married (1) Lorenzo Dow Young, and (2) Dr. Levi Richards. She died on 16 September 1894 at the age of eighty-eight, and was buried in the Richards family plot in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Marriages and Children

  1. Lorenzo Dow Young (19 October 1807 Smyrna, Chenango County, New York - 21 November 1895 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory), son of John Young and Abigail Howe, and younger brother of Brigham Young; married on 26 June 1826 at Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, divorced before 1846.
    1. William Goodall Young (21 February 1827 Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York - 15 April 1894 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah); married Adelia Clark and Martha Ann Grainger
    2. Joseph Watson Young (12 January 1828 Mendon, Monroe County, New York - 7 June 1873 Harrisburg, Washington County, Utah); married Mary Ann Pugh, Lurana Eldridge, and Julia T. Adams
    3. Lucy Ann Young (27 November 1832 Pittsburg, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania - 27 August 1836 Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio)
    4. Harriet Maria Young (21 July 1834 Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio - 16 February 1928 Kanab, Kane County, Utah); married Joseph Guernsey Brown
    5. John Ray Young (30 April 1837 Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio - 15 September 1931 Provo, Utah County, Utah); married Albina Terry, Lydia Knight, and Tamar J. Black
    6. Franklin Wheeler Young (17 February 1839 Winchester, Scott County, Illinois - 22 January 1911Provo, Utah County, Utah); married Nancy L. Greene and Anna Maria Sabin
    7. Lorenzo Sobieski Young (9 March 1841 Winchester, Scott County, Illinois - 28 March 1924 Shelley, Bingham County, Idaho); married Sarah Amelia Black
    8. Lucia Jane Young, twin (12 July 1843 Winchester, Adams County, Ohio - 14 August 1844 Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois)
    9. Lucius James Young, twin (12 July 1843 Winchester, Adams County, Ohio - 9 August 1844 Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois)
    10. Frances Elizabeth Young (27 June 1845 Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois - 15 July 1845 Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois)
  2. Dr. Levi Richards, married 27 January 1846 at Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois

Biographical Sketch

Little is known of Persis' early life, but at age twenty she married Lorenzo Dow Young who had come to Watertown to visit his brother-in-law. They married on 6 June 1826 and shortly thereafter moved to Mendon, Monroe County, New York. Persis was an intelligent woman with a love of learning. She was an avid reader and a student of the Bible and the Hebrew language.

Lorenzo and Persis joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1831. In November, with two small boys, they started down the Allegheny River, headed for Missouri. As they reached Pittsburgh, Persis became ill and could not travel further. Lorenzo and his brother Phineas rented a room for their families for a season. In the spring of 1832, Lorenzo left his family in Pittsburgh while he went back to New York on a mission. While he was gone, Persis gave birth to a daughter, Lucy. Upon Lorenzo's return, the family of five continued their journey down the Ohio River.

A Great Tragedy

Persis continued to battle illness and the family found it necessary to stop and spend the next winter at West Union. At that point, they changed plans and went to Kirtland, Ohio where they remained for four years. During that time, Persis gave birth to two more children. Lorenzo went on several missions for the Church and Persis was left in Kirtland to care for the children. In the summer of 1836, the family suffered a great tragedy. During one of the absences of Lorenzo, little three-year-old Lucy caught her clothes on fire and burned to death.

Due to persecutions against the Mormons in Kirtland, the Youngs sold their property and once again headed for Missouri. The year-and-a-half spent in Missouri was filled with hardship and suffering. When warned that a mob was approaching to burn down their house with the family inside, they hurriedly left with their four children and a few possessions. They fled to the community of Far West, 20 miles north, and were never able to return for their belongings. They were left destitute.

Frozen Potatoes and Cornbread

As mob threats continued, settlers tried to protect their homes. After the Battle of Crooked River, Lorenzo was forced to flee for his life with twenty other men. Persis was left behind again. Before Lorenzo could return for them, Governor Boggs issued an order for all Mormons to be exterminated. The Young's only cow was shot and killed by a mob, leaving the family only frozen potatoes and cornbread. Persis managed to get her children out of Missouri and caught up with Lorenzo in Illinois. Her son recalled that on that difficult journey, his mother would bed down her children next to logs in the snow and pour out her aching soul to the Lord in prayer.

The reunited family settled first at Winchester, Illinois where Persis gave birth to two sons and Lorenzo tried to provide for his wife and children. The whole family was plagued by sickness. Within four years, they located at Nauvoo, hoping for better things. Persis gave birth to three more children there, including a set of twins, but all three died in infancy. In 1843, Lorenzo married Harriet Decker as a plural wife. Although the record is unclear, Persis divorced him about two years later. She became a second wife to Dr. Levi Richards on 27 January 1846, just prior to the exodus from Nauvoo.

A Difficult and Lonely Time

In the company of many others, Persis journeyed across Iowa to Kanesville (present Council Bluffs) where the Mormons established Winter Quarters and prepared to move on to the Rocky Mountains. By 1848, all of her sons had left for Utah in wagon trains. Even six-year-old Lorenzo had joined his father in the first company of 1847. Before Persis could follow with the Richards family, Levi was called on a five-year mission to England. He took his first wife, Sarah, with him and Persis was left in Kanesville with her fourteen-year-old daughter, Harriet. It was a difficult and lonely time.

Apparently, the marriage between Persis and Levi was platonic, more like a close friendship. Her letters to Levi and Sarah in England were often addressed to "Respected Brother and Sister Richards." The letters spoke of loneliness, lack of means and her reliance on neighbors for help. She lacked the funds to go west. Finally, after considerable disappointment, Persis was able to gain help from the Church and join the Edward Hunter Company of 1850. She and Harriet arrived at Salt Lake City in October and set up living quarters in a wagon next to the home of son William. The next year a small 10 x 10 foot adobe house was built there for her.

A Quiet Life

Persis lived most of the next forty years with her various children in Salt Lake, Payson, Kanab and St. George. A great-great grandaughter said, "In her later life, she was quiet and withdrawn and seldom went out to Church or public gatherings. She was always very gracious to visitors, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She told them stories and taught them how to spell." Toward the end of her life, Persis returned to Salt Lake City where she was cared for in the home of Levi's son, Levi Willard Richards, who was married to her granddaughter, Persis Louisa Young. She died on 16 September 1894 at the age of eighty-eight, and was buried in the Richards family plot in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.


  • Lorenzo Dow Young and Persis Goodall
  • Transcripts of letters written by Persis and Levi Richards, along with histories, can be found in Joseph Grant Stevenson's book, Richards Family History, Vol. 2, published by Stevenson's Genealogical Center in Provo, Utah.
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Persis Richards's Timeline

March 15, 1806
Watertown, Jefferson County, New York, United States
February 12, 1827
Age 20
Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York, United States
January 12, 1828
Age 21
Mendon, Monroe County, New York, United States
November 27, 1832
Age 26
Pittsburgh, Allegheny, PA, USA
July 21, 1834
Age 28
Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio, United States
April 30, 1837
Age 31
Madison, Lake County, Ohio, United States
February 17, 1839
Age 32
Winchester, Scott County, Illinois, United States
March 9, 1841
Age 34
Winchester, Scott County, Illinois, United States
July 12, 1843
Age 37
Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA