Brigham Young (June 1, 1801 - August 29, 1877) took over leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church; see also Mormon) after the death of the Church's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr Young led the early members of the Church westward to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah to escape growing religious persecution with which the members had become familiar in New York, Ohio and Missouri. On February 10, 1846, many Latter-day Saints, led by Young, began their migration west from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake.
Young was perhaps the most famous polygamist of the early church although he was preceded in the practice of "Plural Marriage" by Smith who introduced it. He married approximately 27 women and had 56 known children.
Although the evidence is only circumstantial, critics have variably charged that Young either knew of, approved of or directed the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Some critics also charge that Young actively covered up the debacle or that he was somehow responsible for minimizing or delaying justice to the perpetrators. John D. Lee was executed for the crime and the only person convicted for it.