Mary Vance “Polly” <I>Young</I> Lee

Mary Vance “Polly” Young Lee

Jackson County, Tennessee, USA
Death 15 Jun 1890 (aged 72)
Nutrioso, Apache County, Arizona, USA
Burial Nutrioso, Apache County, Arizona, USA
Memorial ID 23112654 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Daughter of David Adolphous Young and Elizabeth Vance

Married John Doyle Lee, 27 Feb 1847, Winter Quarters, Douglas, Nebraska

Children - John Doyle Lee, Elizabeth Lee, James Young Lee

Polly was the sixth child of David Adolphous Young and Elizabeth Vance. In early 1800, David and Elizabeth arrived in Tennessee, where they had their first child in 1807. Over the next eighteen years, they had seven more; the last, David Isom, was born in 1825. The parents and three of their children joined the Mormon Church in 1842, baptized by John D. Lee, who was a missionary in Tennessee at the time. The children who became members with their parents were the three youngest, Polly, Lavina, and David. The others were all probably married with children of their own or single, making their own livelihood.

David, the father was an elderly man of seventy years, when he was baptized. It must have been difficult for him at that late time in his life to pack up his things along with the family and leave the home in which they had lived for thirty-five or more years to move to Nauvoo. There were others in the Young family, David's nephews, who were baptized and moved to Nauvoo at about the same time. Little is known about the lives of the Youngs during the few years in Nauvoo.

By mid-1845 relations between the Mormons and gentiles in western Illinois were so strained that it was painfully clear that Nauvoo must be abandoned. Like most of those in the city, the Youngs began getting outfits together for their departure and the move west. "Our efforts," wrote John D. Lee, "centered on two objectives, namely, our contemplated move west and the completion of the temple."

That winter Lee spent most of his time in the nearly finished temple. There, he said, he did a little of everything, including assisting in "fitting up the rooms, sometimes acting as doorkeeper, seeing that all things were in readiness and kept straight in the preparation time." When the doors were opened to the membership John was set apart as the temple recorder, " keep the record of the saints." He and his wife, Aggatha Ann, were in the second company to receive their endowments. In the next few months John took great personal pride in welcoming many old friends and converts from Tennessee to the temple including the Youngs, Paces, Vances, Berrys and others during those first few weeks of its operation.

Polly went through the Nauvoo Temple with her parents on February 3, 1846.

Ten months later the Youngs left Nauvoo, crossed the plains of Iowa and were trying to survive while encamped on the Missouri River. Four hundred cabins were hurriedly erected by the suffering Saints, and on the late autumn morning when Lee arrived back from a special mission to Santa Fe, New Mexico, he discovered almost everyone in need of food and supplies. His own families had inadequate shelter with the situation becoming more serious as each day passed. It was almost December and in that country, where the wind blew without barrier for hundreds of miles in any direction, the bitter cold could be harsh and unsparing for those not properly prepared. Lee wasted no time securing building materials, hauling logs for walls, setting them in place, and making shingles by splitting them himself.

In the meantime he discovered that his old friends from Tennessee, David Young and family, were immobilized by illness. He quickly gave assistance by getting food and supplies for their immediate needs, then gave the son, David Isom, money with which to lay in enough food to see the family through the winter. Both David, the father, and Elizabeth had been sick and in need of attention. He was by that time seventy-three years of age, and she was in her mid-sixties. Neither of them fully regained their health from that series of illnesses.

Two months later they witnessed the marriage of their daughters, Polly and Lavina and another Tennessee convert, Nancy Gibbons. These three ladies were married to John D. Lee on February 27, 1847 in a single ceremony performed by President Brigham Young at Lee's home at Winter Quarters. Lee noted the occasion in his journal that, "Nancy Gibbons, Mary Vance and Lavina Young were sealed to John D. Lee for time and all eternity in presence of Brigham Young and David Young." Following that unusual ceremony, the party all sat down to a sumptuous supper. Later that evening President Young and his wife entertained the group by singing several songs Lee described as "both sentimental and sacred."

A few days later the Lee family moved eighteen miles north to a place which eventually became known as Summer Quarters. Here was a plot of one hundred acres of fine river bottom land on which a few dozen families, designated by Brigham Young, developed a farm. Lee was named superintendent under the direction of Isaac Morley who was given responsibility for the operation of all church affairs here, while Brigham Young and his pioneer company blazed the way west to the Salt Lake Valley. The ground was measured under Morley's direction and acreage allotted to four different groups. David Young's family was included in one group, so that when Polly and Lavina, settled down as members of the Lee family, their parents, with their brother, David Isom, were included.

By July log cabins for shelter had been completed and crops had been planted; some garden vegetables had been put in and were maturing, but most of the land had been planted in corn.

About that time devastation struck the company. Lee wrote of "a disease not known to our people" that decimated the group. Most of the Summer Quarterspeople contracted the disease with symptoms similar to cholera. Some of them died from the effects; David Isom was one of the early victims. His parents, too, succumbed, leaving only Polly and Lavina to carry on.

While some of Lee's wives could harness and drive a team of horses or even ride well themselves and perform other work on the farm usually left to men, Polly and Lavina were both more inclined toward tasks inside the home. Although they worked in the fields with the others as the situation required, they preferred baking and cooking and such occupations as embroidering and making clothing.

The first winter of their arrival in Salt Lake, 1848, was difficult but after the Winter Quarters experience, they were prepared for the rigors of that new environment. Rigorous it was. Food became so scarce before the harvest of 1849 that it was held in a common store and only through sharing did everyone survive.

The Lees were residents of Salt Lake City for only a short time. In 1851 John D. was called to assist in development of settlements to the south. Initially the effort was known as the Iron Mission. Eventually the country became the permanent home of the families of John D. Lee and they lived there for the next twenty years.

Polly and Lavina were set up in a newly established community known as Washington. It was there that Lee was to build his finest home in the west, a large rock house that he referred to as his mansion. The sisters and their families lived there from 1858 until about 1870. That was the longest period of time either of the sister wives lived in one locale other than their ancestral home in Tennessee.

After Lee's death in 1877, the Young sisters remained together. They each had three children who had married siblings of the John W. Clark family. That marriage bonding of the two families made ties between them very close. Neither Polly nor Lavina ever remarried. In 1879, though, they visited the St. George Temple with intent of assuring themselves a place in a family in the eternal worlds. They were there sealed to their cousin, Adolphia Young.

Adolphia had been an early convert, baptized in Tennessee in the early 1840's, by John D. Lee. He, however, had died while enroute across the plains in about 1852. Some years before his death, he had been sealed according to the Mormon law of adoption, as a son to his missionary benefactor, John D. Lee.

During the winter of 1879, Polly, Lavina and their families moved into an area of the upper Little Colorado River in Arizona. A high mountain valley, it was given the name of Lee Valley at first because there were so many Lee progeny settled there. Everyone seemed to be of the Lee or Clark families. Additionally, there was at least one other wife of John D. Lee and her family living there, Rachel Woolsey.

The next spring it was generally agreed that Lee Valley was no place to spend a winter and the families moved out as soon as weather permitted. Polly and Lavina and their families moved to Nutrioso during the summer of 1880. William Flake, a land agent for the church, had secured large parcels of land in both places and made them available to Mormon colonists at fair prices with easy payment plans. About that time, Evaline Brown Clark, the mother of the Clark boys, arrived from Utah along with more members of the Clark family.

During the first year in Nutrioso, the Clarks and Lees, along with a few other families, harvested a bumper crop of seventeen hundred bushels of wheat and barley. Most of the surplus was used to assist the Mormon Colony at Joseph City where a dam on the Little Colorado River had washed out and the crops had failed. The populace was facing starvation.

During the year 1883, the government established a post office at Nutrioso, then considered the most promising settlement in Apache County. Lavina's son-in-law, John Wesley Clark (husband of Ellen Lee), became the postmaster.

That same year, Lavina contracted an illness from which she never recovered. She died on July 4, 1884 and was buried two miles east of town in the Nutrioso cemetery. A few years later, many of the Lees and Clarks moved back to Utah. By that time they had built up large herds of cattle that they drove back with them.

Polly, however, remained in Nutrioso until her death in 1893 at seventy-five years old. The two sisters who had stayed together their entire lives, even sharing the same husband, remained next to each other in death. Their individual headstones marking their graves in the remote Nutrioso cemetery were made from the same piece of granite.

Family Members



Planning a visit to Nutrioso Cemetery?



  • Created by: SMSmith
  • Added: 26 Nov 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 23112654
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Vance “Polly” Young Lee (11 Nov 1817–15 Jun 1890), Find A Grave Memorial no. 23112654, citing Nutrioso Cemetery, Nutrioso, Apache County, Arizona, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .