by Tom HARALDSEN
WEST JORDAN—In 1872, Zina Diantha Huntington Smith Young helped establish Deseret Hospital in Salt Lake City. She served on its board of directors for many years, 12 of them as president. She organized a nursing school, with courses in obstetrics, and was an early activist in the temperance and women’s suffrage movements.
On Jan. 31, she earned an honor richly deserved for her many years of service in healthcare.
The Salt Lake County Health Department dedicated the clinics at its South Redwood Public Health Center to her legacy.
The health center, which was opened in November 2016 near the West Jordan city center, is focused on women’s and children’s health issues. When the 20,000 square foot facility opened, it replaced a previous center that was 2,400 square feet and offered only limited WIC services.
“This is a tribute to Zina’s dedication to families and their health,” said Gary Edwards, executive director of the county’s health department. “It’s also a tribute to her posterity.”
Zina D.H. Young has many descendants who live in Davis County. At the dedication service, three of her 14 surviving great-grandchildren joined with officials for photos, as two plaques were unveiled. She had 62 great-grandchildren in all. Deputy Salt Lake County Mayor Erin Litvack conducted the unveiling ceremony.
Young was born in New York in 1821, the eighth child of William and Zina Baker. Her uncle Samuel Huntington was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Raised in a religious home, she and her family were contacted by Mormon missionaries Hyrum Smith and David Whitmer, and she was baptized into the LDS Church in 1835.
Her family relocated along with many early Latter-day Saints from New York to Kirtland, Ohio, and then to Far West, Missouri. As Gov. Lillian Boggs issued his Extermination Order to force Latter-day Saints to leave Missouri, Zina’s father helped coordinate evacuation of church members to Nauvoo, Illinois. She recovered from a severe cholera epidemic that had broken out (and caused her mother’s death) and lived in the home of LDS Church founder Joseph Smith and his wife, Emma.
She was a polygamist wife of Smith from 1841-1844, when he and his brother Hyrum were murdered, and eventually his successor as LDS Church President, Brigham Young, from 1846-1877.
She migrating west with the pioneers at age 27. She was among the first pioneers to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley, and lived there the remainder of her life. She had three children and raised three children of a woman who died during childbirth.
“When they lived in Illinois, Zina and many of her family fell ill during a cholera outbreak,” a plaque unveiled at the dedication reads in recounted of her life. “Zina recovered but her mother died, which greatly affected her and taught her the importance of health and preventing disease. Zina had learned midwifery from her mother in New York, and a lay midwife in Utah she helped deliver the babies of many women, attending and caring for them with physical and emotional comfort before their deliveries.”
When the LDS Church’s Relief Society was organized in 1880, Zina was named first counselor to president Eliza R. Snow. Following Snow’s death, she became the third general president of the Relief Society until her death in 1901 at the age of 80. She is buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery.