William Hooper Young, known as Hooper, was born in 1871 in Philadelphia, where his mother, Libbie Canfield, was visiting, while his father, John W. Young, was in Utah. Hooperâ€™s parents divorced when he was about ten years old, and his mother remarried and moved to Seattle to raise a second (non-Mormon) family. His father, an apostle (although never a member of the Quorum of the Twelve), focused his considerable talents on industry, much of his business being conducted in the East. Hooperâ€™s living arrangements during his teen years are not definitely known, but he remained in Utah, and may have briefly studied chemistry at Brigham Young Academy in Provo. Recalled an old friend, â€œeven in those bygone days Hooper had funny streaks, and would often surprise the boys with his statements or actions.â€? His stepfather claimed that Hooper had been sent to a military school from which he had run away, and hinted that Hooperâ€™s â€œdifficultâ€? ways had been the subject of acrimony between the parents: â€œShe was always a good mother, and any statement made by … her former husband, to the effect that she exercised a bad influence upon young [Hooper] is absolutely and unequivocally false.â€?
Although later some would distance themselves from Hooper by claiming that he had not been associated with the Church since childhood, Hooper was called as a missionary to the British Isles in 1890 to serve under the presidency of his uncle, Brigham Young, Jr. Mission records note his arrival at Liverpool and his participation in routine activities during his first summer in England. He appears not to have completed his mission, however; while no indication of any specific trouble has yet been found, Hooperâ€™s name ceases to appear in mission records within a year of his arrival. Hooper joined family in London, traveled with them on an extended trip to Paris, and returned with them to England, never resuming his missionary activities. He returned to the U.S. in 1893.
In the words of one cousin, Hooper â€œwas a bright young man, but very erratic;â€? in the words of another, â€œ[h]e was a strange fellow, having left home frequently to wander about the country like a tramp. He had an idea that he could become immensely wealthy by chance, and took numerous trips in the hope of a strike of fortune.â€? Hooper experimented with the cowboy life in Arizona; worked as a reporter on the staff of the Salt Lake Herald; became a heavy drinker and a chain smoker; tried his hand at newspaper work in San Francisco; started a paper in Seattle which was suppressed under obscenity laws; became wanted for forgery; labored as a miner in Butte; fathered a daughter out of wedlock; peddled insurance; went on the road as a salesman for a drug company, and, by 1900, had become addicted to cocaine. His father made numerous attempts to help Hooper, but at last tiring of Hooperâ€™s dissolute ways, he cut off all contact. Hooper met with two half-brothers when he drifted to New York City in 1901, borrowing money from them as he had from other relatives whose paths he crossed, but his father adamantly refused to allow Hooper to call at his apartment.
That apartment, at the head of Central Park, was a very large one. This space was hardly necessary for John W., his daughter Mary, and the one or two sons who sometimes stayed there, but â€œhe did not like close neighbors,â€? and so leased three apartments and had them opened into one. His relationship with the Church in Manhattan was a peculiar one: he attended services and was generous when his fluctuating finances were high; when they were low, he stayed away from services and occasionally sent a son to borrow $50 or $100 from Mission President John G. McQuarrie.
In the spring of 1902, John W.â€™s business called him to Europe, with the expectation that he would be away for as long as a year. Rather than give up his apartment, he invited four missionaries working in Manhattan to use one of his three suites. The four elders accepted, and were settled in before John W. left for Europe in June.
“One morning,” President McQuarrie would later recall, “a stranger showed up at my office. He introduced himself as Hooper Young … He claimed that he was ill and too weak to work, and needed to go to a sanitarium. He said he had no friends, and not even enough money to eat on. … It was not too difficult to diagnose his condition … [:] dissipation â€“ including promiscuous association with women …”
McQuarrie could not, he told Hooper, disburse Church funds to assist â€œa derelict who chooses to follow an illicit, illegal, and indulgent life such as you are leading.â€? But, he said,
“[Y]our father … left me in charge of three apartments. The four Elders working in this conference occupy one. You may have [a room] in either of the others … The boys cook for themselves … You may share their meals … I will pay your share. After a few days rest you will … look for a job. I will give you enough to pay carfare â€“ but nothing for dope or beer.
“I think,” recalled McQuarrie, “at the time he was sincere in … his promises. He ate well and slept well, and after a week he went out each day looking for work. But with the surge of increasing physical strength, came also the lure of fixed habits, the carnal appetites … His will power was weak, his desires were strong.”
To be continued.
So… what do you think? Don’t spoil the suspense for others if you already know the answer, but if this is a new episode for you, do you think Hooper did it, based on his personal history? Any feelings about this model for child rearing or parent/adult child relations? What do you think about the mission president’s dilemma and his solution? Any comments about apostles who weren’t quorum members?