My father, Patriarch Joel Hills Johson, was baptized into the Church of Later-day Saints June 1, 1831, at the age of 39 years. I was born in Kirtland, Ohio July 11, 1836 and when 2 years old our people were driven from Kirtland, and so we started for Missouri with the Kirtland camp.
When we reached Springfield, Illinois, there was considerable sickness in the camp. My father’s family was among the number compelled or counseled to stay there until all was well. While tarrying there, the people were driven out of Missouri, so my father did not go there, but waited in a small town where there was a large family named Merrill. Father baptized Samuel Merrill and several members of his family — among them being Phillemon Merrill, now a Patriarch. We stayed at this place, Father preaching and baptizing until his work was done.
Then we went to Carthage, where my brother Seth was born March 9, 1839. We lived near the jail where the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were in later days slain and sealed their testimonies to the truth of the Gospel they preached. At this time our family consisted of seven souls. We moved from Carthage to Crooked Creek to Denarts Mill on Crooked Creek.
We bought an interest in the Denarts Mill. The house was built of logs consisting of two rooms connected by a shed room, open to the front. There was where my mother died September 15, 1840, age 40 years, a kind and indulgent mother, a good faithful Latter-day Saint. She was buried in a cemetery of a small town called Macedonia. (Other sources say Ramus or Webster.)
Susan Bryant (or Brient) then came to live with us as housekeeper. Father married her, as his children needed a mother’s care. Soon after we moved to Remus. Father built a house there for a family residence. He afterwards built a room on for a store.
My Aunt Almira Lived with us at that time and taught school. She was sealed to the Prophet Joseph as his first plural wife. After several years our home was sold to A. W. Babbitt, who named it the Macedonian Cottage.
My Uncle George Johnson went to Nauvoo in February, 1848 and I went to with him to live with my grandma who was quite old and feeble.
On May 8, 1848 my father with his family came to Nauvoo on his way across the plains. The family consisted of eight persons. On the 10th of May they crossed the Mississippi River. I went one day’s journey and returned to Nauvoo the next day. It was very hard to see them go and leave me behind, but I felt that it must be and I must make the b st of it. My dear gradmother was good and kind to me, or I could not have borne the parting from brothers and sisters. But I have found that life is not all sunshine. In the June following (1849), my grandmother, lmyself, David LeBaron and family, David Wilson, William Johnson adn wife, and also Uncle Joseph J. Johnson sent a wagon with goods to Aunt Delcina and family. We arrived at Council Bluffs on July 11, my 13th birthday.
We then moved to Plum Hollow. We got there in July and remained there during the summer. During the winter I aqttended school. In tghe early spring, Uncle Joseph and Grandma moved to Kanesville. In June (of 1850) my mothers’s sister, Sarah Johnson, came for me to go to California (as Utah was then called).
We left Kanesville June 25th and camped by the Missouri River. We waited there several days for more company and on the 27th crossed the river and found some emigrants waiting for us. There were not 28 wagons with Stephen Markham as Captain. Our company was divided into tens with Artemus Millet as Captain of the first ten, Thomas Forsythe as Captain of the second ten. In the morning a woman died with cholera and was buried in the bank of the river. She wasa stranger, having just arrived from England on her way to Utah.
From that time until July 15, someone was buried almost every day. My Aunt Sarah’s husband George G. Johnston, his mother and his sister died July 11, on my 14th birthday, and were buried when we stopped at noon the next day, July 12th.
I also had cholera but was healed by the administration of the Elders. When I felt the disease coming on I went into a tent by myself and prayed to the Lord that I might be spared to wait upon the others. I had a testimony that I would be spared. There were 14 who died in our company.
We passed hundreds of graves. Many an evening we saw thousands of buffalo in herds. We passed Independence Rock. It was probably 200 yards wide and 10 or 12 yards high, rising out of the level plain. In the smooth side of the rock were carved or written hundreds of names of those that had passed.
On October 3, 1850 we arrived in Salt Lake City, tired, weary and footsore. I had walked a great deal of the way bar-footed, but I never faltered. Many others were in the same condition.
My father was called to go with George A. Smith and a company of about 50 others to settle Iron County. He fitted out his two oldest sons and sent them down. He prepared to go down in the spring. He sold out his home and farm to Phillemon Merrill for a log house of two rooms in the city, the teams to go with them. In November, my step-mother gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Soon my father was ready to start. He moved his family to Salt Lake City. We heard that George A. Smith and Company had arrived at their destination on Christmas day and held a celebration.
In March, 1851 my father took his fifth wife, Janet, and family to Iron County. My brother Seth, Age 12 years, went with them.
I attended school taught by Mrs. A. H. Goodrich Blair, a lovely woman and a good teacher. When my brother came to get married, Father sent word that he ws to sell our home and get ready to move to Iron County by September 1, which we did in company with Peter Shirts and Family. DarwinShirts drove our team of oxen. The next day we came up to the rest of our company of three families with plenty of boys and girls to make it pleasant at camping time. We would forget all about being tired and have a good time together. After a trip of two weeks we reached Parowan, Utah, our destination, on September 1, 1851.
(This was written by Susan Ellen Johnson Martineau)
See full version on SEJM History Index.
The following was written by her Grandaughter, Elzada MartineauHurst.
It is also edited. See full version on SEJM History Index.
Four months after her arrival in Parowan and after a whirlwind courtship at age 15 1/2, Susan married James Henry Martineau, who was eight years her senior and the village schoolteacher, on January 8, 1852. Her wedding dress was made from material which she herself had woven, as were her other dresses. They started life together with little of this world’s goods. Cupboard, table, chairs and bedstead were homemade. The bed had strands of rope woven criss-cross on the bottom to hold the straw tick on which they slept, and she did her cooking on the fireplace.
Marriage is a challenge to any 15 1/2 year-old girl, but to Susan life had been one challenge after another and she was older and wiser than her years and able to do her part, be it milking a cow or doing any of the many tasks involved in pioneer life. Her husband was born and raised New York State and well educated. He had worked at various professions, but had little rural experience. Besides teaching, he was an excellent accountant or clerk and a trained surveyor.