Joel H. Johnson

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Joel H. Johnson was a prolific poet and hymn writer. He wrote the well-known hymn “High on the Mountain Top,” #5 in the 1985 Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also wrote “The Glorious Gospel Light Has Shone” (#283). His journal contains 736 hymn texts and his texts and poems were later included in two publications.

He also founded the city of Enoch, Utah in 1851. When other settlers joined in him 1854, they built a fort named “Johnson’s Fort.” He later helped settle southern Utah and served as a missionary among the Piedes in Iron County, Utah.

He was born on March 23, 1802, in Grafton, Massachusetts, and lived in Vermont with his family. He later moved to Cincinnati and then to Pomfret, New York. Around 1830, he sold his farm in Pomfret and moved to Amherst, Ohio. There he was taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served a mission to New York in 1832 and served as branch president in Amherst. In 1833 he moved to Kirtland, Ohio.

According to Wikipedia, he operated a saw mill in Kirtland and served another mission in both Ohio and Kentucky. “In 1835 during which he engaged in strong debates with Campbellites, on one occasion turning their rejection of Aaronic and Melchezidek priesthood on its head by insisting if not in either of these orders their leaders must be of the order of the priests of Baal, and often preached and baptized in the vicinity of Kirtland. Johnson was an organizer of the Kirtland Camp in 1838. He stopped at Springfield, Illinois, and did not continue to Missouri, thus avoiding the Mormon War of 1838. He organized a branch in Springfield and became the first Latter Day Saint to preach in Carthage, Illinois. The main reason that Johnson had stopped in Illinois and not continued west was that he had care of the sick coming from Kirtland. He energetically preached the gospel in Carthage and felt he won many people in that area to be friendly to the Mormons cause.”[1]

He successful baptized many families living along Crooked Creek and organized them into the Crooked Creek Branch. They formed the town Ramus (which is now, Webster, illinois). He himself moved to the area in 1840 and purchased a sawmill. That same year, the Ramus Stake was organized. By 1846, he was forced to flee Ramus and later joined the Saints at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. He arrived in Salt Lake City on October 11, 1848. He built a saw mill at the mouth of Mill Creek Canyon and served as justice of the peace and bishop of the Mill Creek Ward. In 1849 and 1850, he served in the Utah Territorial Legislature.

Johnson practiced plural marriage and had five wives. Two of his wives later divorced him. He was the father of 25 children. He died on September 24, 1882, in Johnson, Utah Territory (now Kane County, Utah).