Thursday, July 24, 2008

Joel Hills Johnson - Pioneer

Today is Pioneer Day in Utah. On this day in 1847, the first LDS pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.

My great-great-great grandfather, Joel Hills Johnson, traveled with another group of pioneers and entered the valley in 1848.

This is from his journal:

"We started from Winter Quarter in W. Richards company, on the 5th day of July for the place of our destination and after much fatigue, many hardships and difficulties, and the loss of one yoke of oxen, one heifer and twenty two sheep we arrived in the city of Great Salt Lake on the 19th day of October 1848. Having accomplished a journey of fifteen hundred miles from Knox County, Illinois to Great Salt Lake City."

And one of his many poems:

I prayed to God for faith and grace,
By night and day,
And means to leave that sickly place,
And speed away.

He heard my cry and said to me
Though sore oppressed
By cruel foes yet you shall see
A day of rest.

He blest my hands, I bought and sold
And every trade
He gave me thrice. So not with Gold
A fit out made.

I sped me then unto the west
To shun my foes.
And find a land that God had blest
Mid mountains snows.

My way was hard and rough 'tis true
Yet I possessed
Faith in my God and kept in view
A land of rest

I reached the land my heart desired
And thanked the Lord
That I so far from mobs retired
Could keep His work.

Joel Hills Johnson eventually made his home in Cannonville, near Bryce Canyon. It's no secret that I love the area of Bryce Canyon. I feel home when I am there. I'm sure this love is compounded by the fact that my ancestors roamed the valleys.

I hope I never forget their sacrifices.


Jan said...

OH my goodness Red, thanks for the reminder. It about slipped away with the pioneer day celebrations. I adore this post about your ancestor. What a tribute. I am so overcome with that poem and your feelings of where you live and all of it. I am going to ponder more today about the pioneers. Thanks for this loving reminder of what sacrifices came before us. I am so grateful for all those that did. I have no idea the struggles.

Come come ye Saints. And for you Red, High on a Moutain Top.

Mother Goose said...

I never experienced Pioneer day. I would love to! I love that you have that history. Thank you for sharing the poem. It was beautiful. I do not have a personal family history of pioneers but I enjoy hearing of the rich stories of our religions heritage.

Frumpy Luv said...

I think this is a great way to celebrate pioneer day - thanks for sharing your great great (can't remember how many greats) grandpa's journal and poem - I really really love this.

Alyssa said...

We went to the parade in my town today and as I was walking home with my boys, I was thinking it was sad that there wasn't more about the Pioneers in the parade. A couple of entrees had people in Pioneer garb, but not many.

There was one man who was pulling his small children in a handcart and that really made me think. I was of course reminded of the Willie and Martin companies. So much heartbreak and sacrifice. It's inspiring.

So thanks for this. I have no personal Utah pioneer heritage, and I think it's so neat that you do. And that poem from your grandfather is amazing. What an incredible legacy for your family.
The faith of our fathers blesses countless generations.

Frumpy Luv said...

(BTW - Thanks!!! I really appreciated that!!)

COMcewens said...

I guess not living in Utah Pioneer day slips my mind. Thanks for the tender reminder of those that came before us!

Tammy said...

What a great remembrance of your roots!!! I always think back of my hubby's family. His 5th great -grandafther joined the church in Davies County , Missouri, his 4th great grandfather was born under a wagon in Nauvoo and they traveled across the plains stopping in Winter's Quarters for a time to repair the wheels and wagons that had come through on their way to Salt Lake. They were postponed in their journey for several years, but finally made it tot he Salt Lake Valley losing none of the family, 9 children, who accompanied them. it's amazing what they accomplished. They must roll their eyes when we travel the same distance in hours rather than months.

Mechelle said...

What a nice day to remember. LOVE THIS POST. We must always remember what those pioneers did for us. m

julie said...

Really puts life into perspective! Thanks for sharing this. So glad Utah takes a day to remember them and their sacrafice.

kitchenditcher said...

How fun to live in a place that celebrates Pioneer Day. Our ward used to have Pioneer Day picnics but that has kind of died out. I come from great pioneer stock and so appreciate the gospel in my life because of their sacrifices.