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.