Luke Johnson (Mormon)

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Luke Johnson
Lukesjohnson.gif
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 15, 1835 (1835-02-15) – September 3, 1837 (1837-09-03)
Called by Three Witnesses
End reason Disfellowshipped and removed from Quorum
Latter Day Saint Apostle
February 15, 1835 (1835-02-15) – December 31, 1837 (1837-12-31)
Called by Three Witnesses
Reason Initial organization of Quorum of the Twelve
End reason Resignation from the church[1]
Reorganization
at end of term
No apostles immediately ordained[2]
Personal details
Born Luke Johnson
(1807-11-03)November 3, 1807
Pomfret, Vermont, United States
Died December 9, 1861(1861-12-09) (aged 54)
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, United States
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772000°N 111.858000°W / 40.7772000; -111.858000

Luke Johnson[3] (November 3, 1807 – December 9, 1861) was a leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1835 to 1838. He served in the Quorum with his younger brother, Lyman E. Johnson and Orson Hyde, his brother-in-law.

Johnson was born November 3, 1807, in Pomfret, Vermont, a son of John Johnson and Elsa Jacobs. He wrote of his family in an autobiographical sketch:[4]

My grandfather, Israel Johnson lived in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, and was much respected by his neighbors for his honesty, integrity and industry. My father, John Johnson, was born in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, April 11, 1779. He followed the occupation of farming on a large scale, and was noted for paying his debts and living independently. He moved from Pomfret, Vermont, to Hiram, Portage county, Ohio. He was connected with the Methodist church for about five years previous to receiving the Gospel. My father was satisfied in regard to the truth of "Mormonism" and was baptized by Joseph Smith, Jun., in the winter of 1830–31, and furnished him and his family a home, while he translated a portion of the Bible.

Johnson was an educator and a physician. He married Susan Harminda Poteet on November 1, 1833. This marriage produced six children, Elisa Mary, Fanny, Eliza, Vashtia, James and Solomon. After Susan's death, on September 20, 1846, he married America Morgan Clark, on March 3, 1847, in the Kirtland Temple, and had additional children. This family included Susan Marinda, Orson Albert, Mark Anthony, Charlotte Elizabeth, Lovinia Ann, Phebe W. and Luke.

Church membership and service[edit]

Johnson was baptized into the Church of Christ on May 10, 1831, by Joseph Smith. By October 1831, he had been ordained an elder and went on a mission to southern Ohio with Robert Rathburn. Later in 1831, he joined Sidney Rigdon in preaching the gospel in areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio. Their efforts brought about fifty new members into the young church, including Rigdon's mother and other members of the Rigdon family. At one point, while he was praying, he had a vision of both the Angel Moroni and the golden plates.[5]

Johnson was ordained to the office of high priest by Smith on October 25, 1831. With Seymour Brunson and Hazen Aldrich, he served as a missionary in Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky in 1832 and 1833, baptizing more than a hundred people on their journey. He was a member of the Kirtland high council which was formed on February 17, 1834. On June 26, 1834, Johnson marched with Zion's Camp, suffering with cholera on the journey. At age 27, Johnson was chosen and ordained one of the original members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles on February 15, 1835. Shortly after the quorum was formed, the new apostles were sent on missions. Johnson served in the Eastern United States, New York and Upper Canada. He returned to Kirtland, Ohio, in late 1836.

Johnson defended Smith from criticism on several occasions. But, in 1837, he became alienated from Smith, in part because of financial losses suffered in the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society. He was disfellowshiped at Kirtland on September 3, 1837. Johnson was later received back into fellowship for a short time, but in December 1837, he denounced Smith and resigned from the church. After leaving the church, Johnson moved to Cabell County, Virginia, where he taught at Marshall Academy and then studied medicine, ultimately setting up a medical practice in Kirtland. The church excommunicated Johnson in 1838.

In 1846, after the death of Smith, Johnson requested permission to address an assembly of the saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. He said: "I have stopped by the wayside and stood aloof from the work of the Lord .... But my heart is with this people. I want to be associated with the saints, go with them into the wilderness and continue with them to the end." Johnson's brother-in-law, apostle Orson Hyde, rebaptized him into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 8, 1846. However, he never again served in the higher councils of the church.

Johnson traveled with Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff to the Salt Lake Valley, serving as a captain of ten, as part of the first group of 143 Mormon pioneers in July 1847. He also served as a Captain of Fifty in the Daniel A. Miller/John W. Cooley Company (1853), while traveling with members of his family. Johnson settled in Clover, Tooele County, Utah, where he served as bishop of a local LDS congregation. He is the only man in the church that served as a bishop after having served as an apostle. He died December 9, 1861, in the home of Orson Hyde in Salt Lake City and was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Grave marker of Luke Johnson.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson was disfellowshipped and removed from the Quorum of the Twelve on September 3, 1837. However, Johnson remained an apostle until he denounced the church and Joseph Smith in the last week of December 1837. Johnson was rebaptized into the church in 1846, but he was not reinstated to the apostleship.
  2. ^ The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles did not have twelve apostles again until April 8, 1841, when Lyman Wight was ordained. Between Johnson's resignation and then, John E. Page, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards had been ordained and added to the Quorum to replace apostles who had been excommunicated or killed.
  3. ^ Some sources report that Johnson's middle initial was "S.", or that his middle name was "Samuel". However, Johnson only addressed himself as "Luke Johnson" during his lifetime as evidenced through correspondence and government records. Sometime after his death, an "S." was added as his middle initial in LDS Church publications without an explanation. Also, a gravestone was put in place during the 20th century at his burial site with the "S." included. The LDS Church Historical Department has concluded that the middle initial was applied only after his death.
  4. ^ Ludlow, p. 357.
  5. ^ Pettit, Tom. "Moroni Appeared to 17 Different People!". Living Heritage Tours. Retrieved 2016-04-24. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Church of the Latter Day Saints titles
Preceded by
Parley P. Pratt
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 15, 1835–3 September 1837
Succeeded by
William Smith