Excerpts from the Biography of Samantha Nelson Johnson- wife of Warren M. Johnson.
Written by Polly A. Johnson Judd for Daughters of the Utah Pioneers – October 28, 1932
Samantha Nelson, daughter of Price William Nelson and Lydia Ann Lake was born October 28, 1853 at San Bernardino, California. Her grandmother, Philomelia Smith Lake, was an own cousin to the prophet Joseph Smith. Her parents went by team from their home near Ogden to California, where Samantha was born. They lived there until 1850, when, heeding the call from the first presidency, they came back to Utah, settling in Payson. In 1865 they were called to assist in settling the Muddy Mission. Samantha’s first school teacher here was Worthington P. Wilson. The schoolhouse was a very rough building, made of adobe with no floor but the dry, loose sand. The school teacher took great pleasure in sitting in his rawhide-bottom chair, leaning against the wall an putting his feet on the rough table, would indulge in a good sound sleep for about an hour. he would appoint one of the older students to take his place as teacher. Samantha took her turn while he took his daily nap. The children, taking advantage of their young teacher, at the first snore would be down playing mumble peg in the loose sand, but at the first sign of life from the school master, the studious pupils would all be back in their places. This went on for about two years. Samantha’s next teacher was Warren M. Johnson.
The family lived here for about six years, when trouble arose between the settlers and the state authorities. Heavy taxes were imposed and the people were forced to withstand considerable abuse, until President Young advised the people to move away. The Nelson family, with others, moved to Berry Valley, now Long Valley. They settled in Glendale, where they began to build another home. Here Samantha again went to school taught by Warren M. Johnson. Her father made an old fashioned loom, and Samantha did her part in weaving cloth and making their clothes. The family passed through many trials and hardships, but they never complained.
Samantha married Warren M. Johnson October 28, 1872, in the endowment house at Salt Lake City. While living in Glendale three children were born to Permelia, and two children were born to Samantha.
In the spring of 1876, Warren received a call from President Brigham Young to go to Lee’s Ferry on the Colorado River to perform the duties of ferryman. … Their lives here in the early days were marked with many hardships and privations. The nearest settlements being about ninety five miles and at times the roads – especially over the Buckskin Mountains – were almost impassable, making it hard to get provisions and the necessities of life. They had to get along as best they could. … Sometimes they would be entirely out of flour and had to live on corn meal, which was ground on a small hand mill.
Indelible impressions were made on my mind while a very small child of watching Mother and Aunt Samantha braid straw and make our hats and in carding and spinning wool into yarn, and in knitting stockings for the family. They carded bats for quilts; their hands were never idle. While living here seven more children were born to Permelia and seven to Samantha. They were both good nurses and acted as midwives. In 1899, Samantha and her family moved to Kanab, where the children could take advantage of public schools and mingle in society. Here another child was born to her.
In 1900, part of the family went to Wyoming, the rest following a year later. They settled in Byron, on the Shoshone River. Father bought a ranch in Coburn, on the Big Horn River. He moved Samantha and her family here.
They were well pleased with their homes in both these places as there was plenty of land and water and the prospects of raising crops were bright. They were pioneers to these two settlements, as they were among the first Mormon settlers there. After living here for about two years, Father’s health began to fail. They did all they could for him, but gangrene set in and he passed away March 10, 1908, at Coburn.”
After Warren’s death both Permelia and Samantha moved back to Southern Utah. Permelia first and then a year later, Samantha. Most of their children returned as well. Samantha lived with her daughter in Pipe Springs for a while and then moved to Hurricane where she lived alone.
While visiting one of her daughters in Moccasin she had a paralytic stroke on died on the 7th of October, 1923.