Philo Johnson, 9th Ten
PHILO JOHNSON (9th Ten)
was born Dec. 6, 1814, at Newtown, Fairfield County, Connecticut,
to Samuel and Abigail Johnson. He was baptized in December, 1841, moved
to Nauvoo on June 11, 1842, and served in the Nauvoo Legion.
In 1847, when the Saints were preparing to move to the Rocky Mountains,
Philo was chosen to go along with Brigham Young in the first company as a
driver for one of Heber C. Kimball's wagons. Of the journey west, he wrote
that "traders tried to discourage us by telling us that we could not make a
home in those mountain valleys, for there was a frost every month of the year.
In the Salt Lake Valley they had tried planting seeds several years, but
could not mature anything. Brigham Young said, 'We will try it and call on
God to help us.'"
Johnson had worked as a mason on the Nauvoo Temple, and after arriving in
the Salt Lake Valley, he went to work making adobe bricks. He also had a
hatter's business. He made thousands of hats. In Nauvoo he had made hats
for the Prophet Joseph Smith and many of the other General Authorities.
His hats were held in very high repute. One time he traded six silk hats
for two city blocks.
In the fall of 1849, when Philo had been in the Salt Lake Valley for two
years, a newly-arrived immigrant, German Ellsworth, died of mountain fever,
leaving a widow who had borne him seven children. Her name was "Speedy"
Ellsworth (Experience Almeda Brown Ellsworth). In the spring of 1850,
Philo Johnson married her, and over the next several years they had seven
more children. The family moved to Payson in 1857 or 1858, where they made
their permanent home. Philo died in Payson on April 3, 1896, at age 81.
by Sandra S. Bray