History of Fort Johnson

Joel Hills JohnsonDamon’s next stop was a visit to Fort Johnson in present day Enoch, Utah. Fort Johnson was named after Damon’s 6th great grandfather, Joel Hills Johnson.

Joel Johnson had quite a history before he ever got to Utah. In the 1820s he patented a machine that made shingles. He joined the Church in 1831 and is listed in both the Joseph Smith and Wilford Woodruff papers for his activities in New York, Ohio and Illinois. He was a victim of mob violence in the Midwest and was a well-regarded leader in the Church.

Here is Damon’s video about Fort Johnson and other family members who are connected to it:

The Iron Mission in Parowan, Utah – as it was called – became an area of service for many Utah Pioneers. As a city founder and one well connected to Church leadership, Joel Hills Johnson had an influential part to play in that long project, which ultimately failed to produce iron. But the area soon blossomed as a productive agricultural concern in Southern Utah and that happened thanks to Joel Hills Johnson’s skills as a farmer and fruit grower.

While there are many connections to “Cedar Valley”, as the area around Enoch, Cedar City and Parowan are known, Damon’s can claim several grandparents with roots in the area.

Thomas Price Smith, Damon’s 5th great grandfather on his maternal side, came from England in the early 1850s. He was married with several children and a member of the United Brethren when he became associated with Wilford Woodruff and joined the Church. He was, as many were in England at that time, called to serve as a missionary. It was while a missionary that he taught and fell in love with Mary Dugard, an heiress some 20 years younger than he.

Mary Dugard eventually married Thomas Smith and came with him to Utah, settling in Parowan before she passed away tragically at the age of 40. She is buried in the Cedar City cemetery.

William Rowe, Damon’s 5th great grandfather on his Westover side, was called to the Iron Mission in the early 1850s. Along with his wife Elizabeth they first lived in Fort Johnson and later in Parowan where several children were born, including Ruth Rowe Westover, Damon’s 4th great grandmother.

Jeff Westover
Jeff Westover

Husband, father, Latter-day Saint, 11th generation American, and web geek currently residing in Smithfield, Utah. Please visit my website at JeffWestover.com

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