Monday, March 22, 2010

History of James Parley Johnson

Written by his daughter, Eva Johnson Fillerup
Born: September 2, 1860 in Springville, Utah
Parents: Lorenzo and Emma James Johnson
Died: 1924

James Parley Johnson was the son of Lorenzo and Emma James Johnson whose ancestors were from England. He was born in Springville, Utah on September 2nd, 1860 . . . . that was 100 years ago yesterday.*  (September 3, 1960)

When he was about eleven years old his father died leaving his mother with seven children. There was Ozelle, then himself, Orissa, Martha, Sarah, Viola, and George.  His mother later remarried and two more girls were added to the family, Rose and Lilly.

When he was 22 years old he was married to my mother, Eliza Jane Rowley in the St. George Temple. They traveled there by team and wagon and then back to Nephi, Utah where they made there home until after the birth of their first two children. Then they moved to Central, Arizona.

At the time of this, their first move, the people were being troubled by the warring Apache Indians and Father and Mother had many frightening experiences. They noticed as they were traveling from Nephi to Central that the Indians kept following them day after day. Finally one day they came into camp to do some bartering. They had some colored glass beads they tried to give mother to buy me. Of course she refused, they left but came back the next day and tried again but finally they gave up and left.  My mother was very frightened and was worried that the Indians would return and try to take me by force, but no further incidence happened at that time.
In Central, Arizona my father worked in the freighting business.  In 1887 he married my mother’s sister, Zina Cordelia Rowley. They took up a homestead there and he acted as 2nd Counselor in the Bishopric. After working the homestead for some time he had it taken from him by claim jumpers and shortly thereafter they were forced to move to Old Mexico because of the law against polygamy.

The trip to Diaz, Old Mexico was a hard one.  On route the whole company came down with an epidemic of measles.  We were not allowed into the town of Diaz until it was certain that the epidemic was over.  Two days after reaching Mexico my father’s second wife died leaving two children, Etta and Eliza Ann, whom my mother took and cared for as her own. By this time father’s children numbered six.  There was myself Eva, John, Delbert, Etta, Suzy, who died at the age of 4, and Eliza Ann.

Little Eliza Ann, the baby of the second wife, died on her first birthday.
Father worked early and late until he had cleared land and built a home for his family.  About this time he contracted chills and fever which hung on for months.  After he recovered from this he leased a herd of sheep and we moved into the mountains for two years.  When these two years were up we moved again to Diaz and my father built a beautiful house.  He owned a shoe and harness shop.  He made all our shoes, it was years before we ever owned a pair of shoes our father had not made.

There were many happy times spent here in Diaz at this time. The family had grown even larger with the births of Lucy, Bertha, LeRoy, Nellie, Glen, Jesse, Gladys and Arthur. The family took an active part in the ward, father being 2nd Assistant in the Sunday School Superintendency and also a member of the old folks committee for many years. Father loved the old songs and was very fond of singing them either alone or with his family.  His favorite meal was cheese and crackers, and he was fond of hard tack candy.  The whole family enjoyed a watermelon bust. He loved to chase we children around and wash our faces with watermelon rinds. Also there was a ditch of water running down the sidewalk all summer and he loved to water fight with us and many a time we were soaking wet before he quit.
The happy times in Diaz were ended late one Saturday night when the old bell rang to waken the town with word from the Stake leaders that the Mexican Rebels had gotten out of hand and the people in Diaz were to leave at once. They were told to take only enough food and clothes for a few days and to leave as quickly as possible.  The Stake Leaders felt sure that in a few days they would be able to return to their homes.
By Sunday at noon the town was deserted and soon the rebels came through destroying everything in their path.  Beds were ripped apart with feathers and corn husks flying in all directions; the large storage cans the food was kept in were punctured and the food either taken or ruined and the rebels took a special delight in shooting out the eyes in all the family pictures and portraits we had hanging on our walls.

The United States government gave us tend [sic] shelter and food just over the border for three months. During these three months groups of men would return to Diaz to salvage anything they could from our homes as we finally realized that we would never be able to go back to them.

From this government shelter my father took his family and went to Thatcher, Arizona, where they spent the winter.  My brother John had previously left Mexico and had married and settled in Blanding, Utah (Grayson). He urged us to come there.  So after a long and hard journey of six weeks we reached Blanding where my father secured work and soon with the united efforts of the family he had a very comfortable home.

Here he spent the remainder of his life performing faithfully every duty required of him in the Church.  In 1921 his health began to fail and after years of suffering he died in 1924. Mother followed him four years later.

Dad’s posterity at the present time, and they are still coming, is 14 children, 62 grand-children, and 223 great grand children, 93 great great grand children.  Making a total of 378.

Source: Genealogy book of Fern Laws Palmer, copy of typed manuscript.  Transferred to computer on October 26, 2005 by Deniane Kartchner.

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