Julia Hills Johnson, the 48-year-old wife of Ezekiel Johnson and mother of sixteen children, found spiritual fulfillment in the doctrines of a new religion called Mormonism. Her baptism in 1831 was a simple act that ultimately led her halfway across the American continent, and strained her marital relationship, yet filled her with a sense of spiritual contentment. Julia's commitment to her faith, her tenacity, self-determination and willingness to take risks to participate in this new religious movement sets her apart from other nineteenth-century farm women in New England and New York. Julia's religiosity was self-determined and tenacious. She chose to break with the religious and social conventions of her time to embrace ideas that were outside the social and religious norms of her society because she found spiritual fulfillment in a religious movement with doctrines and an organizational structure that to her was logical, intellectually appealing and consistent with her pre-existing concept of true Christianity. As a dominant influence in her children's lives she was determined to adhere to and inculcate her children in the Church's doctrines and organization. Throughout her twenty-two-year sojourn in Mormonism she remained dedicated to the success of what for her was the restoration of God's kingdom on earth. Her participation in that movement at times placed her and her family at personal and financial risk to adhere to the doctrines of their faith and remain in company with other converts. Julia experienced Mormonism from its earliest days to their exodus west. Because she was among the first to join her life affords us an opportunity to examine the role of women in the early church and to test historical theories intended to explain women's conversion, and women's doctrinal attitudes. From Julia's conversion and post conversion experiences, historians of nineteenth-century America, religion, women's, and Mormon history will gain greater insight into the role women played in the early history of the Church. Julia shaped the religiosity of her children, influenced the religiosity of others, and thereby influenced the development of the Church.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Thayne, Linda J., "Julia Hills Johnson, 1783-1853 MY SOUL REJOICED" (2008). All Theses and Dissertations. 1419.
Women, Female Spirituality, Nineteenth-Century, Latter-day Saint Women, Mormon Women, Female Conversion, Family, Marriage, History, United States, Religion, Mormonism, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Social History, Religious History, Christianity, Female Converts, Matriarchy, Rural Women, Conversion, Spirituality