Q: Aaron Johnson is mentioned in D&C 124:132. What town in Utah did Aaron Johnson and others settle?
A: Aaron Johnson was born June 22, 1806 in Connecticut. He was a blacksmith and a gunsmith and a Methodist. In 1836, Aaron heard several sermons on Mormonism, and being convinced of its truth, he concluded to join. He was baptized on April 5, 1836 by Daniel Spencer. In the spring of 1837, he and his family migrated to Kirtland to be near the Prophet Joseph.
Upon meeting the Prophet Joseph, Aaron put forty-five hundred dollars on his desk and said to him, “There is all the wealth I possess. What shall be done with it?’ Joseph took him to the window, pointed to an eighty-acre piece of land, and said, “Take your money and buy that piece of land, build you a house, and it shall be yours for an inheritance, and may the Lord bless you.’
In obedience, Aaron followed the Prophet’s instructions and prospered in Ohio until mob threats forced his removal from Kirtland. He migrated to Far West and endured the persecution there in Missouri. By 1839 Aaron was residing in Nauvoo, two blocks from Joseph Smith’s property. During the first year at Nauvoo, he and his family suffered from chills and fever for several months. Aaron served the community as a member of the city council, a commissioned officer in the Nauvoo Legion, a high councilor, and a municipal court judge. He went to Carthage in June 1844 as “one of the bondsman for the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum when they were placed in Carthage Jail.’
Aaron Johnson Home - Water Street, Nauvoo, Illinois
He served a mission to the Eastern states and worked on the Nauvoo Temple. It was Aaron’s leaky boat that Joseph and a few others used to secretly cross the Mississippi River in the dark of night to flee the turmoil brewing in Nauvoo before Joseph went to Carthage.
Aaron migrated west with the Saints, leaving behind his Nauvoo real estate receiving only $150 for property worth much more. In Iowa, he served as a high councilor, bishop, and member of the stake presidency. In 1850, Aaron journeyed to the Salt Lake Valley as captain of nearly six hundred pioneers. When he arrived, Brigham Young asked him to take some of the families and go into Utah Valley and make a settlement there.
Fort at Springville, Utah
To Aaron the most beautiful area in Utah County was near Hobble Creek. The official Church record simply states, “Springville, Utah Co., was settled by Aaron Johnson and others.’ (Journal History, October 1850). Aaron was the founder and first Bishop of Springville, first judge of Utah County, and under his administration the civil government of Utah County was started.
In the spring, fields were plowed and seeds planted that were brought across the plains. Soon 200 more families came and by l852 they had outgrown the little fort they had built. Aaron had an unusually busy life as Bishop, District Judge and Territorial Senator. Springville soon had the best roads in the county and the most bridges. There were flour mills, molasses mills and artesian wells and canals, and ditches were dug.
Aaron died May 10, 1877, in Springville, a month before his seventy-first birthday. Cause of death was listed as exhaustion.