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Ezekiel and Julia Hills Johnson

A brief sketch of the lives of Ezekiel and Julia Hills Johnson. Taken from the Journal of Benjamin Johnson by Klea Johnson Ballenger, Aug 30, 1937.

Ezekiel Johnson, son of Ezekiel and Bethia Gurnsey, was born Jan 12, 1776 at Uxburg, Mass. He died Jan 13, 1843. He married Julia Hills Jan 12, 1801. She as the daughter of Joseph and Esther Ellis HIlls. She was born Sep 26,1783 at Upton Mass. She died Aug 1853. They were the parents of 16 children; Joel Hills, Nancy Maria, Seth Gurnsey, Deleena,Diadema, Jula Ann David Alvera Woodward, Susan Ellen, Joseph Ellis, Benjamin Franklin, Mary Maria, Elmer Wood, George Washington, William Derby, Esther Melilan, and Amos Partridge(who died in infancy). Excepting Elmer, all of them lived to maturity and were among the first to embrace the fullness of the gospel.

In 1806, the family moved from Royalton, Mass. to Westford, Chittenden Co., Vermont. From which place in 1814 they moved to Western N.Y. The mother possessed high religious veneration and early taught the children faith in God and the necessity of prayer.

Although the father was opposed to the truth and had inbeded habits that were a hinderance to him he was a man of integrity and the highest organization as a husband and parent. He was by nature most tender and affectionate, a true and obliging friend and neighbor. He was a man among men in truth and honor. There was never a question as to his integerety, for his word was his bond, and in all things he was a gentleman in the fullest sence except in the habit of intemperance, which at times seemed to change his whole nature. He was a man of medium stature, about 5 ft. 10 in. in hight, of solid build, fine light brown hair, mild but piercing blue eyes. With light smooth skin and of natural genial personality he was loved and sought after by his friends and for his words only was he avoided for with no other blow that a flow of words, never was he known to strike any living thing. Early in life he became addicted to the use if ardent spirits and though his labors nor his love for his family seemed to deminish, un happiness entered his home.

Times were difficult after the war of 1812, and it was next to impossible to care for such a large family. All their support and house comforts were produced by their labors. Flax was grown for clothing, bed and table linen and towels. They made cheese, butter and sugar. While soap and candle making were common events. No one was idle. The smaller children followed the father through the forest and fields, piled and burned the brush. They planted the seed and opened the swarths of drying hay. Theirs was a pioneer life, clearing deep forests with hard labor. The happy features if their childhood was gathering nuts in the forest and wild fruits and flowers with their beloved mother.

The older brothers and sisters attended the Presbyterian church where they learned to read the Bible. In the year 1829 word was received through the village paper of a young man prophessing to have seen an angel, who had shown and delivered to him the golden plates, a new Bible. In 1830, the oldest son, Joel H. moved to Amherst (Amberest) in Loraine Co., Ohio. It was about this time they began to hear more about Joe Smith and the Golden Bible. David went to visit Joel H. and while there they were both baptized into the Church. The mother had written a letter of caution, which was soon answered, saying they had joined the Mormons. The family felt disgraced. But the brothers sent a copy od the Book of Mormon to their mother and it was secretly read by the family and a few devoted neighbors deploring the delusion into which the brothers had fallen. The brothers returned in the fall of 1831. Almond W. Babbitt, then 17 years if age accompanied them. The mother and all the childreen old eneough were baptized. The father was employed as a carpenter in Fredonia. He was not inclined to accept the gospel.