BFJ and his Wives

Updated: Feb 15



Benjamin Franklin Johnson

Benjamin Franklin Johnson

A native of upstate New York, Benjamin F. Johnson was converted to Mormonism in 1831 and was baptized in Kirtland, Ohio, in March 1835 at the age of 16. The path of his newly-embraced faith led him through the Church's difficulties at Kirtland, Ohio, then to Nauvoo, Illinois. He was one of only a handful of men who were drawn into the Prophet Joseph Smith's private circle at Nauvoo, where he was taught the doctrine of plural marriage, which he lived and defended. After the Mormon expulsions from western Missouri and Illinois, Benjamin crossed the plains to the Great Basin. After arriving in Utah, he put his hands to farming, established the first harness and saddlery shop, and opened the first drug store in Salt Lake City. Thereafter, his pioneering spirit took his growing family to the counties of Utah, Juan, Sanpete, and Kane where they farmed, raised livestock, logged, built a sawmill, manufactured cane syrup, and engaged in beekeeping.


When Benjamin was called to serve a mission in the Sandwich Islands, he disposed of business interests and left his three families for two years and seven months. He later served as bishop and patriarch and helped colonize parts of Arizona and Mexico.


Benjamin married seven wives, fathered 45 children, and had more than 370 grandchildren. In spite of human frailties, his life was a monument to his love for his family and his devotion to his religion. He sustained and followed the presidents of the Church whom he knew to be prophets of God. His final testimony in mortality was a plea for his posterity to do likewise.





Melissa Bloomfield LeBaron (1st wife)

Melissa Bloomfield LeBaron

Melissa Bloomfield LeBaron was the first wife of Benjamin Franklin Johnson. She was born 28 January 1817, in LeRoy, Genesee, New York, to David Tully LeBaron and Lydia Batchelder.13 Through her father‘s line, she was the great-great-granddaughter of Francis ron, a Frenchman who was the first physician of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Melissa‘s father and mother died when she was about 12 years old, leaving her an inheritance. She was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was a student at the Church Academy in Kirtland, Ohio. While living in Kirtland, she became a close friend of Julia Johnson. It may have been Julia who introduced Melissa to her brother, Benjamin Franklin Johnson, who was just returning from a mission served in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, and Canada.


Melissa was a beautiful girl with dark hair and eyes. She was described as being a lovely person of refinement and culture. In appearance, education and ease of manner, she had no equal in the vicinity. Beloved by all who knew her, she was one I could look upon with pride (MLR). She and Benjamin were married on Christmas Day in 1841 in the home of the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, by Almon Whiting Babbitt, a brother-in-law to Benjamin.




Mary Ann Hale (2nd wife)

Mary Ann Hale

Mary Ann Hale, daughter of Samuel Hale and Mary Ann Cook, and second wife of Benjamin Franklin Johnson, was born 11 August. The exact year of birth is not known because the sources searched list the years of 1827, 1828, 1829 and 1830. Like her birth year, several places have been given as her birthplace, including Whitestown, Oneida, New York; Jamestown, Chautauqua, New York; and Elmira, Chemung, New York. The best guess is that she was born 11 August 1827, in Whitestown, Oneida, New York. Mary Ann was about 17 years old, and Benjamin was a 26-year-old man with a wife and two children when they married. They were married in Macedonia, Hancock, Illinois. They moved to Nauvoo to take over the management of the Mansion House following the martyrdom of the Prophet. Mary Ann most likely worked long hours cleaning and preparing rooms and meals for important guests who seldom paid money for the rent of their rooms, but rather were guests of the Church leaders as they struggled to gain sympathy and understanding from the outside world.




Flora Clarinda Gleason (3rd wife)

Flora Clarinda Gleason

Flora Clarinda Gleason, a little girl whose eyes were very, very crossed, was born 2 August 1819, in the southwest corner of Massachusetts, in Tolland, Hampden County, a town of 700 people. Her father was Joel Lorand Gleason, and her mother was Lorena Williams. After the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred 27 June 1844, Flora moved to Nauvoo, where she lived with the family of Benjamin Franklin Johnson, the Prophet‘s friend, in the Prophet‘s former home known as the Mansion House. She earned her living by making dresses and by sewing. She also learned to be a nurse. Flora Clarinda Gleason married Benjamin Franklin Johnson as his third wife in plural marriage on 3 February 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple. She was 25, and he was 27.



Harriet Naomi Holman (4th wife)

Harriet Naomi Holman

The oldest of the Holman daughters to marry Benjamin Franklin Johnson was Harriet Naomi Holman. She was born in Beaver, Crawford, Pennsylvania, on 28 January 1834. She was the oldest of twelve children of James Sawyer Holman and Naomi Roxana LeBaron. Harriet‘s mother was an older sister of Melissa Bloomfield LeBaron, who was the first wife of Benjamin Franklin Johnson. Harriet was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on her eighth birthday in the Mississippi River by the Prophet Joseph Smith. She was always very proud of that fact and often shared the story of this special experience with her own children, and later, her grandchildren. She was also in the congregation who witnessed the mantle of the Prophet Joseph fall on Brigham Young at

the time he was sustained as the second Prophet to lead the Church. Harriet crossed the plains, walking most of the way, while still a young teenager. Leaving Council Bluffs 26 May 1848, she arrived in Salt Lake 29 September 1848, with the Brigham Young Company. She married Benjamin Franklin Johnson in Salt Lake on 17 March 1850, when she was only 16 years old, and he was 31.



Sarah Melissa Holman (5th wife)

Sarah Melissa Holman

Sarah Melissa Holman, was born on 18 November 1838 at Kirtland, Ohio. Her parents were James Sawyer Holman and Naomi Roxanna LeBaron. She was the second of the Holman sisters to marry Benjamin Franklin Johnson.


Sarah Melissa was so much in demand as a nurse, her skill at making the sick comfortable and using herbs and homemade remedies and following the instructions of Dr. Gunn, who was the medical authority in those days, kept her away from home so much that by the time her daughter Agie [sic] was 10 or 11 years old, she was the little housekeeper.


She was sealed to Benjamin Franklin Johnson on 3 February 1856 in the Salt Lake City Temple by Brigham Young.



Susan Adeline Holman (6th wife)

Susan Adeline Holman

Susan Adeline Holman was born 7 October 1841, in Nauvoo, Illinois. She was the fifth child of James Sawyer and Naomi Roxana LeBaron Holman. Her parents were New Englanders and early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her father was born 17 September 1805 in Templeton, Worcester, Massachusetts, and her mother was born 7 October 1816 in LeRoy, Genesee, New York. They were married 24 March 1833. Six children were born to them before the exodus from Nauvoo, and one child was born in Iowa. Five more children were born after coming to Utah. On 8 February 1857, she was married to Benjamin Franklin Johnson in Salt Lake City. She was just four months past her 15th birthday when she was sealed to BFJ in the Endowment House. He was 38

years old.



Sarah Jane Spooner (7th wife)

Sarah Jane Spooner

Sarah Jane Spooner was the seventh wife of Benjamin Franklin Johnson. She was the only wife not born in the United States. She was born in Cardiff, South Wales, on 1 October 1839, to David Nash Spooner and Ann Dayer. Of her home in England, close association is remembered with the royalty as her father made beautiful satin slippers for members of the King‘s family. Her mother baked varieties of delicious pastries for them. Her father died at a young age without having joined the Church. But David Nash Spooner always encouraged his family to be friendly to the missionaries and members of the Church. At her father‘s death, they lived with their grandfather George Dayer. After their conversion to the Church, Sarah Jane, her mother, Ann, and brothers, John D. and George D., immigrated to the United States. They left Liverpool on 4 February 1854 on the Golconda, and arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana, on 18 March 1854. The voyage to America took several weeks, during which an epidemic of cholera broke out. Because the Spooner family heeded the advice of the elders and boiled all water, they never contracted the disease. As soon as the quarantine of the passengers was lifted, Ann and her three children traveled to Illinois. They stayed in the Nauvoo area for a time, and then crossed the plains to Utah. Soon after her arrival in Salt Lake City, Benjamin approached Sarah Jane on behalf of someone else to discuss marriage. Evidently, Sarah liked Benjamin because she told him she would only marry him, not the man he intended for her. After that it seemed that Sarah Jane went with him everywhere. They were married on 5 April 1857, in Salt Lake City. She was 17, and he was 38.


Eliza Saunders Johnson (Possible 8th wife)

There is some evidence that suggests that Benjamin Franklin Johnson married his brother's widow Eliza Saunders Johnson for time on 3 March 1885 in St. George UT. Research is still being done to verify this claim.

2 comments

New here? Sign up to become a site member. 

©2018 by Benjamin Franklin Johnson Family Organization