Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1859 (age 32), Johnson (Randall), Mildred Eliza

It was in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia that Mildred Eliza Johnson was born on July 5, 1827. She was the eldest of a family of seven children born to Francis and Mary Jane Hall Johnson.

Mildred's father, Francis, was a teacher of some importance in the community and early in life she exhibited a decided preference for a scholastic education as she was not particularly interested in housework. Being a fine needlewoman, she often traded home jobs with her sisters.

She had attended school in the home neighborhood where she was considered a very apt scholar and at her father's death, the administrator of the estate, upon her request, gave her her portion in cash. With the money received as her inheritance she paid her tuition at the Augusta Female Seminary at Stanton, Va. and although she did not complete her course at this institution, was able to secure a school in Eastern Virginia, where she made a name for herself as a very efficient teacher.

After several years teaching in her home state, she decided to visit her brother, Cicero, and his family, who had gone out west and located at Council Bluffs, Iowa. While visiting at this place, she met a number of the members of the Latter-day Saints Church, one of whom was Wm. H. Folsom. He ably explained the doctrines of the church to her and she was convinced of their truthfulness and decided that she was ready for baptism into the new faith. Wm. H. Folsom had the privilege of baptizing her on May 22, 1859 at Council Bluffs and very shortly afterward, she was numbered among a group of Saints who were ready to make their pilgrimage to the Rocky Mountains.

The following is a copy of one of her letters.

City Bountiful, Davis Co., Ut.
Sept. 18, 1859

My Dearest Sister,

It has been a long time since I've heard from you, but a still longer time since I have written, so I will write you this beautiful evening.

You, no doubt, have heard, ere this, that I have united with God's chosen people, called Mormons, or Latter-day Saints. I wrote to Mother the day before I left Council Bluffs to cross the wide and barren plains of Nebraska to Utah.

Well I must tell you something about our journey of about 1100 miles across the plains. We left Florence on the Missouri River, Nebraska on the 13th of June with some 50 odd wagons and upwards of 300 persons. Some wagons joined us on the way so that the whole number was 69 and 387 people, a pretty good company. Capt. James Brown of Ogden City, Utah had the command of it and a better man there never was. I cooked for him and his brother and myself all the way. I slept with one of William Steele's daughters. I had, take it altogether, a pleasant trip, though sometimes I got very tired, had to walk about half the way. A great many of the women walked all the way, and felt as well as if they had not walked any. For hundreds of miles we had to travel over sandy roads and sand hills, with a burning sun over our heads and burning sands beneath our feet and no wood at all for weeks, nothing but Buffalo chips to cook with and we got along finely, and I never had better health. We had ice and frost among the Rocky Mountains on the 8th of August and there is snow on the tops of them all the year through.

In passing through some of the Kanyons in the Mountains we found bushels of wild currants, service berries, and chokecherries. They were just ripe and we feasted on them. Some of the Kanyons are so narrow that only one wagon can pass at a time. I have rambled over the sides of these steep mountains for miles gathering berries, and what a pleasant time we had with the other girls.

On the evening of the 29th of August, we arrived in Great Salt Lake City. As we marched up the beautiful streets to Union Square where we camped, the citizens came out to meet us and welcome us home. After we had camped and put our cattle away and had them fed, the people brought wagon loads of fresh provisions and vegetables to us. It was quite a treat, for we had lived on bread and bacon and coffee so long. Such hospitality I have never seen among any people. O, Mary, I do wish that you and all were here with me in my mountain home. What a beautiful place Salt Lake Valley is. I feel so happy here, and why do I feel happy? Because I am living in obedience to the command of my Heavenly Father. I am now living about 10 miles north of Great Salt Lake City in a place called City Bountiful. It is quite a pleasant country town. The Saints here are industrious, contented, and happy. I expect to get into some business in Great Salt Lake City this winter, teaching perhaps.

Please write me as soon as you get this. Tell all to write. Direct yours to Great Salt Lake City, Utah Territory.

From your affectionate sister, Mildred.

Upon her arrival in the valley, she obtained employment in the home of John Taylor but she did not remain long there. In Sept. of 1859 she went to live with the family of Alfred Randall at Bountiful and on May 30th, 1860 she became his wife. Later they moved to Salt Lake City and she obtained a position as a school teacher in the 17th Ward. Her husband provided her a home on 1st North Street at the head of West Temple street. She was the mother of two sons, Francis and Eli Bradley who both died as children.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.