William Derby Johnson Jr. correspondence

William Derby Johnson Jr. correspondence

Dates: 1896 March-July

Collection contains transcriptions of correspondence by Johnson primarily about personal and financial matters to various family members, friends, and acquaintances (including some General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints). Also includes updates about events in Colonia Diaz, Mexico where he was serving as bishop and doctor. Dated March-July 1896.

  • Extent: 1 folder (0.05 linear feet)
  • Creator: Johnson, William Derby, 1850-1923
  • Call Number: MSS 8358
  • Repository: L. Tom Perry Special Collections; 19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts; 1130 Harold B. Lee Library; Brigham Young University; Provo, Utah 84602; http://sc.lib.byu.edu/
  • Access Restrictions: Open for public research.
Languages and Scripts
Conditions of Use
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from William Derby Johnson Jr. correspondence must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.
Located in box 598
Preferred Citation
Initial citation: MSS 8358; William Derby Johnson Jr. correspondence; 19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Following citations: MSS 8358, LTPSC.
Custodial History
It is unknown how or from whom BYU received these records.
Related Material
Additional information about the family of William Derby Johnson, Jr. may be found in his father's papers (MSS SC 423, William Derby Johnson papers) or his son's diary (MSS 1506, William Derby Johnson diary).
Subject Terms
Finance; Material Types; Mormons--Colonies--Mexico--Diaz (Chihuahua)
Genre / Form
Letters; Transcripts
Processing Information
Processed; Zoë Brimhall, student manuscript processor, and Ryan K. Lee, curator; 2014.
Appraisal Information
LDS cultural, social, and religious history (19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts collection development policy 1.V, November 2013).
Finding Aid ID Number
Finding Aid Title
Johnson (William Derby, Jr.) correspondence
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Zoë Brimhall
Finding Aid Creator
This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2014-05-11T04:23-0600
Finding Aid Language
Biographical Info:

Biographical History

William Derby Johnson Jr. (1850-1923) was a Latter-day Saint polygamist, bishop, school administrator, doctor, and colonizer in Mexico.

William Derby Johnson Jr. was born on May 2, 1850, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to parents Jane Cadwallader Brown and William Derby Johnson Sr. Johnson spent the first ten years of his life living in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Winter Quarters, Nebraska. In 1860, he crossed the plains with his parents and spent the next ten years of his life in Salt Lake City, Utah. During these years, Johnson served as a volunteer for the Black Hawk War in Sanpete County, Utah and he studied at Deseret University (now University of Utah) where he received a diploma in bookkeeping and accounting.

It was also while living in Salt Lake City that Johnson met and married his first wife, Lucy Annie Salisbury, in 1869. They had one son together. During their marriage, William and his family moved to an area fifteen miles east of Kanab, Utah, where they settled the town of Johnson. He taught school in Kanab and participated in John Wesley Powell's explorations of the Colorado River. They lived in Johnson until 1885. William also married three more wives: Lucy Elizabeth Brown (1877), Charlesetta Prescott Cram (1879), and Mary Agnes Riggs (1884).

In 1885, Latter-day Saint Apostle Erastus Snow recommended that Johnson take his families to Mexico in order to escape persecution for practicing polygamy. It was while making arrangements for his wives and families to follow him to Mexico that Johnson learned of the death of his first wife, Lucy Salisbury (in later years he would also suffer the death of their only son). He eventually settled Colonia Diaz in Chihuahua, Mexico where he served as bishop until 1911. He also acted as a doctor for the Mexican people and had a high profile career as Superintendent of Church schools for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Johnson died on October 17, 1923 in Tucson, Arizona.

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Ryan Lee
Curator - 19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts