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Lyman E. Johnson
Full name Lyman Eugene Johnson
Born October 24, 1811(1811-10-24)
Place of birth Pomfret, Vermont
Died December 20, 1859 (aged 48)
Place of death Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
LDS Church Apostle
Called by Three Witnesses
Ordained February 14, 1835 (aged 23)
Ordination reason Initial organization of Quorum of the Twelve
End of term April 13, 1838 (aged 26)
End reason Excommunicated for apostasy[1]
Reorganization at end of term No apostles immediately ordained[2]
LDS Church General Authority
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Called by Three Witnesses
Start of term February 14, 1835 (aged 23)
End of term April 13, 1838 (aged 26)
End reason Excommunicated for apostasy

Lyman Eugene Johnson (October 24, 1811 – December 20, 1859 [3]) was an early leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He broke with Joseph Smith, Jr. and Sidney Rigdon during the 1837-38 period when schism divided the early Church. He later became a successful pioneer lawyer in Iowa and was one of the town fathers of Keokuk, Iowa.

Lyman Johnson was born in Pomfret, Windsor County, Vermont in 1811 to John Johnson, Sr., and Alice "Elsa" Johnson. The family moved to Hiram, Ohio in 1818, where they established the John Johnson Farm, a successful 300-acre (1.2 km2) farm.

Lyman Johnson died in 1859, drowning in the Mississippi River in a boating accident at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He had four children.


Involvement in the LDS movement


Early contact

Joseph Smith, Jr., and Emma Hale Smith moved into the Johnson home on September 12, 1831. Within a month, Lyman Johnson was ordained an elder and then a high priest of the Latter Day Saint church. In response to a revelation given on January 25, 1832, Lyman joined Orson Pratt on an evangelizing mission which took them through the northeastern United States. The two were highly successful preachers and brought many converts to Mormonism on this and other subsequent missions.

Quorum of the Twelve

In the summer of 1834, Lyman marched with the Zion's Camp expedition which hoped to restore Latter Day Saints in Missouri to their lands in Jackson County. Although the expedition was a failure, many of the veterans of the expedition were soon called to high leadership positions in the Church. Among these were Lyman Johnson and his brother Luke Johnson who were among the original twelve men called on February 14, 1835, to be "Special Witnesses" or Apostles in a "Traveling High Council" of the Church, later known as the Council or Quorum of the Twelve. The chief duty of the apostles was to preside over missionary activities. Lyman Johnson continued to operate as a successful missionary from 1835-1837. On 4 September 1834, Johnson was married to Sarah Susan Long.

Bank failure

The failure of the Kirtland Safety Society, a bank founded by church leaders, led to widespread dissent in 1837. Loyalists to Joseph Smith held a High Council trial on September 3, 1837 which ejected Luke Johnson, Lyman Johnson and John F. Boynton from the Quorum of the Twelve. Boynton explained that his difficulties with the Church resulted from "the failure of the bank" which he had understood "was instituted by the will and revelations of God, and he had been told that it would never fail" (Kirtland Council Minute Book, pp. 184-86). Despite these difficulties, Lyman Johnson and the others temporarily reconciled with church leaders and were restored to their apostleship on September 10, 1837 (KCMB, pp. 188-89), after which Lyman and his family moved to the Latter Day Saint settlement of Far West, Missouri.


Meanwhile, schismatic strife between the loyalist faction and the dissenting faction continued to divide the church in Kirtland. The schismatic strife followed them, but in Far West, the loyalists were able to keep control by excommunicating the leadership of the Missouri church—David Whitmer, John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps along with Oliver Cowdery, Lyman Johnson and others. In Lyman's case, a list of 7 charges were presented to him by the Far West High Council on April 9, 1838, which included the charge of "...saying he would appeal the suit between him & Brother Phineas Young and take it out of the County..." Lyman replied on April 12, that "I should not condescend to put my constitutional rights at issue upon so disrespectful a point, as to answer any of those other charges until that is withdrawn & until then shall withdraw myself from your society and fellowship." (Far West Record, 173-76).


  1. ^ Johnson was disfellowshipped and removed from the Quorum of the Twelve on 1837-09-03. However, Johnson remained an apostle until his excommunication.
  2. ^ The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles did not have twelve apostles again until 1841-04-08, when Lyman Wight was ordained. Between Johnson's excommunication and then, John E. Page, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Willard Richards had been ordained and added to the Quorum to replace apostles who had been excommunicated or killed.
  3. ^ Prairie du Chien Courier 8 (December 20, 1859):3 and headstone of Lyman E. Johnson in Evergreen Cemetery, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.


  • Fred C. Collier (ed.), The Kirtland Council Minute Book, Collier's Publishing Co., 2002.
Religious titles
Preceded by
John F. Boynton
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 14, 1835–April 12, 1838
Succeeded by
John E. Page


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