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 and Sidney Rigdon during the 1837–38 period when schism divided the early church. Johnson later became a successful pioneer lawyer in Iowa and was one of the town fathers of Keokuk, Iowa.

Lyman E. Johnson
Lyman E. Johnson.JPG
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 14, 1835 (1835-02-14) – September 3, 1837 (1837-09-03)[1]
End reasonExcommunicated for apostasy
Latter Day Saint Apostle
February 14, 1835 (1835-02-14) – April 13, 1838 (1838-04-13)
ReasonInitial organization of Quorum of the Twelve
End reasonExcommunicated for apostasy[1]
at end of term
No apostles immediately ordained[2]
Personal details
BornLyman Eugene Johnson
(1811-10-24)October 24, 1811
Pomfret, Vermont
DiedDecember 20, 1859(1859-12-20) (aged 48)
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

Johnson was born in Pomfret, Windsor County, Vermont, to John Johnson, 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.

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

Involvement in the Latter Day Saint movementEdit

Early contactEdit

Joseph Smith and Emma Hale Smith moved into the Johnson home on September 12, 1831. Within a month, 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, Johnson 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 missions.

Quorum of the TwelveEdit

In the summer of 1834, Johnson 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 Johnson and his brother Luke, 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. Johnson continued to operate as a successful missionary from 1835 to 1837. On September 4, 1834, Johnson was married to Sarah Susan Long.

Bank failureEdit

The failure of the Kirtland Safety Society, a bank founded by church leaders, led to widespread dissent in 1837. The church held a high council trial on September 3, 1837, which ejected Johnson, his brother Luke, 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".[4] Despite these difficulties, Johnson and the others temporarily reconciled with church leaders and were restored to their apostleships on September 10, 1837,[5] after which Johnson 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, Johnson, and others. In Johnson's case, a list of seven 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." Johnson 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."[6]


  1. ^ a b Johnson was disfellowshipped and removed from the Quorum of the Twelve on September 3, 1837. However, Johnson remained an apostle until his excommunication.
  2. ^ The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles did not have twelve apostles again until April 8, 1841, 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.
  4. ^ Kirtland Council Minute Book, pp. 184–86.
  5. ^ KCMB, pp. 188–89
  6. ^ Far West Record, 173–76.


Church of the Latter Day Saints titles
Later renamed: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (1838)
Preceded by
John F. Boynton
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
February 14, 1835–April 12, 1838
Succeeded by
John E. Page