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Rev Jacob Johnson

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Rev Jacob Johnson

  • Birth 7 Apr 1713 Wallingford, New Haven County, Connecticut, USA
  • Death 15 Mar 1797 Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Burial Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Memorial ID 17044016

Son of Jacob and Abigail (Hitchcock) Johnson. First settled minister in Wyoming Valley and the writer of the Articles of Capitulation after the Wyoming Battle in 1778. Md Mary Giddings, dau of Capt. Nathaniel and Mary (Williams) Giddings. Children: Mary, Lydia, Jacob, Jehoiada, Sarah, Abigail, Christiana Olive, Zipporah.

Daughter, Zipporah, born and died in Connecticut: 1762-1764

My gggg grandfather

The following was written by Wesley Johnson, the grandson of Rev. Johnson. Rev. Johnson's mother died in 1826 so I do not think she lived to see him graduate from Yale. Perhaps the mother who knelt in prayer with him was Abigail and the mother who saw him graduate from Yale was his stepmother, Dorcas Linsley. Both were influential in his life.

The Pioneer Preacher by Wesley Johnson

"On a bleak tempestuous winter night, in the year 1722, while the storm was driving fiercely over the hills of Connecticut, a New England mother, with a tall dark-haired boy by her side, knelt in prayer at the family altar. She was a pious mother and as the storm howled without, and the drifting snow crept higher and higher up the little window panes of her humble cottage, she felt more than ever her utter dependence on that Heavenly Father she had already vowed to love and serve; and then upon bended knees she invoked the blessing of Almighty God upon that boy, and like the pious Hannah of old, vowed to dedicate him hereafter to the service of the Lord.

Time went on; the gentle boy became a comely youth honoring the pious teachings of that mother, and fitting himself by study and deportment for the calling he had now voluntarily espoused. Yale College received him as a worthy fellow, an exemplary youth, a zealous student high in his class; and when he stood up before the assembled citizens to pronounce the graduating address and to receive the honorable title of Artum Magister and the congratulations of the faculty, that mother's heart glowed with honest pride for the tall, dark, intellectual young man was bearing his honors meekly, as become a neophyte of the church: her mission was fulfilled; the dearest object of her life attained; there were no Bishops to lay hands on his head, there were no synods to endow with superior grace the novices of the Congregational Churches where each was an independent unit.

He became the pastor of one of these churches for a few years and proclaimed the gospel tidings with thrilling effect; but the young preacher's zeal and learning did not avail before unappreciative audiences among these quiet country folk.

He became acquainted with, and learned to love and respect the pious, Samson, a converted Indian of the tribe of Metacomet, and from him had formed bright visions of making a civilized and christianized people of the powerful Six Nations. He was the spirit of Loyola, and he knew no rest till he had entered the great wilderness and proclaimed the truths of the gospel to the red man in his home.

At Canajoharie, at Fort Stanwix and perhaps at other frontier settlements we find him laboring in the cause of his Master. He had secured the protection of Sir William Johnson, and gained the confidence of Brandt and Red Jacket. He had learned the language of the Mohawks and other Indian dialects, and could proclaim Him to these people in the language of the forest...

Next we hear of him as the pioneer minister of the gospel under the protection of the Susquehanna Company, sent to the far off Westmoreland Colony, that little republic in the wilderness about to pass through storms of war...

Here he labored for years, preaching to the whites as well as to the Indians in their own language; sharing the hardships in common with other settlers, but seeking not for earthly possessions, he desired rather to possess the confidence and esteem of his neighbors than the rich lands of the valley...

In extemporaneous pulpit oratory he did not excel, but in prayer, he seemed to throw his whole soul into the effort, forgetting surrounding objects; he was then truly eloquent. Many of his sermons were poetic effusions of no small literary merit, some of which, written in exceedingly neat and accurate chirography, the writer hereof has perused with much pleasure. The people called him Priest, a title they did not accede to the inferior clergy.

At length the ? of war sounded the alarm throughout the valley, for now the British and Indians were pouring down through the northern gap and deploying on the plain below. He, with other non-combatants sought shelter in the little stockade of Forty Fort; saw the gallant three hundred march to glorious death on that fatal July morning, and wept with those who received the few survivors, when all was lost, and when the terms of capitulation were agreed upon (Col Dennison and himself acting on behalf of the inhabitants, it was his hand that put them in shape, the articles being written on that now historic little black walnut wood table so miraculously preserved in the general wreck following the surrender.

In the fullness of time the infirmities of age creep in; his stooping form and failing strength admonish him of the end of his earthly pilgrimage; and now a vision came upon him in the night time, informing him that he was about to die, and so certain was he of the truthfulness of the heavenly messenger, that he informed his family next morning of the approaching change, with as much calmness and deliberation as if he was only to make preparation for a short journey, and as an earnest belief in the certainty of the event, having procured a mattock and spade, with heavy steps he climbed the steep ascent of the "redoubt" and passed up the ridge.

It was in the early spring of 1797; snow lay in spots along the northern exposure, to the south the warm sunshine had quickened the early flowers, and the plants began to put forth tiny shoots of green; the scattered leaves lay dead in the little hollows, or stranded in hazle thickets, they rustled to the tread of the timid rabbit in its flight; the blue bird was flitting here and there, and the robin was making a frugal meal from the scarlet cones of the Sumac on the declivity; a little glade or platform on the ridge is reached; it is a beautiful spot, just over his family burying place, the old man stopped to admire, as he had never done before; looking to the east, he said " here will the earliest beams of the morning as they slant down into the valley caress these slopes," and raising his hands in rapt admiration of the western prosperity, "here will departing day linger on this spot, while dark shadows fall across the interval beyond, and here will I be buried;" he struck his mattock into the soft yellow earth and found the soil he desired.

His feeble health would not permit of protracted labor, and it required some days to complete the task; at length he had shaped the narrow home appointed for all the living on the day preceding the one on which he had foretold his end.

He informed his favorite son of what he had done, gave some directions for the funeral in a cheerful and unconcerned manner, and retired to rest; but ere the morning sun shone into his window the angel of death had passed by that peaceful cottage and breathed in the face of the good old man as he slept, and there was mourning in the little hamlet.

The spot he had selected was on a rocky tract of land that had been granted to him by the proprietors of the town; he had conveyed away four acres out of the southeast corner, saving and reserving a piece four rods wide and five rods long where his daughters were buried (one of them the beloved wife of Col. Zebulon Butler), which he intended should remain as a place of burial forever.

He never parted with the title to it, and now by a sort of poetic justice, this same reserved burying ground is the idential spot on which the beautiful "Memorial Church" is erected; what more fitting memorial to the first Presbyterian preacher of Wyomming Valley than his paternal tribute to departed children should be erected on the spot consecrated to the same pious purpose by him almost a century before; and while the stony arm of the beautiful edifice continues to point to the home of the living God, beaming aloft its golden emblem of our faith, as a memorial for them for whom it was erected; yes, when its stones are crumbled to dust, may each blade of grass on its green slopes as it shoots to life in the spring time, perpetuate the memory of those other dear ones and the story of the pioneer preacher, JACOB JOHNSON."

Family Members






  • Created by: Nan
  • Added: 16 Dec 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17044016
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Jacob Johnson (7 Apr 1713–15 Mar 1797), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17044016, citing Hollenback Cemetery, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Nan (contributor 46824729) .