My name is Mary Ann Whitehead Overson and this blog is dedicated to all the amazing men and women who came before me: my ancestors. I also want to acknowledge my father, Armand Toyn Whitehead, who is the person responsible for a lot of the content in this blog; my dad has spent countless hours collecting and preserving photos and histories, and preserving them on the computer so that they can be handed down for generations. Thank you, Dad!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Johanna Marie Schultz Nixon

Johanna Marie Schultz Nixon, circa 1880;  artist's rendition of a damaged B&W photo.

This may Seem like a random posting, but I was asked to provide some info about Johanna and her family.

Before you read further, an explanation must be made about the Schultz family - with patronymic naming being the norm in 19th century Denmark (see my post on patronymic naming on this blog),  Johanna's Father's name was Christian Ludwig Johansen.  When he moved to America, he kept the last name of Johansen, BUT he also had another last name of Schultz (perhaps because his ancestors were from Germany, and then adopted patronymic naming when they immigrated to Denmark.)  When doing my research on the Schultz family I found that they were documented with the last name of Johansen on the Tuscarora ship's manifest.  This name was misspelled, though, on the 1859 Overland Travel manifest of the Pioneer Company Johanna and her sister traveled with.  With these little discrepancies, I am so grateful that I even found their names.  I thank the Spirit for helping me with this!

Here is a life sketch of Josephine from our Family History Records:


            Picture a little, old-world village named Honsinge, in Denmark; picture the comfortable, respectable home of the prosperous, well-loved village blacksmith, Mr. [Christian Ludvig Johansen] Schultz; picture this happy family: the capable, happy-hearted mother [Ane Dinesen], the contented hard-working father, and their only child, the little girl, Sidse; and you have a picture of the home into which baby Johanna Maria Schultz was ushered on April 1, 1844.

            Little Johanna led the carefree life of any normal child until she was eleven years old, when the great change came. By this time there were two other members in the family, little Ferdinand and Mary. This family of six, like all the other families in the village, was of the Lutheran religion. But when Elder H. P. Lund and Elder L. Erickson from the Mormon Mission at Copenhagen, about fifty-six miles from Honsinge, came to the village and presented the religion of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to the inhabitants, the Schultz family were the first to recognize and receive the Truth.

            Of course all the friends and relatives immediately became the enemies of these brave advocates of the new religion. One Sunday the old Lutheran priest of the village was invited by Elder Schultz to come to his home where Brothers Erickson and Lund were staying, to debate the question of Lutheranism vs. Mormonism with the Mormon Elders. Eleven-year-old Johanna was a silent but interested spectator. The priest, a short, heavy-set, important old gentleman, became steadily angrier as he found that he could not overthrow the arguments of the Mormon Elders. Finally, in a tottering rage, he threw reason to the winds, declared Mormonism to be worthless, and enforced his statement by bringing his hand down with all his strength upon the Bible, lying on the table. Elder Lund, not realizing the remark he was about to make would remain with one of his hearers, little Johanna, the rest of her life, reproved the old priest by saying: "It is not becoming in a servant of God to give such a slam on the Bible."

            That evening, after the meeting held in the Schultz home, the mob tried to break into the house to kill the Mormon Elders, but the Elders managed to escape through the windows. The lawless men then threw rocks at the building, broke the windows and tried to climb through the chimney, but becoming discouraged, finally left the offending inhabitants in peace.

            Soon after this, Brothers Lund and Erickson blessed Elder Schultz, making him a priest, and sent him to preach in the city where he used to buy coal, iron and steel for blacksmithing. While there preaching to his merchant friends whom he thought would at least listen to him, they sent for the police. When Elder Schultz returned home he described the outcome of his adventure thus: "Today I have received the greatest testimony of the Gospel I have ever had. I expected to be imprisoned, but when the policeman came up to me, face to face, God blinded his eyes so that he didn't see me."

            After two such years filled with trouble, chaos, misery and danger, life at Honsinge became unendurable to the Schultz family, so with a certificate from Elder Erickson recommending any member of the Schultz family to the Mormons in Utah, Johanna and her loved ones, with about three hundred other Scandinavians of the same faith, set sail in April, 1857, for America—the long promised, long dreamed of "Land of the Free." The father had a very small amount of money which he had luckily been able to obtain from the sale of his prosperous farm and his home. Johanna was then thirteen years of age.

            This little colony of Mormons, of whom Brother Funk was put in charge, were six weeks on the ocean. Many of the company died from typhoid fever. Johanna's father died ten days before they landed. Realizing that he would never see the land for which he had waited and prayed so long, Brother Schultz called Brother Funk to his bedside and left him this charge: "Please see that my wife and children are safely delivered in Zion."

            Brother Schultz was wrapped in his feather bed, weighted with a sack of coal, and sunk into the sea without any funeral services.

            After landing in America, two more sad, trouble-filled years followed for Johanna, in Burlington, Iowa, where she and the rest of the family spent their first summer in the new world. The health of the Mother and two younger children, Ferdinand, three years old and Mary, five years old, steadily failed. By the kindness of a noble lady, Mrs. Lawrence, who heard of the penniless state of the unfortunate family, Johanna obtained work in her hotel, and Sidse obtained work from a certain widower, a friend of Mrs. Lawrence. Every day Johanna would bring a basket of goodies given to her by her kind employer, home to the hungry little children whose wistful, pinched little faces were always flattened against the window pane. But one day the little faces were missing and Johanna and Sidse, with the aid of the kind Mrs. Lawrence buried little Mary and Ferdinand. The mother, broken down with grief, followed them about Christmas time. Before she or the younger children died she prophesied their death, and also said that Johanna and Sidse would reach Zion successfully.

            After the mother's death, Mrs. Lawrence and her friend wished to adopt the two orphaned children, but remembering the wishes of their parents, Johanna and Sidse finally obtained passage for the journey to Utah with a Mormon company from Fairfield, a town a short distance from Burlington. The company was composed mainly of the people who had been on the ship which had carried the Schultz family to America. The same Brother Funk was in charge. This company, consisting of seventy-five wagons or more, each drawn by about three yoke of oxen, started in 1859 for Utah. Johanna was then fifteen. Captain Brown was sent from Salt Lake as a guide and they left Fairfield in the spring. Johanna and practically all of the other members walked all the three months it took them to reach Salt Lake City. The wagons were filled to capacity with provisions and so no room was found for riding.

            Johanna was one of the thirteen people belonging to Brother Funk's wagon. Among the thirteen people were two very old persons, the mother and father of Brother Funk. They also walked. The greatest share of the members wore thin moccasins purchased from the Indians. But the days of the journey were peaceful, happy days. At night when they had found a suitable, water-furnished camp ground, the men would drive the wagons into the ring used for protection, the people and animals when inside being safer from possible Indian attacks. After the occupants of each wagon had supper, prayer followed. Then, if the ground was an especially level piece, the people would sometimes enjoy a dance, as there were a number of musicians in the company with violins or other instruments. In these dances young and old participated, and out on the green grass, under the starry sky they would frolic in happy, carefree abandon.

            The only death Johanna remembers was that of a fine, strong-looking man who ran a prickly pear thorn in his foot. Blood poisoning set in and he died in a few days. A simple grave was dug at the side of the road with a rude board for a head stone, to which a piece of paper bearing his name, etc. was attached. Here, in the hot desert sand, with the coyote, the lizard and the horned toad for company, and with the vast dreary stretches of cactus, sand, sagebrush for a graveyard, the lonely sleeper slept on. Encountered on the way were many such graves, grim evidence of the hard struggle. Then, one could read the names on the crosses; now, unrelenting nature, in her fight against man's invasion of her precincts, has long since obliterated every trace of the last resting places of her victims.

            One day, while walking along, Johanna received a stone bruise in her heel which soon became festered so badly that she was unable to walk. Captain Brown simply lanced her foot with his pen-knife. She rode in the wagon that afternoon, but the next day walked with the others.

            During this journey many people drove cows. At night, after milking, they would put the milk in churns, and after a day's jolting in the wagons, the milk would be churned to butter. The people always slept on the ground—under the tent if the weather was stormy. Many times Indians would come up. Then the white men would sit with their red brothers in a circle and smoke the Pipe of Peace. Often, for the sake of peace, the white men would have to give food to the Indians in groups of from fifty to one hundred. Therefore, when the company was within one week from Salt Lake their food gave out and each person received only a biscuit a meal. But finally they reached their destination in safety. Johanna says now that she would not mind having this experience over. She spent a very happy three months, for, because they were in God's care, the people united and peaceful, and their watchword was always: "Something better ahead."

James William Nixon I
            In Salt Lake City Johanna and her sister were taken care of by Erastus Snow. Then Johanna met Brother Nixon, a young Mormon boy, and married him. She was then fifteen years of age. After her sister's marriage Sidse lived with a certain Squire Wells.

            Brother Nixon purchased a small farm in wild, unsettled East Weber valley. A rude log cabin was Johanna's home, six miles from nearest neighbors. The cabin, originally one-roomed, was made two-roomed, and a small, six-paned, front window of glass put in. After a time Johanna was able to afford narrow bleach cloth curtains for the window. The tiny house originally had only the ground for a floor, which was carpetless, however. There was a dirt roof, and in bad weather the rain and mud would stream into the room. Milk pans were put under the places that leaked the most. The furnishings of the home were three-legged stools—slab tops with holes for the legs—made by Brother Nixon, a huge chest, which held every odd thing, for a table and homemade, lumber bedsteads, cumbersome and awkward. In the logs of the walls holes were bored and wooden pegs fitted in these. The pegs, on which clothes were hung, constituted the wardrobe, when Johanna's first baby was born, (she was then seventeen) her husband hewed her a rude cradle out of a log.

            Johanna's next pioneer home was in St. George, where she and her husband, responding to a call for volunteers to come to Dixie, moved after four years in Weber and two in Salt Lake. This was the greatest trial of Johanna's life to leave her happy, comfortable home in Salt Lake where they had moved after renting their farm in Weber, and to come to the barren, unfertile southern country whose reputation had already been spread afar. But Brother Nixon, being a tinner, was requested to come to St. George and make tinware—plates and pans, etc. So, during the cold winter, riding over the snow part of the way on sleds, they came and were three weeks on the journey. Traveling with them were some emigrants going straight through to California, as was Brother Nixon, as he intended to purchase there tools for his tinning business with the money he had received by selling his East Weber farm and home. So it was that his wife's first home in Dixie during the three months that he was gone was simply a tent with straw on the ground. He barely had time to place Johanna and her three children in this tent before he had to leave for California with the emigrants.

            Besides being a Tinner in Salt Lake, where he made his living by furnishing the people with pans, kettles, tin plates, etc., Brother Nixon farmed, built his house, and was somewhat a "jack-of-all-trades." In building he used mainly an augur, a hammer, a saw and a ax. The tools were brought from the East. Wooden pegs were used in place of nails. Rawhide was used for almost every purpose.

            The clothing Johanna and her small family wore was of any kind of material to be obtained. Johanna's first dress in Utah was a blue denim dress made by herself. Calico at fifty cents a yard and factory at one dollar a yard could be purchased in Salt Lake. A spool of thread was twenty-five cents. The stockings were home-knit. The wool was taken from the sheared sheep, washed, dried, then carded with hand cards and made into rolls, after which it was spun on the spinning wheel. Cotton came in skeins that were woven on the loom. The dresses, some of them home-knit and woolen, were died by cochineal bought in the stores. One dress Johanna made for herself was composed of the black wool of a sheep and the white wool, died four different colors. She wove it herself into a beautiful piece of cloth.

            Shoes were made by local shoemakers. The hats in style then were called "shakers," being simply painted paste-board shaped like sunbonnets. The slat sunbonnet was also worn. Only the cheapest kinds of food was used. Tea was five dollars a pound, molasses was used for everything that called for sugar, especially for preserving fruits. Molasses cake was the main dessert on Johanna's table. The meat was jerked.

            The only education Johanna received after leaving her native Denmark was during the first year after she was married, when she went to school to a certain Bishop in the Eleventh Ward in Salt Lake. Teaching was very slow. Almost a whole winter would be spent in simply learning the letters. At best only the "three R's" were taught.

            After her one year of schooling when Johanna lived in East Weber, she had a strange experience with some Indians. "Now don't get frightened, but if they should come my revolver is under the pillow and my gun is on the wall." There had been a rumor that Indians, without their squaws, which meant danger, were coming up the valley. Frightened, seventeen-year-old Johanna was sitting in her little log cabin rocking her tiny baby in its rude rough cradle and looking out of the small window trying to realize that her only neighbors were six miles away. The Indians wouldn't come, of course. But suddenly her staring eyes saw them, painted and in battle array, coming up the road. There were only two of them, but that was enough for Johanna. One slunk away, but the other, more bold, made straight for the defenseless cabin with the blue smoke curling out of its chimney. Johanna grasped the revolver with nervous fingers. The door was locked, but with only a simple catch. The Indian tried the door and called to her to let him in. Then he tried to force his way. Johanna was almost fainting from fear. Then suddenly another voice mingled with the guttural grunts of the Indian, and Johanna, recognizing the voice of a neighbor boy, knew she was saved. The boy, who had seen the Indians and had guessed their intention, finally pacified the redman and persuaded him to leave.

            In this incident, as in all her life, Johanna says she feels as if she has been under God's care. All her hardships are over now, and she is living peacefully and happily in St. George. But no matter what her trials may have been, she has always been cheerful and hopeful, and, like the rest of our noble, fast-disappearing pioneers, her watchword has always been: "Something better ahead."

James W. & Johanna M. Schultz Nixon Children:  James William Nixon II, Josephine May Nixon Whitehead, George Albert Nixon,  Della Maude Nixon Price, Johanna Marie Schultz Nixon, Emma Nixon Mathis   c. 1900

Johanna Marie Schultz Nixon, c. 1920

Johanna M. Nixon, widow of James W. Nixon, and one of Utah's pioneers, died at her home in Provo, March 13, following a protracted illness.  Mrs. Nixon was a native of Denmark, born April 1, 1844.  When 11 years of age she immigrated to America, accompanied by her mother, one brother and three sisters, Her father was buried at sea.  Soon after the family's arrival in Iowa her, mother, brother and one sister died leaving only one sister, Mrs. Sena Barton of Salt Lake, who now survives.  In 1859 Mrs. Nixon, with her 11-year-old sister, joined an ox-team company and walked across the plains.

In 1860 she was married to James W.  Nixon and moved to East Weber,. and later back to Salt Lake.  Then, with other volunteers, the family moved to St. George, where she lived until August, 1921.  In 1882 her husband died.  Last August she purchased a home in Provo, in order that she might be near her children who live there.  Mrs. Nixon served as president of the Relief society at St. George for many years.

She is survived by the following sons and daughters: Mrs. E. Mathis of Salt Lake, J. W. and G. A. Nixon and Mrs. Josephine Whitehead of Provo, Mrs. Delia Lynn of El Paso and Mrs. Della Price of Storrs; her sis[t]er, Mrs. Barton, and thirty-three grandchildren and twenty-three great-grandchildren.

At the time of her death she had three grandsons fulfilling missions, St. Clair Nixon in Missouri, Thomas Price in California, and LeRoy Whitehead in Canada.

Funeral services were hold in the Sixth ward chapel, Provo, on, Wednesday, Mar. 15, after which the remains were shipped to St George for interment.

Funeral Services

Funeral services were held March 17 at 3 p. m. in the Stake tabernacle.  Services opened with a song by the choir, "When The Mists Have Cleared Away." Opening prayer by Elder R. A. Morris.  Vocal Solo Dilworth Snow, "I Do Believe."

Pres. David H. Cannon said that Bro. and Sister Nixon had identified with the Dixie Mission for a. long time.  Soon after the opening of the St. George temple Sister Nixon was called by Pres. Wilford Woodruff to labor in it.  She was a very faithful worker there for many years.  Bro.  Nixon worked here In the United Order under Pres. Young and was a good true worker.  Sister Nixon was a great aid to him.  Prayed the Lord to bless Sister Nixon's children.

Sister Zaidee Miles said she was pleased to respond to the call to speak of Sister Nixon's work in the Relief Society.  Said she had been spiritually acquainted with her for a long while and bore testimony to the good faithful work done by her while president of the Third St. George Ward Relief Society and at all times.  Had always enjoyed hearing Sister Nixon talk to the Relief Society and tell experiences of her early life.  She has left a rich heritage and it is her children's privilege to carry the good work on.  Hoped that we would all remember her good work and her sweet refined nature.

Vocal solo, Sister Nellie Brooks.  Elder D. H. Morris said he was pleased that the children of Sister Nixon had brought her remains here to bury.  Said he had known her for 50 years; knew she had great faith in God for he had heard her bear her testimony of His goodness.  She left her native home with her parents when 11 years of age; her father died while crossing the ocean and her mother and all of the family but one sister and herself died of cholera when crossing the plains with ox teams.  Her husband died about 40 years ago leaving her with a family of small children.  Said he had never heard her say a word against anyone.

Pres. Geo. F. Whitehead bore testimony to all that had been said of the deceased.  Said it would be hard for anyone to live the faithful life she has lived.  Asked the Lord to bless her children.

Pres. Edw. H. Snow Said he was pleased that Sister Nixon's earthly remains had been brought home for burial.  He was pleased to see the love that her children had for her.  Had known her for a long time and had always thought her a wonderful woman.  Thought her children would understand the sacrifices made by her and live better lives for that knowledge.  Hoped we would always honor the pioneers of this country.

Bishop F. G. Miles said he knew Sister Nixon was true and faithful, a good mother and a good member of the  ward.  She had always been faithful with her tithing and fast offerings.

Choir sang, "Beautiful Home." Prayer Pres. Thos. P. Cottam.

The casket was opened so that friends and neighbors of the deceased might have a last look.

The floral decorations were very beautiful, wreaths and flowers having been brought from Provo for the occasion.  Interment was made in the city cemetery.

Funeral Services Held For Mrs. Johanna M. Nixon**

PROVO, March 16.—Impressive funeral services were held in the Sixth ward chapel this afternoon for Mrs. Johanna M. Nixon, who died here Monday following a prolonged illness.  John W. McAdam of the ward bishopric presided.  The opening prayer was by Andrew Knudsen.  Appropriate musical numbers were rendered by F. L. Hickman, Murray Roberts, Violet Johnson and Norma Bullock.  The speakers included John W. McQuarrie and John W. McAdam.  The benediction was by W. Monroe Paxman.

Following the services here the body was sent to St. George where interment will take place in the family plot.

* U., Salt Lake City, No. 12 - 1922 [Original in possession of LeRoy Whitehead]
**  1922, possibly published in the Daily Herald, Provo


The above Death Certificate states that Johanna was 77 years old, almost 78, when she died.  Her COD was carcinoma of the stomach, or stomach cancer, with a secondary cause due to bronchitis.  She must have been in tremendous pain when she died.  It looks as if she was admitted for treatment in Provo in the middle of January, 1922, and stayed for three months until her passing.

Her husband, James, had died in 1882, when he was 46 and Johanna was 38 years of age.  At the time of her husband's death, she had given birth to 9 children, the oldest living child was 20 years old, and the youngest was 3 years old.  James and she had buried their first child, Mary Ann Nixon, in 1867, at the tender age of 6. After James died, Johanna buried her second child, Sena Lenora Nixon, when she was just 16.

The following pictures depict 3 sides of the same 4-sided marker.  It is unknown when this marker was placed or who placed it.
Johanna Marie Schultz Nixon's headstone, St. George City Cemetery***

James William Nixon, Sr.'s headstone, St. George City Cemetery***

Mary Ann & Sena Lenora Nixon's Headstone, St. George City Cemetery***
She, like many other women in St. George at the time, shared her husband with two other women, as he later married when he was called to polygamy by church leaders.  This couldn't have been easy for her.

Johanna suffered so much loss in her lifetime.  All in her family but Johanna, and her sister, Sidse, died on the voyage to Utah.    She lost two children in their youth, her husband died, leaving her with many young ones to care for.  And yet, through it all, she seemed to look at what she had gained, rather than what she had lost.  She had the gospel, which told her that all the loved-ones who had passed on would surely be with her again; she had loved a man so deeply that she was sealed to him and supported him in his callings; she had been given the gift of motherhood, and had the fortune of seeing the majority of her children marry and have children of their own.  Johanna was a remarkable pioneer woman, indeed, and her watch cry was

"Something better ahead!"

NOTE:  I have, since posting this, learned that this statement I wrote, which I have since edited from my post, is wrong:   
"Apparently, Sidse went back to Denmark shortly after arriving in Utah, for records indicate that she married a Rasmus Jeppesen in Denmark in 1866 and had children with him.  This would leave Johanna the only member of the family in Utah."   
Johanna's sister did not leave Utah.  But here is where things are complicated.  Sidse Schultz either changed her name when she arrived to Sena, or the child named Sidse never came accross with the rest of her family - she either died before they left, or she stayed in Denmark, and then married Rasmus Jeppesen in 1866.  There is no record of a girl of her name and age traveling with her family on the Tuscarora in 1857, but the names of the oldest two children are also a little different.  Here is the record I have found on BYU's Mormon Migration website:

Standardized: Christian JOHANSEN


Origin: Sealand

Occupation: Smith

                  30 May 1857 – 3 Jul 1857

Voyage Accounts:

Family Members

 So, Marie Johansen has to have been Johanna Marie, her birth year being 1844, and Sissa must have been the sister who survived, who was called Sena when she married in Utah, but I don't know why she would be written as Sissa, except that Sidse is pronounced like Sissa in Danish.  Sidse the eldest sister is NOT listed in any of the voyage manifests I have found so far.  I do know also that Johanna had a daughter whom she named after her sister, Sena. [ Sidse is incorrectly transcribed as "Lissa" in Mormon Migration's website.  On the actual handwritten manifest, her name is written as "Sissa"]

Sena Schultz, Johanna's sister, born in 1847 in Denmark, married a man named George Barton in Utah and had several children with him.  She died in 1928.

So, there is the info I have gleaned thus far.  I hope to get a copy of Sena Schultz Barton's History from the DUP soon, and hopefully this will clear up a few things.  I'll keep you readers apprised!


  1. A story of hope and courage and an example to follow. Thanks for sharing.
    -Deb Stewart

  2. I am Kent William Price. Johanna Marie Schultz Nixon was my great-grandmother. Della Maude Nixon Price was her daughter and my grandmother. Her son Lloyd William Price was my father. We are related. This info was wonderful.. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much for commenting! I think I have some pictures of Della Maude Nixon Price, but if you have anything you can share with me on your family let me know - I am a member of Ancestry.com, so if you are as well, let me know. Keep checking back (over the next few months) because I am trying to post as much info as I can and I have more about Johanna to share! It's so nice to know that people are reading and enjoying my efforts, so thanks for commenting.

  3. This is fabulous information! Sidse's records just popped up on my family tree as being available for temple ordinances. I wanted to see if I could find any further information and found your amazing post. I can tell you have done lots of research. Have you found any further details on our Sidse/Sissa/Sena? My family tree has her family name as Christensen as well. I'd love any information you can share:)

    1. I'm so sorry it's taken a while to get back to you. What I found at the DUP was actually kind of disappointing - it's just her obituary. I did find a couple of articles in which she's mentioned visiting Johanna Marie in St. George when she's older. I'll try to get those posted this week. I'm pretty sure that Sena had her own ordinances done while living. I'm not sure, though, and it can't hurt to do it again. The reason why she pops up as having the last name of Christiansen is because of Danish patronymic naming (I talk about that in a blog post if you want further information) since her father's name was Christian, she would be Christiansen (well, Christiansdatter, but it gets complicated when immigrants came to the states.) Anyway, that's one of the reason's why it's so hard to track Danish genealogy! I will look and see what else I have, and I'll post it. Again, I apologize - I actually didn't see the post till today. I guess I don't have message notifications turned on!