Johnson, Samuel

honorific(s): Mr.
Birth: September, 1744 in Durham, CT
Death: May 14, 1835 in New Lebanon, NY

Yale College


Yale (1769)


Congregationalist, Shaker (1780 on)





  • Fort Hunter (from 1766-10-27 to 1767-06-11)
  • New Haven, CT (from 1767-07-22 to 1769)
  • New Lebanon, NY (from 1772 to 1776)
  • West Stockbridge, MA (from 1776 to 1779)
  • New Lebanon, NY (from 1780 to 1835-05-14)
Marital status

Married with five children, three of whom were still alive in 1780.


Samuel Johnson was a Yale student who, after first traveling to Canajoharie, taught the school at Fort Hunter (the smaller Mohawk town) from October 1766 until at least February 1767, possibly as late as June. Johnson returned to Yale by July 1767. Wheelock may have provided him with some financial support at college up until the end of 1767, when Johnson and Wheelock parted ways. It is possible that Johnson simply decided he did not want to be an Indian missionary, and, thus, withdrew from Wheelock’s support. It is more likely that the pair split over Wheelock’s treatment of his students. Johnson’s last letter to Wheelock expressed his opposition to Wheelock’s plan to pull Avery and McClure out of college for missions (767667.5); Johnson may have feared he would meet the same fate. Four years later, he wrote to Samuel Kirkland about Wheelock’s mistreatment of Crosby, whom Wheelock expelled from Dartmouth, and David Avery, whom Wheelock required to repay large portions of his tuition because his health prevented him from serving as a missionary. Johnson graduated from Yale in 1769, was ordained the same year, and served as a minister at New Lebanon, New York and West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In 1780, he converted to the Shaker faith, along with his wife, their children, and much of his former New Lebanon Congregation.


Fowler, William Chauncey. “Samuel Johnson.” In History of Durham, Connecticut: From the First Grant of Land in 1662 to 1866. Hartford: Wiley, Waterman, and Eaton, 1866. p. 114. Accessed via GoogleBooks. Letourneau, Marcus Reginald. “Holy Mount: Identity, Place, Religion, and Narrative at New Lebanon Shaker Village, 1759-1861.” Dissertation submitted to the Department of Geography at Queen’s University in Ontario, May 2009. Accessed via Google 12/1/2013. Stein, Stephen J. The Shaker Experience in America: A History of the United Society of Believers. New Haven: Yale University Press 1994. Accessed via GoogleBooks. Weis, Frederick Lewis. “Samuel Johnson.” In The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, 1628-1776. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 1978. p. 80. Accessed via GoogleBooks.Hamilton archives: