Benjamin Franklin Johnson, the tenth of sixteen children of Ezekiel and Julia Hills Johnson, was born on July 28, 1818, at Pomfret, Chataqua County, in New York's western tip. The Johnson family was God-fearing due to the deep faith of their mother. Even as a young boy, Benjamin had faith in God and realized the necessity of prayer. He learned to read and write from studying the Bible at Presbyterian meetings. As an eleven-year-old boy, in 1829, Benjamin read in the Pomfret newspaper about "some young man professing to have seen an angel, who had shown and delivered to him golden plates . . . from which he had translated a new Bible. . . . [Benjamin] could hardly refrain from wishing or hoping it might be so." Benjamin first learned of the Church about the time of its organization in 1830 and, after studying its teachings, accepted the gospel the following year.