Bella has had many homes over the years. Unfortunately, for lack of a decent wall space in my house, she is currently housed in my garage. Prior to the my garage, she resided in my sister's garage for twelve years and a storage garage for eight years.
Isabella or Bella was my mother's paternal grandmother, who died long before my mother was born. When my mother was alive and living in her own home, Bella's portrait and a large oil painting of Bella's father, William Johnson, hung on the wall in the family room.
Born 22 August 1865 in Upnor (Frindsbury Parish), Kent, England to Lt. William Johnson and Mary Ann Hammond, Bella lived in Upnor during her childhood.
Bella's father William was a Royal Marine serving in the 93rd Company aboard the H.M.S. Trafalgar and later aboard the H.M.S. Cumberland. Unfortunately, William had a weak heart and died at the age of thirty, when Bella was only two and her baby brother was not yet born.
Bella, her brother William, and their mother "Annie" lived in Upnor with Annie's widowed father Robert Hammond, who was a waterman or boatman on the Medway Canal like his father before him. Robert later became a coal merchant and lived to the ripe old age of eighty-four.
Bella's mother Annie, widowed at the tender age of twenty-five, remarried in 1873 to James Murphy, an Irishman who worked for the Navy. The Murphy's went on to have five children, four boys and one daughter, who were Bella's half-siblings.
Because of Lt. William Johnson's service for the British government, Bella and her brother William were provided a quality education. At the age of fifteen in 1881, Bella was boarding at the Sailors' Orphans Girls School in St. Johns Hampstead, London. Two years later, she immigrated from Liverpool to New York City aboard the ship S. S. Nevada.
Bella's paternal grandmother Charlotte Budd Johnson immigrated to America in 1868, along with several of Bella's uncles and aunts. They were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and settled in Ogden, Utah.
When she was finished with her schooling, Joseph T. Johnson, Bella's uncle, wrote to her in London and encouraged her to immigrate to Ogden where she might easily find a job as a governess, which she did.