“Johnson’s mother was a woman of distinguished understanding. I asked his old school-fellow, Mr. Hector, surgeon of Birmingham, if she was not vain of her son. He said, ‘she had too much good sense to be vain, but she knew her son’s value.’ Her piety was not inferiour to her understanding; and to her must be ascribed those early impressions of religion upon the mind of her son, from which the world afterwards derived so much benefit. He told me, that he remembered distinctly having had the first notice of Heaven, ‘a place to which good people went,’ and hell, ‘a place to which bad people went,’ communicated to him by her, when a little child in bed with her; and that it might be the better fixed in his memory, she sent him to repeat it to Thomas Jackson, their man-servant;” 2Sarah Ford married Michael Johnston, a native of Derbyshire, but was only able to have two children. “Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield, England, on 18 September 1709. . . . Samuel was born almost dead, after a long and arduous labor. When he finally began to breath, the male midwife said. “Here is a brave boy.”
“According to custom the new baby be placed for ten weeks with a wet nurse. Sarah Ford could not stand this separation, so, everyday she walked down the street to visit him. Conscious that she was breaking the prevailing mores and that the neighbors would laugh at her if they saw her, Sarah tried to vary her walks or purposely leave something at the nurses that she would have to retrieve the next day.
“Once home, Samuel contracted the scrofulous, leaving his body diseased and distorted. In spite of this shaky beginning, Johnson showed early the strength of his intellect. He remembers with fondness sleeping in his mother’s bed and listening to her teach him of heaven and hell. She was a very religious person and she was very tender and attentive. Despite her limited knowledge, she was bright and intelligent.” (The Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff, Vicki Jo Anderson)In January 1759, Sarah Ford died at ninety years of age. Her death “deeply affected him [Samuel Johnson]; not that ‘his mind had acquired no firmness by the contemplation of mortality;’ but that his reverential affection for her was not abated by years, as indeed he retained all his tender feelings even to the latest period of his life.” 3 In 1877, she and her son joined other spirits in their appearance to Wilford Woodruff in the St. George Temple to have their temple work done. This story is detailed in the Eminent Spirits Appear to Wilford Woodruff wiki.