I'm going to take the advice and look into a cloud service that works for me. I haven't used a cloud service thus far because I'm afraid of who could get their hands on my pics or other info. That stuff that happened with Apple cloud (or whatever it's called) freaked me out. I don't want my stuff out in the world for ppl to see, not that I have anything risqué or something, nor am I famous in the first place that someone would want to put my photos out to the world. But it's my private stuff and I wanna keep it that way. So I'll be doing some research and also contacting Samsung tomorrow about a replacement...hopefully. Oh and emailing the office recommended by @DGM.
For sensitive photos there are both free and paid versions that not only transfer it from your default gallery app to an app that can or not be hidden that's password protected, encrypted with automatic cloud backup. If hacking is a big concern there are paid versions with military grade encryption that have automatic cloud backup feature too.
And through all this, you did a factory reset, right?
By chance, do you still have any of your previous phones? If so, many of your pics could be there too.
Btw, you could backup your pics to a computer/pc/mac fairly easily. If you decide to do that, you just have to be make sure nothing happens to your pc/mac. I personally use the Verizon Cloud and Google Pics for backups... some tech guy told me that's what he did, so I followed his advice. So if something goes wrong with Google Photos I have backups on Verizon Cloud and vice versa. But I get what you are saying about using a cloud... it seems in this day and age these tech companies have everything about us, especially Google and Facebook. I don't use FB, but it's almost impossible not using Google in some fashion. :\
We all want you to do well with this huge challenge. Please keep us posted.