The Early Johnsons


Sources:


Not much is known about my particular Johnson ancestors a generation before the Revolutionary War, though I have a theory. After my father William Herman Johnson passed away, I was given a Johnson Coat of Arms, which opened up a pursuit of discovery of where my Johnsons may have originated:

Dad had said the Johnsons were thought to be Scottish. However, Y-DNA research by William Reid has shown that the Johnsons did not have origins in Scotland (though they may have lived there at some point), but rather had origins in southern and central England (and that means that Coat of Arms likely isn't that of my Johnsons). I am a match for the "Dogwood" family group R1b1 at the Johnson/Johnstone/Johnston DNA Project. I asked an administrator of the project, "Is everyone who matches on the J/J/J DNA project descended from the Johnstone clan?" and his response was "The quick answer is no" as the project has over 43 family groups who have ancestors worldwide. Please revisit this page for updates. A current project for Johnstone/Johnston/Johnson is at FTDNA.

Upon Y-DNA research determining that the Johnsons did not have origins in Scotland, the Scottish items once on this site are no longer seen by default. To see them, Click here.

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Clan Johnstone/Johnston/Johnson Resources


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Billy C. Johnson wrote an article, Johnson / Johnston / Johnstone, which not only provides a wealth of information, but encompasses what I found elsewhere. In the article, he suggests that Johnson / Johnston / Johnstone "are classified into DNA Haplogroups, Races, predominately R1b Celts (70%) and I Vikings (20%). Each divided into Family Groups, many Family Groups contain all 3 of the Johnson / Johnston / Johnstone Surname spelling." After a discussion of cultural and language shifts in the British isles as well as how the varying cultures dealt with surnames and patronymics, he writes the following regarding Johnson / Johnston / Johnstone:

The different spelling is due to Literacy of Speller and /or Individual and Pronunciation due to Nationally of Individual, Johnstone/Johnston/Johnson is pronounced by Scots as Jawnson. Frequently in Ulster the "e" was dropped, "e" was pronounced aye, and Johnstons were known as the “aye less Johnstones”. Spelling is not a factor, as many variations exist of all Surnames, such as: Donald; Donaldson and MacDonald all reconignized by Clan Donald as the same Surname, also Forester; Forest and Foster and MacIntyre; MacAntuer; MacKantare. In America, as late as 1915, only 13% of Americans had a High School Diploma, with Surnames "Originating" as early as the 12th Century, some one other than your Ancestor determined the Spelling on Immigration and other Documents, and in some cases your Surname.

Ts deleted, Johnston to Johnson, often on the Scottish Border and in Ulster. Beginning in the 1700s – 1800, Immigration Records list Johnsons as Irish, beginning in the 1800s the T remained most of the time in Irish Johnston immigrants and almost always in Canada. In the 1800s, Scottish Immigrants often retained the t and e, more Literate and Family Name conscious? Ts are often Removed and Reappear on different Documents, of the same Individual, written by different Individuals as late as the 1860s in America.

In Britain the Majority of Johnson, Johnston & Johnstones, reside in the 2 Northern Border Counties of Lancashshire and Yorkshire, occupied by Celts since 800BC, a large Colony of Vikings (900AD) and Saxons after 1066. It probably "Originated" by Celts in the same manner as their near Neighbors in Scotland as Johns Tun (Farm) "Evolving" to Johnston/Johnson and Johnstone. The Vikings may have began as a Johansson, "Evolving" to Johnson, "Adopted" by Saxons and many J/J/J Scotts "Relocating" across the Border. All 3 Spellings occur in all 4 Races.

Other Johnston/es and Johnsons : Kasibeian Johnstons "Originated" on the Scottish Border and also have Johnsons, most notable Dr. Lorand V. Johnson, FSA Scott, many Immigrating to the New World / Clan Gunn of Northern Scotland: less than 5% of Johnsons and Johnstons are of this Heritage, a few Claim Border Heritage, the Name did not appear until after 1478 / Clan Donald states that "less than 2% of Johnsons claim their Heritage". / Perths original name was St. Johns, named after a Monk, "Originating"as St Johnstoun (Johns Land / Farm), " Evolving" to St Johnstone and A few adopting the Surname and not uncommon for the T to be dropped to include Johnson.

The Surname Johnson, Johnston & Johnstone "Originated" on the Scottish Border and was exported to Ulster beginning in 1606 as James 1st brought Law & Order to the Borders and revived the Colonizing of Ulster. For all practical purposes all of the Johnston/es and Johnsons of Dumfries were deported / immigrated. With Death Warrants issued, they willingly immigrated as "Ulster Planters" or escaped to England or Europe. The "Planters" were exclusively Scottish, as no English were to be found of prior settlements. The majority (85%) of all American Johnson, Johnston, and Johnstones today are the descendants of the Ulster Planters that began leaving Northern Ireland in 1707 - 1800, more than 250,000 Scot-Irish, leaving for the New World of Australia, Canada and America.

SOURCE: Johnson / Johnston / Johnstone by Billy C. Johnson

Y-DNA Research
The Johnsons may have lived in Scotland but were not Scottish in origin.

Note: Clan Johnstone is ruled out simply by the fact that the haplogroups for that clan are as follows: I-L22/I-CTS11603, which do not match my paternal haplogroups (R-L48, previously listed as R1b1b2a1a1d, part of the U106 haplogroup (L48+) below the Z156 subclade; ultimately, R-BY53614, which is a subgroup of R-M269).

August 2021: Bill Reid presented information as evidence he gathered supporting the possible Reid/Johns(t)on Warren Co., North Carolina, connection, using Y-DNA, correspondence, websites, census and land documentation to support they hypothesis. If this connection is accurate, it opens the door into the when and where for the Reids and those Johns(t)ons with known roots in the counties of Warren and Halifax. Click here for more details.

Johnston Dilemma: In correspondence with Sam Houston Johnson III, son of Sam Houston Johnson, Jr., descendant of Texas pioneer Harris Johnson, I found more questions about Johnson origins than answers. Sam reports he is descended from Abraham Johnston, but his Y-DNA haplogroup is R-M198, which differs from mine (R-M269). This is a strong implication that he and I do not descend from the same Johnson line. Further complicating this is that Abraham Johnston is reported to have Y-DNA haplogroup I1. So, this brings up a lot: whether Sam is mistaken at his assumed descendancy from Abraham Johnston or if Geni.com is incorrect about Abraham Johnston's haplogroup is I1 or if Sam, the Johnstons and I are from three distinct lines that do not relate since antiquity.

That said, Sam Houston Johnson, Jr.'s book about Harris Johnson did provide some usefulness for my own research. See details about this and a land grant below confirming the John Johnson on this page is the one who is my ancestor.

Johnson546 years
Johnston432 years
Johnson432 years
Johnson288 years
Reid144 years
Reid144 years
Reid144 years

July 2021: In correspondence with Y-DNA cousin Bill Reid, my closest Y-DNA match to date, he provided some interesting analysis of our BigY matches and the estimated time to our most recent common ancestors (TMRCAs). For me, the TMRCAs among my BigY matches are in the table to the right, ordered by furthest back to most recent, which yielded my further analysis.

I know the Reids are probably closer to 288 years for TMRCA instead of 144 years since the latter would have us more closely related so that we would match via autosomal DNA and we do not match autosomally. Additionally, the furthest Bill and his brother and 3rd cousin have traced back is to their common ancestor Eaton Willis Reid (b. 1785), a contemporary of my ancestor James "Jimmy" Johnson (b. 1792) who is the furthest back on my Y-DNA line around whom I have an autosomal MRCA among autosomal matches. And I have Jimmy's father John Johnson (b. 1757) and grandfather Abraham Johnson documented. John Johnson would be old enough to be a father to Eaton Willis Reid, but that is purely speculative. Yet, if I consider 288 years (since 144 years wouldn't be correct given the aforementioned reasons), that would be 1733 and that would be in the timeframe for Abraham Johnson, father of John Johnson. This is speculation, but I have to ask the following: Is Abraham Johnson possibly the father of Eaton Willis Reid?

Meanwhile, Bill Reid has the Johnson with 546 years (in the table to the right) being in the third position with a much lower TMRCA of 144 years and the Johnston and Johnson above with 432 years being estimated at 288 years. Now, numbers aside (since clearly the estimation is off, particularly when considering my TMRCAs with my closest Y-DNA relatives, the Reids), it does yield order. In both Bill's and my case, Johnson/Johnston are further back in time than Reid (obvious in his case), but the two taken together shows that Johnson/Johnston is the ancestral line that the Reids and I share.

Len Reid further shared the following: "As Bill says, the circumstantial evidence raises the distinct possibility that William Reid (1829-1908) was indeed a Johnson. Given the Reid/Johnson physical proximity in space and time; the Private Variant connection; the fact that the Johnson Family Projects locates myself, Bill, and Jim Reid in the Dogwood named branch of the Johnson surname (along with you JOHNSON YDNA tested folks) whereas the Reid Family Project has grouped me, Bill, and Jim together - just the 3 of us - for the last four years or more (no other Reid has joined us); and the fact that no father is listed on the marriage certificate of William Reid (marriage certificate of William Reid to Sallie Robertson list unknown father and a Reid mother of William - the name of the Reid mother is unreadable, but looks like Betty, Netty, Letty, Lizzy, etc.)(Could it be that father was a Johnson and William was given mother's surname?). In the end, I realize this scenario is suggestive, not conclusive. Nevertheless, it is a plausible explanation."

And adding to the conversation, Y-DNA cousin Dan Johnson shared the following regarding William Reid (b. 1829): "'It ain't what you know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.' Mark Twain's quote seems relevant trying to determine William Reid's biology. It's pretty well established that he was born out of wedlock about 1829 to about 14 yr mother Elizabeth C Shearin and that 39 yr old Eaton Willis Reid took paternity credit. Elizabeth and Eaton were never married. Elizabeth married Andrew J Johnson in 1839 and they had several children together who are listed as William's half siblings. Andrew's the son of Sterling Johnston. If we had a known Y descendant of Sterling we can eliminate or include most of the early 1800's Johnson's/Johnston's of Halifax and Warren Counties, NC. ..."

February/March 2021: I discovered Britain and Ireland SNP and Surname Mapper and entered SNP BY53614 into it to see what comes up for my Y-DNA ancestry. The path comes to northeastern England from the southeast and goes through Yorkshire County, England, and ends up in Scotland (based on census data). I shared this with Bill Reid. In our correspondence, I shared these thoughts: "Census data is helpful, but not definitive when it comes to genetic origins. So, like you've said, though it appears we are not Scottish, it doesn't mean our Y-cousins or ancestors didn't live there at some point. Maybe that's some of what's being captured." Refer to the map to the right.

September 2020: Bill Reid continues to research and has found among the Reids an autosomal ties to a Johnson line that traces back to Yorkshire, England, which matches what Y-DNA research suggests. He is revisiting pedigrees and getting additional Johnson men to take Y-DNA tests (or upgrade) so as to determine if this also is the same Y-line. More details...

February 2020: I met possible distant cousin James "Jamey" Johnson whose Johnson ancestor may have been brother to my Johnson ancestor. And he may be willing to take a Y-DNA test! More details are on the News & Research page under February 2020 denoted Johnson origins.

September 2019: SNP Tracker migration shows that the Y-DNA ancestor was in Leeds, England, on the southwestern part of Yorkshire, similar to the maps from March 2019.

Source: SNP Tracker

August 2019: Big Y-700 results completed on August 6! Bill Reid indicated I share the same Terminal SNP (TS) as he and the other Reids I match. We are branch R-BY53614 out of BY91975/R-Y131075, which is out of R-BY13132. Our particular Terminal SNP points to English origins, but goes further listing European: British Isles, Scandinavia, West and Central Europe. And this matches the migration pattern shown below. Bill wrote, "this may just be preliminary...FTDNA may yet recalculate the equivalents sometime over the next few weeks with the additional data...." Also, my result has an unnamed variant which only resides in me out of all testers to date. And we need more Johnson men to take this test, particularly those known to be autosomally related to me. For now, I am researching what these results mean and their implications. For now, here's my theory.

April-July 2019: Awaiting Big Y-700 results from FamilyTreeDNA. In the meantime, Bill Reid has been working with the Y-DNA ancestry of an Alan Johnston with whom Bill and other Reids share no genetic distance at Y-111. The theory is that the Reids came out of this Johnston line and this Johnston line came out of the ancestral Johnson/Johnston line from which I descend.
Helpful resource: Y-DNA SNPs: Types of Variants

March 2019: Ordered my Big Y-700 test on March 28. In the meantime, found that ca. A.D. 1000, my Y-DNA ancestor lived in Yorkshire County, England. William Reid shared this from the work of Dr. Tyrone Bowes, a genetic genealogist. Prior to that, the following is the path of the Johnson Y-DNA line:

Timeframe of migrationCultureLanguage
A.D. 469 - 519Anglo-Saxon EnglandAnglo-Saxon
480 B.C. - A.D. 19
Note: migration driven by Roman conquest in the 1st century B.C.
La Tène CultureCeltic
1230 B.C.Atlantic Bronze AgeCeltic or other unknown Indo-European
1280-780 B.C.UrnfieldCeltic
2680 B.C. - 2380 B.C.Corded WareGermanic-Balto-Slavic
4180-4080 B.C.Cardium PotteryUnknown

Source: Mygrations > R1b Haplogroup > My Ancestors' Path >: Clade BY53614

February 2019: Researcher William Reid, who has done extensive Y-DNA research on this line as his Reids and my Johnsons share the same Y-DNA, looked at Terminal SNPs in the R1b haplotree. While most of them identify as Scottish, he found some interesting results. He traced back through the Duncan SNP trail until he found the most recent SNP we had in common with them . This goes back millenia and is considered ancient. Meanwhile, the Duncan testers were negative for the Reid/Johnson SNP. He did likewise for Reid/Reed/Read testers who had tested BigY and got the same result -- the first SNP shared is an ancient one. This shows that genetically Reid/Johnson patrilineal lines do not have a deep lineage to either Scotland or Ireland. Genealogically, the Johnson/Reid line does not descend from those people as the connection is ancient, well before the time of the Johnson surname. This is not to say that at some later point in time that Johnson and Reid ancestors moved or lived in Scotland. This is entirely possible especially during the time period of A.D. 1100-1700. No BigY testers trace their families back to Scotland during this time period and there is no corroboration as to where the Johnson/Reid ancestors lived during this time period. If such a move occurred, the Johnson and Reid ancestors undoubtedly would have married women of Scottish descent. Maybe this is how the Scottish connection came about. Mr. Reid did say testing results from A.D. 300-1100 clearly have us related to people who trace their recent origins to various parts of England, specifically, southern England, and on a smaller frequency, central England. Prior to that testing results are scattered with some testers tracing their lineages back to Europe, some in Great Britain and some to the Iberian Peninsula. So, there you have it. The Johnsons are genetically not descended from the Scottish/Irish/Welsh in any meaningful way though they may have lived in Scotland at some point.

According to Ancestry.com:

Johnson Name Meaning

English and Scottish: patronymic from the personal name John. As an American family name, Johnson has absorbed patronymics and many other derivatives of this name in continental European languages.

SOURCE: http://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=Johnson


Now what?

So, where do my Johnsons fit in? I am still researching this and it is a challenge though February 2019 Y-DNA research from William Reid indicates that while the Johnsons/Reids may have lived in Scotland, they are not Scottish in origin, but rather seem to originate in southern and central England. We need more Johnson men to take Y-DNA tests. For Y-DNA testing, I recommend FamilyTreeDNA and for autosomal testing, I recommend 23andMe, and uploading that data to GEDmatch.com and doing a free autosomal transfer to FamilyTreeDNA.

In August 2017, I rediscovered some old correspondence I had with Sam H. Johnson, Jr. Abraham Johnson (as seen below) was the father of John Johnson, who was father of many including my James "Jimmy" Johnson and Harris Johnson. Sam H. Johnson, Jr., is descended from a Harris Johnson, but Y-DNA research shows his Harris Johnson is not the son of my ancestor John Johnson. In our correspondences in 2008, Sam wrote about a document in the Davidson County records in 1823 showing John's son Randall selling 123 acres of land along Cabins Creek to James Johnson as part of the estate of John Johnson, deceased. It wouldn't be until August 2021, that I would discover the signifcance of that document showing that the John Johnson on the tree below is indeed my ancestor. So, while Sam and I do not appear to related, during his own research of his origins, he actually came across some of my origins. Refer to details regarding John Johnson in the tree below.

In January 2019, I came across a WikiTree profile for John Johnson, matching my John Johnson below. It lists three sons, the oldest being Abraham Johnson, who would have been named for his grandfather. A second son listed is Harris Johnson. And a third son of John Johnson is also mentioned: James Johnson, and the profile matches him being my ancestor below who married Nancy "Charity" Skeen. What is intriguing about the find of John Johnson's profile is that the information there has been independent of my site, but supports my information.

Note: While my line back to James "Jimmy" Johnson (m. N. Charity Skeen), son of John, son of Abraham, is well-documented, Y-DNA research shows that Harris Johnson, Texas Pioneer, and his descendants, do not descend from the same Johnson line. Refer to Johnston Dilemma.

For now, I consider the following:

My theory is that my early Johnsons came out of England. I think my ancestor Abraham Johnson (below) may be one of the following (though there are more questions about the Abraham Johnstons below. Refer to Johnston Dilemma):
  • Abraham Johnson of Isle of Wight County, Virginia (possibly one of the ones mentioned at Ancestry and Genealogy.com, the latter of which descended from Benjamin Johnston, though the Scottish ancestry claimed may be suspect with DNA results)
  • Abraham Johnson or Abraham Johnston, Sr., from Edgecombe, Halifax, North Carolina (mentioned at Geni.com and also here at Geni.com) with a son John b. 1757; and mentioned at FamilySearch as father of John Johnston as well as Sterling Johnston (also here with son Willis Johnston listed among Sterling, John and siblings; read further for significance of the name Willis) and as son of Benjamin Johnston of Isle of Wight, VA, previously mentioned; and mentioned at Ancestry as a father of Sterling. Both Warren County, NC, Books Page and Halifax County, NC, GenWeb Project Research Links mention the book "The Descendants of Sterling Johnston of Halifax Co., North Carolina 1770-2013", by Rebecca L. Dozier, where the following is stated: " Sterling Johnston (1770-2843) Son of Abraham and Susannah Johnston, Grandson of Benjamin and Elizabeth Johnston, Great-Grandson of William Johnston, Jr. and (unknown), Great-Great-Grandson of William and Sarah Griffith Johnston." In correspondence with Ms. Dozier, she initially indicated she didn't think my Johnson family and the Johnston family of her book were the same. She drew her initial conclusions in her book that states the same thing printed in the book William Johnston Of Isle of Wight County, Virginia And His Descendants 1648-1964, pp. 1-13, by Hugh Johnston and Coy K. Johnson (no "T"), printed in 1965 and currently out of print. In this book the authors make the same statement she made in talking about Abraham's son John: "John Johnston....listed in District No 6, Halifax County, in 1782....... moved away before the 1790 census." She also looked in the book's index and does not see a Harris Johnson mentioned anywhere, but the other given names in my Abraham Johnson line are certainly similar to the ones in Abraham Johnston's line. Harris could have come from another side of the family. The 1790 census and John's absence seem to make it more likely he could be my John Johnson (below) in my opinion. Think about it this way: In 1782, John was only 25 years old. He lived alone. His son from whom I am descended (James) wasn't born for another 10 years! And there were 2 others born before him (Abraham b. unknown -- ca. 1775 in some documentation -- but the ca. could mean 1782 or so -- and another son Harris b. 1788). My guess is that he married Sarah between 1782-1786 and that Abraham (their son, not my ancestor) was born around those years followed by Harris in 1788 and my ancestor James in 1792. Among those children named in my John Johnson's will are William, Willis and Abraham, which match the name of John Johnston's brothers. Upon sharing some of these speculations with Rebecca Dozier, she said that my John could be the John Johnston who moved away.

And somehow the Reids and Johnstons I match via Y-DNA tie into all of this. The Reids trace back to Eaton Willis Reid (b. 1785) and Willis is a name also seen among the children of my ancestor John Johnson (Is Willis a family name passed down?). Yet, I have a paper trail going back earlier to Abraham Johnson (mentioned above and seen below). While the Reids and I match closely with Y-DNA, we don't with autosomal. So we are looking at an ancestor 6 to 8 or more generations back. And Abraham is 8 generations back from me. So, we could all very well be descendants of Abraham Johnson, though it is possible that the ancestor may be even further back. And it's worth considering Bill Woods (self-appointed FTDNA guru) and what he said about how 2 individuals who were extremely close genetically having different surnames: "In some parts of the British Isles, some surnames were outlawed, and entire families adopted new ones. Some Clans have multiple Septs with different Surnames but the same DNA. Some men became outlaws for fighting against the King, and changed their Surnames in order to hide."

And definitely worth considering in all of this is Bill Reid's presentation of evidence he gathered supporting the possible Reid/Johns(t)on Warren Co., North Carolina, connection, using Y-DNA, correspondence, websites, census and land documentation to support they hypothesis. If this connection is accurate, it opens the door into the when and where for the Reids and those Johns(t)ons with known roots in the counties of Warren and Halifax.

Note: Refer also to Johnston Dilemma.

More research is needed.


Carolina Counties, Precincts, and Parishes in 1729 (links to historical precinct, parish and county boundaries, too).

Carolana: "Upper Carolina" - North Carolina State History

My theory about the origins of Abraham Johnson.

Abraham Johnson was from Virginia according to family tradition.

Abraham Johnson

There was an Abraham Johnson married to a Sarah, but I am unsure if he is my ancestor Abraham. Source for marriage: Avery County North Carolina Historical Society (compiled and edited), Avery County heritage, biographies, genealogies, and Church Histories (Vol III), page 124, Puddingstone Press, 1981

possibly Sarah of Rowan Co., NC Who were Abraham's children? It depends on if my Abraham Johnson was Abraham Johnston. According to Geni.com, Abraham Johnston, Sr.'s children were as follows: Abraham, John, William, Dudley, James, Davis, Willis, Randolph, Bird, Acrel, Lewis and Sterling Johnston. Abraham Johnston, Sr., is said to have had Abraham, John and William with a first unknown wife and the rest of them with wife Susannah (Randolph) Johnston. According to FamilySearch, Abraham Johnston's children were as follows: James, Willis, Davis, Randolph, Bird, Acrel, Lewis, Dudley, Sterling, Abraham Jr., John and William. According to Ancestry, Abraham Johnston had these children: John, Abraham, James Lewis, Dudley, Sterling, Bird, Ackil, Randolph and Davis. On this site, I have the name of my Abraham's wife (at least one of them) as Sarah and both she and Abraham are mentioned in John Johnson's details (below) where John is listed as "3rd son of Abraham and Sarah Johnson of Rowan Co., NC." It would seem that Abraham Jr. and William were John's older brothers if Abraham Johnston is my Abraham Johnson. Or do Abraham Johnston's 2 wives represent 2 different men's wives -- the unknown being my Sarah and the other being Susannah Randolph? Note: Refer also to Johnston Dilemma.
    b. ?
d. ?
m. ? b. ?
d. ?
 
            Johnson History
        |
   
A speculative timeline (though some are verified for my ancestor: 1757, 1786, 1792, 1808) for John Johnson/Johnston (if they are one and the same):

1757 - born
1776-1778 - started serving in the Continental Army during these years
1780 - concluded service in the Continental Army
1782 - living alone
1782-1786 - marriage to Sarah - despite there being a marriage bond, which corresponds to this North Carolina marriage document for a marriage between Sarah Tailor and John Johnson 16 February 1782 in Wilkes, North Carolina, according to FamilySearch: Noble John Johnson, Jr., Sarah was Sarah Tailor Vaughn and married Noble John Johnson, Jr., a son of Noble John Johnson, Sr., who like his son was from Limerick County, Ireland. So, it is clear that "Sarah Tailor" who married 16 February 1782 is not the wife of my John Johnson to the far right if you read the details there about him.
1782-1786 - birth of Abraham
1786 - settled in Jackson Hill, North Carolina 1788 - birth of Harris
1790 - census has him gone from Halifax Co.
1792 - birth of James
1808 - death

Some events based on my theory above and the paragraph to the far right with consideration of the source Carolana: The American Revolution in North Carolina: The Privates, Horsemen, Fifers, Drummers, etc. - Last Names Beginning with "J" in the context of that paragraph and what is known.

Sarah Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790 North Carolina from the Department of Commmerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, S.N.D. North, Director, shows a John Johnston as Head of Household in Randolph County, North Carolina (p. 101), as well as well as 2 John Johnstons as Heads of Households in Rowan County, North Carolina (p. 172). Further, it mentions 4 John Johnsons as Heads of Households in Surry County, North Carolina (pp. 184, 185 and 186). Which one is the John to the right? Likely onen of the Johns from Rowan county, given the details of his will and a subsequent land grant among other details. John Johnson

b. 1757, Virginia
d. before 19 October 1808,
Rowan Co., North Carolina

According to Ancestry of Norman Harris Johnson and Julia Pricilla Morris Johnson, D.A.R. records indicate John Johnson was a 1770s Revolutionary War soldier who came from Virginia according to family information (The DAR results contain multiple John Johnsons as well as multiple John Johnstons from North Carolina). John Johnson lived in the Uwharrie Hills of North Carolina near Farmer. After the war, he settled in Jackson Hill (in what is now Davidson Co.), NC, with his family. John was given a land grant of 265 acres on Mores Road in Alleghany Township in 1786 (verified by Rowan County land grant records, Salisbury). If John's father Abraham is Abraham Johnston of Halifax Co., then John might be the John Johnston mentioned on p. 12 of William Johnston Of Isle of Wight County, Virginia And His Descendants 1648-1964 by Hugh Johnston and Coy K. Johnson where it says, "John Johnston: He was living alone in District No. 6, Halifax County, in 1782. He apparently had moved away before the 1790 Census." John received his army discharge in 1780. Is this the same John Johnson -- Private John Johnson who enlisted 20 November, 1776, in Fenner's Company in the 2nd North Carolina Continental for 3 years and dropped from rolls February 1778? Or is he one of the John Johnsons in the 2nd NC Regiment (which, had troops from Salisbury, NC, near my ancestral Johnsons and where 2 John Johnsons and 1 John Johnston are listed with "Salisbury Dist." in North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts Volume V)? Or perhaps he is one of the others listed, perhaps the one who served until 1780 (as mentioned earlier). That we don't know. A younger brother joined the army of 1812 and was never heard of again. John's will dated 7 November 1807 (Wills and Deeds, Rowan County, State of North Carolina, p. 148, probated 1888 [which seems to be an error and should be 1808], p. 101 and 102 B.G.) shows that he and his wife Sarah had 11 children: William, Randal, Harris, John, Abraham (Abram), Willie, James (Jimmy), Lewis, Mary and Nancy. Sons Abraham and Randal were co-executors. According to Avery County North Carolina Historical Society (compiled and edited), Avery County heritage, biographies, genealogies, and Church Histories (Vol III), page 124, Puddingstone Press, 1981, John Johnson's will (John was 3rd son of Abraham and Sarah Johnson of Rowan Co., NC) mentions children: William (the youngest), Randall, Harris, John, Abraham II, William, James b 1793 d 2 Aug 1858, Lewis, Allen, Mary and Nancy. Abraham II and Randall were executors of their father's will. James m. Nancy Skeen; buried in Old Johnson Cemetery, Handy, NC.

Military Payment Voucher from "North Carolina Revolutionary Pay Vouchers, 1779-1782," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WB-8XB7?cc=1498361&wc=QDRZ-1VD%3A1589672488 : 7 October 2016), 5-G, Jewell, James to Johnson, Joseph > image 862 of 957; citing State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh.

North Carolina in the Revolutionary War (North Carolina's Lost Souls Revolutionary War Project.)

Life in 18th Century North Carolina prior to the Revolutionary War

Useful details from Sam Houston Johnson, Jr.'s book:

On pp. 2-3 of Sam Houston Johnson, Jr.'s book, there are several items confirming my findings, including the John Johnson to the above right being my John Johnson while also questioning if he is the father of Sam's ancestor Harris Johnson. On p. 2 it mentions a Rowan Co., NC, tax list from 1815 featuring the interchanging Johnston/Johnson spellings of surnames for Abraham and Randle. Further, the author indicates that he cannot confirm that his ancestor Harris Johnson is descended from the John Johnson to the above right: "If this John Johnson was Harris' father..." (p. 2). The Y-DNA research supports that my John is not the father of his Harris, though my John had a son named Harris, who was a brother to my ancestor Jimmy Johnson below. Yet, Sam's research uncovered documents that I have uncovered, which confirm my findings, as well as a document confirming which John Johnson is my John Johnson. Sam's book mentions a document on pp. 2-3 which itself mentions Randle and Abraham Johnson being executors of the deceased John Johnson of Rowan Co., NC. In that document, the land is granted to James Johnson. This is Jimmy Johnson, my ancestor, since the bottom of the document lists witnesses Robert Sexton and Osborn Skeen. While the book offered information I had seen before, this was a new find directly affirming the John Johnson I had on paper was indeed my John Johnson and not one of the other John Johnsons. The names at the bottom of the document are Robert Sexton and Osborn Skeen. Not only am I a cousin to multiple Sextons originating from that area near, around and in Denton, Davidson Co. NC, more importantly, Osborn (or Osbourn) Skeen is the brother of my 4x great grandmother Nancy "Charity" (Skeen) Johnson, wife of Jimmy Johnson (my great-great-great-great grandparents). On pp. 2-3 of Sam Houston Johnson, Jr., wrote: "This area of Rowan County is now part of Davidson County, North Carolina. I found that Randol sold 2 parcels of land, one in Bk 23 and the 2nd in Bk 25, pg 77, 10 acres on Cabins Creek for $70... in 1809 ...." The land was sold after John Johnson's passing, supporting the 1808 death date. Refer to the land grant document proving my John Johnson is the one to the above right and also the one in the will at the far right. Here is map of the area where this land is found.

Geography: It is interesting to take note of some of the nearby places, too: Denton to the north of the marker on Rt. 109 is where my father, his father and his father grew up. Jackson Hill to the southwest of the maker (at Rt. 8 and Jackson Hill Rd.) is where John Johnson settled after the Revolution and where his son Jimmy is buried. And Handy, just east of the maker (intersection of Rt. 109 and Handy Rd.), is where Jimmy's wife Nancy Charity (Skeen) Johnson is buried. Not only have I been there to visit relatives, but multiple roads in that area have ancestral names: Cranford Rd., Surratt Rd., Bob Loflin Rd., and Skeen Rd.

A Find A Grave Memorial and FamilySearch once had (before I changed them) his death date as 16 December 1828, transcribed on page 79 in Cemetery Records Vol II for the Johnson Cemetery in Denton, Davidson County, North Carolina. The ancestry of Norman Harris Johnson and Julia Pricilla Morris Johnson mentions the death date as 1852, but the will from Rowan Co., NC, (see to the right) implies 1808 is more likely. Which do we go with? The will or the cemetery record or the book? And a John Johnson Ancestry profile, while flawed, has a death date of 1807. The 1825 Probate for John Johnson confirms a death date in 1808 (more on that document below). Further, what we do know is that John was born in 1757, a son of Abraham of VA according to family, that he married Sarah and that his son James "Jimmy" Johnson was born in late 1792. My Johnsons were from the Davidson Co., NC, area.

Further notes from the 1825 Probate for John Johnson: Children of John Johnson are Randal, Harris, John, Abraham, Willis, James, Lewis, Allen, Mary, William, Nancy (p. 61) and both Johnson and Johnston surnames are used (something Sam Houston Johnson, Jr., points out in his book (p. 2) in reference to a Rowan Co., NC, 1815 tax list featuring Randol and Abraham Johnston). The wife of John Johnson was Sarah (pp. 61, 63). William is the youngest son in 1807 (definitely not yet 16, p. 61). John Johnson's father is Abraham (p. 62) and the document therein is dated "7th day of November one thousand eight hundred seven ... read in Rowan County Court." The sons of John Johnson are listed as Randall, Abraham, Willis, Lewis, James, William, Allen (p. 62). Later, the sons of John Johnson are listed as Randolph, Abraham, Willis, Lewis, James, William, Allen (p. 63). Abraham, son of John (Dec'd) is among those summoned to court 3rd Monday of June 1825 (p. 65).

"October the 19th day of 1808 then ?? of Randol
Johnson Executor of John Johnson Dec'd five pounds twelve
in part of my Sagest(?) Coming to me from the ???
Estate ?? by me
his
X
Benjamin Davis
mark

Test Lewis Lanier" (p. 67)

NOTE: It's worth noting that Lanier is a surname that pops up in the Farmer book and also in John's will to the right. While I am not knowingly descended from any Laniers, I am descended from many families in that book and Laniers were in the area.

Sam H. Johnson, Jr., provided this will of John Johnson who died in 1808 in Rowan Co., NC:

In the name of God: I John Johnson of Rowan County & State of North Carolina being in a weak and lost condition of health, through the mercies of God in a good and sound memory & understanding at this present time do make and constitute this my last will & testament & desire it to be received at all as such. Imprimis I most humbly bequeath my soul to Almighty God, beseeching His most gracious acceptance of the same. I give my body to the earth from whence it was taken, in full assurance of the resurrection from thence at the last day & as for my burial I desire it to be at the discretion of my wife. As to my worldly estate I will & positively order that all my debts to be paid & all that is owing to me be well & truly collected by my executors, hereafter named. Item I give and bequeath to my dear wife Sarah Johnson all & singular my personal estate & the plantation I now live on after all my just debts is paid, likewise two tracts of land where I now live on, until my youngest son William comes to be sixteen years of age, if she continues my widow, if she should not continue my widow, to have a child's part of my estate. Item I give to my sons Randol Johnson and Harris Johnson, John, Abraham, Willis, James, Lewis, Allen & Mary Johnson; William Johnson & Nancy Johnson, to have each of my children equal share of my estate, both real and personal, excepting fifty dollars out of Harris & John two of my sons, out of their part to be paid to my son William Johnson & daughter Nancy fifty dollars each paid by my executors hereafter named, one still & three head of horses, one tract of land lying on Mores Road, containing two hundred & seventy-five acres of land or less & my tobacco to be sold at my decease, likewise one gray horse I give to my son Abraham, the other half of the value of the horse at twelve months from Christmas next from this date. Likewise I do nominate and appoint my son Randol & Abraham Johnson my two sons my executors after my decease.

In testimony hereof I do hereunto set my hand & seal this 7th day of November 1807.

John Johnson SEAL

Witness Present
William Warel
Lewis Lanier

"Also I leave my son Randol & James
the legacy left by my father Abraham Johnson
to be left equal between my sons Randol & Abraham
& Willis, Lewis, & James, William & Allen."

This will was recorded in Rowan County on 5 February 1808 as follows: Last Will of John Johnson, Esq., declared proven by William Warel letter. Randol & Abraham Johnson.

Copy of the Will of John Johnson from his WikiTree Profile which sourced the will from Ancestry

Note: Refer also to Johnston Dilemma.
             
Refer to The Rowan story, 1753-1953 : a narrative history of Rowan County, North Carolina to learn more about Rowan County, NC, history in general.     |
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James "Jimmy" Johnson's (below) father was John Johnson. A fact that ties Jimmy to the above John Johnson is that Jimmy's son Allen Harris Johnson (my great-great-great grandfather) shares names with two of Jimmy's brothers: Allen and Harris. And this ties to the probate and will of John Johnson mentioned above.

Ancestry through parents Jacob and Alliphair (Hearne) Skeen

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James "Jimmie" or "Jimmy" Johnson lived and died on his father's farm. He died from overheating while threshing wheat. It is said that Jimmy hid his money consisting of gold and silver on this farm and was never able to find it. More than a hundred years passed when the money was plowed up by the family living there.

Jimmy Johnson is not James Gabrial Johnson: The FamilySearch Profile for Nancy Charity Skeen has her married to two James Gabrial Johnsons, one profile with inaccurate information and one who partially matches my Jimmy Johnson. Yet, it is doubtful he had a middle name of Gabrial. It looks like some bad research of which to be wary. I looked into it and started a discussion: Errors and Confusion: James Gabrial Johnson on FamilySearch: James Gabrial Johnson was married 11 October 1801 to Lucinda Bolling as shown in this document about Pocahontas descendants. This and other sources (such as Geni.com and even another FamilySearch profile) have his years of life as 11 May 1788-27 Aug 1858. And at the Geni link in particular, he has different parents (Benjamin and Elizabeth) than what is at the FamilySearch profile spawning this discussion (John and Sarah, my ancestors). The other FamilySearch profile suggests he has a brother also named James born in 1789 and still another brother named James born in 1799. Clearly there is a combination and confusion among James Johnsons with the profile spawning this discussion. Meanwhile, my 4x great grandfather James "Jimmy" Johnson (b. December 1792, Rowan Co., NC; d. 2 August 1858, Davidson Co., NC) was married to Nancy Charity Skeen. I have my own research since 1986 and those before me with substantiated sources that clearly substantiate my ancestor Jimmy Johnson and who he was. Jimmy was a son of John and Sarah Johnson and his children and all sources I have used for researching my line do not match what is in the erroneous FamilySearch profile.

James
"Jimmie/Jimmy"
Johnson
DNA proof: In September 2020, I discovered a DNA match with whom I share James "Jimmy" Johnson and Nancy "Charity" (Skeen) Johnson as common ancestors. my 5th cousin, once removed, Jacob Wood. He is descended through their daughter Temperance Jane Johnson who married Stephen Adderton. They are his 5x great grandparents. We share overlapping segments on a single chromosome -- the inherited autosomal DNA from Jimmy and Charity. In February 2021, I discovered multiple DNA matches with whom I share common ancestors Jimmy and Nancy Charity (Skeen) Johnson. W. Fox, Thomas Badgett, Robert Stephen Ross and Chauncey Lambeth. I further discovered a DNA match with whom I share common ancestor Nancy Charity Skeen: Heather Busher. Nancy Charity Skeen
("Charity")
Johnson Genealogy Notes by William Herman Johnson RE: Nancy Johnson

Johnson Genealogy Notes by William Herman Johnson RE: James "Jimmie" Johnson and John Johnson

According to WikiTree and Geni.com: Jimmy and Nancy Charity (Skeen) Johnson had the following children: Allen "Harris" Johnson, John Johnson, Pink Johnson, Alson Johnson, Temperance Adderton, Prissy Elliott and Adeline Johnson. Nancy Charity (Skeen) Johnson's siblings were Osborn Skeen, Sr., Pernell Skeen, Benniter Skeen, Allifar Skeen, Matthew Skeen, James Skeen and Jocob Skeen.

The death certificate for O. Pinckney Johnson lists father's name as James Johnson b. in NC and mother's maiden name as Nancy Skeen b. in NC.
  b. December 1792
Rowan Co., NC
d. 2 August 1858
Davidson Co., NC
Burial: Jackson Hill Twp., Davidson Co., NC
Find-A-Grave Memorial
m. ? b. 26 October 1792
Davidson Co., NC
d. 26 May 1860
buried in Old Johnson Cemetery, Handy, NC
 
             
        |
 
   
Elizabeth
"Betsy"
Kearns

DNA proof: I discovered DNA matches with whom I share common ancestors Allen Harris Johnson and Betsy Kearns Johnson. Deane Belk and Jennifer Scott.

Allen
Harris
Johnson

("Harris")

Click HERE to see pictures, one that includes Allen Harris Johnson Elizabeth Kearns Johnson at the 1897 Johnson Family Reunion.

A. Harris Johnson was a Private in Co. D, 6th NC Senior Reserves during the Civil War (Source: Find A Grave Memorial).

  b. 29 January 1821
Randolph Co., NC
d. 21 July 1899
Randolph Co., NC
See note on dates.
Buried in Salem United Methodist Church Cemetery, Randolph County, NC
m. 1836. Married young. He was 18. She was 15.

1880 Census - Concord Twp., Randolph Co., NC

b. 21 March 1817
Davidson Co., NC
d. 30 September 1905
Buried in Salem United Methodist Church Cemetery, Martha, Randolph County, NC (Sources: Cemetery Census, Find A Grave).

Allen and Elizabeth lived in a cabin on the Johnson farm before moving to the Farmer Community in Randolph County, North Carolina. They farmed. Allen, or "Harris" as he was called, ran a grist mill. Elizabeth went by "Betsy."

Deed Abstracts (Found in the home of Carl G. Nance, who died Oct. 11, 1980) include the following:

  • 4 Sept. 1872. Allen Harris Johnson to O.P. Johnson and wife Clarinda Coggin Johnson $550.00-135 acres
    (Source: FARMER Yesterday and Today, p. 18)
  • Aug. 1888 Allen Harris Johnson and wife Elizabeth Johnson to Leach Russell of Montgomery Co. adjoining the lines of Steed, Lewis, and Isaac Thompson to a stake in the line of the Meeting House and above the Meeting House spring corner (No doubt Salem) H.H. Kearns line and north side of a branch Martin Skeen line and Harve Lathrum's line. $1050.00-135 acres Attest. D.G. McMasters Signed: A.H.Johnson Elizabeth Johnson
    (Source: FARMER Yesterday and Today, p. 19)
             
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descendants through son Titus Winbourne Johnson via his marriage to Melinda Christine Campbell
 

Allen "Harris" Johnson (1817-1905) married Elizabeth "Betsy" Kearns (1821-1899). Among their children were my ancestor Titus "Winbourne" Johnson and Jeremiah W. Johnson. Jeremiah W. Johnson (1846-1922) married Elbie Stokes and they had one daughter: Emma Johnson who married Charlie Thompson and they, in turn, had 9 children. Source: FARMER: Yesterday and Today, p. 118.

Children of Allen "Harris" Johnson and Elizabeth "Betsy" (Kearns) Johnson: Titus Winbourne Johnson (1837-1913), Thomas Clark Johnson (1840-1922), John Hansell Johnson (1842-1919), Jeremiah W. Johnson (1845-1922), Clarinda Ellen Johnson Riley (1851-1904), Milton H. Johnson (1853-1900) and Louise Johnson Diffee (1859-1942) (Source: FindAGrave).

            Abraham Johnson (from Virginia)
              |
              |
Sarah   +   John Johnson (1757-1852)
        |       1770s Revolutionary War hero who lived in the Uwharrie
        |       Hills of North Carolina near Farmer.  After the war,
        |       he settled in Jackson Hill, NC, with his family.
        |       Jackson Hill is in what is now Davidson County, NC.
        |       He received his army discharge in 1780. 
        |       
        |       
     James       Nancy        
     "Jimmie" +  Charity      
     Johnson  |  Skeen        
     +--------+-------+
     |b. 1793 |b. 26  |
     |        |October|       James "Jimmie" or "Jimmy" Johnson lived
     |        |1792   |       and died on his father's farm.  He died
     |d. 2    |d. 26  |       from overheating while threshing wheat.
     |August  |May    |
     |1858    |1860   |
     +--------+-------+
              |
        +-----+
        |
        |        Elizabeth
     Allen       "Betsy"
     Harris   +  Kearns
     Johnson  |  
   ("Harris") |         Click HERE to see pictures, one that includes
              |         Allen Harris Johnson Elizabeth Kearns Johnson at the 1897 Johnson Family Reunion.
    +-----+---+---+------+
    |b. 21|m. 1836|b. 2  | Allen and Elizabeth lived in a cabin on the
    |March|Married| March| Johnson farm before moving to the Farmer 
    |1817 |young: | 1821 | Community in Randolph County, North Carolina.
    |d. 30|He was | d. 21| They farmed.  Allen, or "Harris" as he was 
    |Sept.|18. She| July | called, ran a grist mill. 
    |1905 |was 15.| 1899 |
    +-----+---+---+------+