Part 1

Ref.- THE CAPE FEAR RIVER JOHNSONS, by Charles Ben Eulen 
Johnson, M.D., privately printed in 1907, in Champaign, IL.  The part 
of the Cape Fear River that is of interest to this family is the part 
that runs through NW Bladen County.

  Dr. Johnson, in his research, concluded that the earliest 
representative of this family was named Samuel.  I do not understand 
why.  All of the existing records of Bladen Co., the deeds, positively
state that William was the father of Charles, (ancestor of Dr. 
Johnson), Charles was the brother of Samuel who was the brother of 
James and when James died intestate, Samuel was his heir.  
C.F.R. says there is a tradition that due to some political 
mis-adventure, Samuel had to flee the British Isles.  There is a 
tradition that he was related to a Cole family in Dublin and that he 
may have changed his name, and also that he may have been a Scot.  
Johnston is a good Scottish name.  James is said to have made some 
sort of public service trip to the British Isles just after the 
Revolution and his father said that he might meet his close relations,
the Coles, in Dublin.  Just because he were related to the Coles does 
not mean that he might have been a Cole himself.  Nothing on these has
been found.
  These must be considered as only traditions, not facts.  I am 
somewhat wary of them because we can prove that Dr, Johnson changed 
some records.  I wonder what else he might have altered.  He removed 
the "T" in every instance he found it in records of William, James, 
Samuel and Charles.  I guess he did not like to have a "t" in the 
name.  I wish it had been left in.  It is easier to research 
Johnstons.  A researcher should not alter a record to suit his 
preconceived notions.  He should copy a record just as it is found and
then discuss what he disagrees with.  So these are family traditions 
that Dr. Johnson reported and must be carefully researched.

  I have more than 20 pages of references that will not be listed 
here.  I will furnish them to those who can prove this is their 
Johnson family.

  William received land grants in Bladen Co. in 1750 and 1752.  I 
don't know the locations.  They are not listed in the deed index of 
Bladen Co. and are not mentioned in the estate settlement sales.  In 
1754, Cumberland Co. was cut from Bladen and I wonder if the grants 
could have been in what became Cumberland Co.  I have spent only one 
day in the Cumberland Courthouse and did not find anything on William.
He was in the area that remained Bladen Co.  William's later 
transactions were in the White Oak Swamp which is just south of the 
Cumberland Co. line.  The family seems to have had or possibly 
maintained connections with persons in Cumberland over the years.  
That was where the major part of the Scottish settlements were.  In 
1798, Charles bought land in Dickson Co., TN, from John Dickson of 
Cumberland Co.  In 1807, Samuel sold most of his Bladen holdings to 
John Dickson.  Dickson and Charles, both went to Dickson Co. and are 
found in the court records in and after 1804 as citizens performing 
public duties.  Dickson apparently went back and forth between NC and 
TN.  Cumberland records of 1820 say he died intestate.  Records of 
William may exist in the Scottish settlement.
  The land sales settling the estate of John Dickson form the best 
genealogical record of the Johnstons that anyone could wish for.  That
John Dickson did go back and forth from N. C. to Tenn. is shown by his
deeds and other records.  In N.C. in 1798 he sold a farm in Dickson 
Co. to Charles.  In Dec. 1805, he was selected as a juror of Dickson 
Co. for the March Term 1806.  In May 1807 he bought the remaining 
lands of Samuel in Bladen Co.  He died intestate in Cumberland Co. in 
1820.  It is possible that Charles went back and forth also but Dr. 
Johnson stated that he did not.
  William JOHNSTON b. [1725] [only for research purposes], d. c. 1786 
Bladen Co., NC, m. Sallie Bigford (ref. C.F.R.) and the tradition 
claims his name probably was Samuel.  I believe this is just confusion
with his son Samuel.  He is not in the 1788 tax list nor the 1790 
census.  Deeds state that William was the father of Charles who was 
the brother of Samuel and Samuel was the brother of James.  Benjamin 
seems to have died in the Revolution before he acquired any land in 
his name.  William was a farmer owning land scattered north of 
Elizabethtown, Bladen Co.  He continued to receive land grants through
1784 and was in the tax book in 1784, but not that of 1788.  His sons,
Samuel and Charles, were in the tax book of 1788.  In 1786 there began
a series of sheriff's auctions and sales of his lands that continued 
until 1788.  I think this was part of settling his estate and paying 
his debts.  He seemed to have enough land to cover any debt.
  The earliest record I have found in Bladen Co., NC, is on the 7th of
April 1750 where at a Council meeting, petitions for warrants of land 
for 100 acres in Bladen Co., were granted.  Ref. NORTH CAROLINA 
COLONIAL RECORDS, V. 4, p. 1039.  He next received a 100 acre grant, 
#635, in Bladen Co. on 23 Feb 1752.  Ref. same, Book 2, p. 98.  Or is 
this 1752 record just the recording of the 1750 grant?
  In New Hanover Co., just down stream from Bladen, there are several 
deeds of a William Johnston and several of a Jeremiah Bigford in the 
1750s and 1760s.  Persons entering NC in this area would come into the
port of New Brunswick.  This is on the north side of the present town 
of South Port.  If William entered this area, he would have come in 
there.  It became a thriving port before 1725.  It was so destroyed by
British naval guns during the Revolution that it was never 
successfully inhabited again.  Finally they gave up and established a 
port at Wilmington.  New Brunswick is now a Rev. War monument.
  The New Hanover deeds are later than the land grants of 1750 and 
1752.  Possibly William was buying lands wherever it was profitable.  
There are not enough Williams in the area in 1770-1790 tax lists and 
census to make all of these different men.  Jeremiah Bigford was in 
the same area buying land.  If Jeremiah had a daughter, Sally, it 
would have been easy for William to meet her and marry here 1750-1752.
William's oldest son James was b. about 1753.
  William's four sons all fought in the Revolution.  I wonder if any 
of them were at New Brunswick during the shelling?  The dirt walls 
around New Brunswick are still visible as are some of the shell holes.
  In 1761 and 1762 William Johnston was named as a party in two law 
suits.  In the second he was said to be a wheelwright.
[The original ledger is in the State Archives in Raleigh.  I paid to 
have it microfilmed and own a copy.]
  Bladen Co., N.C., Execution Docket, Inferior Court 1761-1762
  Executions Returnable to November Inferior Court at Bladen 1761
  #9  John Cheney vs. Wm. Johnston   Name of bail-Jno. Turner to pay  
           clerk  11 shillings 3 pence
           atty    7     "     6    "
                  18     "     9    "
  Executions Returnable to May Inferior Court at Bladen 1762
  #12  Wm. Clemm vs. Wm. Johnston wheelwright
       Judgement & execution decided at debt cost
       fees  clk    11 . 6            Satisfaction for costs
             atty   15
                    __   _             Costs pd.  J.B.
                     1 . 9 . 6 (1 pound, 9 shillings, 6 pence)
  William must have been making money in his profession as he bought 
640 acres in Bladen Co. from Samuel Carman for 100 pounds proclamation
money on Aug. 25, 1772.  He also bought land from 1779 on, with the 
last being in 1784.
  There is a 1763 tax list of Bladen Co. but no William or Samuel is 
listed.  Only a Robert, Jno., Lazerus and Thos. Johnston.  No 
Johnsons,  Also listed are a Jeremiah Bigford, Stephen and Thos. 
Freeman.  According to the traditions in CFR, these might be related.
  He was listed in Bladen Co. Tax Lists of 1781 and 1784.  He is not 
on the list of 1788.  In 1781 the list is of persons exempted from 
paying the specisie (sp) tax for that year.  William Johnston - 999 L.
In 1784 William Johnson (no "t") was given as being in Capt. Johnson's
District and having 270 acres and one white pole.
  When he died is not known but certainly between the time he last 
bought land on Nov. 7, 1784 and 1787 when one of his tracts of land 
was sold to Charles by sheriff's sale.  Charles sold it to Samuel in 
1798 and when Samuel sold it to John Dickson in 1807, it is stated 
that Charles bought it at an execution against the ESTATE of William 
in 1787.  Several tracts of land belonging to William were sold by 
sheriff's sale starting in May 1786 and lasting into 1788.  There is 
problem with the deed that shows William selling land in Sept. 1786 to
his son Samuel.  In Feb. 1788, the sheriff seized this land in a suit 
against William and Samuel and was able to sell it.  What happened?  
Was William sick or too old to work and not able to pay his bills and 
so land was sold to pay his debts?  Then in Sept. did he sell land to 
Samuel to try to keep some of it in the family?  If so, then it 
failed.  The courthouse in Elizabethtown burned twice before 1900 with
the deeds being the only records held within the county that did 
survive.  Even some of those show signs of fire as a few have scorched
pages and edges.
  The deeds of Bladen Co. form the best genealogical record for the 
Johnston family anyone could ever hope to find.  One deed states that 
William Johnston bought land from Samuel Carman in 1772, that it was 
sold at a sheriff's sale in 1787 to his son Charles who sold it to his
brother Samuel in 1798.  Another deed was to a land grant to James 
Johnston who died intestate with his brother Samuel being his heir.  
Samuel sold both of these in 1807 to John Dickson of Cumberland Co.  
This gives three of William's sons with their relationships.
  Subscribing witnesses to the deed of Samuel Carmen in 1772 to 
William Johnston were James Johnson and Elizabeth Johnson.  I wonder 
if this is the same James that bought and sold several tracts of land 
between 1771 and 1775, and if he might be a brother of William?  
William's son James would be about 19 at the time and too young to be 
a legal witness.
  Subscribing witnesses to the deed of Charles and Mary Johnston in 
1798 to Samuel Johnston were William Bigford and Martha Houston.  
William is likely the son and heir of Jeremiah Bigford.  As William 
(Samuel) is said to have m. a Sallie Bigford, might William be her 
brother?  Charles m. Mary Houston and so might not his mother-in-law 
have witnessed one of her daughter's and her husband's deeds?
 1 James JOHNSTON b. c. 1753, d. c. 1784-5.  He is in the tax books of  
   1781 and 1784 but not 1788, m. Rachel (PLUMMER) McMASTER, widow of  
   Rev. War veteran William McMASTER.  James died intestate and 
   without children.  His brother Samuel was his heir and in 1807 sold  
   a tract of land he inherited from James.
   He served in the Rev. War in the N.C. Line.  CFR states that he "is  
   said to have attained the rank of Captain, some accounts say major." 
   I think this applies to another person, the James who was a Capt. at
   King's Mountain is known to have died in 1805.  Another James  
   Johnston, a private, was issued Voucher #91, p. 195 and repeated on  
   p. 228 of the DAR book.  I believe this is our James, as Samuel,  
   Charles, and Benjamin are listed further down on the same pages.
   He is listed in the 1781 tax book with 724 L.  In the 1784 list, he  
   has 1340 acres and one white pole.  I have found deeds for only 940  
   acres and several of these are recopied in other vols.  Some deeds  
   were probably lost in the fires.  The only land purchases I could  
   find for James were land grants from the State of NC.  Recopying  
   errors confuse the situation.  Land Grant #865 is shown dated 1782  
   in Book #25, p. XLVII and XLVIII and in 1784 in Book #1, p. 47.  You  
   have to go by the complete description of the property to know which  
   is being discussed.  I don't know which was copied first.  These  
   were copied long ago from earlier records and all in the same  
   writing and ink.  One grant #526 even has the date of 1789.  James  
   is not listed in any other record after the 1784 tax list.  He is  
   not in the 1790 census.
   CFR says James had a store in Elizabethtown and having occasion to  
   visit Wilmington to purchase goods, he caught yellow fever from  
   which he died.
   James and Rachel had no children.  One tract of land he owned was  
   sold in 1807 by his brother Samuel, who is stated to be his heir, as  
   he died intestate.  His wife Rachel was not one of his heirs.  She  
   was not incompetent as she was able to sign a quit claim in 1798,  
   and another in 1807, before she moved from NC.  Did NC law at that  
   time not let a widow inherit land?
   Except for the references in CFR to Rachel, there are only two NC  
   records I could find for her.  First, on 4 Sep 1798, Rachael Johnson  
   and her brothers Aaron and Jno. Plummer, and her sister Sarah  
   Lansdell, signed a quit claim to give up all shares of the personal  
   property which Joseph Plummer had received from his wife that was  
   part of her father's estate.  Their mother's and grandfather's names  
   are not given.  Second, Rachel Johnston quit claimed on 5 May 1807  
   all her right, title, and interest in her portion of the estate of  
   her deceased brother, Zechoriah Plummer, "in consideration of divers  
   causes me herewith into moving."  This was a standard legal  
   statement and really tells us nothing.
   Although it may not be provable, I think the following references  
   are to the above Rachel.  I think that Samuel was taking care of his  
   sister-in-law Rachel and the following court records resulted from  
   his death.
   Court Minutes, Dickson Co., TN,  July Term, 1816.
   Ordered that Rachel Johnson, a poor person of the county be allowed  
   $15 out of monies in the County treasury not otherwise appropriated,  
   1/2 at the end of 6 months, the other half at the end of 12 months  
   to be drawn by self.
   Court Minutes Oct. Term 1816 - same wording as above.
   Court Minutes July Term 1817 - 8 July - ordered that Rachel Johnson,  
   a poor person of this county be allowed the sum of fifteen dollars,  
   one half at the end of six months and the other half at the end of  
   12 months to be drawn by her self out of any monies in the County  
   Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
     She is not mentioned again in the Court Minutes.  The reason I  
     think that this is our Rachel is that in Dec. 1817 our Rachel went  
     to Bond Co., IL, with the Charles Johnson family and is buried  
     there.  Samuel may have been taking care of her but he died  
     sometime after March 25, 1816, the date he signed his will.  Maybe  
     he died before the July Court Term in 1816 when Rachel began  
     receiving county monies for her welfare.  
     These court references may only be coincidental and Samuel's death  
     may be only coincidental.  I do not know when the Volentines came  
     to TN.  C.F.R. states they, as well as Charles, came in 1801.  I  
     know that Samuel and Rachel did not come until 1807.  I have not  
     checked the Volentine deeds in Bladen Co. to see when they sold  
     out.  I know Charles was selling and registering land in Bladen  
     Co. in June 1802.  So C.F.R. is incorrect there.  Rachel's  
     daughter m. Hardy Volentine and they lived in Dickson Co.  Why  
     would Rachel be living with Samuel or why would she be "a poor  
     person of the county", and be receiving county money, if her  
     daughter lived there?  The Volentines were not poor in Dickson Co.   

 2 Samuel JOHNSTON b. 1755 Bladen Co., d. between Mar and probably Jul  
   1816 Dickson Co., TN, m. Mary (Polly) FREEMAN.  She was living in  
   Jan 1817 when her husband's will was filed in court.  CFR says  
   Samuel's family moved to AL.  
   Samuel's will is #13, one of the earliest on file in Dickson Co.,  
   TN.  They let me copy it.  It is very brittle and must be handled  
   very carefully.  It is dated 25 Mar 1816, proved 7 Jan 1817,  
   recorded 25 Jan 1817, Will Book A, Dickson Co.  I have not been able  
   to find the probate records on his estate.
   He was a soldier in the Revolution and received at least 2 vouchers  
   for his services, #151 and #262.  He is listed as Pvt. in the  
   Continental Line of NC.  There are other Samuel JOHNSTON records  
   that might or might not be his.
   He first appeared in the Bladen deeds when he received a land grant  
   on 23 Oct 1782 and last when he sold what remained of his lands to  
   John DICKSON of Cumberland Co., NC on 23 May 1807.  Deeds of 1807  
   say he was the heir of his brother James.  No mention is made of  
   Rachel, the widow of James.
   He was listed in the tax lists of 1781, 1784 and 1788.  In 1781 he  
   had a valuation of 131 L.  In 1784 he possessed 1280 acres with one  
   white pole and one black pole.  The 1788 list of taxable property in  
   Capt. Johnson's Dist. in the 2nd Dist. of Bladen Co., he still had  
   1280 acres and 1 pole.

   In spite of the statement in CFR that he left Bladen Co. in 1801,  
   Samuel continued to buy and sell land until he sold the last to John  
   DICKSON of Cumberland Co. in 1807.  With his brother having  
   preceeded him and being established in Dickson Co., it would a  
   reasonable place for him to go.  When he left NC, he should have had  
   quite a sum of money from his land sales.  CFR says he bought quite  
   a large tract in Humphreys Co. but the title was faulty.  If so, he  
   probably lost most of what he brought from NC.  All he had in his  
   will for his heirs was 50 acres, 1 slave, some hogs, cattle and 2  
   The Dickson Co. Court Minute books are missing from the March Term  
   1807 through the Jan. Term 1812.  This may prevent us from ever  
   knowing just when he arrived.  He first appears in the extant Court  
   Minutes of the Jan. Term 1813 where he was appointed juror as Samuel  
   JOHNSTON along with Benjamin VOLENTINE for the April Term 1813.  He  
   was not selected in the April Term for the next term.  Benjamin was  
   "excused for reasons" that were not given.  In July 1813, Samuel  
   JOHNSTON was a juror for many cases.  In Jan. 1814 he was summoned  
   as Samuel JOHNSON for the next term.   The next two years of minutes  
   are missing.  He is next mentioned when his will is filed on 7 Jan  
   in the Jan. Term 1817.  "The last will and testament of Samuel  
   JOHNSON, deceased, was this day produced in open court and proven by  
   the oathes of William GIVEN and John EPPERSON and ordered to be  
   received and recorded."  This is the last time he is mentioned.  The  
   minutes were checked until 1826 and no appointment of executor or  
   final settlement was found.  No minute books were missing for this  
   period.  The only persons mentioned by name in his will were his  
   wife, Polly, and sons, William, Dunkin, and James.  It fortunate  
   that the minute books are not missing for the term when his will was  
[Continued in Part 2]

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