Judge Johnson of Jasper, FL had Troupville Connections

David B. “DB” Johnson was born in Lowndes County in 1833.  As a young man he completed preparatory work at Troupville Academy before beginning an education in law at Benton Academy and Business College, Benton, TN.  Eventually completing his law studies under his own initiative, he became a lawyer  then a Judge of Hamilton County, FL.

David B. Johnson (1833-1921), a student of Troupville Academy, veteran of the Indian Wars and Civil War, went on to become a Judge in Hamilton County, FL. Image source: Nevan1941

David B. Johnson (1833-1921), a student of Troupville Academy, veteran of the Indian Wars and Civil War, went on to become a Judge in Hamilton County, FL. Image source: Nevan1941

David B. Johnson is represented in  the Biographical Souvenir of the States of Georgia and Florida: Containing Biographical Sketches of the Representative Public, and Many Early Settled Families in These States (1889),   and in the History of Florida: Past and Present, Historical and Biographical, Volume 2, (1929).

His father, John J.  Johnson, was an Englishman who came to America in the year 1812, when but a boy, and settled near Milledgeville, GA, where he grew up to manhood.  He moved to Appling County, Ga., and there established himself as a planter and married Elizabeth Staten (1798-1882), a [sister] of Burzille [Barzilla] Staten (1791-1846), a respectable and well-to-do Appling County planter.

About 1830, John J. Johnson and his brother-in-law, Barzilla Staten, brought their families to eastern Lowndes County, GA, settling in that part of the county which was later cut into Echols County. (Barzilla Staten served in Levi J. Knight’s company of men in the Indian Wars, and was severely wounded in 1836 during a skirmish at Cow Creek a few miles south of his home.)

Children of John J. Johnson and Elizabeth Staten:

  1. Zilpha Johnson (1820- abt 1892)
  2. Eleanor Johnson (1825-)
  3. John S. Johnson (1826-1908)
  4. Mary Johnson (1827-1903)
  5. George J. Johnson (1832-1851)
  6. David B. Johnson (1833-1821)
  7. Catherine Johnson (1837-1919)
  8. Burzille [Barzilla] Staten Johnson (1840-1864)

The sixth of these children, D. B. Johnson, is the subject of this sketch. He was born in Lowndes County, Ga., June 17, 1833. 

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…with a clear, strong mind, given a religious training that made for righteousness, he grew up to manhood’s estate under conditions which helped to make him a typical Southerner, enthusiastic, earnest, warm-hearted, broad-minded, ready to attempt to do large things in a large way, for he was cast in a generous mould.

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He attended the common schools of Lowndes County; spent one year in the academy of Troupville, Ga., and in pursuance of his father’s plans to educate him for the profession of the law, was sent to a college then at Benton, Tenn.  Before he had risen to sophomore he fell in love with miss Cyntha Honey [or Honea] , a young lady of Benton, married her, and, packing up his books, took them and his wife and returned home to tell his parents what he had done. He had just passed his eighteenth year.  The problem of life was then presented to him in a very practical shape and he set about in a business-like way to settle it. He began farming and followed it successfully for several years. He lost his wife one year after marriage -1852 – and married again six years later; his second wife was Margery P. Morgan, of Echols County, Ga. 

Johnson lived in a period when men’s souls were tried as by fire, and he rendered a remarkable service both as a soldier and patriot, first in the Florida-Indian war of 1856, and subsequently during the unhappy war between the two sections of the country, in behalf of the Confederacy.

In 1860 the opening of the war found Mr. Johnson on a farm in Hamilton County, Fla., with a wife and family and other responsibilities, but he gave them up and went into the service…

He was one of the first to enlist from Florida, joining the Confederate Army in Jasper as a member of the company organized by Captain Jenkins, which afterwards became Company B, Tenth Florida Regiment, Finnegan’s Brigade, Mahone’s Division, A. P. Hill’s Corps.

D. B. Johnson enlisted in Company C, Tenth Florida Regiment on December 3, 1861  in Liberty County, FL at Rico’s Bluff on the Apalachicola River. (His brother, Barzilla Staten Johnson, joined for service August 15, 1861 and served in the same regiment; Barzilla S. Johnson died of disease May 21, 1864. )

During his period of service he participated in many hard-fought battles, and was an ideal soldier.

He served for some time in Florida, participating in the battle of Olustee and some others of lesser note, and was subsequently ordered with his regiment to the army then in Virginia. He joined Lee above Richmond and took part in may of the hard-fought battles of the Virginia campaigns.  He was wounded in the second battle of Cold Harbor, and was disabled from service for a few months…

Among other Confederate units engaged at Cold Harbor in early June, 1864 was Company E, 50th Georgia Regiment, which included Green Bullard of Rays Mill, GA.

Johnson rejoined the command and served faithfully throughout the war, and surrendered with the fragment of Gen. R. E. Lee’s once magnificent army at Appomattox, Virginia, April 9, 1865.

At the close of the war he returned to Hamilton County, Fla., and resumed farming, which he followed up to 1872. 

… he once more took up the burden of civil life, and during the heart-breaking reconstruction days was a source of inspiration to his associates, as he had been one of courage and good cheer in camp, and of unfaltering courage on the battle field. Accepting the verdict of the war, he threw himself into the important work of bringing about a return of prosperity to his beloved state…

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He then turned his attention to the object of his life – the law – an object which had been frustrated by his youthful marriage, the war, and other hindrances.  He read privately, attended the courts and familiarized himself by observation with the rules of practice and routine of office and was admitted at Jasper, Fla., in 1879.  Since that time he was steadily engaged at the practice, eschewing politics and all other interests and pleasures.  He  reared a family of four children, three boys and one girl.  Two of his sons, John O. and Quarterman S., became successful teachers; his third son, Bartow B., graduated in law in 1888 in the University of Georgia, and became [1889] the junior partner of his father. Ida C., the youngest child, remained at home with her parents.

Children of Judge David B. Johnson

  1. John O. Johnson
  2. Quarterman S. Johnson
  3. Bartow B. Johnson
  4. Ida C. Johnson

Johnson’s ability as a lawyer was confirmed when he was raised to the bench of Hamilton County, and so efficient was he in that capacity that he was returned to the office a number of times.

 Judge David Bryan Johnson was one of the legalists and jurists of Jasper who was devoted to the welfare of the public, and represented Florida with hospitality, grace and tact in all his public acts.

In 1896, D. B. Johnson was a member of Hebron Primitive Baptist Church, Hamilton County, Florida

His life has passed away, but his memory will remain as long as Jasper has a history. He was not alone a citizen of Jasper; he was more. He was at once a fine product and a worthy representative of the best forces that have made this country what it is..

He was spared for many years of usefulness, for he lived until 1921, passing away in his eighty-seventh year. For many years he was one of the most honored members of the Jasper Camp of Confederate Veterans, and served it as commander at the time of his death.

As a judge he was singularly careful of the proprieties, patient, painstaking and courteous, kind to all appearing before him. He knew neither friends, enemies nor strangers, his dominant idea being the proper application of the law to the case in hand. He was fearless, yet cautious; gentle, but firm; and in the proper case his warm heart turned the scales of justice toward the side where Mercy sat. But however brilliant the lawyer or jurist, and however much these terms tend to obscure the man, it is, after all, the character of the man that gives color to the brilliance of either. The lofty, noble character of Judge Johnson made possible the able lawyer and jurist; yet it is not the lawyer or jurist who is revered by his former fellow citizens and family, but the man…

Judge Johnson died October 13, 1921. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery at Jasper, Hamilton County, FL.

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Map of Old Troupville, GA with Notes on the Residents

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Samuel Register and the East Florida Militia

According to Folks Huxford, Samuel Register came from Appling County to Lowndes County, GA about 1826 and settled in the 10th Land District near Possum Branch, not too far from the homestead of Levi J. Knight and the future site of Ray City, GA. Samuel Register’s place later became the farm of Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw.

Samuel Register was born in Sampson County, North Carolina on December 1, 1786, almost three years before that state would ratify the U.S. Constitution. He was a son of Dorcas and John Register.

Some time before 1804 Samuel Register came with his family to Bulloch County, GA where he apparently made his home for some 20 years, although there is no records to show that he ever owned land there. In  April of 1806 he married Elizabeth Skinner, a native of South Carolina.

When the U.S. went to war with Britain from 1812-1815 in response to British actions against American expansion and trade, it appears that  Samuel Register, like other Wiregrass pioneers (see Dryden Newbern)  joined the  Georgia Militia.   In the War of 1812 the Georgia Militia was occupied with three main theaters of operation: the Creek War of 1813-14, the British blockade, and the British occupation of St. Marys and Cumberland Island in 1814-15.  British  control of St. Marys, GA would have disturbed the economy of the entire Wiregrass region, interrupting trade on the Alachua Trail which ran from the Altamaha River through Centerville, GA, then across the St. Marys River and into  East Florida. The resistance of the Georgia Militia against the British incursions is described  in the New Georgia Encyclopedia  article on the War of 1812.

After the War of 1812, Samuel and Elizabeth remained in Bulloch county. GA until about 1824 when they moved to Appling County, and then on to Lowndes county in 1826.  In 1827,  Samuel Register  received a draw in the land lotteries for his service as a soldier in the War of 1812.

The land lotteries, legitimized by questionable and coercive treaties, continued the encroachment by settlers on the ancestral lands of Native Americans in Georgia, inevitably leading to conflict.  In Florida, hostilities were greatly escalated in December 1835 by the Dade Massacre, where Seminole Indians resisting forced removal to the West   wiped out a force of 110 regular army troops under the command of Major Francis Langhorn Dade.  When conflict between the Wiregrass pioneers and the resistant Indians erupted in 1836, local militia fought engagements in Berrien county.

In the summer of 1836, a company of militia under Capt. Levi J. Knight of near Ray City was sent to protect the settlers from marauding Indians on their way to join the Seminoles in Florida.  When a party of Indians plundered the plantation of William Parker, near Milltown, the militia pursued them N. E. across the county overtaking them near Gaskins Pond not far from the Alapaha River.  Several were killed and some injured as the Indians fled across the river.  A few days later the militia encountered more Indians at Brushy Creek and ran them off.  That was the last real battle with the Indians in this section.

Across the state line in Florida,  actions against Indians were being fought by militia on a regular basis. The Battle of San Felasco Hammock was fought  September 18, 1836, when a force of 25 US Army Regulars and 100 horse-mounted militia from Fort Gilleland, with 25 armed residents of Newnansville, FL engaged and routed about 300 Indians led by Seminole Chief John Jumper. Fort Gilleland, a picketed fortification located south of the Santa Fe River at Newnansville in present day Alachua County, FL, was one of a string of forts stretching from Jacksonville, FL to Clay’s Landing, at the mouth of the Suwanee River.  Newnansville,  the largest inland town in East Florida, was strategically located at the junction of the Jacksonville road and the Bellamy Road which ran from St. Augustine west to Tallahassee and Pensacola. Newnansville was about about 80 miles southeast of Troupville,  in Lowndes County, GA.

In the spring of 1837 militia troops from Lowndes county were sent across the state line to join the forces at Fort Gilleland:

Jacksonville Courier
Jacksonville, May 11, 1837

—Extract of a letter from Col. Mills, to the Editor, dated Fort Gilliland, May 8.

“Major Staniford, with two companies of the 2d Infantry, arrived here yesterday in obedience to orders from Maj. Gen. Jesup, from Lowndes county, Georgia, and are here encamped, awaiting orders.” 

The following summer, in 1837, Samuel Register and other Lowndes county men went south to join the East Florida Volunteer militia to fight against the Indians on the Florida frontier. According to the records of the Florida Department of Military Affairs, Register traveled first to Fort Palmetto, on the Suwanee River at Fanning Springs, FL.

Samuel Register and his sons, David and John,   served with “Captain John J. Johnson’s Company of the 2nd Regiment, East Florida Mounted Volunteers, commanded by Colonel William J. Mills, ordered into the service of the United States by Major General Thomas J. Jessup under the Act of Congress approved May 23d 1836, for six months from the 16th day of June 1837 to the 18th day of December 1837.  Company enrolled at Fort Palmetto, Florida, and marched sixty miles to place of rendezvous at Fort Gilliland, Fla. Company mustered in by Lieutenant W. Wall, 3d Artillery.”

His son-in-law, John Tomlinson, and two other Registers in this same service and company: Samuel Register Jr and John Register, Jr..  Seaborn Lastinger, of Lowndes County, served as a private; he would be shot for desertion during the Civil War. James B. Johnson and Young Johnson , grand uncles of JHP Johnson of Ray City, served in the Florida Drafted Mounted Militia.

Muster Roll of East Florida Volunteers

Muster Roll of East Florida Volunteers

http://archive.org/stream/floridamilitiamu05morr#page/n71/mode/1up

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson's Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson’s Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

http://archive.org/stream/floridamilitiamu05morr#page/n72/mode/1up

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson's Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson’s Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Samuel Register was honorably discharged at Newnansville in December, 1837. He subsequently “served another enlistment in the Indian War under the same Capt Johnson (April 1, 1838-July 31, 1838). He also served a third term under this same Capt Johnson in the Georgia mounted Militia (Aug 25, 1840-Oct 18, 1840). On his Bounty Land application dated Nov 23, 1850, he was granted 160 acres of land for this service. His son-in-law John Tomlinson (husband of Zilpha) who served in the same military unit was granted 80 acres of land for his services”

Between 1840 and 1842, Samuel Register sold out his home-place in the 10th District, and moved from Possum Branch to the 11th Land District where he acquired Land Lot 500.   This lot was in that part of Lowndes county that was cut into the new county of Clinch in 1850, and in 1920 was cut out of Clinch into Lanier County.

In 1856, it was a great boon to Register when the Atlantic & Gulf railroad was charted  to run   from a connection with the Savannah, Albany & Gulf railroad at Screven, by way of his land to Thomasville. But when the surveyors for the new railroad  selected a route through Valdosta bypassing Troupville, that old town was doomed.   Register had a portion of Lot 500 platted into town lots and founded the town of “Registerville.” Although when the railroad people came through, they changed the name to “Stockton”, in honor of one of their contractors, a Mr. Stockton, who had charge of the road construction.

Children of Samuel Register and Elizabeth Skinner:

  1. Zilpha Register, born Feb. 4, 1807, married her first cousin John Tomlinson.
  2. Eady (Edith) Register, born Mar. 1, 1809, married Thomas Mathis Nov. 1, 1826 in Lowndes County.
  3. Guilford Register, born Jan. 7, 1811, married Priscilla Ann DeVane.
  4. David Register, born Apr. 10, 1813, married Matilda McDaniel of Bulloch County.
  5. William Register, born Sept. 24, 1814, married Luraney Harnage from Liberty County.
  6. John Register,  born June 10, 1819, married 1st Elizabeth Cowart, 2nd.Mary Ann Fiveash.
  7. Rebecca Register, born Apr. 5, 1821, married Reverend Hillery Cowart of Echols County.
  8. Phoebe Register, born Aug. 15, 1823, married Zachariah Lee of Clinch County.
  9. Jincy Register, born June 15, 1824, married Moses C. Lee of Berrien County.
  10. Ivy Register, born Apr. 22, 1825, married 1st Leta Lee, married 2nd Lavinia Arnold
  11. Samuel E. Register, born Sept. 16, 1826, married 1st Seneth Lee, married 2nd Mary Hutto, married 3rd Josephine Guthrie, lived in Berrien County.
  12. Elizabeth Register, born Aug. 21, 1828, married William Patten of present Lanier County.
  13. Reubin Register, born Nov. 25, 1830, married Harriet Brown, lived in present Berrien co.
  14. Martha Register, born Dec. 18, 1831, married Hillery P. Mathis of present Lanier co.

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