1894 African-American Voter Registration at Ray’s Mill, GA

1894 African-American Voter Registration at Ray’s Mill, GA

Given the history of slavery and racial discrimination in the United States, researching African-American genealogy can be a challenging puzzle.  Slave names were not often recorded.  Even after Emancipation, civil records of African-American citizens were often neglected. Further complicating matters,  most of the 1890 census records were lost in a fire and through a series of tragic missteps in the record handling. Fortunately, an 1894 record of the Poll Tax collection in the Rays Mill District (now Ray City, GA) helps to document early African-American residents of the town.    Many of these men were born in slavery and became “Freedmen” after the Civil War and Emancipation. A few were born in northern “Free” states.  After the War, they came  to south Georgia, primarily to work in the naval stores industry, collecting turpentine in the piney woodlands of the Wiregrass. Some lived in turpentine camps, some rented farms or houses, a few became property owners, business men and employers in their own right.

Poll Taxes

After the Civil War, the poll tax evolved regionally to be a complex legal device to disenfranchise African-Americans. Georgia led the way in 1868 (effective in 1871), and by 1900 in every formerly-Confederate state had poll taxes aimed at preventing black citizens from voting.

According to Today in Georgia History,

The poll tax, a bulwark of the Jim Crow era, was one of many roadblocks thrown up to keep African-Americans from exercising their right to vote. Although the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1870, guaranteed former male slaves the right to vote, the poll tax, which all voters had to pay was designed to prevent voting. Georgia’s 1877 constitution authorized the tax, which limited voter participation among both poor blacks and whites. But most whites got around the provision through exemptions for those whose ancestors fought in the Civil War or who could vote before the war. 

Georgia’s “grandfather clause” allowed any adult male whose father or grandfather had voted  prior to the abolition of slavery to vote without paying the tax. Georgia created a cumulative poll tax requirement: men 21 to 60 years of age had to pay a sum of money for every year from the time they had turned 21, or from the time that the law took effect.

Tax Payers
Ray’s Mill District, Colored, 1894

William Adkinson
Dixie Alston

Peter Burges
Thomas Burges
Saul Brown
William Brown, Sr.
John Black
B. B. Brown
Joe Brown

Walter Curt
Jesse Coleman
Len Coleman

James Davis

David Ellison
S. M. Eady
Sam Eady

Brister Hufman

Henry Gowdine
Henry Gilliard
William Grayham
William Gerald

West Kelley

John Livind

Joe Medlay
Carter Moore
William Mathis
Alex McKnight
S. J. Myers
Sandy Murphy
William McGowin
Richard McGowin
Henry McCoy

Preston Richardson
E. L. Rias
Ebb Ross
Randolph Ried
William Smith
Mack Spights
Gilbert Sloan

Wiley Tarrell

A. Vandross

John Wamble
George Williams
Ed Wilson
John Wade
Alex White
James Whitfield
W. D. Williams

SOME NOTES ON THE TAXPAYERS:

DIXIE ALSTON
Dixie Alston was an African-American born during the Civil War, in March of 1862. He was born in South Carolina, as were both his parents.  In 1883 he married Amelia [unknown], also a native of South Carolina.  It appears that Dixie and Amelia moved to south Georgia sometime in the early 1890s.  In 1894, Dixie Alston registered to vote in the Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) District of Berrien County, GA.  He subsequently appears in the census of 1900, enumerated as Dixie Aulston, in the 1148 Georgia Militia District, Berrien County.  His household in 1900 included his wife Amelia (age 46), and children, Sarah (18), Lillie (17), Dixie (10), James A. (7), William (5), and Orie B (1).  The Alstons were living in a rented house, and Dixie was working as a turpentine laborer. In 1910 Dixie Alston and family were enumerated in the 1157 Georgia Militia District where Dixie continued to work as a turpentine laborer.  Whereabouts of Dixie Alston after 1910 are unknown, but his son Dixie Alston, Jr. later lived in Nashville GA where he worked for the Keefe and Bulloch turpentine operation.

ROBERT B. “BB” BROWN
BB Brown was born in South Carolina about 1856 he married Corinna, a South Carolina woman, about 1875 and they made their home in South Carolina until some time after 1881. By October 1886, the Browns moved to Georgia. BB Brown paid the poll tax in 1894 to vote in the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA. The census of 1900 shows the Browns owned a farm in the Rays Mill District free and clear of mortgage. They were neighbors of Levi J. Clements, Alfred Hill, and Ben Knight. In 1910 their neighbors on nearby farms were John Miles Clements, Georgia Cooper, Jeff Williams and James W. Williams. The 1920 census shows the Brown farm was situated at Rays Mill on the Willacoochee Road. Their immediate neighbor was Robert E. Lee and his family. Corinna Brown died sometime before 1930. By this time the Brown farm had been cut into Lanier County. The widower Brown continued to work his farm with the assistance of his children.

SOLOMON “SAUL” BROWN
Solomon Brown was born  about 1862 in South Carolina. He apparently came to the Rays Mill, GA area  some time before 1894. The 1910 census shows him in Rays Mill, widowed, living alone in a rented home and working as a farm laborer.

WILLIAM L. BROWN
William L. Brown was a farmer from South Carolina. He was born in May of 1862. About 1882 he married Lessie. They were in Berrien County, GA by the 1890s where William paid the poll tax in the Rays Mill District in 1894. The census of 1900 shows he was working a rented farm near the homes of Richard Eady, William Revell, and Frank Gallagher.

PETER BURGES
Peter Burges, or Burgess, was an African-American born in August of 1865 at the conclusion of the Civil War. He was a native of South Carolina, as were both his parents.  By 1894, Peter Burges made his way to  the Ray’s Mill (now Ray City) District of Berrien County, GA where he was registered to vote. In the census of 1900, he was enumerated in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the “Ray’s Mill” District, Berrien County. He was single, living alone in a rented house, and working as a turpentine laborer. He subsequently appears in the 1144 G.M.D census of 1910 as a farm laborer, and in 1920 he was renting a farm on the Willacoochee Road.

TOM BURGES
Tom Burges was born about 1850 in Georgia. He was enumerated in 1910 in the 1300 Georgia Militia District. At age 60 he was widowed, living alone in a rented house, and working at a sawmill. He was a neighbor of African-American teacher William M. Clark, sawmill employee Burris Hall, turpentine teamster David Story, turpentine employee John Merritt, and washerwoman Sallie Sanders.

JESSE COLEMAN
Jesse Coleman appears in the Berrien County tax records of 1884. His taxable property included $5 worth of livestock and $5 worth of furniture. In 1890 Jesse Coleman paid the poll tax in the 1329 Georgia Militia District, the Connells Mill District just west of Rays Mill. He had $57 in livestock, $15 in furniture, $10 in tools, and $2 in other property.

JOHN L. LAVIND
John L. Lavind was an African-American farmer from South Carolina. He was born in 1868. About 1886 he married Sarah Sloan, a woman from South Carolina. John and Sarah appear in the 1900 Census in Berrien County where they were neighbors of Arch Parrish. The Lavinds were working a rented farm in the 1145 Georgia Militia District, the Adel District. Living with the Lavinds and assisting with the farm labor were Sarah’s siblings, Alicia A Sloan and Davis Sloan. It appears that Sarah Sloan died sometime in the early 1900s. Census records indicate that John Lavind (enumerated as John Lavine) married a second time in 1908 to a widow woman named Kerene. In 1910, he was making payments on a farm at Adel and working as a self-employed farmer. His neighbors were sawmill workers Beacher Ward and Charlie Beland. In 1920, John and Karene were renting a farm on the Adel and Nashville Road which John was working on his own account. The were neighbors of Theresa Devane Hutchinson, widow of James Henry Hutchinson; her son, Vaude McIntyre Hutchinson was a school teacher.

HENRY MELVIN
Henry Melvin was born in North Carolina about 1863. He apparently came to live in the Rays Mill, GA district some time before 1894. In 1900, he was enumerated in the Mud Creek District of Clinch County, GA where he was renting a house and working as a turpentine laborer. On September 14, 1901 Henry Melvin and Delia Jenkins were joined in Holy Matrimony in Clinch County, GA in a ceremony performed by Joseph Powell, Justice of the Peace. The 1910 census shows Henry and Delia were renting a farm in the 586 Militia District of Clinch County, where they raised crops and children. Some time before 1920 Henry Melvin returned to Ray City, bringing his family to live on the Ray City & Willacoochee Road, on a rented farm which he worked on his own account. Henry Melvin died November 1, 1920 in Berrien County, GA. Anna remarried, probably about 1921, to Emanuel Smith. The Smiths rented a farm near Ray City, where they were neighbors of Walter H. Knight, John S. Fender, J. Mancil Ray and James F. Ray, James R. Johnson, and Lucian H. Grissett. Sometime before 1935 the Smiths moved to Lakeland, GA

HENRY MCCOY
Henry McCoy was born in October 1859 in North Carolina. About 1886 he married Anna. Some time before 1894 they came to Rays Mill, GA where Henry rented and worked a farm. Most of the McCoy’s neighbors were turpentine workers including Odum Wiley, D.D. Oxendine, Peter Burges, and Isham Hill. In 1910, Henry and Anna owned a home on North Street in Ray City. Henry worked as a drayman; Anna worked as washerwoman. Among their neighbors were hotelier Wilson W. Fender, merchant Louis Levin, telegraph operator Ralph E. Spear, blacksmith Rollie N. Warr, policeman Henry Hodges, carpenter Gordon J. Knight, and postmaster Charles H. Anderson. Henry McCoy died sometime after 1910. His widow married Sam B. Cooper on April 22, 1918 in Berrien County in a ceremony performed by Justice of the Peace J. W. Moore. Sam Cooper worked in a shop as a tailor and owned a home in Ray City, in the “Negro Quarters” according to 1920 Census records.

RICHARD MCGOWAN
Richard “Dick” McGowan was born a slave in North Carolina in the 1840s. He was brought to Berrien County (then Lowndes) as a young man, and lived most his life near Ray City, GA.  Freed after the Civil War, he continued to live for a while on the plantation of his former owner, Hardeman Sirmans.

JOSEPH MEDLEY
Joseph Medley was born about 1856 in the state of New York. In 1883, he married a Virginia woman named Jane. By 1885 The Medleys had moved from New York to South Carolina, and by 1888 they were in Georgia. Joseph paid the poll tax in the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA in 1894. The 1900 Census shows the Medley family in the neighboring Georgia Militia District 1300, the Milltown District, where Joseph owned a farm free and clear of mortgage. The census appears to show that the Medleys also rented a farm in addition to the farm they owned. Joseph farmed while Jane worked as a laundress. Both were enumerated as literate. They were neighbors of Joseph Dedge, Edwin Powell, and John Ed Thigpen brother of Robert Silas Thigpen. In 1910, the Medleys continued to farm in the 1300 GMD. Their son, William Medley, worked as a sawmill fireman, and son Aulie Medley assisted with the farm labor. Next door were Elmore Medley and Rainey Medley who were both employed in turpentine production. Other neighbors included John D. Patten and Matthew G. Patten. In 1920, Joe Medley, age 76, was no longer working. The Medleys rented a house at Milltown on the the Nashville Road. Their son William worked as a farm laborer and Henry worked as a truck driver at a cross tie camp.

SAM JULIAN “JIM” MYERS
Sam Julian “Jim” Myers was born October 1870 in South Carolina. By 1894 he came to Berrien County, GA to work as a turpentine chipper. He paid the 1894 poll tax in the Rays Mill District. In 1897 he married Rosa Sloan and they acquired a home on payments in the 1145 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. Rosa’s brother, Sydney Stone, lived with them and also worked as a turpentine chipper. Also boarding in the Myers household was Dr. Ervin Green; the 1900 Census taker added the notation “Quack” by Green’s occupation. By 1910 Jim Myers took up the ministry in the Methodist faith and moved his family to Adel, GA to a home on Maple Street. By 1920, Reverend Myers took his family to Fitzgerald, GA where they lived on Lemon Street.

ELIOTT RIAS
Eliott Rias was an African-American citizen of Rays Mill, GA for 40 years. He was a son of Pompy and Clarender Rias, born about 1863 in South Carolina. After the Civil War and Emancipation, he and his brothers and sisters grew up helping his parents work their farm in Laws Township, near Kingstree, Williamsburg County, SC. Some time after 1880, Eliott left South Carolina and came to Georgia to work as a turpentine laborer. He appears in the property tax digest of Clinch County as a Freedman, paying the poll tax for 1887 in the 586 Georgia Militia District, the Mud Creek District. About 1892, Eliott married a South Carolina woman named Henrietta. By 1900, Eliott and Henrietta were living at Rays Mill with their four children. They were renting a house and Eliott was working as a turpentine laborer. In 1910 Eliott Rias was renting a farm, which he was farming on his own account. Henrietta was keeping house and minding their seven children. Pauline Hodges, an African-American school teacher, was boarding with them. Among Rias’ neighbors were John L. and Cassie Hall, Babe Baldree, Barney Chism, John Whitfield, Tom Burgess and Mack Speights. By 1920, Eliott and Henrietta were working a rented farm at Rays Mill on their own account.  Some time before 1930, Henrietta Rias passed away. All of Eliott’s children were grown and moved away. Eliatt Rias was left alone, living in Rays Mill in a home he rented for $3.00 a month. He worked as a carpenter. He was a neighbor of Sherrod Fender, Henry Studstill, Arrin H. Guthrie, Perry Guthrie, Herman Guthrie, and Ivory Wright.

EBENEZER ROSS
Ebenezer “Ebb” Ross was an African-American farm laborer born in Georgia about 1857. The 1870 census shows Ebenezer, age 23, and his wife Fannie, age 17, living in Berrien County, Georgia Militia District 1144, the Rays Mill District. Ebenezer Ross had a net worth of $30. In the 1870s and 1880s the Rosses were neighbors of William and Frances Giddens, Mary and Richard Anthony, Jesse and Margaret Carroll, John T. and Catherine Carroll, Peter and Josephine Best, and Nancy Parker. The 1875 Berrien Property Tax Digest shows Ebenezer Ross paid the poll tax, and his entire taxable property was valued at $20.00. The following year the value of his estate had dropped to just $2.00. In 1880, the Rosses home enumerated in the 1300 GMD. Living next door with the Carrolls was mail rider Everet Roberts. The 1890 tax digest shows the Rosses were faring slightly better. Eb was working for J. H. Wright, one of 58 freedmen employed by Wright.

MACK SPEIGHTS
Mack Speights was an African-American turpentine laborer who lived for about 40 years at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA. According to family members, he was born June 14, 1867 in Ridge, Williamsburg County, South Carolina, a son of Elias McBride Speights and Norah Speights. He married Martha Ellen Cooper in South Carolina on August 14, 1889. He apparently brought his young family from South Carolina to Rays Mill about 1893 and appears on the list of voters in the Rays Mill District in 1894. Like many young African-American men, he came to work in the naval stores industry, turpentining the piney woodlands of the Wiregrass. By 1910, Mack Speights was renting a farm at Rays Mill where he and Martha were raising their eight children His oldest sons, Elias and William, worked as farm labor. The Speights were neighbors of Joseph S. Clements, Brodie Shaw, Bruner Shaw, Bryant Fender, and Frank Gallagher. By 1930, Mack and Martha had moved to Gainesville, FL with several of their children and grandchildren.

ABRAHAM L. VANDROSS
Abraham L. Vandross , an African-American turpentine laborer, was born about 1867 in South Carolina. He was on the list of voters in the Rays Mill District in 1894. About that same time he married a woman named Hannah. By 1900, Abraham and Hannah had moved to the Dry Lake District of Brooks County, GA where they lived in a rented home. By 1910 Hannah and Abraham returned to Berrien County to the 1300 Georgia Militia District, where they acquired a home which they owned free and clear of mortgage. Abraham continued to work for wages as a turpentine worker; Hannah worked as a washerwoman. They also took in a boarder, Albert Johnson, who was a sawmill employee. In 1910, the Vandrosses were neighbors of William M. Clark, an African-American school teacher. The 1920 Census shows Abraham and Hannah’s home was on Oak Street, Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. Their boarder in 1920 was Reverend Jordan R. Gay.

JOHN WAMBLE
John Wamble was a widowed African-American farmer. He was born about 1850 in Georgia.  At the time of the 1900 Census, he was living near Rays Mill, GA with his two teenaged sons. The Wambles were neighbors of Richard Morehead, Benjamin Moorehead, David C. Clements and Rubin Knight.  His son, Horace, married about 1907 and made his home on the Nashville & Valdosta Road near Cat Creek.

JOHN WADE
John Wade was a Freedman living in Rays Mill, GA with his wife, Emma, and their large family. John Wade was born about 1824. The property tax digest of 1887 shows his taxable property consisted of $7 dollars worth of livestock and $20 in household and kitchen furniture. The 1880 census shows the Wades living and farming in Lowndes County, GA.

JAMES WHITFIELD
James Whitfield may have been an African-American farmer who later lived in Grooverville, Brooks County, GA.  He was born about 1868. This James Whitfield cannot be definitively placed in Rays Mill, however, his son, James Whitfield, Jr. lived in Nashville, GA in the 1920s.

GEORGE WILLIAMS
The 1900 census shows George Williams  in the 1145 Georgia Militia District of Berrien County. He was working as a log turner at a sawmill.  He was born in North Carolina about 1858.  In 1900, he was living alone, apparently in housing at the sawmill.

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From the King’s Tree to Ray City: Family of JHP Johnson

Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson of Ray City, GA

For more than forty years Joseph Henry Pascal “Joe” Johnson was a resident and merchant of Ray City, GA. The Johnson’s were among the pioneer families of Wiregrass Georgia, and among colonists who settled in the 1700s at the King’s Tree in South Carolina. His father was a captain with the Confederate States Army. His grandfather fought in the Indian Wars and was a Major General of the State Militia.  His great grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and his great great grandfather was a South Carolina colonist in 1732.

Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson, tintype. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson, tintype, as a boy in Clinch County, GA. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

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SON OF CAPTAIN ROWAN BURNETT JOHNSON

JHP “Joe” Johnson was born February 22, 1859 in DuPont, GA. He was a son of Rowan Burnett Johnson and Caroline Amanda Floyd (1842 – 1872). His mother died when Joe was about 13 years old. His father was remarried to a widow, Emaline Dame Clifton.

Rowan Burnett Johnson and Emaline Dame Johnson, father and step-mother of J.H.P. Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Rowan Burnett Johnson and Emaline Dame Johnson, father and step-mother of J.H.P. Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Memoirs of Georgia” Vol. I, Pg 500 Southern Historical Association, 1895

Rowan B. Johnson, planter, Dupont, Clinch Co., Ga., was born in Lowndes county, Nov. 29, 1830. Three years afterward his father moved to Ware, now Clinch county. He was raised on the plantation, and has devoted himself to agriculture all his life. His education was limited to such as could be obtained at the common schools of the county. When only sixteen years of age he was elected captain of the militia – District 1280 – at a time when it was regarded as a local distinction; and in 1850 was elected a justice of the peace. In 1862 he enlisted in Company B, Second Georgia battalion, and was made first lieutenant. In 1863 he joined the Sixth Georgia regiment, Western division, was commissioned captain of Company I, and served through the war. Returning from the war he resumed farming, and was soon afterward elected a justice of the inferior court, and served a term of four years. In 1892 he was again chosen to represent Clinch county in the General Assembly and as a democrat defeated his populist opponent by and overwhelming majority – more than doubled him. In 1884 he was nominated to represent Clinch county in the General assembly and defeated his opponent by a large majority. Two years later he was again a candidate, and was defeated by a small majority; but in 1869 he was elected to fill the unexpired term of Hon. James P. Mattox (deceased), showing that the people appreciate his ability and services, and have confidence in him as a faithful custodian of their interests. While in the general assembly he was a member of the committees on agriculture, counties and county matters, military affairs and penitentiary. These frequent political successes testify to the strong hold he has on the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens. Mr. Johnson has been married three times. His first wife was Miss Aleph, daughter of John Tomlinson, who died in 1862. For his second wife he married Miss Amanda, daughter of Jason Floyd, who died in February, 1870. He next married Mrs. Emeline (nee Dame), widow of William H. Clifton, and daughter of George Dame. He is a master Mason, and a prominent member of the Primitive Baptist church.

Rowan B. Johnson was a devout Primitive Baptist. In 1859 he deeded the land for the site of Prospect Church.The church is situated about four miles north of DuPont, GA. This church was constituted January 22, 1859. Rowan B. Johnson died on 19 June 1904 at age 73. He was buried at Prospect Church Cemetery.

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GRANDSON OF MAJOR GENERAL DAVID JOHNSON, JR.

JHP Johnson’s grandfather was Major General David Johnson, Jr., of the Georgia State Militia. He fought in the Indian Wars of 1836 and raised five sons who fought in the Civil War, including JHP’s father, Rowan B. Johnson.

Nancy "Mary Ann" Burnett and Major General David Johnson, Jr. were grandparents of Joseph Howard Pascal Johnson, of Ray City, GA.

Nancy “Mary Ann” Burnett and Major General David Johnson, Jr. were grandparents of Joseph Howard Pascal Johnson, of Ray City, GA.

The following information on General David Johnson, Jr, Grandfather of JHP Johnson, is adapted from the Miles Files of the Virginia Eastern Shore Library:

Major General David Johnson, Jr. was born on 29 January 1804 at Bulloch Co, GA. He was born in Bulloch County, now Emanuel County, Georgia, the seventh child of eleven born to Martha Hardeman and David Johnson (R.S.). He grew up on the Fifteen Mile Creek, waters of the big Ohoopee River. When he was 20 years old he moved with his father and family to what is now Clinch County, GA. They lived there for about three years when they moved to Leon County, FL, then a territory. After helping his father get settled in Leon County, he moved back to Irwin County, now Lowndes County, in 1828. He married circa 1828 and settled near where Valdosta now stands. He married Nancy ‘Mary Ann’ Burnett, daughter of John and Molsy Sheppard Burnett. They moved back to Ware, now Clinch County, GA and lived there the remainder of his life. He fought through the Indian War of 1836 and won a Commission of Captain. He was noted for his coolness and bravery. Captain David Johnson’s Brigade of Georgia Militia was ordered into Federal Service of the United States by Governor Charles S. McDonald from the first day of November to the thirty-first day of December 1834 [1839?]. He was commissioned Major General of the 2nd Brigade, 6th Division of the State Militia on 16 December 1850. He resigned 22 February 1861. He felt very strongly over his failure to keep the Militia under his command active although the same condition existed all over Georgia in the State Militia, so when the Civil War and possible invasion seemed imminent and the State Militia was not ready for the emergency, General Johnson felt like he was partly to blame, which of course was not true. General Johnson lost two sons in the Civil War; Private Bryant Johnson, Company H (Thomas County Volunteers), 29th Georgia Infantry, died March 11, 1862 of measles and pneumonia in the hospital at Savannah,GA; and Private William S. Johnson, Company G, Clinch Volunteers, 50th Georgia Regiment, died on May 22, 1864 from gun shot wounds in a hospital at Stanton, VA. His other three sons served also: Captain Rowan Burnett Johnson, Company J, 11th Georgia Cavalry; Lieutenant David Hardeman Johnson, 11th Georgia Cavalry; and Private Joseph Burton Johnson in Company H (Thomas County Volunteers), 29th Georgia Infantry. General Johnson survived the war and lived until he was 77. An article in The Valdosta Times on 20 May 1876 reported the General accidently shot himself in his right hand and left knee after returning from a hunt. The Valdosta Times of 23 April 1881 reported his death on 9 April 1881. “He left an aged wife, six children and a host of devoted friends to mourn his departure to that other world. The writer knew him well and knew him to possess a heart filled with the milk of human kindness and a head stored with that ripeness of judgment.” Maj. Gen. David Johnson Jr. was buried at Fender Cemetery, Lanier Co, GA

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GREAT GRANDSON OF DAVID JOHNSON, REVOLUTIONARY SOLDIER

The following information on David Johnson, Revolutionary Soldier  and great  grandfather of Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson, is adapted from the Miles Files of the Virginia Eastern Shore Library:

David Johnson (R.S.) was born in 1765 at Lorens Co, SC. It is said that his grandfather, David Johnson, was among a colony of 40 Scotch-Irish families under the leadership of Roger Gordon who settled near on the on Black River at “the King’s Tree,” South Carolina in 1732. This colony came up the Black River and disembarking from their vessel at Brown’s Ferry, blazed their way through the forests along what is now the Kingstree-Georgetown road to the King’s tree. These were the first settlers in Williamsburg Township. (Page 10, 21-22, History of Williamsburg.) The greater number of these families had lived in Ireland for many years before coming to America. They had migrated from England and Scotland to Ireland on account of fair promises on the part of the English King. David Johnson, born ca 1760-65, served in the Revolutionary War under Colonel Philemon Waters troops, Colonel Middleton’s Regiment, and General Sumter’s Brigade for 10 months until the end of the war. (See Stub Entries to Endents for Revolutionary War Claims, Book L-N No. 512 Lib. M.) His signature was compared to a bond in Bulloch County Court, 1810 term of Superior Court. Hustus Studstill and Josiah Sirmans were indicted in a case (later dismissed) and David Johnson and Jonathan Studstill were sureties. This was an original signature on the bond and it was the same as signature on Indent Record for Revolutionary War. David Johnson (R.S.) married Martha Hardman, daughter of Capt. Thomas Hardyman (R.S.) and Elizabeth (—–), in 1792 at Effingham Co, GA.The Hardymans (Hardeman) came from Virginia to South Carolina, St. David’s Parish of old Cheraw. Elizabeth Johnson, David’s sister, married Joseph Hardman, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Hardaman about 1781. Page 245 of “History of the Old Cheraws” by Rev. Alexander Gregg, DD shows William Johnson, Ensign, Captain Thomas Hardyman, and Ensign Joseph Hardyman in September 1775 being commissioned as Officers in Colonel Powell’s Regiment of Militia for duty in the Revolutionary War. David and Martha Hardaman Johnson settled on Fifteen Mile Creek which was a part of the Big Ohoopee River in Bulloch County, now Emanuel County. They settled there about 1794 after their first land grant from Washington County, now Emanuel County. The census for 1840 shows David and Martha Johnson in Emanuel as follows: 2 males under age 10, 2 males age 10-16, 1 male over age 45, 1 female under age 10, 1 female over age 45, 2 female slaves & 2 male slaves. About 1823, David and Martha Johnson sold out in Emanuel County and moved to what is now Clinch County, GA. After a few years they moved to Leon County, Florida, acquiring property there January 31, 1827. They are included in the 1830 census of Leon County, Florida as follows: 2 males age 15-20, 1 male age 60-70, 2 male slaves under age 10, 1 male slave age 10-24, 1 male slave age 36-55, 3 female slaves age 10-24. David Johnson died in Leon County, Florida on April 14, 1834 and Martha died March 23, 1837 in Leon County, Florida. They are both buried in a cemetery on his home place in Leon County, Florida. There are no markers on their graves. David made a will on 19 March 1834 at Leon Co, FL:

I, David Johnson, being of sound mind, but in low state of health; and knowing that all men must dye; do this day freely give in this deed to the heirs of my beloved son Young Johnson after my death a certain Negro woman by the name of Lucy, her children Neis, Peter, Moses & Hanner and her increases after this, they are to be kept by him after my death by the said Young Johnson. Moreover, I do give and bequeath to the said Young Johnson all my dwelling house and kitchen furniture and working tools, also five cows and calves. I also do give & bequeath a certain Negro man Clint and a feather bed and furniture belonging to said bed to my beloved son Joseph Johnson after my death. I do also give and bequeath a certain yellow Negro woman called Dinah to my beloved daughter Martha Sirman after my death. I do also give and bequeath a certain Negro woman called Flora to my beloved son David Johnson after my death. I do further give and bequeath the remainder of my beloved children all of the remainder of my stock of cattle after my beloved son Young Johnson gets his five cows and calves out of my stock. I do give and bequeath the above named cattle to my beloved daughters Risa Register, Amelia Wilks, Lavina Mosely and Mary Jones. I have already given as much as I do conceive to be right to my other two beloved children John A. Johnson and Elizabeth Rich. Witt: Allen Skipper, Benjamin Skiper & Nathan Powell.

A daughter of David Johnson, R.S.,  was Martha Johnson who married Lowndes County pioneer Benjamin Sirmans.

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GREAT GREAT GREAT GRANDSON OF DAVID JOHNSON, COLONIST OF SOUTH CAROLINA

David Johnson, it is said, came to South Carolina and settled in 1732 at the King’s Tree, near the Black River.

 Detail of Sam Cook's 1773  map of South Carolina showing the location of Kingstree.

Detail of Sam Cook’s 1773 map of South Carolina showing the location of Kings Tree.

THE KING’S TREE AT WILLIAMSBURG, SC

Williamsburg, named after William of Orange, was one of eleven townships ordered by King George II in 1730 meant to develop the “back country” of the Carolina Province. The township was a part of Craven County, one of the original four counties that encompassed present South Carolina. Williamsburg Township then included most of the present Pee Dee region. The township consisted 20,000 acres (80 km²) and was located in front of the Black River. It was later divided and became a number of separate counties, including present Williamsburg County, South Carolina. A white pine tree on the Black River was marked by early surveyor with the King’s Arrow to claim it for the King. The tree was referred to as “The King’s Tree,” and became the center of the new township. Kingstree eventually became the chief town of Williamsburg township. In 1732 a colony of forty Scots-Irish led by Roger Gordon came up the river by boat and settled in the vicinity of the King’s Tree. They were poor Protestants who had come from northern Ireland. They had settled there seeing a better life than in Scotland, before migrating to America.