Tag Archives: Johnson family

Eber Johnson and the Effects of War (52 Ancestors #7)

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This is not Eber Johnson. (I wish I had a photo of him!) But this photo makes me think about what life was like after the war. (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.)

This is not Eber Johnson. (I wish I had a photo of him!) But this photo makes me think about what life was like after the war. (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.)

Eber Johnson was not a rich man. Sober and industrious, he was a veteran of the 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery. Though he served in the Civil War for less than a year, those months took a toll on him. According to John Murnahan’s affidavit in Eber’s pension application, “Since his return from the U.S. service he is still a sober man but unable to perform any manual labor to amount to anything.”

Eber, my great-great-grandfather, was a farmer, which means that the 1860 and 1870 agricultural schedules can shed some light on how Eber made his living before and after the Civil War.

In 1860, Eber primarily raised Indian corn, oats, and wheat. He didn’t have much livestock: 2 horses, 2 cows, 4 sheep and 11 swine. Compared to his immediate neighbors1)Compared to 3 households on either side of him in the agriculture census., he was just about average.

By 1870, things had changed. He had more cattle (7 heads of “other”), more sheep (up to 18), and a brand new crop: $150 worth of orchard goods. His value of “homemade manufacturers” went up as well; it was $10 in 1860, but $70 in 1870.

Could this shift toward more reliance on livestock and homemade products be a result of being disabled in the war? Were orchard goods grown because they would be easier — less physically demanding — to raise year after year?

Eber Johnson died January 25 18942)Per his Civil War pension file. and is buried in Locust Grove Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio3)FindAGrave memorial. Also have personally visited his grave. You can read more about his experiences in the Civil War here.

1860 agriculture schedule

Part of the header of the left-hand page of the 1860 agriculture schedule.

References   [ + ]

1. Compared to 3 households on either side of him in the agriculture census.
2. Per his Civil War pension file.
3. FindAGrave memorial. Also have personally visited his grave.

Stanley Johnson: The Grandfather I Mostly Remember (52 Ancestors #51)

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I was blessed to know both of my grandfathers. Stanley Johnson, my paternal grandfather, died shortly after my 5th birthday. Although I didn’t have nearly enough time with him — there’s never enough time — I have some wonderful memories.

The Swing Set of Doom

Grandpa and Grandma had a swing set in their backyard. It had a two-person swing (basically a porch swing) and a glider. The glider had two vertical poles that attached to the swing set’s cross bar. You’ve probably seen the type. Back in the day, the poles were closer together than sets are today. I mean A LOT closer together. As in “there’s no way in the world a regulatory agency would approve them today” closer together. “How close,” you ask. Let’s just say that they were close enough to allow my 4-year-old head to go through, but not to go back out.

Fortunately, Grandpa remained calm. He lifted me up to where the poles joined the attachment on the cross bar and were a bit farther apart; then he gently pulled me loose. I never tried that again.

The Vague Memories

Aside from the swing set incident, I don’t have a lot of specific memories of Grandpa. What I do have is a sense of his kindness and humor. And from what everyone has told me, those vague memories are right. (That’s what I mean when I say that I “mostly remember” him.)

Grandpa Stanley Johnson with one of my cousins, May 1955.

Grandpa Stanley Johnson with one of my cousins, May 1955.

I also have a strong recollection of him wearing a hat. When I think of Grandpa, my mind’s eye has him in a fedora. I don’t know why I have this memory, or even if it’s accurate. Not many of the photos I have show him wearing any kind of hat. (Though, in fairness, most are indoors; a gentleman wouldn’t wear a hat indoors unless it was for work.)

Stanley and Adah (Young) Johnson, undated photo. One of the few photos I have of Grandpa wearing a hat.

Stanley and Adah (Young) Johnson, undated photo. One of the few photos I have of Grandpa wearing a hat.

This is how I remember him — being happy and fun-loving.

Grandma with "Santa," 1964. My sister didn't know until years later than Grandpa was the one playing Santa. (We assume that Grandma knew.)

Grandma with “Santa,” 1964. My sister didn’t know until years later than Grandpa was the one playing Santa. (We assume that Grandma knew.)

The Other Photo

I’m fortunate to have so many photos of Grandpa. And for as fun-loving as he was, there was one photo of himself that he absolutely despised:


Stanley Linton Johnson, circa 1903.

He hated that picture. My sisters and I, on the other hand, think it’s awesome. (Sorry, Grandpa.)

Stanley Linton Johnson was born in either Ohio or Illinois on 18 September 1900 (still can’t find his birth record) to Linton and Margaret “Maggie” (Kingery) Johnson. He married Adah Young on 24 June 1922 in Ross County, Ohio. He died 11 December 1971 in Columbus, Ohio.

I didn’t have you for long, Grandpa, but I’m thankful for the memories.

Stanley Johnson and his sisters Zelma, Alice, and Orpha, 1965.

Stanley Johnson and his sisters Zelma, Alice, and Orpha, 1965.

Margaret Priscilla Kingery: A Lesson in Names (52 Ancestors #21)

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Last week, I talked about my great-grandfather Linton Alfred Johnson. This week, I’d like to introduce you to his wife, my great-grandmother Margaret Priscilla Kingery.

There’s a lot I could say about Margaret (or Maggie, as she was called). But because it’s late on Tuesday night and I don’t want to break my streak of posting to the 52 Ancestors challenge in a somewhat timely manner, I’ll share just the basics.

Maggie was born 19 December 1871 in Lawrence County, Ohio to John Peter and Elizabeth Jane (Murnahan) Kingery. She and Linton married 11 June 1893, also in Lawrence County.

The 1940 census shows her living in Ross County, Ohio with her daughter and son-in-law, Rufus and Orpha Turner. (Warning: Genealogy tip coming up!) When you’re working with a common name — like “Margaret Johnson” — you need to be careful that you’re not combining two people of the same name. You do this by (1) connecting your person with others and (2) looking at all of the records you can.

Let’s say that when I found this Margaret Johnson in the 1940 census, I didn’t know she had a daughter named Orpha. How could I be sure that this Margaret was my Margaret? I could look for her with Linton and see who their children are. For example, the 1920 census lists Margaret with husband Linton and daughter Orpha. Looking at other records, I find Margaret listed in the 1940 Chillicothe, Ohio directory. (Chillicothe is in Ross County, which is where she was in the 1940 census.) This record leaves no doubt that this is the right one:

1940 Chillicothe, Ohio City Directory.

1940 Chillicothe, Ohio City Directory.

Translating from “directory-ese”: Margaret P. Johnson, widow of Linton A., residing with Rufus M. Turner.

Maggie died 6 December 1948 in Columbus, Ohio and is buried in Locust Grove Cemetery in Lawrence County.

Linton and Margaret Priscilla (Kingery) Johnson.

Linton and Margaret Priscilla (Kingery) Johnson.

John Johnson. Yes, really. (52 Ancestors #14)

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canada-flagJohn Johnson. Yes, my 3rd-great grandfather’s name was John Johnson.

A few facts about John:

  • Born circa 1794 in Upper Canada
  • Arrived in Buffalo, New York in 1817
  • Declared his declaration to be naturalized in Morgan County, Ohio in June 1837
  • Naturalized in Morgan County, Ohio in October 1840
  • Lived in Bloom Township, Morgan County, Ohio in 1850
  • Died 16 February 1851 and is buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Bristol Township, Morgan County

I wonder if John appreciated how common his name was. His children were Juliett, Uthama, Enoch, Elizabeth, Ezra, Eber, Eliza, John, Margaret, Jeremiah, and Sarah Ann. (Frankly, I’m thankful that I descend from Eber. It’s easier to research Eber Johnson than John or Sarah!)


  • Genealogical Extracts from Naturalization Records of Morgan County, Ohio, (n.p.: Morgan County Genealogical Society, 1981), p. 23.
  • John Johnson household, 1850 federal census (population), Bloom Township, Morgan County, Ohio, page 102B.
  • John Johnson tombstone, Mt. Zion Cemetery, Bristol Township, Morgan County, Ohio.

52 Ancestors – #1 Adah Young Johnson (1904-1979)

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It seems appropriate to begin the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge with the ancestor who first got me into genealogy: my paternal grandmother Adah Young Johnson.

The Young family, 1909. L-R: Adah, Robert (holding Harold), Clara, and Ralph.

The Young family, 1909. L-R: Adah, Robert (holding Harold), Clara, and Ralph.

Grandma was born in Reynolds Store, Virginia in 1904, the oldest child of Robert and Clara (Mason) Young. The family moved back to Washington County, Ohio (Robert’s birthplace) sometime before Grandma’s brother Ralph was born in 1907.

Grandma married Stanley Johnson (my Grandpa) 24 June 1922 in Ross County, Ohio. They were married 49 years (until Grandpa’s death in 1971).

She was an awesome grandma. (It sounds cliché, but it happens to be true.) She could cook and she she could sew just about anything (including my mom’s wedding dress). She always had time for her grandchildren. I loved going to her house. We’d play games (Yahtzee was a favorite) and read books. Sometimes I accompanied her to her little Methodist church where she’d help set up for communion. (The smell of Welch’s grape juice brings back memories of her.)

Grandma reading to me, 1970. I have no doubt that she read to me all of the books that I was holding.

Grandma reading to me, 1970. I have no doubt that she read to me all of the books that I was holding.

Grandma was one of the kindest people you could ever meet. She truly lived by the motto, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” The closest that any of us can recall her saying something less-than-nice was the time she dropped by our house unexpectedly on a Sunday afternoon. Mom and Dad invited her to have dinner with us, and she did. After the meal was finished, Mom said that she was sorry, but she hadn’t fixed any dessert. “But I do have orange sherbet.” To which Grandma replied, “Then you don’t have any dessert.” (We think of her whenever we have orange sherbet!)

Though she probably wouldn’t have called herself one, she was a family historian. She was the keeper of the family Bible, the family photos, and the family stories. I remember going to her house shortly after “Roots” had aired on tv. She pulled out the family Bible and explained to me who all of the people listed on the yellowing pages were.

Not only did she keep the family photos…. She labelled them. Her descendants are still thankful! She also did a series of cassette tapes where she told stories from time she was a little girl until the time she met Grandpa. Yes, she recorded her memoirs! (See, I told you she was an awesome grandma!) Included in there was her recollection of the Flood of 1913 that swept away her house in Marietta, Ohio…  and how she once locked her grandfather Mason’s second wife in the outhouse.

Grandma died 22 December 1979. It was ironic that she died then, as Christmas was her favorite time of year. She loved to decorate and cook and make presents for all of the grandkids. All of us went to her house on Christmas evening. How all of the cousins, aunts, and uncles fit into that tiny house, I’ll never know.

Grandma was a dear, sweet lady. She nurtured all 14 of us grandkids with her love and kindness. I shall always be thankful for all that she was and for inspiring me to climb our family tree.

Grandma, I miss you and I love you.

Happy 60th Anniversary, Mom and Dad

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Gerald and Claudene (Ramsey) Johnson, cutting their wedding cake, 6 Nov 1953.

Gerald and Claudene (Ramsey) Johnson, cutting their wedding cake, 6 Nov 1953.

It was a Friday afternoon and Grandma Johnson was giving my Mom’s wedding dress one final ironing. She glided the iron quickly and carefully across the antique white satin, careful not to scorch it. Having made the dress herself, she knew every inch of it, including the more than 30 buttons down the back that she had covered in the same fabric as the dress.

“Look outside!” she called to Mom.

Mom turned to the window and saw that it was snowing. November 6 is early to have snow in central Ohio, but there it was.

The year was 1953 and it was the day that my parents got married.

Fast-forward to today, their 60th wedding anniversary. Three daughters, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Still going strong. My sisters and I joke that since Dad retired, we can’t keep up with them. (It actually isn’t that far from the truth!)

Happy 60th anniversary, Mom and Dad!

I Started Young

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People sometimes ask me how long I’ve been doing genealogy. I often reply with “I’ve always been interested.” It’s true — I’ve had an interest in my family’s history for about as long as I can remember. I was so lucky to have been able to spend time with my grandma Johnson. She was the Keeper of Stories and Labeler of Family Photographs. She even wrote her memoirs. (Yes, my Grandma wrote her life story.) So I come by this “genealogy thing” pretty honestly.

We also used to take drives. Lots of drives. It wouldn’t be unusual for us to end up at some family-related location, like a cemetery. (Ever have a tailgate picnic in a cemetery? I have…. and I thought it was normal!)

But I didn’t realize quite how young I started in genealogy until I found this photo.

At Locust Grove Cemetery, Lawrence County, Ohio

At Locust Grove Cemetery, Lawrence County, Ohio

This was taken at Locust Grove Cemetery in Lawrence County, Ohio, where Grandpa’s parents (Linton and Margaret (Kingery) Johnson) and grandparents (Eber and Ann (Stephens) Johnson) are buried. This was probably Memorial Day weekend.

That’s my grandma Adah (Young) Johnson in the blue dress, my mom in the white dress, my grandpa Stanley Johnson… and 4-year-old me.

I started young with my genealogy.

An Industrious Sober Man Was Eber Johnson

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When we think of the Civil War, we tend to think of the participants in two groups: young soldiers in combat and old white-haired veterans who later sat around telling tales of their days in the war. What is often overlooked is the toll — both physical and mental — that the war took on those who returned home.

When he enlisted he was a farmer and has always followed said occupation. Don’t think that his disease has been aggravated in the least by intemperance or any bad habits as Mr. Eber Johnson was always regarded as an industrious sober man prior to his enlistment. Since his return from the U.S. service he is still a sober man but unable to perform any manual labor to amount to anything.

Those words are from John Murnahan in his affidavit on 11 March 1886, filed as part of Eber Johnson’s application to obtain a Civil War pension. Eber, my great-great-grandfather, had been a private in Company D, 1st Ohio Heavy Artillery. He enlisted in October 1864 at the age of 41 (older than most enlistees). He was discharged 25 July 1865. Though he served just nine months, the war had a devastating effect on him.

After his death in January 1894, Eber’s widow Ann M. (Stephens) Johnson applied for a pension. In her application, she states:

My property consists of forty one acres of land with a cheap frame house and log barn left to me by my husband in his will. Valued at about 200 dollars. My tax on said property is $4.50 annually. I have no personal property outside of my household goods. I have no income of any kind outside of the third I get off of the 41 acres of land.

What happened that caused Eber to go from an industrious man to not being able to perform manual labor, to the point that his widow was left with just 41 acres of land and “a cheap frame house”? Those of us looking back can’t be completely certain, but in Eber’s mind there was no doubt as to what caused his physical decline. It was one long, arduous march from Knoxville to Bean Station, Tennessee in December 1864.

That it was on a forced march from near Knoxville to Bean Station, Tenn. It was in the middle of Winter and we had to leave our overcoats, knapsacks, etc and it was so severely cold that the water would freeze to our pantaloons.

Whether or not that one march was the direct cause of Eber’s decline is a matter of debate. One thing is certain: the Eber Johnson who returned home in July 1865 was not the same man who left in October 1864.

Eber’s pension application was eventually approved. The amount: $12 per month.


Eber Johnson’s signature. Declaration for Original Invalid Pension, 23 May 1885. Pension application 541396.

Eber Johnson, Civil War Pension file, application 541396.

About That 1950 Bel Air Convertible

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Growing up, I spent more time in service stations than most girls my age. When your dad owns and operates a Texaco (and later, a Gulf) station, you find yourself hanging out around the garage. As one of my sisters commented, “It was like an amusement park!”

This past Labor Day weekend, I posted onto Facebook one of my favorite photos of Slane and Johnson Texaco. (There’s a version of this photo in the NSTS banner.) I commented that I’d love to have the car on the left.

Slane and Johnson Texaco

Slane and Johnson Texaco, Columbus, Ohio. Circa 1952.

It’s not a photo that was new to me. I’d had it for some time. But I was surprised when Dad left this comment on Facebook: “That car was mine and I had it when I was courting your mother. It is a 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible.”

Really?! This was the car that Dad had while courting Mom and I’m just now finding this out?! Of course, I couldn’t let this story just stop there, so I called Dad to ask him more about it.

Turns out he bought this car after his brother borrowed his previous car and rolled it. (“It was a great car, but I needed to buy another one after that.”) So he ended up with this 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible. (Though the photo doesn’t show it, it was blue.)

Dad loved this Chevy. “I loved that car so much, I carried a picture of it in my billfold for years.” That’s when it clicked. This was the car in the photo that we teased Dad about. See, for a long time, Dad didn’t carry photos of any people in his billfold, but he did have a photo of a car. This car. The blue 1950 Chevy Bel Air convertible. The car he courted Mom in. The car he sold for a new 1953 Mercury hardtop after they got married.

The car that I really want now.