William (Billy) Johnson was born in Tennessee in 1810. Not much is
known about the early years. His father was Harris Johnson, and it
is believed that John Johnson and Sarah (?) from Rowan County, North
Carolina was Harris' father. This is unproven. Harris was probably
born in Virginia, and moved to North Carolina as a child. Harris is
listed in John Johnson's will as a son. If Harris was John's son
then his grandfather was Abraham Johnson. Nothing else is known of
Harris had 8 brothers and 2 sisters. They were Randol, John, Abraham,
Willis, James, Lewis, Allen, Mary, William & Nancy. Harris was the
2nd son. Rowan County is now a part of Davidson County. The
spelling was intermingled Johnson and Johnston in North Carolina
records. The records of Rowan County suggest that he was about 33
years old in 1809.
Harris had a daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1808 in Tennessee, and
then William in 1810, also in Tennessee. Most of the 1810
Tennessee census records have been lost. We don't know who he
married or where he lived in Tennessee, or of any other children
he might have had.
IGI files in the Mormon Library show that the census of 1830 had a
Harris Johnson in Marion County, Alabama. According to the 1830
census, James W. Fields was born in Alabama in 1826, and the census
showed a Willis Fields living next door to Harris Johnson in Marion
County, Alabama. Records show that Harris Johnson got a land
certificate at the Huntsville, Alabama land office in Marion County,
Alabama in 1820. He listed his residence as Marion County. Willis
Fields got a certificate in 1825. The children listed in the 1830
Alabama census for Willis match the children listed in the ledger
book kept by Elizabeth Johnson Fields and Willis Fields in Arkansas.
There is no census for Marion County, Alabama for 1820. The courthouse
burned during the Civil War so all records were lost.
The 1830 census for Marion County, Alabama shows:
Harris Johnson 1 male (over 20 and under 30) & 6 slaves
1 male (over 50 and under 60)
1 female (over 10 and under 15)
1 female (over 50 and under 60)
Next to him listed:
Willis Fields 2 males (under 5 years of age)
1 male (over 20 and under 30)
1 female (under 5 years of age)
1 female (over 20 and under 30)
We don't know if the male over 20 was William or another son, but he
would have been the right age. Also there is no further record of
the female over 10, and it appears that his wife and daughter must
have died shortly after 1830. He was in Crittenden County, Arkansas
with a wife Francis who was 30 years younger than he was and no
daughter. The 1850 census shows Willis was in Arkansas by 1831,
and Harris first appearance was in 1833 when he purchased land on
the Mill Seal Bayou Lake from John D. White of Shelby County of the
state of Tennessee.
The next evidence we find of Harris Johnson is in Red River County in
the Republic of Texas in January 1838. It is a document of the estate
of Andrew Willett dec'd to Harris Johnson administer of said estate
for expenses in handling the estate. He was also appointed appraiser
in 1838 for Red River County, Texas for the estate of Alexander
Johnson. Their land was adjacent to each other, and his daughter,
Elizabeth, did name a son Alexander Johnson Hopper. She was married
a second time to Seaborn Hopper. However, we don't know of any
relationship between Harris and Alexander.
On March 8, 1841, Harris Johnson bought 940 acres of land from Jno. T.
Harmon in Red River County, Texas. In a Dallas Newspaper dated June
21, 1845 the following was posted:
LOST LAND CERTIFICATE
I have lost the head right certificate of Samuel Jeffus, for one
League and Labor of land, issued by the Board of Land Commissioners
for the County of Red River, dated 31st January, A.D. 1838.-No 39.
If the said land certificate is not found in the time prescribed by
law I shall apply at the prop. office for a duplicate.
Also in 1838, Harris received his own certificate.
Republic of Texas, Red River County certificate No. 294 for 1280
acres was granted the 30th day of April A.D. 1841 by the Board of
Land Commissioners East of the Brazos River. J. G. Wright Clk
Co Court R.R. Cty.
Republic of Texas, Red River County 2nd class certificate No. 32
"Harris Johnson is entitled to twelve hundred and eighty acres of
land by virtue of certificate No. 294 dated Oct 4th, 1838 granted to
him by the Board of Land Commissioners for the County of Red River,
he having proved t us that he has resided in the Republic three years
and has perforned all the duties required of him as a citizen."
Given under our hands at
Clarksville this 5th day of July 1841
B. B. Connby
Exoffo P.B.L., Com
J.G. Wright Clk County Court
and executive Clk Board of Land Com
His son William was given land grants also, and was listed as serving
the the Red River County Company under Capt. William Becknell. The
Company was at San Jacinto right after the battle. When Santa Anna
was captured it was 3 men from the Red River County Company who guarded
him because they were fresh, not having been in the battle. Stories
handed down the family place William Johnson as a guard. The records
show that two of the three guards names were listed, but no one got the
third guards name. The family though not in contact with each other
for almost a century have almost identical family tales about it.
P.O. Box 177847
Irving,, TX 75017-7847
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