|1 John Johnson
||20 Dec 1810, Chester, VT
||(Capt. John, Isaac, Nathaniel, John, Edward.)
[p. 6-12] The getting together of the correct names and dates incident in the lives of those who have passed away, leaving no written record, is one of the most difficult of tasks. This will be seen from the very nature of the conditions, and the fact that so little attention is given to a person and his life after his death. The generation following will regard his life as an incident, and often cannot tell where his body is laid to rest. All interest centered on the present and future.
I have undertaken to make a genealogy of my father's family. By the aid of his early memoirs, and information handed down by town records and inscriptions on tombstones, I am enabled to arrange a fairly correct one, from John Johnson and Ruth, who lived in Chester, Vermont, about 1790 to 1810. I will therefore designate John and Ruth as the first generation, and give the families in their lines as well as I have been able.
The most that can he said of them is that these were their names; that they lived in Chester, Vermont, before and after the year 1800, and died, John Johnson Dec. 20, 1810, in the 78th year of his age, and Ruth Dec. 28, 1810, in the 77th year of her age.
The headstones in the old cemetery of Chester, Vermont, bear these records. And this is the most that we know of a family which lived in Vermont at one time, when the country was new. We know nothing of their struggles to raise a family of four boys and one girl; their hopes, ambitions, loves and spirit of a family, now long gone, with the simple blue stone as the principal record that John Johnson and Ruth ever lived. Further than this we would not know, did not the town records of Chester, Vermont, record that to them were born Uriah, John, Asa, Luther and Ruth, which give them fixed places as heads of their respective families. That they were worthy people we may conclude from the fact that their children have been heads of prosperous families, active in the interests of their day. It is so with all people. Character is the most that lives after them, and that in the lives of their children's children, and that will live for good or ill, anyway. And results, as we see them in the descendants of John and Ruth, are such as not to make us ashamed.
I have tried to find out something more of John Johnson and Ruth; their respective families; where they lived before coining to Chester, Vermont; of what nationality; of Ruth's maiden name: but it is like groping in a dark cove. I can hardly get further back than the tombstones, and a few corroborating items in the town and church records of Chester and Plymouth, Vermont. For the present I content myself with this meager knowledge, and take this as my starting point. As to Ruth's maiden name, in my father, Leonard Johnson, son of John Johnson<2>, in his memoirs of his early life, speaks several times of his "Grandfather Mudge," from which fact I am quite inclined to believe that her maiden name was Ruth Mudge. One of her family writes me: "There is a tradition in the family that Ruth Johnson's mother was half or quarter Indian. ______ shows Indian blood quite plainly, if one is thinking of it. Some of the Johnson descendants also show it."
In the summer of 1901 I was in Vermont, around the home towns of my parents and grandparents. I found many who called themselves cousins to each other, but could not tell the tie by which they were so related. They could only go hack to their grandparents, Uriah, John, Asa, Luther and Ruth. I undertook to go back and find out how these were related. My grandparents were John Johnson and Sally Damon. I found those whose grandparents were Luther Johnson and Nancy Damon, and others whose grandparents were Asa Johnson and Nellie Lyon, others whose grandparents were Uriah and Anna Johnson. and others whose grandparents were Ruth Johnson and Nathan Lyon. While all of these recognized relationship, they could not tell where the several branches came together. I became interested and undertook to locate it. I find it is very tedious work and meets with little encouragement generally with a busy people. I was fortunate, however, to find a few, perhaps one or two of each branch, who took an interest, and with their help, and by the town and church records and inscriptions on tombstones, I have been able to gather fairly full genealogy, but leaving out the many interesting stories of lives of work and struggles, successes and failures in the history of those gone before. Their life experiences are buried with them. I knew I must gather scattered evidences, and when I had any which was positive I held it, and connected others till I have a fairly complete whole. I will give my findings.
My father, in brief memoirs of his early life, tells of his father, John Johnson, of his uncle, Luther Johnson, and his cousin, Esther, in Chester, Vermont, and of properties which his father owned about Plymouth. In looking over the old town records of Chester and Plymouth, I found that my grandfather was designated as John Johnson, Jr., and immediately reasoned that his father must have been John Johnson, Sr. I found the town records of the births of my father and uncles, as children of John Johnson, Jr. The old town records of Springfield, Vermont, have the entry of the a marriage of John Johnson, Jr.. and Sally Damon, Nov. 13, 1794.
From the early memoirs of in my father, Leonard Johnson, son of John Johnson, Jr., I know his mother's name was Sally Damon, and that he had an uncle Luther. He says: "My brother younger, John, went to live with my uncle Luther, on my father's side, where he lived till he was twenty-one." I found among the births recorded in Chester that of Luther Johnson, son of John Johnson and Ruth. I found a deed of land, dated July 4, 1798, from John Mudge to John Johnson, Jr. My father, in his memoirs of his early life, which I have, says: "When I was not far from six years old, my father bought a farm in Plymouth, Vt., and we moved on to it. He bought it of one Mr. Mudge. It is the same farm which is now occupied (1857) by Mr. Isaac Pollard. The two-story red house, now occupied by Mr. Pollard, was built by my father, and in which he lived until his death."
I called at the house in the summer of 1901, still owned by a Mr. Pollard.
My cousins in Vermont recognized that their fathers, Uriah, John, Asa and Luther, were brothers, and Ruth, who married Nathan Lyon, was a sister. All of these scattered evidences go to prove that John and Ruth were parents of Uriah, John, Asa, Luther and Ruth.
In looking through the old cemetery of Chester, I found graves with neat, blue headstones, on which were inscribed--on one "In memory of John Johnson, who died Dec. 20, 1810, in 78th year of his age. Virtue lives beyond the grave."
And at its side another with the inscription: "In memory of Mrs. Ruth Johnson, wife of John Johnson, who died Dec. 28, 1810, in the 77th year of her age."
I did not find anyone who knew anything about the groves, which must have been those of our great-grandparents.
I shall designate the generation of John, Sr., and Ruth as first, and their children second, and so down. The figures after each name tells of what generation.
It has been my desire to give brief history of different ones of the first, second or third generation, but have been very unsuccessful. In absence of that, I am glad to give little incidents in their lives, even though seeming trivial. They have a tendency to bring their lives, so long gone, down to a sympathy with ours, and lend a cheer to the untie.
I believe there is only one written record of any incident in the life of John Johnson, Sr., and this very simple one, but as it is the only one of him and his granddaughter, Esther, I give it as my father, Leonard Johnson, has written it, in the memoirs of his early life: "There was another little occurrence, that I distinctly remember, and which must have taken place when I was quite small. At the time referred to, we lived in the house with grandfather and grandmother Johnson. Like most grandparents, they were very tender of their grandchildren, especially grandfather. One night, when father and mother were away from home, it seemed to be my lot to sleep with a much older cousin, in a hack bedroom. It was winter, and the weather was cold. Grandfather says to my cousin: 'Get a blanket and warm it, wrap it about Leonard when you take him off to bed.' She objected; said there was no use of it, etc. But grandfather prevailed in the argument to my joy, and so cousin Esther got a blanket and warmed it, and took me up in her arms and carried me off to bed."
And is this all? This is all the record we have of even an incident in the life of seventy-seven years of active work. But the motto on his tombstone, in the old churchyard of Chester, Vermont, tells more: "Virtue lives beyond the grave;" and we know the worthy characters of John end Ruth are living and influencing in the world for good, for progress, and for uprightness in the world to-day, and will live--who knows how long?
Their children were: Uriah, John, Asa, Luther, Ruth.
SML Comment: The information herein is all from THE GENEALOGY OF JOHN AND RUTH JOHNSON WHO LIVED IN CHESTER, VERMONT IN THE YEAR 1810 BEFORE AND AFTER, gathered, arranged and published y George M. T. Johnson, Binghamton, NY (Barnes, Smith & Co., Printers, 1909).
Refer also to the separate CAPT. JOHN JOHNSON GENEALOGY, compiled by Paul Franklin Johnson (1948), which includes additional details on some of the persons herein, plus the Johnson ancestry and other kin of John Johnson (1733-1810).