William Barnett Johnson biography

WILLIAM BARNETT JOHNSON. The old soldier and modest farmer whose name introduces this article identified himself with Jack county in 1883 and established himself in Howard Valley, near the educational village of Cundiff. His farm of one hundred and eighty-five acres was then a new settlement containing the proverbial log cabin and with a few acres under plow and this prospect he seized with avidity and launched his career in the “red belt” of the Lone Star state. Mr. Johnson represents one of the “head-right” families of Texas, his father, John Johnson, having immigrated to Dallas county in 1846 and laid his right upon a section of the rich black land of that county. The father was not destined to play any part in the future greatness of his new home, for he was taken away in 1848, when only thirty-eight years of age. After the Civil war the family parceled out the tract he settled and our subject spent seventeen years, just prior to his advent to Jack county, in the development and improvement of one of its several farms.

John Johnson was born in Maury county, Tennessee, in 181o, and when twelve years of age his father emigrated and settled in Jackson county, Missouri, upon what is now in the corporate limits of Kansas City. There he grew to manhood and married Mary Johnston, a daughter of Gan Johnston, also a pioneer of the Missouri river town. Travis Johnson, his father, lies buried in one of the early graves of the metropolis at the mouth of the Kaw, and Gan Johnston’s daughter, Mary, died in Dallas county, Texas, in 1883. Among the issue of John and Mary Johnson, Gan was killed in battle at Enterprise, Missouri, as a Confederate soldier; William B., our subject; Mary, wife of John Pinson, died in Jack county; and Martha, wife of W. S. Horn, Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Hair, and R. W., all of Marlow, Indian Territory.

William Barnett Johnson was born in Jackson county, Missouri, April 1, 1836. A few years after his father’s death, he went to Cedar county, Missouri, and there started in life as “his own man.” He remained loyal to the maternal home till the war broke out, when he responded to the Southern call “to arms” and enlisted the first year of the conflict. His company was C and his regiment the Fourth Cavalry, Colonel B. F. Walker, and his service was in the Trans-Mississippi Department. His first fight was at Carthage and the second was at Dug Springs. Then followed Oak Hill, Dry Wood, Lexington and Elkhorn, where a shot through the left ankle necessitating amputation of the foot, removed him permanently from further part in the contest between the states. He was first in Joe Shelby’s command, but in the fall of 1862 was transferred to Marmaduke’s division and served with it during his continuance in the service.

When peace had been restored and civil authority again held sway in the land Mr. Johnson resumed farming but had made no progress toward restoring his losses when he came back to Texas in 1866. He had married in 1861 and his net accumulations up to his departure for his old home near Dallas was a small family of children and a horse. The prospect was gloomy and somewhat forbidding, as viewed from his standpoint when the war ended, but he buckled on the armor of peace and whetted up his industry for the campaign and turned himself loose on his father’s head-right to win or lose as Providence willed, and he won. Selling out in Dallas county and reinvesting in Jack he undertook in a measure the same task he had accomplished in the former, the reduction and improvement of a home. From the primitive cabin to the modest and convenient farm cottage and from the mere “patch” to an area of one hundred acres under the plow took only time and perseverance to per-form and achieve and thus is his substantial condition marked at the present time.

On Christmas Day of 1861 Mr. Johnson married Margaret Noffsinger, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Trout) Noffsinger, who emigrated from Botetourt county, Virginia, to Cedar county, Missouri. Mrs. Johnson was born in the old Virginia county, May 29, 1842, and is the mother of: Mary J., of Chickasha, Indian Territory, wife of J. B. Tinsley;  James G., of Young county, who is married to Cordie Bean; Charles, of Jack county, married Eulala Wicker; William, who died at sixteen years; Eunice, wife of J. B. Evans, of Young county; Sallie, wife of W. M. Wallace, of Reagan county; John, deceased at sixteen: and Maggie, wife of E. W. Whitaker, near the home place. Mr. Johnson has always felt an interest in his county’s affairs, served as deputy assessor under Mr. Jenkins, is a Democrat and jealous of his party’s success. He and his wife are Cumberland Presbyterians.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 258-259.