Volume 2, Number 5 - Fall 1965

The Johnson Family

Pioneers in Ozark County Before Civil War
by Ruby M. Robins

Among the outstanding pioneers who settled in Ozark County before the Civil War, was Samuel Johnson, a native of Tennessee, who lived briefly in Douglas county before coming to the Pontiac area where he married Hettie Kissee, the daughter of another pioneer. Her father is said to have been the first white settler in the area where Braton Spring Creek and Little North Fork once ran together, and he is believed to have been the first to serve as judge in a criminal trial in the county.

Samuel Johnson and Hattie Kissee were married in the mid-1830’s and to them were born six children: William C., subject of a family history by his son, Verdon; Isaac, killed in a hunting accident; Hulda, married Andrew Herd, had a son, Jessie, and after Herd’s death, married J.N. Turnbo; Polly, married P. H. (Dick) Martin and three sons, Thomas, Jessie and Newt still are living; Nancy married William Nave and had one son and one daughter; Josie, married Matthew Lamberson and died young without issue.

Verdon Johnson, mindful of the interest of his family in their history and genealogy, has compiled a biographical sketch of each of his parents’ children along with sketches of his grandparents and parents. Mr. Johnson had copies of his history mimeographed which he presented to members of his family.

In His History, Mr. Johnson writes:
"Samuel Johnson, my grandfather, was a wealthy man. He had two farms, the Jess Herd place and the farm I owned when the lake covered it up. Samuel had about 100 head of horses and mules; a horse was worth about five times as much as a cow then, and he also had sixty head of cattle. Once he took a bunch of horses to sell . . . and had seven unsold when he started home. When he got to White River at Pace’s ferry below Oakland, Ark., one of the Yochum men tried to help him cross the river. The two men rode in a small boat and they had the seven horses linked together with ropes, swimming behind. One of the horses got his front foot into the boat and turned the boat over. Grandfather was an excellent swimmer, but it was in February, 1860, and the water was cold, and grandfather had on an overcoat, and he was drowned.

One of the Yochum men brought the unsold horses home and a sack of money he had from the sale of the other horses. This was the beginning of sorrow for my father and his family . . . grandmother Johnson died in 1861 . . . The Civil War was coming on, so father and family moved from the Arkansas Line in a home-made wagon made by Elijah Ford, who is Andy Johnson’s wife, Jane’s grandfather. They moved to Long Lane, northeast of Springfield.

"My father, William Carrol Johnson, was 18 when he married America Whitney, on December 31, 1868. America, born December 1852, was the daughter of Doss or Dock Whitney. They came from Tennessee and settled on the first farm down stream below the P. H. Martin place on Braton Spring Creek. Dock Whitney served in the Confederate army during the war and came home after the war. Mother had nine brothers and sisters. Most of them died with pneumonia, three died one winter, and also Dock Whitney died. My grandmother married Perry Martin, who ran a blacksmith shop and water mill that ground corn and wheat.

"When father and mother married, they had one horse and 50 cents in money. They rented the Jones place, the little forty-acre place on Spring Creek I used to own. Father went to work for his two wealthy brother-in-laws. They gave him $10 for each bunch of cattle he would buy and deliver to them, and he bought five bunches, probably about fifty head to the bunch. They paid him $50 for buying the five bunches, and he already had $2.50, so with the total sum of $52.50, he went out to buy a bunch of cattle for himself. Cattle were worth fifty cents to two dollars and fifty cents each, so he bought 30 head with the $52.50.

"He rented land to make a crop, he raised mostly corn, for the land was rich and it grew good. He saved the corn fodder for hay. When he had been married four or five years, he bought the Jones place from Jenny Jones for $150.

"Some time later, when father and mother had been married 12 years, his brother-in-law, P. H. Martin, wanted to sell him his farm, the one I owned when the lake came, and father bought it for $500. He was forced to sell the Jones place


back to Jenny Jones for $150 so he would be able to buy the bigger place. In about eight more years, he got a chance to buy Toll’s place at Theodosia from John Duggins for $1000. He put in 40 cows at $10 each as part payment. He had bought the Jones place back from Lee and Laura Jones, Jimmy Jones’ children.

"About 1890, he got a chance to buy Everett’s place on Little North Fork creek from Sam Mahan, his brother-in-law, his wife was mother’s sister, and Sam was Fred and Will Mahan’s father. From 1890 to about 1910, father had about three herds of cows of about 100 or more in each. He wintered one bunch at home, one bunch at Everett’s, and one bunch at Dugginsville, on the place Glena Johnson owns now, he bought it sometime in the 90’s.

"He began to buy little places and give them to the children, like the part of the William Terry place, the Delmar Herd place he bought and let Josie have it; the Richland place he gave to Martha. He bought the Tom Johnson place at Pontiac about 1902 to 1904. About 1905, he had enough money to begin loaning it for interest. About 1910, he helped organize the Hammond bank."

"William C. and America Johnson had fifteen children. The oldest was "Sarah Hettie, born December 11, 1869. She grew up to be a hard working girl. She married M. H. Mahan, and raised three children, Calvin, Delia Herd, and Josie Wray. Calvin was in World War I in 1917 . . . and lived at Nottinghill and died in 1956. Delia and her family are farmers. Josie Wray lives now in Kansas City. She had two preacher sons and two barber sons. Hettie died August 24, 1902.

"Andrew J. Johnson, the second child, was born December 10, 1871. He was a fast and hard worker all of his life. He started to work about four years old, and helped father a lot. He married Mary Mallonee, January 11, 1891. They raised two daughters and one son; the son died young. One of the daughters was Rutha Strong, who lives at Thornfield. The other daughter was Stella Mahan. Mary Mallonee Johnson died about 1900. Then Andy married Jane Ford about 1901. There was a bad drought in 1901 and Andy moved to Pontiac and started his store. The depression was so bad he bought good pine lumber at Rockbridge to build his store and house for 65 cents a hundred feet. Andy and Jane raised two sons, Fray and Guy. Fray became a successful auto salesman, owning the Ford agency at Ozark, and also became a big Democrat, not holding office but a big wheel in politics. He died early, about 1944. Guy has the store.

"H. T. (Toll), the next child, was born February 20, 1874. He was a still, quiet hard-working boy and man, and he thought everyone else should work so he led and worked his two younger brothers, Pate and John. On February 14, 1897, He married Mary Francis Haskins. They had no children. He moved on father’s farm at Theodosia and lived there the rest of his life. He was successful farmer and cattle raiser.

"Josie V. Johnson, the second daughter, was born September 13, 1876. She was a hard-working woman. On February 2, 1896, she married J. B. (Babe) Herd. They moved on a farm on Braton Spring Creek that father helped them to buy. The farm is west of old Locust. They raised four children, Versie, Essie, Velta, and one son, Delmar, also Blanche (Johnson) Allcorn, whose mother died when she was one year old. Versie married Robert Miller and died about 1949. Essie and Velta went to school a lot, and became school teachers, and Delmar lives on Spring Creek.

"Elias Paton (Pate) Johnson, the next son, was born January 8, 1879. He was married to Elizabeth Luna, December, 30, 1906. He was for the most of his life a great cattleman. His failure to sell during the 1930 depression ruined him financially, as he kept his cattle four or five years feeding them, and the market went down to nothing. He was very much interested in sports, and was known to be the best judge of an animal’s weight in the community. Pate had three sons, Carl, Waldo, and Edward, and one daughter that died young. Edward went to California about 1949, and was killed on a railroad track. Waldo died September 30, 1963.

"John C. Johnson, another son, was born May 7, 1880. He was a quiet, still, hard-working, big, handsome, fair-complexioned boy. He married Bessie Futrell, December 30, 1904. They moved to Dugginsville on a small farm father owned. Glena Johnson, John’s son, lives there now. He built a store and cotton gin and operated them, and also had a lot of cattle. He was quite an important man in his neighborhood. His wife died in 1938, and it wrecked his life so completely he was never able to adjust himself to conditions. So he went from one sorrow to another. In May, 1955, he died. John and Bessie had the following children: sons Marvin, Fred, Frank, and Glennie, and daughters Vada and Clara. (Marvin, a banker at Bourbon, died November, 1961; Fred lives in Iowa; Frank is postmaster at Gainesville; Glennie has a store and is postmaster at Dugginsville; Vada lives at Lutie; Clara and her husband, Kelley Sallee, live near Gainesville).


"Cora J. Johnson was born February 22, 1884, and married William Terry, April 9, 1902. They moved to Theodosia and lived about two years there, and then moved to their Braton Spring Creek farm. They have raised about nine children: Ervin has a store and farm at Foil; Selby had a farm at Foil, sold it and moved to Kansas City; Vernie has a store at Hill Top on 95 Highway; Raymond has a store at Willhoit; Elmer lives in Kansas City; Muril lives in Kansas City; Jewell married Stanley Hallingsworth and they live in Oklahoma; Lizzie died when she was about 18; Dessie married Clifford Warrick.

"Martha S. Johnson was born April 21, 1887. She married Jake Nave, November 26, 1908. They moved on a ridge place known as the Richmond place, west of Pontiac, and Jake still owns the place.

"On August 29, 1946, she died. Her children are Tolbert, Goldie, Ruby, Tan, Coy, Rex, Elzie, and Fray. Goldie married Ike Rigsby, who is a worker in a newspaper publishing company. Goldie and her husband live in St. Louis. Tolbert lives with his father. Coy went to Kansas City. Ruby married Charley Wiggins and they live northwest of Dugginsville. Tan died when he was about 17 years old. Rex went to Kansas City. Elzie is a cattle raiser. He never did get married so he is with his father. Fray lives with her father. Pauline married Hershell Whisnant.

"Everett Z. Johnson was born December 9, 1888. He was sick quite a lot when he was a young boy. He became healthy when he got about fifteen years old. He was, and still is, a hardworking man. His two younger brothers had no chance to shirk when he was working with them. About 1903 or 1904, father got a chance to buy a Little North Fork farm from Dug Price, I think for $1000. So father rented it for a few years, and then in 1910, Dock began farming it. Then in about 1911 or 1912, Everett and Dock bought the farm and began to farm it together. They also raised cattle together. Then on January 14, 1915, Everett married Lela Livesay, and about 1917, he sold his part of the Dug Price farm to Dock Everett then bought the Sam Mahan farm from father for $3,250.00, I believe. He moved on it, and was doing good when misfortune struck and Lela died in December, 1918. They had one son, Paul. Then, I think about August, 1921, he married Ernie Tabor. In 1951 when the Bull Shoals lake water covered up his place, he bought the Palmer Gilliland farm south of Noble for $20,000.00. It was some over 1300 acres, and he later bought about 160 acres and added to it. Everett and Ernie have raised three children. They are Margaret, Mildred, and Eugene. Paul worked for Reed-Harlin Grocery Company as a salesman for several years. He has owned two or three farms. Margaret married Boyd Sanders and when the lake water came, her family bought a farm north of Springfield at Fair Grove; Eugene married Ted Friend’s daughter, Billie, and they bought a farm west of Gainesville.

"Doss William (Dock) Johnson was born May 10, 1892. He was named after his grandfather, Whitney, who also was called Dock. He married Anna Hogan, February 6, 1910. They lived for a while on the Jones place, then they moved on the Dug Price farm. As I have already told, Dock and Everett bought it. Then for about five years no two men ever did any more hard work than Dock and Everett. Then Dock bought Everett out, and he farmed the place with hired help. Dock had a way of managing his farm helpers so it seemed the harder they worked the more his hired men liked it. So he did well with his farm. Dock and Anna had a small boy to die at about two years old. They raised a daughter, Linnie, and a son, Amos. Linnie married Alton Kyle and they lived in Ava for a while, then bought the Isabella store and moved there. Linnie taught school two or three terms before she married. Amos married Nadine Taylor and lived in Wichita, Kansas for a few years.

"Mary A. Johnson was born September 11, 1890. She was married to G. B. Dock Mefford, February 29, 1908. Mary and Dock moved on father’s Sam Mahan place (or Everett’s place) and farmed about two or three years. They finally bought a farm south of Pontiac and lived there about fifteen years and their children became grown. They moved to California in October, 1936. Their children are Don, Dolin, Doris, Orphia, Rachel and Ivan. Don is a plasterer of houses, and I think he lives in Tulsa. Dolin is an auto mechanic. I think Ivan is a school teacher. I do not know much about the girls. Doris married a Gilbert. Orphia married a McCrackin, Rachel married a Dowed."

Verdon Johnson writes of himself that he, "was born December 31, 1893. The last of father and mother’s children. My birth date is the same as father and mother’s wedding date, twenty-five years later. I was a still, quiet boy, willing to work, but too slow to do much except when my older brother, Everett, was around, then there had to be a lot of hard work done. I married on August 24, 1913, to Susan Willbanks. She lived to January 6, 1919, and died. We farmed during her lifetime,


but we had a bad drought in 1914 and 1915, 50 we never did any good. We had one small boy, about two years old, to die April 10, 1917. We raised two daughters, Mabel and Blanche. I bought the Jones place from father about the fall of 1916, and we lived on it. Its value, $300. Then, on July 17, 1920, I married Ray Brown. There was a bad drought that year, and with low cattle prices, we quickly got in bad shape financially. Then in 1921, father died and the children, in settling up the estate, gave me the home place. Then we did very well until 1930, when the seven-year drought and famine struck. As an example, I took six hogs to West Plains to sell and I asked a trader to buy them, and he said, ‘I don’t want them,’ but he asked how many hogs I had. I said six. He asked how much they would weigh, and I said about 125 lbs. each, and he said, 'I will give you ten dollars for all of them.’ I asked him to bid on them by the pound, and he appeared to get mad, and said if I didn’t want to take ten dollars for the bunch, he would withdraw his offer, and walked away. In 1946, we moved to Carter county and ran a country store for seven years. Then we moved on a small farm south of Mansfield and we are still living there. My and Ray’s children are Stanley, Lawrence, Mary June and Nadine. Mabel married Gilbert Gregory and they were farmers, she died in December, 1950, leaving behind two children, Vonda and Loren; Blanche married Austin Allcorn, who is a road builder at Mtn. Grove, she has two daughters, Lacreta and Elaine. Lacreta is married to Jim Short; Stanley is running a television and radio store in Springfield, he married Betty Weber, and they have four children, Julia, Steve, Edward and Donald; Lawrence was discharged in June, 1946, as a second class Navy cook, and second class petty officer of the United States Navy and now operates an auto body repair shop in Kansas City. He married Ruby Pigg, and they have three children, Sherry, Randy, and Paula; Mary June married Charles Nelson and they live in Lee’s Summit. They have two children, Lori and Danny; Nadine is the youngest and last of father’s and mother’s grandchildren. She married Alva Barr of Hartville."

William C. and America Whitney Johnson had fifteen children, three of whom died in infancy. Twelve children reached maturity and these children had 56 children who reached maturity. Of the William C. Johnson’s grandchildren, 47 are living now, Nadine Johnson is the youngest and Calvin Mahan the oldest.

America Johnson died, May 18, 1919 and William Johnson, December 4, 1921.


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