James Absalom Johnson Sr, my maternal 4th great-grandfather, was born c. 1790 in Chesterfield County, South Carolina and died between 1867-1870 in Marion County, Mississippi. He married Luvenia "Lucy" Brinkley on 18 December 1814 in St. Tammany Parish, Lousiana.
Family legends and stories are often passed down through many generations of descendants. A family story of James Absalom Johnson (called Abner) has been passed on to many Johnson researchers and to some of Johnson's descendants. Clifford Johnson was a resident of Hattiesburg, Mississippi before his death and had written his account of the Absalom Johnson family from past communication with Edward Johnson. Edward Johnson was Absalom's son and the grandfather of Clifford Johnson. In his notes, Clifford Johnson states, "Absalom (Abner) Johnson's mother brought him to America in 1790 at the age of 8 years from Dublin, Ireland. They landed in Georgia with an uncle and an Evans family. They wandered to Tennessee and on to Log Town, Mississippi where they settled. Absalom fought in the battle with the Indians on the Black Warrior River in Alabama. In the War of 1812, Absalom was a private, enlisting April 9, 1814. Upon his return home, he found that his wife and child had died. He then moved up the Pearl River to about the upper Little River, near Hurricane Creek. By this time he had married Luvenia (Lucy) Brinkley. They had eleven children. They are buried on the Talmadge Saucier place, Bay Creek Community, Lamar County, no grave markers exist".
It has been my intent to find out more about Absalom and his family. I believe the story above holds some truths but some of the information is incorrect. Tracing the family backwards through census records, I found Absalom Johnson's first presence in Marion County, Mississippi on the 1820 census where he is listed as "Absalom Johnston", head of his household with one female age sixteen to twenty-six (wife, Lucy) and four children under age seventeen (three males and one female). The three males have been identified as Jordan, Daniel and James. The female has not yet been identified. Also note that Daniel Johnston was listed just above Absalom- what was the connection between these two individuals, if any at all? It is my conclusion after reviewing the census records that Absalom Johnson moved to Marion county sometime between 1817 and 1820 (he was not listed on the 1816 Territorial Census of Marion County).
|From 1820 Federal Census, Marion County, Mississippi|
By the 1830 census there were more children added to Absalom's household. The record listed 7 males age 14 and under; 1 female age 14 and under; 1 male age 30-39; 1 female age 30-39; 1 male age 40-49 and 1 female age 70-79. I did not see Daniel Johnston on this census in Marion County- was he residing with Absalom's family at that time? And who was the female age 70-79? She could have been Lucy's mother, or even Absalom's mother. There were several persons living in the Johnston household that year, 12 in all. Was Absalom's home large enough to comfortably accommodate a dozen people, or were they cramped in tight living quarters, like many of the large pioneer families of that era?
The 1840 census of Marion County, Mississippi listed Absalom Johnson (the "t" was dropped) with the following: 6 males age 19 and under, 2 females age 9 and under, 1 male age 50-59 (Absalom), 1 female age 40-49 (wife, Lucy) and 1 slave, age 55-99. Absalom's family had just a little more room in their home, since 2 persons had moved out since the last census.
By 1850, several of Absalom and Lucy's children had moved out of their home. This was the first census that identified each person in the household by name, or initals, which was the case here. I believe the children listed were Absalom Jr, Matilda and Susan. This record also shows that Absalom was born in South Carolina and his wife Lucy was born in Georgia.
|1850 Federal Census, Marion County, Mississippi|
Absalom's wife Lucy died in 1860. The census record for that year shows Absalom as head of household with Matilda, age 24 and Lucy, age 18. His wife, Lucy, is not listed on the census. Absalom is not found on the census for 1870, leaving me to speculate that he died sometime between 1860 and 1870.
|1860 Federal Census, Marion County, Mississippi|
Given the information that I have on Absalom and his family, I speculate that he was the father of seven sons and three daughters whom grew up in Marion County, Mississippi. Some of children married and remained in Marion County while others moved away. Absalom was a farmer and owned a small tract of land in what is today Lamar County, Mississippi. It is also indicated that Absalom was born in South Carolina and his wife was born in Georgia. Since birth records are not available for this time period, it is not known with certainty where they was born. It is possible that he was indeed born in Dublin, Ireland and resided in South Carolina for a while before moving on to Georgia then Louisiana and Mississippi. At present one can only speculate where he was before he went to St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana where he married Lucy.
William Houston, another Johnson researcher, states that Absalom Johnson possibly had a brother named Abraham and "Absalom and Abraham married Lucinda and Tabitha Brinkley of St. Tammany Parish, La in 1814". Research revealed there was a John Brinkley that settled in the St Tammany Parish area in 1810. It is possible that this is the father of Lucinda Brinkley. Furthermore, Absalom Johnson was listed on the 1811-1812 Tax List for St Tammany Parish, Louisiana.
Absalom Johnson served in Claiborne's Regiment, Mississippi Territory Militia during 1806-1807 as a Private. He also served in Lt. Nixon's command in the War of 1812.
It is believed that the "uncle" mentioned in Clifford Johnson's notes is Daniel Johnson (Johnston). Daniel was listed on the 1820 census of Marion County and further records indicate that Daniel was born c. 1770 in South Carolina. This could possibly be Absalom's uncle, brother or father as well.Children:
Jordan Johnson, married (1) Sarah Grantham (2) Elmina Smith
Daniel Johnson, married (1) M.A. (name unknown) (2) Samantha (last name unknown)
James Johnson, married Martha Williams
Henry H. Johnson, married (1) Eliza Ann Lott (2) Martha Ann Turnage
Silas Brinson Johnson, married Nellie Margaret Lott
Edward Johnson married Martha Ann Lee
Absalom Johnson (James Absalom Jr) married Martha Standfield
Matilda Johnson, married William Riley Lee
Susan Johnson, married James Atwood