History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, 1887

Johnson Family - HENRY JOHNSON Biography

Among the many representatives of ancient families who have rendered to their country the service of loyal and public-spirited citizens, and whose names are recorded in the annals of Pennsylvania, there is none whose memory is more intimately associated with the attributes of highminded patriotism than that of Henry Johnson, for many years an honored citizen of Muncy and later of Williamsport. The race from which Mr. Johnson sprang was honorably represented in the colonial service, gave to the patriot army of the Revolution an illustrious leader, and was instrumental in rearing and upholding the fabric of our national government.

The Johnson family traces its origin from Gasper Johnson, who was a colonel of infantry in the French army, and in religious belief a Huguenot. Being one of those noble souls who in times of persecution chose exile rather than apostasy, he fled from France in 1505. His descendants at a later period -emigrated to America, and several of his race and name served in the Revolutionary army and in the war of 1812. Samuel Johnson, a lineal descendant of Gasper Johnson, the Huguenot ancestor, was a resident of Newton, Sussex county, New Jersey. He married Rebecca Justina Brodhead Heiner, a member of an old colonial family, the history of which is traced through the following generations:

Daniel Brodhead (1), a native of Yorkshire, England, was a captain in the service of King Charles II, and in 1664 accompanied the expedition which under command of Colonel Richard Nicolls took possession of New York (then New Amsterdam), in September of that year. After the surrender of the city he was sent to Albany, and was one of the witnesses to the treaty there made with the Indians in September, 1664. The following year he was appointed by Governor Nicolls to the chief command of the militia at Esopus (now Kingston), Ulster county, his commission bearing date September 16, 1665. He married in England, Ann Tye, and they were the parents of three sons : Daniel, died unmarried; Charles, born in 1664, married Maria Ten Broeck, and left descendants; and Richard, mentioned at length hereinafter. Captain Daniel Brodhead spent the remainder of his life in Ulster county and died there in 1670.

Richard Brodhead (2)., third son of Daniel and Ann (Tye) Brodhead, was born in Ulster county, New York, and married Jansen, by whom he had a son Daniel, mentioned at length hereinafter. Richard Brodhead was twice married, the family name of his second wife being Pauling. Daniel Brodhead (3), son of Richard and (Jansen) Brodhead, was born in 1693 in Ulster county, New York, and in 1737 moved to Pennsylvania, where he passed the remainder of his life. He married Hester Wyngatt, also a native of Ulster county, and among their children was a son Daniel, mentioned at length hereinafter. Daniel Brodhead, the father, died in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, July 22, 1755.

Daniel Brodhead (4), son of Daniel and Hester (Wyngatt) Brodhead, was born in November, 1736. He was elected a deputy from Berks county to a provincial assembly convened in Philadelphia, July 15, 1774, and was one of a committee which reported in favor of calling a Continental Congress, and of passing acts of non-importation and non-exportation to or from Great Britain, these measures being among the first steps toward the war for independence. In May, 1775, he was appointed by the Pennsylvania Assembly to the command of the Eighth Regiment of Pennsylvania Riflemen, and participated in the battle of Long Island, August 26, 1776, in the official reports of which his regiment received meritorious mention. In 1776 he was stationed at Bordentown, New Jersey, in command of his regiment, and on March 15, 1778, was appointed by General Washington to the command of the Western Department at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania. In June, 1778, he rebuilt Fort Muncy, in Lycoming county, a place of defense which had been destroyed by the Indians. As commander of the Western Department he conducted several campaigns against the Indians with successful results, and negotiated one treaty- with his savage antagonists. He served until the close of the war and was mustered out as colonel of the First Regiment of Pennsylvania, the army having been reorganized. On September 30, 1783, he was appointed brevet brigadier-general. He served several terms as surveyor-general of the Commonwealth, and was active in forming the Society of the Cincinnati, being one of the committee appointed to procure its charter. General Brodhead married Elizabeth Depui, of Monroe county, Pennsylvania, by whom he was the father of a daughter, Ann Garton, mentioned at length hereinafter. After the death of his wife he married Mrs. Rebecca Mifflin, widow of General Mifflin. The death of General Brodhead occurred November 15, 1809, at Milford, Pennsylvania, and was universally mourned, as that of one whose life had been so filled with achievement in the service of his country deserved to be. A monument to his memory is now standing in the Milford cemetery.

Ann Garton Brodhead (5), daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth (Depui) Brodhead, married Jasper Heiner, of Reading, Pennsylvania, and they were the parents of a daughter, Rebecca Justina Brodhead, who became the wife of Samuel Johnson, as mentioned above.

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were the parents of the following children 1, John Brodhead, died unmarried; 2, Ann Garton, married Heman L. Cummings, and became the mother of two children; Henry Johnson Brodhead, who married Elizabeth Webster Robb and had one child, Laura Justina, who became the wife of James W. Miller, and Louis Jerome, who died unmarried; 3, Laura Evlina, who became the wife of Dr. Thomas Wood, of Muncy, Pennsylvania; 4, Josephine Harriet; 5, Sarah Hannah; 6, Henry, mentioned at length hereinafter. John Brodhead Johnson, the eldest child of this numerous family, was taken in a peculiarly distressing manner from those who had fixed their hopes on him. In 1825, while on a visit to New Orleans, he fell a victim to the yellow fever, so frequently epidemic in that city, and died far from his home and friends. This event was felt to be the more afflicting for the reason that in 1820 had occurred the death of Samuel Johnson, the father of the family.

Henry Johnson, son of Samuel and Rebecca Justina Brodhead (Heiner) Johnson, was born June 12, 1819., at Newton, Sussex county, New Jersey, and received his primary education in the schools of his native place. In 1837 he graduated from Princeton College, and for three years thereafter read law with Hon. Whitfield S. Johnson, afterward secretary of state of New Jersey. In 1841 he was admitted to the bar after examination before the supreme court judges of New Jersey, as required by the rules of that state. The same year he accompanied his mother to Muncy, Pennsylvania, where they henceforth made their home, Mrs. Johnson, as one of the devisees of her grandfather, General Daniel Brodhead, having acquired a large amount of real estate in Pennsylvania. June 19, 1841, Mr. Johnson opened in Muncy the law office which he occupied for over fifty years, enjoying a successful and lucrative practice. His devotion to his chosen profession was life-long.

From the time of his settlement in Lycoming county Mr. Johnson took a prominent part in political affairs, first as a Whig and afterward as a Republican. In 1848 he was among the earliest supporters of General Zachary Taylor, as such was elected one of the presidential electors of Pennsylvania, and voted directly for Taylor and Fillmore. In 1861 he was elected to the state senate for the counties of Lycoming, Union, Clinton and Centre, and served during the war times of 1862, '63 and '64. During this period he was a member of various committees. In 1864 he was chairman of the judiciary committee, and thus became the political leader of the senate, of which he was for a considerable period speaker pro tem. The supreme court of Pennsylvania having decided that the act of 1812 authorizing and regulating elections by soldiers in the field was unconstitutional, thereby deprived a very large number of citizens of the right of suffrage, and endangered the re-election of Abraham Lincoln and the permanence of the Union. The legislative record of 1863, page 60, records on June 22, that Mr. Johnson read in his place, "a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the constitution extending the right of suffrage to citizens in actual military service." Subsequent proceedings show that it was adopted by both houses. Mr. Johnson also proposed and on June 6, 1864, introduced another bill submitting this amendment to a vote by the people, providing for a special election in July of that year; an adjourned session to receive the returns and announce the vote was to be held in August, 1864. The election was duly held, and the people by a very large majority adopted the amendment. The following brief extract from Mr. Johnson's speech on "The Soldiers' Amendment Bill" furnishes full explanation of its object and necessity: "It simply contemplates incorporating into the constitution of the state a great measure of remedial justice to our patriotic and brave soldiers in the field." February 29, 1864, in order to render the amendment effectual, he introduced "an act to regulate election by soldiers in active military service." This was passed at the special session in August, 1864, and the amendment thus made effective secured the re-election of Lincoln and the ultimate triumph of the Union cause. These official acts of Mr. Johnson constitute a record of patriotism, ability and zeal in the public service which will endure as long as the constitution itself, for in the new and present constitution the soldiers' voting provision is retained as originally proposed by him, and the law regulating the mode of voting thereunder, as framed by him, remains on the statute book.

Mr. Johnson was a member of Company K, Fourteenth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia, refusing any higher rank than that of private. It was during his senatorial term that he thus rendered military service under command of General Reynolds, being stationed at and around Hagerstown, Williamsport, on the Potomac, and other places in the south. His enlistment was in response to Governor Curtin's call at the time of the Antietam campaign. He was a member of Post No. 66, G. A. R., and affiliated with Muncy Lodge, No. 299, F. and A. M.

Mr. Johnson married, July 22, 1856, Margaret, youngest daughter of Enoch Green, and sister of Hon. Henry Green, judge of the supreme court of Pennsylvania, and at the time of his death chief justice. Their children were : 1, Rebecca Justina, who married Charles Lose, and became the mother of the following children : Henry Johnson, James, Jr., Charles, Jr., Phoebe Starr, Margaret Green, Edith Brodhead, John Johnson (deceased) and William Brodhead. 2, Mary Green; 3, Ida Josephine, who married Jabin Bush Baldwin; 4, Laura Louise; 5, Helen Gertrude; 6, Anna Holstein, who is the wife of Hon. Emerson Collins, and mother of one child, Helen Johnson; 7, Margaret Green, deceased, who married Herman Le Roy Collins, and became the mother of one child, Edith Johnson, who is deceased; 8, Edith Brodhead, who died January 21, 1890.

In November, 1890, Mr. Johnson moved to Williamsport, where he occupied a beautiful home of his own erection on the corner of West Fourth and Maynard streets. Among the most precious treasures of this home were certain memorials of the past, including the dress-parade sword of General Brodhead, and a miniature of the hero, set in gold, and almost as perfect as when it was painted in 1776. There is in the surveyor-general's department at Harrisburg an enlarged copy of this miniature, which was procured from Mr. Johnson by one of General Brodhead's successors in office. Mr. Johnson also had in his possession six autograph letters of General Washington, among them one dated March 15, 1778, appointing General Brodhead to the command of the Western Military Department of Pennsylvania. It was in this home, consecrated by the presence of these heirlooms, that Mr. Johnson breathed his last, August 11, 1895. The close of this long life of usefulness and honor was felt to be a public calamity as well as a private loss, and all classes mourned for one whose example had afforded a picture of the ideal citizen and true patriot.

The genealogy of the Green family is traced through the following generations:

William Green (1 ), on account of dissatisfaction with some new relationships in his father's family, left his home in England at the age of twenty and crossed the sea to seek his fortune in the New World. He landed in Philadelphia, and after a time, being desirous of returning home, and finding no vessel about to sail from that port, went to New York. Meeting with no opportunity of embarking immediately from that city, he visited Long Island, and there became acquainted with the family of John Reede, recently arrived from England. He subsequently married Joanna, the sister or daughter of Mr. Reede, and about 1700 settled in Ewing township. He purchased of Daniel Coxe, as recorded in a deed dated 1717, three hundred and forty-five acres of land which in 1883 were in the possession of his descendants of the fifth generation. He was appointed one of the first judges of Hunterdon county. Among the children born to him and his wife was a son Richard, mentioned at length hereinafter. The death of William Green occurred in 1722. He was a prominent and useful citizen, conspicuous in the conduct of public affairs and in the negotiation of important business transactions.

Richard Green (2), eldest child of William (1) and Joanna (Reede) Green, and first to bear the name of Richard, married Mary, daughter of George Ely, of Trenton, and they were the parents of four children Richard, mentioned at length hereinafter; Rebecca, Christian, and William.

Richard Green (3), eldest child of Richard (2) and Mary (Ely) Green, and second of the name of Richard, married Phoebe, daughter of Nathaniel Moore, and their children were: William, Nathaniel, Richard, Enoch, John, mentioned at length hereinafter; Samuel, Benjamin, Joseph, George, Rebecca and Sarah.

John Green (4), fifth child of Richard (3) and Phoebe (Moore) Green, married Rhoda, daughter of Daniel Howell, and the following children were born to them : Enoch, mentioned at length hereinafter; Charles, Richard, William, Elizabeth, and Lydia.

Enoch Green (5), eldest child of John (4) and Rhoda (Howell) Green, married Mary, daughter of George Bidleman, and they were the parents of the following children: 1, Ellen (deceased), who married Whitfield S. Johnson, a lawyer of Sussex, New Jersey, and for several years secretary of state; their children are: William M., a lawyer of Hackensack; Mary M.; Emily E., deceased; Laura C.; Elizabeth B.; Margaret G., deceased, and Ellen Green. 2, George B. (deceased), who married Ann Disbrow and resided in Jersey City. 3, Mary, who was the wife of George Woodruff, a merchant of New York City, both now deceased. 4, John, and 5, Joseph, both deceased. 6, Henry, who was a graduate of Lafayette College, a lawyer of Easton, and judge of the supreme court, now deceased. He married Ann Hultzizer, of Easton, and their children are: Caroline, who married Hiram Howland, of Indianapolis; Frances, who is the wife of Henry E. Potter, of Orange, New Jersey; Frederick, and Ada (deceased), married William Shaeffer, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. 7, Margaret, who became the wife of Henry Johnson, of Muncy, Pennsylvania, as mentioned above. After the death of his wife, the mother of these children, Mr. Green married Catherine Ten Eyck, of Princeton. This marriage wag without issue.

Source: Genealogical and Personal History of Lycoming County, John W. Jordan, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1906.

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