James Polk Johnson
(from The Heritage of Blanco County, published 1987 by the Blanco County News, paraphrased from the article therein by Lillian Stewart)
Born August 24, 1845, he was the son of Dr. John Leonard Johnson and Elizabeth Barnett Johnson who were born in Georgia then moved to Alabama where James was born. He left Alabama with his parents at an early age and settled in Dewitt Co., Texas, where he spent most of his youth. At 16, he volunteered for service in the CSA, then after the Civil war joined his uncles in Blanco County. The brothers, Thomas Jesse Johnson and Samuel Ealy JOhnson, Sr. had settled in the Pedernales River Valley and bought land in Blanco County before the Civil war and have become partners in a cattle driving business. Between 1868 and 1871 the Johnsons made four great cattle drives north up the Chisholm Trail to Abilene, Kansas, each with herds numbering between 2,500 and 3,000 head, being the largest trail-driving outfit in Blanco and the six surrounding counties, as well. This partnership was dissolved in 1871, and the brothers sold their holding to their nephew, former ranch hand and drover, James Polk Johnson.
James with this acquisition of land went back to Hockheim, DeWitt County to marry his childhood sweetheart, Julia Ann Moore, on November 23, 1871, and traveling in covered wagon brought her to the Johnson Ranch in Blanco County, then located about fifteen miles from the nearest settlement.
This isolation was a dangerous thing as there were many Indians in the area. The settlers made plans for the establishment of a town in the North end of Blanco County, with a barbecue being held on July 4, 1879 at a spring on Town Creek for the purpose of selecting a new town site. Three sites were offered: one by Mr. W. A. Kemp -- a plot of land on Deer Creek; one by Mr. Cockran on a plot on Flat Creek; and another by Mr. James Polk Johnson near the Pedernales River. Mr. Johnson's land was accepted after much discussion. About this same time the idea was conceived to have the county seat moved from Blanco to the new Johnson City nearer the geographical center of the county. A Dec. 1876 effort to call an election failed. In August 1879 petition of the citizens from the northern section of the county were presented to the County Commissioners Court for the election of Oct 28, 1879. Blanco won out by a small margin of 7 votes.
James Polk Johnson built many structures in the new Johnson City, which would eventually become the County Seat. AMong these is one of his buildings still standing at Seventh St. and Nugent, the two-stroy, double-front porched old Pearl Hotel. The hotel was built in the early 1880s. He also built the cotton gin and mill located on the south side of US Hwy 290. At the time of his death on Oct. 18, 1885, Johnson had under construction the building now housing the Johnson City Bank, which was to be used as a general merchandise store. The building housed the Court House until the present courthouse built of white limestone quarried from the surrounding hills, was constructed.
The children of James Polk Johnson and Julia Ann Moore Johnson:
|Thomas Samuel Johnson||1872-1935|
|Julia Ann Johnson Stubbs||1875-1935|
|Pearl Johnson Roper||1876-11966|
|Nathaniel J. Johnson||1878-1936|
|Myrtle Ione Johnson Fawcett||1881-1953|
|Melissa Loma Johnson Fawcett||1881-1953|
|Olla Sunshine Johnson Chapman Stribling||1882-1975|
Their fifteen grandchildren are:
Elizabeth Roper Clemons, Charles Roper, Lois Roper Perry, Fredericka Johnson, Carrie Ben Johnson Hahn, Nathaniel M. Johnson, James William Johnson, Doris Leigh Johnson, Theodora Johnson Matthews, Edna Earle Johnson Benton, Ruth Chunn Walker, Grace Chunn Nelson, Lorine Facwett Golden, Nathaniel Truman Fawcett, Lillian Fawcett Stewart.