REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSION APPLICATION
from MARY HAMMONS JOHNSON, widow of Samuel
Note: This transcription was prepared from a photocopy of the original from National Archives file W-5012 by Dr. Leland Johnson and Larry D. Cockerham
In order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress of the 7th July 1838 entitled “An act granting half pay and pensions to certain widows”:
State of North Carolina
County of Wilkes
On this 24th day of January 1839: Mary Johnson a resident of the aforesaid county, personally appeared before me James Martin one of the acting justices of the county aforesaid who first being duly sworn according to law doth on her oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the act of Congress passed July 7th 1838, entitled an act granting half pay and pension to certain widows – That she is seventy eight years of age and that she is the widow of Samuel Johnson who was an invalid pensioner and that proof of his services has already been made when he was placed on the pension roll of the United States. She further declares that she was married to the said Samuel Johnson on the 25th day of June in the year seventeen hundred and eighty one, that her husband, the aforesaid Samuel Johnson died on the 15th September 1834, that she was not married to him prior to his leaving the service, but the marriage took place previous to the first of January seventeen hundred and ninety four, and at the time above stated and that she has not been married since. She has no more written evidence.
Sworn to and subscribed on the day and year above written, before James Martin, JP
‘signed’ Mary Johnson (her mark)
State of North Carolina
County of Wilkes
On this 24th day of January 1839 personally appeared before the subscriber of the county aforesaid Sarah Hammons a resident of the county aforesaid aged seventy years who first being duly sworn according to law, saith that she lived near the above applicant Mary Johnson before she was married and knew her and her husband Samuel Johnson before and after they were married as she understood but was not at their marriage, but knew them from that time until the death of her husband Samuel Johnson, and their marriage was never disputed. She further saith that she has often heard a Baptist preacher by the name of William Hammons say that he married them, and she believes it was in the month and year stated by the above applicant.
Sworn to and subscribed on the day and year above written, before
James Martin, JP
‘signed’ Sarah Hammons (her mark)
DECLARATION FROM AMBROSE JOHNSON, SON OF SAMUEL AND MARY JOHNSON
Note: This document was transcribed from a photocopy of the original by Dr. Leland Johnson and Larry D. Cockerham in 1985.
State of North Carolina
On this 2nd day of May A.D. 1854 personally appeared Ambrose Johnson, Admt. of Mary Johnson, dec., late of Wilkes County, State of North Carolina and made the following declaration, an oath before the said Worshipful and the county court of the county and state aforesaid.
To whit – That he is the son of the said Mary Johnson, deceased, late of said county and of Captain Samuel Johnson deceased late of said county and state. He states that his said father, the said Captain Samuel Johnson deceased was in his lifetime an invalid pensioner of the United States on account of his, the said Captain Samuel Johnson’s Revolutionary Services — That he died in the month of Sept A.D. 1834 and that his said mother, the said Mary Johnson now deceased – after the death of his said father, the said Capt. Samuel Johnson also drew a pension from the United States on account of the Revolutionary Services of her said husband, the said Capt. Samuel Johnson.
He states that his said mother, the said Mary Johnson died in Wilkes County State of North Carolina on or about the 21st day of January A.D. 1853. The said Ambrose Johnson, admt. as aforesaid states that he is the fifth child of his said parents – the said Capt. Samuel Johnson and Mary Johnson – that he is now in this present month of May AD 1856 sixty one years old.
He further states that his said father, the said Capt. Samuel Johnson, deceased, always said that he had been a soldier in the war of the revolution, that he first went into the service of his country as a volunteer, a private under Capt. Benjamin Cleveland (afterward Colonel Cleveland). In the expedition against the Cherokee Indians in the summer of the year 1776 – under the command of General Rutherford and he states most positively that his said father, the said Samuel Johnson, always declared that he served thusly the whole of the war of the Revolution first as a private and then as a Captain – until the close of the war except such time as he was sick or when wounded and unable to serve, his said father always said that he served minus pay – with the exception of those inconsiderable interruptions – all of which the applicant surely believes – and what was always said and believed in the whole county – so far as he ever heard or believes – and as he always heard stated by many of the old soldiers who at times during the said war – the precise date he does not now recollect – but that he knows that it was sometime before the close of the war, and he entertains no doubt but that his father did continue in the service after his marriage to said mother who was Mary Hammons – he states that he has heard his said father speak of many expeditions on which he went during said war – which he can not now recollect the names of places and that he was in the expedition and Battle of Kings Mountain – in which battle he was severely wounded being shot through the abdomen, that he has many times seen the scars – he states that his father, the said Captain Samuel Johnson always said that he had no doubt but that said shot would have killed him had it not been for the fact that his bowels were entirely empty – That he had been for some three days previous to said Battle without eating anything except that him and three of his men that was with him ate… he being on a scouting and observing expedition – They having orders from the commanding officer to fire no guns, so that they could get no game, not nothing else to eat.
He further states that his said father, the said Samuel Johnson was placed on the pension rolls of the United States as an invalid pensioner without his own knowledge and without any application on his part. This he well recollects that it was done by the late Governor Franklin who was at the time a senator in the congress of the United States – and he further states that his said father was so very indifferent about it at the time and during the time – that for some two or three years at one time he declined drawing the pension and then again before… resumed it again. He states that the said Gov. Franklin was an intimate acquaintance of his said father and was with him in the Battle of Kings Mountain and that he was a nephew of Colonel Benjamin Cleveland. He states that his said father served under the command of Colonel Cleveland and General Rutherford, Col. Campbell… He further states that his father the said Captain Samuel Johnson was a most intimate and confidential friend of Col. Cleveland’s and that as a man of high esteem and approbation of his said father and Col. Cleveland. That after the War of the Revolution that Col. Cleveland presented to his said father the said Capt. Samuel Johnson, his fine battle sword and this applicant states that he now has in his possession and care the identical sword – that the said sword by some accident in the lifetime of his said father, the Capt. Samuel Johnson, got broken across near the middle of the blade – and that he saw his said father in his own … shop draw a shank to the end of said sword and fasten it into the … same handle guard and… and that it is now about one half of its original length though otherwise is in a good state of preservation – that the said sword is silver…mounted guard and buck horn handle – and if it was not for the reason of its mutilation he would with great pleasure present it to the United States.
He further states that he never heard of any Captain Johnson of anywhere except his said father, the said Captain Samuel Johnson having been in this section of the state during the war of the Revolution nor has he ever heard nor does he believe that there was any other Samuel Johnson in this county or section of county at that time – he states that his grandfather’s name, the father of the said Capt. Samuel Johnson was Jeffrey Johnson, that he lived and died in Wilkes County and that he was a man quite advanced in years in the time of said war and never took any part in said war that he ever heard, he being too old – that his said father, the said Capt. Samuel Johnson was among the youngest of the family of children of his said father the said Jeffrey Johnson – he does not think that there was more than one other of the said family of his said grandfather younger than his said father, the said Samuel Johnson.
He further states that some years after the death of his father, the said Samuel Johnson that his widow the said Mary Johnson who was very old and feeble both in body and mind began to show evident and rapid loss of mind and memory, that sometime about the dates of 1838, 39 or 40 – he thinks that his said mother had most violent spell or … of convulsions which held her for some 24 hours or more as he was informed by the family – which seemed to have been induced from a great affright given her on account of a violent storm which occurred at the time in her neighborhood and that after that time her mind seemed to fail more rapidly and at times would be worse until finally for some time before her death it could not be said that she had any mind at all. So great was the decline of her mind and memory for many years before her death that at many times she would not know her nearest neighbors or even her own children. This applicant states – as a circumstance – confirmation of this – that on one occasion – a good many years before the death of his said mother, the said Mary Johnson, that he went to see her as he frequently did – that on meeting with her she shook hands as usual with him but did not seem to recognize him or name him as usual – which he noticed at the time and that she went away to one of the servants and asked who he was – that the servant told her that it was Master Ambrose and that then and not before did she know him. And this applicant verily believes that his said mother, the said Mary Johnson before her application for a pension had become so much impaired in mind and memory that she most likely to him did not remember the rank or services of her said husband or at least very little about it with any degree of certainty or distinctness and that as he thinks or believes had no competent person to advise her of her rights or interests and that when she had been in her right mind that she was – although a good and most … woman and mother, without education, lived in a remote part of the country, knew nothing of law, or anything of her rights or claims under it.
(signed) Ambrose Johnson
Admt. of Mary Johnson, dec.
Sworn to and acknowledged in open court the day and year above written – and I do hereby certify that the said Ambrose Johnson is a respectable resident of this county of Wilkes, state of North Carolina well known to me and in every way worthy of belief.
(signed) W.S. Stokes, JP
and Clerk of Court
State of North Carolina
J.W. Masten, Clerk of the court of pleas and quarter sessions for the County of Wilkes in the State aforesaid do certify that Mr. S. Stokes is a magistrate as above and chairman of the court and that the foregoing signature purporting to be true is genuine and further that the foregoing acknowledgement and attestation was taken in open court. (signed) W. Masten, clk
Given now in my hand the seal of said court and office May 6,1854
DECLARATIONS FROM LEWIS JOHNSON AND JOHN S. JOHNSON (SONS OF SAMUEL AND MARY)
State of North Carolina
County of Wikes
Wilkes County Court
On this 2nd day of Aug. AD 1854, personally appeared in open court Lewis Johnson and John S. Johnson, Sons of the late Capt. Samuel Johnson and Mary Johnson, now decd. of said county, and made the following declaration on oath: To wit: That the said Lewis Johnson is now in his 55th year of age and the said John S. Johnson in his 54th year of age, that their said father, Capt. Samuel Johnson, late of said county, was an invalid pensioner of the United States and that after his death his widow & their mother the said Mrs. Mary Johnson, also drew a pension on account of the Revolutionary service of her husband the said Capt. Samuel Johnson.
They state that their said father always stated – evidence their earliest recollection – that he had been an officer and soldier in the Revolution, that he had served six years of said war, that the balance of said war that he did not serve was taken up with a long illness he had on his return from the Cherokee expedition under Capt. Cleveland and General Rutherford in 1776 and the loss of time from his wound at Kings Mountain Battle, and some other small losses of time, making about one year out of the six years continued of said war, that he always said that he served to the close of said war. They state most positively that they have many times heard both their said parents speak of a particular occurrence in his said service after their marriage: that one Sabbath they were attending church at the Roaring River Meeting House in their neighborhood when a messenger arrived from the west of the Blue Ridge inform’g of some depredations of Tories, that their said father immediately summoned such of his men as was at hand, armed, and hastened on the expedition and left their said mother to go home by herself, that they came up with the Tories, had battle, routed them etc. and that they have heard their said father often speak of several like expeditions against the Tories; in that direction west of the Blue Ridge about the Peach Bottom Mountain and about the edge of Virginia, that he always spoke of those expeditions as having occurred late in the war and after his marriage with their mother.
They both state that in passing from their residence in Wilkes County to Grayson County, Va. with their said father where they had a sister living (Mrs. Mary Boran) [Bourne] that their father has pointed out to them the spot at Cisus [Cox’s] ford on the big river [New] in Grayson County, Va. on the north side of said river at the Peach Bottom where they had a camp in one of his expeditions spoken of, all which they fully believe to be true, together with many incidents connected with said expeditions and service too tedious to mention. They are of the opinion that these terms of service was each of short duration, perhaps not longer than ten days each, but were quite hazardous and dangerous, and they here again state most emphatically on their oaths that from what their father always said in his lifetime and what was also said by their said mother whilst in her proper mind and what was always said by all the old people, the said Capt. Samuel Johnson, did continue in active service to the close of the war of the Revolution and did serve much after his marriage with their mother the said Mrs. Mary Johnson. The said Lewis Johnson states that he was married before the death of his said father and lived near him within about 3/4 mile and the said John S. Johnson that he lived with his mother all the time up to her death. They state that she died at her residence in Wilkes County, N.C. about the 21st day of January A.D. 1853, that the said John S. Johnson states that he made a record of her death and is correct. They both state that soon after the death of their father they think about the Christmas following came a year that their said mother was taken ill with a kind of spasm in fits, that those spells gradually grew worse in her and it was soon perceptible to them that her mind and recollection was failing her and that sometime about the year of 1838 or 9 as they think to the best of their recollection on the occurrence of a very violent storm in their neighborhood that she had a most violent attack of fits, that for some 24 hours her life was despaired of and that after that her mind always seemed much worse until a total state of imbecility of mind and memory occurred. They state that for many years before her death that she was scarcely even so that she knew anything and seemed to have no recollection at all – would not even know her nearest neighbors and very often not her own children, not even her said son the said John S. Johnson who was constantly with her, who for many years before her death was scarcely absent from her a whole day at a time and scarcely even of a night – They both state that they never knew what this said mother, the said Mary Johnson, stated in her declaration bearing date the 24th day of January AD 1839 until a copy of said declaration was lately shown to them by Dr. James Calloway, that neither of them was present when said declaration was made, that had they been present that they would have known that the statement therein made “That she was not married to him PRIOR to his leaving the service” to be incorrect, that this statement is contrary to what she always stated when she was of sound mind and memory as also did their said father the said Capt. Samuel Johnson. They state upon their oaths that at the time and date if this declaration that they do not believe that she was of sufficient mind and memory by any means to make a correct statement or declaration in the premises and that further that they do not believe that at any time in her life she would have comprehended the meaning of the declaration, or at the time she was in her mind sufficient to know anything correct which we do not believe. We further state that the said James Martin, Esq., who drew up said declaration and witnessed lived about 20 miles from her – that he was not to our knowledge or belief in the habit of filing U.S. pension claims nor do we believe that he is at all well qualified to do so – that he gave… “That when she made these powers of attorney that it was entirely… for her… that she could not comprehend the meaning or obligation of an oath and only to let her make her mark to these files which… and we further state that the said James Martin Esq. is now deceased, that he died at his residence in Wilkes County, N.C. we think about eight years ago or thereabouts – That we have no doubt but that of the said Mother now being that he would fully substantiate the fact of her entire incapacity to make a correct statement at the time she made the declaration. (sic) We state that our said father, the said Samuel Johnson served under the command of Col. Cleveland and that after the close of the said war that Col. Cleveland presented him with his fine service sword, which sword has remained with him in the possession of the said Capt. Samuel Johnson to the time of his death and is now in the possession of his son, Ambrose Johnson of Wilkes County, N.C., though unfortunately is broken, by accident and we further state that to the best of our recollection and belief that the said James Martin Esq. acted as agent for our said Capt. Samuel Johnson in filing his pension for him as well as for several of the old pensioners and that we suppose that was the way and reason that he happened to draw up the declaration for our said mother Mary Johnson and which we here again declare that we believe to be totally correct as to the aforesaid statement of belief as thus stated as belief held by us in this paper… (sic).
(signed) Lewis Johnson (signed)John S. Johnson
the day and year above written
Sworn to and subscribed in open court and I do hereby certify that the above Lewis Johnson and John S. Johnson are respectable residents of the County and State aforesaid and are well known to me and I do certify that they are highly respectable and worthy men and men of exhibited good behavior – for truth and accuracy – an oath as otherwise and good citizens.
M.S. Stokes, JP, Clerk of the Court