Name: Elijah Johnson
Born: 22 Aug 181184 144
Place: Fayette Co., PA
Died: 14 Apr 188984 144
Place: Caldwell Twp, Appanoose Co IA
Place: Zoar Cemetery, Exline, Appanoose County, Iowa
Married: 6 Nov 1832
Place: Probably Fayette County, Pennsylvania84 144
"Genealogy & History
The Johnson Family in America"3
The genetic information gleaned from a descendant's Y chromosome tell us
that Elijah's closest Y-DNA relatives were Neils, that his paternal lineage
was Irish and a descendant of Naill of the Nine Hostages. (See genetic
details below.) And I've recently learned that Johnson is the English
version of the Gaelic name McShane, also known descendants of the same
Naill. These facts have not yet led us to Elijah's father but likely will
in the future.
Elijah and Anna's youngest son was named Phineas Porter Johnson. This is
notable because a Phineas Porter is found in Fayette county PA (Elijah's
birth place) as early as 1799 with his appearance on the tax list for Dunbar
township. Like Elijah, three of Phineas's children (Phineas Jr, John and
Mrs Sarah McFarland) moved to Belmont county Ohio and eventually to
Appanoose county Iowa (c1855) where Elijah died in 1889. An article
written by Bert Porter (1880-1957) published in
1946, refers to Elijah as "uncle." It's evident, however, that he was known
as Uncle Elijah Johnson by the community. This, for instance, comes from
The Centerville Journal, 2 June 1886: "Uncle Elijah Johnson, an old
resident of Caldwell township, but who has been in Illinois during the
winter, has moved his residence back to Exline." Nonetheless, it needs to be
noted that the Porter and Johnson families were living near one another
c1800-c1840 in Fayette county PA, c1840s-1855 in Belmont county OH, and then
in Appanoose county IA during the remainder of the 19th century.
The following is from Genealogical and Personal History of Fayette
County Pennsylvania. The Maryland origin for the Porter family is
noteworthy because, according to the 1880 census, Elijah's mother was born
Phineas Porter is recorded as being overseer of the poor of Dunbar township
in 1803...[He] was born in Maryland. He was a tanner. He came to Fayette
county about the year 1800 and established a tannery in Dunbar
From the 1799 tax list of Dunbar township, Fayette County,
Horses Cattle Acres
Mager Foster 1 2 -
William Johnston 1 2 100
Isaac Johnston 1 1 -
Elijah Johnston - - -
Jacob Lowry - 1 -
Benjamin Lowry - - -
Phineas Porter, tanner 4 4 150
James Paull, 2 slaves 5 6 450
Joshua Porter, schoolmaster - 1
Jonathan Paul, blacksmith - - -
From Cincinnati Memories 1875-1875, undated:
The following is from Lewis Wood, a long-time resident of Cincinnati and
vicinity, having been born in Pleasant township.
I was born in a log house, March 9, 1859, in Pleasant township, about six
miles south of Centerville. My parents came to Centerville from Powhatan
Point, Belmont County, Ohio, in 1854, by steam boat to Alexandria, near
Keokuk, thence by wagons. The Porters, McFarlands, Johnsons, Monroes,
Hendershots, and Marings came from Ohio about the same time and vicinity.
According to a 1978 certified copy of Elijah's death certificate, he died
of diabetes. It gives the date of his death as 13 April 1889. However, all
three known obituaries, as well as his tombstone, state that he died on the
This obituary is as found
inDescendants of Elijah H. Johnson by Stephanie Ernst.
Appanoose Iowegian - April 18, 1889
Volume 7, #4
Elijah Johnson of Caldwell Twp. died at the home of his daughter-in-law
on Sunday morning. We have not the particulars but understand his death was
the result of old age and a general breaking down of the system. Mr. Johnson
was an old settler of this county and a man highly respected by all who knew
We have been acquainted with him for over 20 years and have never heard
aught but good spoken of him in that length of time. He leaves a large
family of children and grandchildren to mourn his loss.
Appanoose county researcher, Jo Porter, informed me the following
obituary was published on 8 May 1889 in either the Centerville Journal or
the Centerville Citizen.
Died, near Exline, April 14th, 1889, Mr Elijah Johnson, aged 77 years, 7
months and 22 days. Mr Johnson was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania,
August 22d, 1811, and was married to Annie J Foster Nov. 6th, 1832. He
removed to Belmont county, Ohio, soon after his marriage, where he remained
until 1855, when he removed to Caldwell township, this county, where he has
resided ever since. His wife died Feb 18th, 1879. There was born to them
nine children, of whom six are living, and who were with him during his last
illness, and rendered all the attention that was possible to give to a
loving father. Mr Johnson was one of the best and most favorably known men
in the community in which he lived. He was converted when he was 22 years
old, and lived a consistent member of the M E Church, always contributing
freely of his means, time and talent in support of the church of his choice.
His home was always the home of the minister, and all who knew Uncle Elijah
Johnson unite in saying that truly another patriarch is gone, but will not
be forgotten by those who lived under his influence and christian example.
He never hesitated in saying that he was ready and willing to go at the call
of his Master. He will be missed by all who knew him.
This obituary, written by K P Morrison, appeared on 15 May 1889, the name
of the newspaper not noted.
Elija Johnson was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, August 22nd, 1811,
and was married to Anna J Foster, November 6th, 1832. Embraced religion in
the twenty-second year of his age at a camp meeting near Connelsville,
Pennsylvania. Moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio in 1842, settling in Belmont
county, remained there until 1855, when he came to Iowa and settled in
Caldwell township, Appanoose county. He died near Exline, in great peace,
April 14th 1889. Father Johnson during his long life was an active worker
in the M E church, the church of his choice. Father and Mother Johnson were
loved and respected by all who knew them; there home was always a home for
the itinerant preacher; they were devoted christians and he will be sadly
missed by the church and the community, as was Mother Johnson who preceded
him to the land of rest. "They rest from their labors and are followed by
Father Johnson leaves four sons, two daughters, and relatives and a host
of friends to mourn; but their loss is his eternal gain. Funeral services
were conducted by the writer at Zaor Chapel. May the consolations of
religion sustain the heavenward ones.
K P Morrison
Phineas Porter Obituaries
Elijah's old friend, if not a relative, died two years earlier.
Apparently, he was born on July 5, 1809.
PORTER- Phineas Porter died July 9, 1887, at his home near Centerville,
aged 78 years and four days.
Funeral services were conducted at his late residence by Rev J A Bartlett on
Sunday, July 10th. The elders of the Presbyterian church of Centerville and
others from the society were present, beside a large gathering of friends
and neighbors. Mr. Porter was born July 5, 1809 in Fayette county,
Pennsylvania. He united with the Presbyterian church when about 25 years of
age, and soon after was elected a ruling elder in the Laurel Hill church in
his own town. He was united in marriage with Hannah Baker (should be
Bunker) in the year 1844, and removed soon after to Belmont county, Ohio.
He was an active worker throughout all the years succeeding, til infirmity
claimed him, in both church and Sabbath school. Mr Porter moved to
Appanoose county in 1855, continuing faithful to all his church obligations,
and being elected a ruling elder in the Centerville church in 1856, served
in that capacity till age and infirmity rendered it impossible. He died in
great peace. He leaves an infirm wife to mourn his loss and three children,
all of whom were present at his funeral.
From the Centerville Journal or Centerville Citizen; date not known
Died in Vermilion township, July 8th, Phineas Porter, aged 78 years and four
days. Mr Porter was born in Fayette county PA., removed to Belmont county
Ohio, and finally in 1855 removed to Centerville where he has since resided;
at the age of 20 years he united with the Presbyterian Church was made an
Elder in the Laurel Hill Church of his own town and in 1856 he became an
Elder in the Centerville Presbyterian Church. Three children survive him
beside the faithful wife of his long pilgrimage now inform and patiently
awaiting the Makers summons. Mr. Porter died in great peace. The funeral
services were conducted by Rev. Bartlett and was largely attended.
Appanoose Iowegian; 14 Jul 1887
Elijah Johnson and Anna Jane Foster had the following children. See "Descendants of Elijah H Johnson" for
|John Foster Johnson
||John was born 24 Oct 1833, probably Pennsylvania.
|William Paul Johnson
||Born 27 Apr 1836 in Fayette county PA and m1
Minerva Maring m2 Louisa Maring. He died 2 Jun 1880 in Exline,
Appanoose county, Iowa
|Wesley Phillip Johnson
||Married Susan Isabel
Fisk. Find A Grave Memorial# 44840236.
|Mary Elizabeth Johnson
||She was born 13 May 1842, Belmont co Ohio and died
in Exline 28 June 1906. Married William Armstrong Caster. They had
|Alfred J Johnson
||Born 4 Jan 1844, Belmont county, Ohio. Married
Margaret Amelia Lowry. Alfred and his wife are living in Caldwell Twp,
Appanoose co IA on the 1900 census.
|Thomas Irvin Johnson
||Born in Ohio. Married Rebecca C
Eikleberry. Thomas and his family are living in Caldwell Twp,
Appanoose co IA on the 1900 census.
|George Washington Johnson
||Born in Ohio.
|Phineas Porter Johnson
||Born 11 June 1852 in Belmont co Ohio. Married
Della Rosetta Yarnell in Wayne co IA. He died 25 Apr 1927 in Sedgwick
Co KS. He's found on the 1900 (Butler co), 1910 and 1920 KS census as
Phinehas P Johnson. This was obviously his preferred spelling for his
first name. According to the 1900 census they had 9 children, 6
living. See Find A Grave memorial #15934874.
|Virtue Waters Johnson
||Born in Belmont co OH. She m1 John William
Benefiel, m2 William Beer. See Find A Grave Memorial #21662342.
Son Alfred died in 1904. I suspect that's why he isn't in this picture.
Mary died in 1906. Considering those facts, I'm guessing it was taken in
about 1905. The manner of dress would have been consistent with that
Left: Mary Elizabeth, Back: Thomas
Right: Wesley Phillip, Front: Virtue Waters.
The gentleman on the right is identified elsewhere as Phineas Porter
Johnson but he looks like Wesley Phillip Johnson.
(Compare the hairline, the part in the hair, the beard and the top of the
ear, which points slightly away from the head. It's obvious, too, that this
man was one of the older children, not one of the younger, as was
The identity of Elijah's parents have not been forthcoming in the written
record, but the genetic record may one day providing some indication about
to the family Elijah was born into. To that end, I'm tracking Elijah's patrilineal descendants.
Two Johnsons (although there were a lot of Johnstons) and one Foster are
listed on the 1800 census for Fayette county, Pennsylvania.135
|Free White Males |Free White Females
| 10 16 26 | 10 16 26
HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD |to to to to 45 |to to to to 45
PG# LN# LAST NAME FIRST NAME |10 16 26 45 up |10 16 26 45 up
561 14 JOHNSON Humphrey 1 . . . 1 4 3 . 1 .
594 22 FOSTER John 2 . . 1 . 2 . . 1 .
597 12 JOHNSON William . . 1 . . 1 . 1 . .
John Foster and William Johnson were living in Springhill Township.
Humphrey Johnson was living in Luzerne Township. (It's worth noting that
Elijah's eldest known son was named John Foster Johnson and the next son was
Four Johnstons are found enumerated on the 1800 census for Dunbar
township. Phineas Porter is found in page 517.
1800 > PENNSYLVANIA > FAYETTE > DUNBAR TWP
Series: M32 Roll: 38 Page: 514
Jesse Johnston 00100 00100
Ephraim Johnston 10010 10100
William Johnston 01201 00201
Elija Johnston 12101 31001
The 1810 census for Fayette county has 16 Johnsons and 15 Johnstons,
including an Elijah Johnson in Dunbar township. Phineas Porter is found on
1810 > PENNSYLVANIA > FAYETTE > DUNBAR TWP
Series: M252 Roll: 54 Page: 219
Elijah Johnson 00201 01001
Ruth Brown 11000 00010
Of course, I'm anxious to discover whether Ruth Brown is the same Ruth
Johnson living with Elijah on the 1850 census.
William Foster, Phineus Porter and Elijah Johnson Sr are found on the
same page in 1820. William and Elijah were presumably 26-45. Elijah is
shown with no male children. Phineus is shown with four, but he was known
to have three sons (John 1800, Moses 1807, Phineas 1819).
1820 > PENNSYLVANIA > FAYETTE
Series: M33 Roll: 103 Page: 135
p135 Henry Ferry 000100 10100 Dunbar twp
William Foster 410010 22110
These four names are in order,
one after the other...
Elijah Johnson Sen 000010 10100
John Norris 010110 00111
James Paul 000111 10101
Phineus Porter 120101 10101
p159 John F Foster 100010 00200 Georges twp
p189 Thomas Foster 200010 30010 German twp
John Foster 010010 10010
James Cosgray 210010 00100
Charles Foster 200100 01100
p190 Elespay Foster 100000 11101
There are 32 Johnson/Johnstons in 1830 Fayette county, including this
man. He would have been between 20-29, of the right age to have been
Elijah's older brother. In fact, Wesley's descendants place his birth in
1808 and that he is estimated to have married in 1828. This might be the
right man. His trail needs to be followed.
1830 > PENNSYLVANIA > FAYETTE > FRANKLIN
Series: M19 Roll: 162 Page: 192
Westley Johnston 10001-10001
Despite the appearance of Elijah (Sr?) on the previous census
records, he doesn't appear on the 1830. Might he have died?
The only Johnson left in Dunbar township is Tobias, about Westley's
1830 > PENNSYLVANIA > FAYETTE > DUNBAR
Series: M19 Roll: 162 Page: 202
Tobias Johnston 10001-000001
Johnson is, of course, a difficult name to research. It would probably be
meaningless, for instance, to list all Johnsons from the 1840 Belmont
County, Ohio census. I need to be very specific in the research. To that
end, Elijah was living in Mead township in that year (series M704, roll
28 Christian Johnson 0002000000000 000120010010
29 Margaret Johnson 0102100000000 020001000000
31 Martin Johnson 1100010000000 110001000000
33 Elijah Johnson 2000100000000 000010000000
33 Thomas Johnson 2220001000000 100101000000
Thomas is the eldest male Johnson found in the township. It may be
significant that he's listed only two entries below Elijah. Since Elijah's
son Wesley was born Oct 19, 1839 in Pennsylvania, it's a pretty safe bet
that Elijah had just recently emigrated. However, there was already a
Thomas Johnston in Mead township by the 1820 census (page 290). He may have
been of a Scots-Irish family that later gained some prominence in Belmont
county. This is a Thomas Johnston, age 50 and born in Pennsylvania, on the
1850 census of Meade, Belmont, Pennsylvania. He'd been in Ohio for at least
It's correct that Elijah and Anna would have had two living sons and no
daughters in 1840. This is certainly them. The other near certainty about
this record is that the parents of neither were residing with them.
The 1850 census for York twp, Belmont
county, OH (series M432, roll 661, page 50) lists the following
household. Could the 85 year-old, Ruth Johnson, have been Elijah's
Elija Johnson 37 m Farmer Penn
Ann " 37 f Penn
Ruth " 85 f Virginia
William " 14 m Penn
Westley " 10 m Penn
Mary " 8 f O
Alfred " 6 m O
Thomas " 3 m O
George " 5/12 m O
We find the Phineous Porter [Jr] family on the previous page. There are
McFarlands living on either side of Elijah. Following his family is Joseph
McFarland and his wife Sarah, sister of Phineas Porter Jr.
"Elizah" Johnson appears on the 1860 census in Caldwell township,
Appanoose county, IA, page 685 and on the 1870 census, same place, as
"Elisha Johnson", page 373.
Elijah is found living with his son, Thomas, in Appanoose county, Iowa in
1880.134 His father is listed as
being born in Pennsylvania and his mother listed as being born in Maryland.
(Note, however, that there is a Ruth Johnson, born ca 1765 in Virginia,
living with Elijah in 1850. A forty-eight year difference between the two
could make her Elijah's grandmother.)136
Virtue Waters Johnson
This quilt was made by Elijah and Anna Jane Johnson's daughter, Virtue
Waters Johnson Benefiel Beer. The image is found at
http://www.quiltindex.org/basicdisplay.php?kid=49-7E-8EF. Apparently, it
was made by 1900.
Minnesota Quilt Project/Minnesota Quilters, Inc.
Other Elijah Johnsons
There was an Elijah Johnson on the 1860 mortality schedule for Fayette
County. He died in June 1860 at the age of 68. He was born in
Pennsylvania, a laborer, and died of liver disease. It's estimated he
was born c1792.
Another Elijah Johnson was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania on 17 May
1843 (Findagrave.com says 18 May 1842; BiilionsGraves says 18 Mar 1842) and
died 23 Nov 1911 in Dunbar, aged 68. His death certificate says he was the
son of Elijah Johnson and Elizabeth Dawson, both born in PA. In all
likelihood, this is the 17 year-old Elijah Johnson on the 1860 census living
in the household of Elizabeth Johnson, 67. His sister, Catherine is living
with them. It doesn't stretch the imagination too far to consider that
Elizabeth is Elizabeth Dawson, wife of the Elijah Johnson who had just died.
However, that family is listed on the census as being born in Virginia. On
the 1900 census, Elijah is listed with his own family, including wife,
Annetta, and sons Albert B Johnson (20) and Chester G Johnson (12). Both of
his parents are listed as being born in Pennsylvania. His pension records
state that his widow was Rachel A Johnson.4 An uncited source on
the internet says that her maiden name was Krepps.
I'm unable to find this family on the 1850 census.
The question is, of course, Is the elder Johnson the same Elijah Johnson
often listed for Dunbar? It's possible, however, that the family came to
Fayette from elsewhere at a later date.
UPDATE: The tester has upgraded to the Big Y, which looks at up to 15
million markers on the Y chromosome. He has a marker called R1b-BY91591.
It constitutes a subclade of haplogroup R1b-A5388. This makes him a
descendant of the half-mythical Naill of the Nine Hostages through his son
Eógan mac Néill. My work on this has brought the invitation
as a co-admin of Cenél
nEógain Y-DNA Project. I have my own page at the R1b-A5388 Y-DNA
OLD: In the summer of 2019, a patrilineal descendant of Elijah's tested
his Y chromosome. Of nearly 500 matches, only one Johnson is listed. The
scarcity of the name among his haplotype suggests it came into the genetic
lineage at a comparatively recent date. Still, virtually all the matches
have Scottish names. Elijah's paternal forebears likely came from Scotland
or Ireland. I'm tracking the descendants of Wesley Johnson (1808-1837),
also of Fayette County, in hopes that a male descendant will step forward
with a Y-DNA test. If the tester matches, then Elijah and Wesley were
The same Johnson cousin has recently upgraded to a product called Y-111.
It has reduced the matches from hundreds to a handful. The closest matches
have the names Neel and Gilmore. We should not draw too much from that yet,
though. More testing needs to be done. But these families have tested for
the Big Y, which looks at up to 15 million positions on the Y-DNA. From
this we can gather that Elijah could be of the haplogroup R1b-A5386. If
that's true, then we've narrowed possible matches further. That haplogroup,
though, may be several hundred years old.
But there's more. Fellow Johnson researcher, Sue Warren, noted that some
Neals (etc) had changed their name to Johnson after the American Revolution.
These Neals, she had read, are descended from Niall of the
Nine Hostages. I checked. Indeed, Elijah's first 25 markers are a
perfect match! They are referred to as the Irish Modal Haplotype (IMH) and
belong to an estimated 17% of the population of Northwest Ireland.
This doesn't prove descent from Niall, of course. He is, after all, a
semi-mythical figure. But it does show us the population from which Elijah
likely came and that might well help us determine whether his ancestors,
only a few generations removed, were Neals. More to come.
All original portions ©
Michael Cooley, OrbitInternet.net -