Tag Archives: Wright Johnson

I, Wright Johnson of the County of Surry

 

 

 

This is the will of Wright Johnson (1774-1866) as transcribed from the document in the Surry County Register of Deeds, Dobson, N. C. Spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and line breaks have been reproduced as accurately as possible.

[page#] 86

Wright Johnson’s Last Will & Testament

I Wright Johnson of the County of Surry and State of North Carolina
being in sound mind and memory and calling to mind the certainty of death and the
uncertainty of life do make and ordain this my last
will and testament In manner and form as follows. First my will
and desire is that my Executors hereinafter named Shall provide for my body a decent burial
suitable to the wishes of my friends
Second that my executors shall out of my estate pay all funeral
expenses and my just debts to whomsoever owing. Thirdly, I give and devise to my Sons
Henderson Johnson* a tract of Land one hundred acres
more or lefs** lying in Stokes County North Carolina I also give him two
Volumes of Books Clarkes Commenter.***
FourThly, I give and devise to my son Wesley Johnson* two volumes of Books
Clarks Commentary. I have also previously deeded my son J. Wesley Johnson
one hundred acres of Land on Which he now lives.
Fifthly, I give and devise to my son James Johnson* two Volumes
of Books Clarks Commentary I have also previously to [Third?] Deeded
to him a tract of Land one hundred acres on which he now lives
Sixthly, I give and devise to my* son John W Johnson* John Wesley’s notes
on the New Testament.*** Seventhly [marked over] I give to my beloved wife Nancy
Johnson* for her natural life or widowhood The remainder of all my
Estate both real and personal of every discription what soever.
Eightly at the death or Marriage of my wife my will and desire is
That all the property which I or the remainder of all the property that
I have given to her during her life or widowhood be Divided among
My Daughters as follows My Daughter Nancy* Isaac Norman’s* wife
is to have forty acres of Land Commenceing on the Stokes line extending
west West [sic] along the State line far enough to receive her number of acres
My Daughter Elizabeth McMillion* John McMillions wife is to have
Forty acres of Land So laid off as to have the old Dwelling in which
I now live to be on her part
My Daughter Mary* Joseph Whites* wife is to have Forty acres of Land
So layed off that her Dwelling will be on her part
My Daughter Jamima* Joel Snody’s* wife is to have the remainder
Forty acres of Land. Ninethly, also my will and desire is that
all my personal property after the Death of my wife is to be
Equally divided among my Daughters to wit Nancy
Isaac Normans wife Elizabeth McMillions wife Mary
Joseph Whites wife and Jamima Joel Snodys wife

[Second page. Page#] 87

And Lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my Son in-Law
Isaac Norman an Joel Snody my lawful Executors to all intent
and purposes to execute and carry out this my Last wll [sic] and
testament according to the true intent and meaning of the Same
and every part and clause hereof hereby revoking and declaring
utterly Void all other wills and testaments by me theretofore [word inserted] made Invoking
Whereof I the Said Wright Johnson do hereby Set my hand and Seal

[Left-hand column:]
In testmt [marked-out letters] signed Sealed published
and declared by the said Wright Johnson
to be his last will and testament in
presence of us who at his request
and with his presence do subscribe
our names as witnefs thereto
[signature] N Freeman
[signature] A Brim, Just

[Right-hand column:]
February 16th AD 1866
Wright (his X mark) Johnson, {Seal}

North Carolina } Court of pleas and quarter Sefsion

The Execution of the foregoing last will and testament
of Wright Johnson decd was produced in open court and
offered for probate and was duly proven by the oath
of Acaberry Brim one of the Subscribing witnefses thereto
and is ordered to be Recorded and filed
H C Hampton CCC

NOTES:
*Names underlined. Underlining looks lighter than the script and may have been added some time after the creation of the document.
**The original scribe of this document used the long s to write words with a double s, such as less, written as lefs, or witness, written as witnefs.
***Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible; John Wesley, Notes on the New Testament.

Transcribed by Glenda Alexander from Surry County, NC, Will Book 5: 1853-1868, pp. 86-87.

Copyright 2020 by Glenda Alexander. All rights reserved.

Wright Johnson, Part 3: A Clue in the Search for His Parents

Wright Johnson was born about 1774 in North Carolina. He married Nancy Wilks about 1802, and they had eight known children. He was a farmer, land owner, local preacher, and Methodist deacon. He died about 1866 in Surry County, N. C.

Mary Elizabeth King, a fifth-generation descendant of Wright Johnson through his daughter, Nancy Johnson Norman, wrote that his grandfather, unnamed, was an officer in the Virgina militia and was killed in 1755 in the French and Indian War, at a battle called Braddock’s Defeat.

A list of officers killed at Braddock’s Defeat in 1755 includes a Lieutenant Wright, but none named Johnson. The information was originally taken from a publication called Gentleman’s Magazine, from that year. Because the mother’s or grandmother’s family name was often used as a given name, I have pursued the possibility that the ancestor mentioned in King’s story could have the surname Wright.

Further information about Lieutenant William Wright can be found in a book called Annals of Augusta County, Virginia. Braddock was a British general who led American colonists in a disastrous battle of the French and Indian War in July of 1755. Lieut. Wright was said to have been killed by Indians, July 12, 1755, at a place called Reed Creek.

“The ensign left to hold the fort was William Wright. The Governor wrote to him on the 12th, [Feb. 12, 1755] instructing him to “keep a good look out,” to be exact in his duties, to make short excursions from the fort, and to apply to Colonel Patton, in case of danger, to have some of his militia ready at an hour’s warning.”

“The Preston Register…’A register of the persons who have been either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners by the enemy, in Augusta County…’ ” lists in “1755…July 12–Lieut. Wright and 2 soldiers, Reed Creek, killed.”

On page 63 a William Wright is mentioned as a commissioner and trustee, in 1747, in receipt with others of 110 acres of land for the use of the Presbyterian congregation of Tinkling Spring in Augusta County. The county is located in the Shenandoah Valley.

© Glenda Alexander 18 April, 2019

Sources:

“I have a Memory Trace,” by Mary E. King, in Grandmothers: Poems, reminiscences, and short stories about the keepers of our traditions, edited by Nikkii Giovanni, (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1994) pp. 115.

William Armstrong Crozier, editor, Virginia Colonial Militia 1765-1776, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1965) p. 120.

Joseph Addison Waddell, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, Second Edition, (Staunton, Va.: C.R. Caldwell, 1902) http://www.archive.org/details/annalsofaugustac00wadd, accessed Nov. 14, 2011. Original from Harvard University, Digitized Sep 12, 2006 by Internet Archive; pp. 63, 102-103, 154-155.

Wright Johnson, Part 2: Nancy Wilks, His Wife

Nancy Wilks, wife of Wright Johnson, was born about 1784 in North Carolina, calculated from census reports of 1850-1870. Her family name was stated in the death certificate of her daughter Elizabeth. The census indicates that she did not learn to read or write.

Nancy married Wright Johnson about 1802, calculated from the earliest birthdate indicated for her son Henderson Johnson. Nancy was about 18 years old, her husband, about 28.

The records show eight children. Her children’s birth dates were calculated from census, marriage, death, and burial records. The ages of Nancy’s oldest children are hard to pin down, but there appear to be gaps of several years between some of her childbirths, so it is quite possible that she gave birth to other children who didn’t survive.

  1. Henderson was born between 1803-1810.
  2. Wesley, between 1805-1810.
  3. John, between 1810-1820.
  4. Jemimah, about 1814.
  5. James, 1816.
  6. Mary, about 1821.
  7. Nancy, about 1824.
  8. Elizabeth, 1825.

When Wright walked from Westfield to Norfolk for his ordination in 1836, he was about 62 years old, and Nancy was about 54. Seven of their children probably lived in the family home at that time. Henderson and Wesley were married, and records indicate that Henderson may have continued to live with his parents. Over the decades, all the children except John W. are listed in the census near their parents.

Nancy was named in her husband’s will in 1866: “My beloved wife Nancy Johnson for her natural life or widowhood…the remainder of all my estate both real and personal of every description.” Wright died soon after the making of his will.

In the census of 1870, Nancy still lived in the family home in Westfield, age 86. She and her son Henderson both died before the 1880 census. Henderson apparently still lived with her, with his second wife and several young children.

Many of the Johnson family’s death certificates state that they were buried in a Norman family cemetery in Westfield. That cemetery is now abandoned and located on a private farm. Few of the graves in that cemetery have stones with names on them, but those that do are consistent with the individual death certificates. Mount Herman Methodist Church, near the Johnsons’ home place, was apparently their church and has many unmarked graves in its cemetery.

Sources:

Death Certificate of Elizabeth McMillion, Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014, database on-line, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Va. Deaths, 1912-2014. Va. Department of Health, Richmond, Va.

Will of Wright Johnson, Will Book 5, 1853-1868, Surry County Register of Deeds, Dobson, N. C.

Wright Johnson, Part 1: Preacher Right

Wright Johnson was born ca. 1774. His name first appeared in the Surry County, North Carolina, census in 1820, when he was about 46 years of age, along with what would appear to be a wife, four sons, and three daughters. He first appeared in Surry tax lists in 1813.  He owned land in the northeast corner of Surry County, bordering on Stokes County, North Carolina, and Patrick County, Virginia, in the area of Archie’s/Archer’s Creek.

In the late 1700’s, John Wesley sent missionaries to America to spread his beliefs among the colonists. A man named Francis Asbury came to America around 1771 and traveled and preached throughout the colonies. Asbury later became a bishop of the newly established Methodist Church. Methodism was spread by means of camp meetings and itinerant preachers who took their doctrine into remote settlements. By the middle of the 1800’s the Methodist denomination was the largest Protestant church in America. Their services were known for their exuberant singing, shouting, and preaching.

Wright Johnson was ordained as a Methodist deacon in 1836, when he was in his sixties. The story is told that he walked the entire distance from Surry County to Norfolk, Virginia about 275 miles, for his ordination. He was described in the Virginia Annual Conference Minutes as a local preacher of the Surry circuit, elected to the office of Deacon by Bishop Elijah Hedding and others on February 17. Consider how healthy and strong he must have been to walk that distance in the depth of winter.

A story in the 1894 Yadkin County News, by Bill Whitehead, told how a Methodist preacher named Right Johnson waded through creeks to preach at a home somewhere near Mount Airy, on “The Cold Friday.” There are a number of “Cold Fridays” on record early in the 19th century, when the temperature did not rise above zero and set records all over the East Coast. One exceptionally cold winter was recorded in Tennessee in 1835, when many livestock froze to death and snow drifted deep. This was only about 100 miles from Wright’s home on the border of North Carolina and Virginia.  Whitehead wrote:

“I recollect on the ‘cold Friday’ that Right Johnson waded the creeks and came to our house to preach. The creeks I speak of are those crossed in traveling from Mount Airy to our house. Where can you find in this day any person who would even ride in a fine rig and go to a common log cabin to preach in such weather as the ‘cold Friday’?

“But the old preachers of an early day had many hardships to encounter. I will mention some of their names. Of the Methodist–Thos. Bryant, Wiley Patterson, James Needham, John Hix and Right Johnson, and later on William Rawley and one of the Roberts. Of the Baptists–John Jones and Jonah Cockerham. The Methodists generally, except Rawley and Roberts, were very poor men who did the most of their traveling on foot.”

© Glenda Alexander, All Rights Reserved.

Sources:

William Lee Grissom, History of Methodism in North Carolina: from 1772 to the Present Time, (Nashville, Tenn.: Publishing House of the M. E. Church, South, 1905).

Mary E. King, “I Have a Memory Trace,” in Nikki Giovanni, editor, Grandmothers: Poems, Reminiscences, and Short Stories about the Keepers of Our Traditions, (New York: Henry Holy and Co., 1994) pp. 114-132.

1820 Census of the United States, Population Schedule of North Carolina, Surry County, Capt. Lachrys District, Wright Johnson household, pp. 760-761.

Hand-written records dated “Norfolk 1836,” in the 1800-1840 Virginia Annual Conference Minutes, located in the McGraw-Page Library Special Collections, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Va.

Wright Johnson, Deed of Trust, Surry County Register of Deeds, Dobson N.C., Book X, pp. 206-207.

Wright Johnson, Grantor, Wesley Johnson, Grantee, Deed to Land on Archie’s Creek, Surry County Register of Deeds, Dobson N.C., Book 9, pp. 12-13.

Bill Whitehead, “Oldentime Memories,” Vol. 14, #50, The Yadkin Valley News, Mount Airy, N.C., Thursday, July 5, 1894, p. 1.

David Ludlum, “Historical Weather Facts,” http://userpages.chorus.net/wxalan/wxfact/feb.html, accessed Feb. 18, 2006, Aviation Weather Center, Kansas City, Missouri.

24-7 Family History Circle, “The Year Was 1835,” blog hosted by Ancestry.com, Copyright © 1998-2006, MyFamily.com Inc., 17 September 2006, accessed Sept. 11, 2009.

Iris Harvey, Surry County, North Carolina Tax List-1813, (Raleigh, N. C., author, 1991) p. 48.