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1929 Johnston letter

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1736 to 1929
Location: Virginiamap
Surnames/tags: Abbott Chapman Johnston
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Letter from Jas. D. Johnston to Mr. Mrs. J.W. Topping of Burlington, Iowa. The letter includes the family knowledge that Jas has regarding the Johnton, Chapman, Abbott, and other families. It is one of the few sources that claims Richard Abbott's Irish origin.

The letter reads as follows:

Mr. Mrs. J.W. Topping, Burlington, Iowa
Referring to the family connection,I beg to advise that Mr. Topping's father, Mr. Hamilton Shields Johnston, was my cousin by reason of his being the son of Reuben Johnston, who was a son of James Johnston, who was the son of David Johnston. Therefore, Mrs. Topping's great-great grandfather, was David Johnston, who was my great-great grandfather.
David Johnston above referred to,who was my great-great grandfather, had three sons, whose names were James, David and Andrew. James Johnston the son of David Johnston, married a Miss Copley, and his son, Reuben Johnston, moved to Indiana about 1824. I am told by Mrs. Topping, the Reuben Johnston married a Elizabeth Webb.
Mrs. Topping's great grandfather, David Johnston, married Nannie Abbott, a daughter of Richard Abbott, who emigrated from Ireland. About the year 1777 or '78.* David Johnston moved from Culpepper Co. VA to Montgomery, now Giles Co. and settled on a farm on the west side of "Butt Mountain" (yes thats how they spelled it),some two or three miles from New River.
About the year 1773 or 74', John Chapman who married Sally Abbott, came to Giles county from Culpepper Co., and settled at the mouth of Walker's Creek. His place was known as "Mount Prospect", and is now(1929)owned by Mr. D.J.F.Strother, a prominent attorney of Welch, West VA.
Nannie Abbott, the wife of Johnston, was a sister of Sallie Abbott, the wife of John Chapman. Elain Johnston, one of the daughters of David and Nannie Abbott Johnston, married Issac Chapman, one of the sons of John and Sally Abbott Chapman. They were, therefore, first cousins. Priscilla Chapman, on of the daughters of Isaac and Elain Johnston Chapman married Dr. Thomas Fowler, and one of their daughters, Mary Ann, married her cousin, James David Johnston, and these were my parents. My grandfather was named Andrew Johnston, and he was one of the three sons of David Johnston, who married Nannie Abbott. The other two sons of David and Nannie Abbott Johnston are referred to on the first page of this letter as James and David, my father having been named for these two uncles. My great uncle James Johnston herein just above referred to was a revolutionary soldier and was with Washington at Valley Forge. My grandfather, Andrew Johnston, a brother of James and David Johnston, was too young, as I think, to have been in the Revolutionary Army, but was commisioned as a Colonel in the war with Mexico, and was on his way with his regiment to Mexico when peace was delared. He was always known by his title of Colonel Andrew Johnston. About 100 years ago, he erected at Pearisburg Va., a brick residence, which I am glad to say is still owned by on of his descendants, Dr. Harvey G. Johnston, who resides there.
The brother of my grandfather Johnston, whose name was David, married the widow Miller, whose maiden name was Sally Chapman, and she was a daughter of John Chapman, Sr. and his wife Sally Abbott. One of the sons of David Johnston and his wife Sally Miller, was Oscar F. Johnston, who married a Miss French, and their son was Judge David E. Johnston, who was a member of the Senate of West Va., a Circuit Judge over the counties of Mercer, McDowell, and other West Va. Counties, a member of the U.S. Congress and author of the history of the "Middle New River Settlement."
Judge David E. Johnston went into the Confederate Army as a lad about sixteen years of age, and fought through the whole Civil War and was wounded in the battle of Gettysburg. The greater portion of his life was spent in Mercer County, living first in Princeton, later at Bluefield. Late in life he moved to Portland,Oregon. He died some years ago and his wife a few years later. Two of his married daughters, one Mrs. Frank Wilson,and another Mrs. Pearson, still reside in Portland. Judge Johnston was also the author of "Four Years a Soldier," which gives a personal account of his experiences and trials in the Confederate Army.
A daughter of David Johnston and Mrs. Sally Miller whose name was Olivia, married William N.Gillespie of Tazewell County, Va., Mr. and Mrs. Gillespie had two sons(possibly more) named Joseph and Albert, who were among the wealthiest men of the Southwest Va. My cousin, Albert Gillespie,was a distinguished lawyer, a member of the firm of Chapman Gillespie. Mr. Chapman being his cousin. One of the daughters of my cousin Alfred Gillespie, married Hon. George C.Peery, who is one of the leading lawyers of Virginia, and or three terms represented in Congress the Ninth Virginia District.
The chain of ancestors on the Johnston side of Mrs Topping would, therefore, be David Johnston, James Johnston, Reuben Johnston, and Hamilton Shields Johnston.
Many of the Chapmans who are related to Mrs. Topping are buried at the Chapman Cememtary at the old John Chapman place now owned by Mr. Strother.
One of the sons of John Chapman, Henley Chapman by name, was the first District Attorney for Giles and other counties. Henley Chapman had two sons, Manelius and Augustus A. the former was in the Virginia House of Delegates a number of times, also in the state senate, Succession Convention, Augustus A. Chapman was a Confederate General and a member of Congress from West Virginia.
I will be glad to furnish any other information I can.
Very Sincerely,
Jas. D. Johnston

* Note: Richard had children born to him the 1730's in Culpeper, Virginia. In this line Mr. Johnston was probably referring to the marring in 1787 or 1788. Indeed, Nannie Abbott was married to George Peter Fry Sr., on 3 November 1787 in Montgomery near Giles, Virginia. She was previously married to David Johnston in 1751 in Culpeper, Virginia.

The letter was posted to the message boards on 18 October 2000 by member metroretro1: 1929 Johnston letter copy: 1929 Johnston letter.


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