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A Eureka Moment – The Johns(t)on Family Riddle is Solved

Pushing Back The “Brickwall” of the Johnson/ Johnston’s of Fayette Co.

Yesterday I received a big manila envelope from the Fayette County Register of Wills, containing the marriage records of George Johnson, and Nancy M. Kelley. For the first time in a year of research, I feel confidant that I now know which “George Johns(t)on” was actually my great-grandfather. I thought that my early summer visit to the Fayette County Genealogical Society might clear it up.
Well, I did find a Johns(t)on entry in The Genealogical and Personal History of Fayette County by John W. Jordan, in 1912. It looked like a great fit, right up to some very contradictory information re. George Maxwell Johnston, son of Philip L b. 1825. and Isabel (Maxwell) Johnston, of Allensport, Washington County, Pa. I did check it out on Ancestry.com; and Philip (and his parents William and Catharine), and Isabel (including her parents Alexander and Eliza) were well represented in the record.
I had 1870-1910 records of the Johnston family farm, in Crable Hollow, Redstone Township which listed “George B.” as living with several single aunts and uncles. So, which George was which? Fortunately, the Fayette Co. Genealogy Project website lead me to a 1886 marriage between a Nancy M. Kelley, and George Johnson. I had already learned there, through her 1926 obituary that George’s wife’s maiden name was “Margaret N. Johnson”, her death certificate listed her maiden name as “Kelley” and I had found Redstone Twp. Census records of her parents Joseph and Martha (Simson) Kelley.
George and Margaret (Nancy) were married at her parent’s farm house. I was really surprised to find that George’s parents were John and Linda Johnson. John was born in 1824. Eureka = John was Phillips’ older brother! They both had sons, named George, who were born in 1866. I finally got it figured out!
The Genealogical and Personal History also related two interesting personal facts about my new found relatives:
1) John had left home in 1849 to seek his fortune in the California Gold Rush. I guess he struck paydirt! He was able to return home to buy a farm. I have visited Crable Hollow (now bisected by a new toll road), but have not yet located the family homestead, if it still stands. George B. and Margaret are buried at the nearby Pleasant View Presbyterian Cemetery., and
2) George B. Johnson’s cousin, George Maxwell Johnston, went off to Chicago to work as a telegrapher. He also made his fortune, and returned home to operate a profitable small fruit farm. I get a special kick out of this; because after I went to sea to earn the money to buy our small farm; my wife and I now operate a successful Certified Naturally Grown orchard, and berry farm.
Thom (Dunn) Marti 15 Aug 2009

PS: In fact, I now have to leave this keyboard to go pick blackberries and red raspberries – the customers will be lining up soon…

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