Harriett Johnston: One Link to the Johnston Family Reunion

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Reunion.  To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


I grew up attending the Johnston Family Reunion most summers. It was always held at the Ogden High School cafeteria in Liddieville, Louisiana, on the fourth Saturday of July. About 100 descendants of William Silas Johnston and Amarentha “Alma” Smart usually attended back in the 1990s. It was at the 1992 reunion that I met Agnes McWeeny Johnston, wife of Roy Johnston, who researched our Johnston family origins.

Before Agnes’s research, I’m not sure if our Horne family understood how we connected with the Johnstons. We seemed to attend because Martille McKaskle Johnston, wife of Andrew Johnston who was the son of William Silas and Alma, was my grandmother Ethel’s maternal aunt. My grandmother lived with “Uncle Ander” and “Aunt Till” for a short time after her mother died, and in the absence of grandparents, they became important family members for my dad and his sisters. But Agnes’s research showed us that the Horne and Johnston families were intertwined since the 1860s. One of these connections was Harriett Johnston, my 2x-great-grandmother.


Harriett Johnston was born December 18, 1845, in Leake County Mississippi, to parents John Johnston and Malinda McCauley.¹

When Harriett was 15 years old, her father joined the Confederate cause and enlisted in Company E, 24th Mississippi Infantry.² He was away from home most of the Civil War and even spent an entire year in Camp Morton, a prison for POWs in Indianapolis, Indiana.³ While her father was away, much of the work for running the family farm likely fell to Harriett, her mother, and younger brother George.

Harriett married Joshua Lawrence Horn on January 21, 1864, in Leake County, Mississippi.⁴ She gave birth to their only child together, John Thomas Horne, in December 1865.⁵ Their marriage was not a happy one, as Harriett and her “next friend” and father John Johnston filed for divorce from Joshua on February 4, 1868.⁶ Her bill of complaint stated Joshua was “a man of abandoned character” and included a copy of a judgment from Jasper County showing Joshua had been sentenced to five years at the Mississippi State Penitentiary for horse stealing.⁷ Harriett also presented indictments from other counties with pending horse stealing charges.⁸ She said Joshua’s treatment of her was “cruel and harsh” and that he had committed adultery.⁹ Harriett was granted a divorce from Joshua on February 21, 1868, and she was awarded custody of their son John Thomas.¹⁰

Less than two months later, on April 3, 1868, Harriett married her first cousin William Silas Johnston in Leake County.¹¹ They quickly grew their family with three sons: G. Edgar, Albert, and James Willis.¹² The family migrated to Louisiana in the late 1870s along with Harriett’s parents and her son from her first marriage. Family oral tradition holds John and Malinda decided to settle near the end of the guided wagon train, but William Silas and Harriett wanted to continue north.  John Thomas Horne stayed with Harriett’s parents in Winn Parish, and Harriett and William Silas and sons settled in Lincoln Parish.¹³ They appear on the 1880 census in 4th Ward, Lincoln Parish, with William Silas working as a laborer.¹⁴

I’m unsure how often Harriett visited her parents and oldest son after they settled in separate Louisiana parishes. It was about a 40-mile journey between their 1880 census locations, so maybe they were able to see one another every few months or at least several times a year. Family stories relate that it was on a trip to see her parents and oldest son when Harriett died and was buried alongside the wagon road.¹⁵ Her burial became the first in County Line Cemetery in Winn Parish.¹⁶ Harriett’s grave marker states she died on January 31, 1888.¹⁷

Grave Marker of Harriett H. Johnston

County Line Cemetery (Sikes, Winn Parish, Louisiana), Harriet H. Johnston headstone, personally photographed, 1 Jan 2014.

After Harriett’s death, William Silas relocated himself and his sons near his Johnston in-laws / uncle — remember, he and Harriett were first cousins, so John Johnston was his father’s brother. William Silas married Amarentha Rebecca “Alma” Smart on June 27, 1888, in Winn Parish.¹⁸ It is their many descendants that comprise the Johnston Family Reunion in Franklin Parish each July.


So that’s one way the Hornes fit into the Johnston family — we’re descendants of William Silas Johnston’s first wife’s son with her first husband. And because my great-grandfather John Thomas Horne was raised with his Johnston grandparents, our family was more connected to our Johnston side than our Hornes. In fact, I doubt John Thomas ever saw any of his Horne relatives again after leaving Leake County, Mississippi, as a young child.

But as long as one shows up with a yummy dish for the potluck lunch, anyone — even outlaws — can be welcome at a Johnston Family Reunion.


¹Birthdate from grave marker:
Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70530876/harriett-h-johnston : accessed 12 Jun 2019), memorial 70530876, Harriett H. Johnston (1845-1888), County Line Cemetery, Winn Parish, Louisiana.

Parental relationship inferred from 1850 census:
1850 U.S. census, Leake County, Mississippi, population schedule, Beat 5, p. 63 (penned), p. 32 (stamped), dwelling 409, family 455, John Johnston household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8054/4200047_00067 : accessed 11 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 376.

²”Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Confederate Organizations, compiled 1903 – 1927, documenting the period 1861 – 1865,” entry for John Johnston, Pvt., Co. E, 24th Mississippi Inf., digital images,  Fold3.com (https://www.fold3.com/image/81095409 : accessed 11 May 2019); citing NARA microfilm publication M269, roll 315. 

³Ibid.

⁴“Mississippi Marriages, 1800-1911,” database, FamilySearch  (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2ZR-R61 : 6 December 2014), J. L. Horne and Harriet H. Johnson, 21 Jan 1864; citing Leake, Mississippi; FHL microfilm 891454. 

⁵Birth month and year from 1900 census:
1900 U.S. Census, Sunflower County, MS, population schedule, Beat 1, enumeration district (ED) 48, p. 997 (penned), dwelling 239, family 244; John T Horn; digital image, Ancestry.com(https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4120349_00098/36072954 : accessed 17 Aug 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 31077_4120349. 

⁶Leake County, Mississippi, Chancery Court Records (1857-1870): Harriett H. Horne v. Joshua L. Horne, February 1868; digital images, “Leake County Court Records, 1842-1938,” FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org : accessed 15 Apr 2019), path: Court records, 1842-1938 > Court cases no 143 (cont.) – 190 1856-1870, images 1110-1123.

Ibid.

Ibid.

Ibid.

¹⁰Ibid.

¹¹Mississippi Marriages, 1800-1911; William S. Johnston and Harriet H. Horne, 3 Apr 1868, Leake County, MS; database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2ZR-R61 : accessed 17 Aug 2018); citing FHL microfilm 891454. 

¹²1880 U.S. Census, Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, 4th Ward, (1st enumeration), enumeration district (ED) 39, p. 39A (stamped), p. 4-5 (penned), dwelling 36, William Johnston household; digital image,  Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241372-00082  : accessed 11 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 456. 

¹³1880 U.S. Census, Winn Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, 3rd Ward, (1st enumeration), enumeration district (ED) 54, p. 53A (penned), p. 612 (stamped), dwelling 1, family 1, John Johnston household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241440-00731 : accessed 11 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 474. 

1880 U.S. Census, Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, 4th Ward, (1st enumeration), enumeration district (ED) 39, p. 39A (stamped), p. 4-5 (penned), dwelling 36, William Johnston household; digital image,  Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6742/4241372-00082  : accessed 11 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 456. 

¹⁴Ibid.

¹⁵Agnes McWeeny Johnston. The Johnston Family Tree (Green Valley, Arizona: Mrs. Roy Johnston [378 Calle de Las Flores, Green Valley, AZ, 85614], 1992).
 
¹⁶Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70530876/harriett-h-johnston : accessed 12 Jun 2019), memorial 70530876, Harriett H. Johnston (1845-1888), County Line Cemetery, Winn Parish, Louisiana.

¹⁷Ibid.

¹⁸Marriages, 1886-1916; marriage index, 1886-1971, Winn Parish Clerk of Court, Winn Parish, LA, marriage license of William Silas Johnston and Amarentha Rebecca Smart, dated 22 Jun 1888, (pages not numbered), microfilm at Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, TX, roll 870594.

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