Polk County, Florida


1857 - 1907

William Jackson Johnson was born in Columbia County, Florida on May 16, 1857, son of Elias E. and Elizabeth (Keen) Johnson. He grew up near Lake City and moved to south Florida with his parents in 1866 settling near Fort Ogden in Manatee (present day DeSoto) County.

In the mid-1870's the Johnson family moved to Polk County homesteading near Bereah. On January 4, 1877 William Jackson Johnson married Mary Ann Douglas. She was born August 4, 1858 in Clinch County, Georgia daughter of John and Rachel (Stephens) Douglas. Her family had also settled in Polk County in the mid-1870's. Children of William Jackson & Mary Ann Johnson:

1. Effie Naomi Johnson, born January 9, 1878; married Oscar Hansen, 1st; married __________, 2nd.

2. Virginia Donella Johnson, born February 4, 1880; died 1903; buried in Wauchula Cemetery.

3. Ada Fonella Johnson, born September 6, 1882 at Lake Streaty in Polk County; died June 3, 1966 at Fort Ogden, Florida; married at Punta Gorda, February 26, 1905 Elias Britton Keen, son of Henry Harrison & Mary Jane (Gill) Keen.

4. Lucian Mitchell Johnson, born March 13, 1883; married Dessa Pare.

5. Ivan Decatur Johnson, born April 20, 1885 at Athens in present day Hardee County; died December 16, 1958 at Fort Meade, Florida; married at Bartow in Polk County on July 6, 1908 Bessie Bell Cannons daughter of George Edward and Mary Elizabeth (Gillispie) Cannons.

6. Levy William Johnson, born March 9, 1888; died 1904; buried in Wauchula Cemetery.

7. Elijah Johnson, twin, stillborn.

8. Elisa Johnson, twin, stillborn.

9. Bethel Curtis Johnson, born December 6, 1892; died April 6, 1973; buried in Greenville, Florida; married 1st on August 2, 1914, Ruby Ethel Thurmond, daughter of J. W. & Cornelia A. (Brown) Thurmond; married 2nd, Florence E. Waters, daughter of Ben and Lizzie (Green) Waters.

10. Lessie Helon Johnson, born January 3, 1895; married on November 20, 1919 in Media, Pennsylvania, James Samuel Simmons, son of James Alfred and Minnie (Styres) Simmons.

11. Lelah Bonita Johnson, born 1897; died 1899; buried Wauchula Cemetery.

12. Lily Belle Johnson, born May, 1902; married George Eggar.

William Johnson was listed in the 1880 Polk County census with his wife and two children, Effie and Virginia. His neighbors included his parents, Elias & Elizabeth Johnson, families of his brother, Moses Johnson and his sister, Georgia McClenithan and his wife's parents, John and Rachel Douglas.

His neighbors in the 1885 Polk County census consisted of his wife's relatives: her widowed mother, her uncle, Barzilla Douglas, her brother, A. T. Douglas (who married William's sister, Marietta Caroline Johnson) and her cousin, Wiley Douglas.

About 1899 William moved to their homestead near Wauchula. Mrs. Lessie (Johnson) Simmons described her father's homestead in a letter in 1977:

We moved to the homestead in DeSoto County in 1899. We had one big room with a fireplace in one end and three beds in the other end. On the north side of the log house was a board room for the kitchen and dining room. The four boys slept in the barn loft. We had about fifteen acres in farm land and citrus trees: rough lemons, sour oranges and sweet oranges. One tree bore sweet oranges on one side and grapefruit on the other. About 1901 we built a double-pen log house with a separate kitchen. I had a mighty good father but he sure raised a lot of cane——sugar cane that is!!!

William J. Johnson was enumerated in the Wauchula section of the 1900 DeSoto County census. They had been married twenty-three years and had twelve children of which nine were still living.

William Jackson Johnson died June 16, 1907 and was buried in the Wauchula Cemetery. Mary Ann (Douglas) Johnson died in January of 1928 in Bradenton, Florida and was buried in the Wauchula Cemetery.

SOURCES: Alice (Johnson) Patrick; Lessie (Johnson) Simmons; Mrs. Florence Johnson; Lenora (Keen) Mulford; Census: 1860 Columbia County, Florida; 1870 Manatee County, Florida; 1880, 1885 Polk County, Florida; 1900 DeSoto County, Florida; Elias E. Johnson family Bible; Polk County marriages; Fort Ogden & Wauchula cemeteries; Elias E. Johnson in South Florida Pioneers, Issue #1; John Douglas in South Florida Pioneers, Issue #12.


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