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Wednesday, January 03, 2018
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2015 Which Johnson?

Throughout the United States many Johnson Counties exist, but not all are named for the same person. Johnson County, Iowa is named for Colonel Richard Mentor Johnson. Johnson County, Kansas is named after Thomas Johnson. Johnson County, Missouri is named for Vice-President Richard Johnson. The list continues including Johnson Counties in Wyoming, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Indiana. However, Johnson County, Texas was named for Middleton Tate Johnson, who was a Texas Ranger, a soldier, and politician.
Middleton Tate Johnson was born in 1810 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He moved to Georgia when he was quite young. In 1832, he was elected to the lower house of the Alabama legislature, where he served four successive terms. He and his wife, Vienna, left Alabama to settle in Shelby County, Texas. Ultimately, Middleton and Vienna secured an immigrant’s head right of 640 acres in Tarrant County. He served as a captain in the Regulator-Moderator War of 1842-1844. In the last days of the Congress of the Republic of Texas, Johnson represented Tarrant County. He raised a group of volunteers mainly from former comrades in the Regulators to serve in Col. Peter H. Bell’s ranger regiment, who were active on the northern frontier. Johnson was the lieutenant colonel of the ranger unit and was stationed near Marrow Bone Springs, the present site of Arlington. In 1849, when Major Ripley A. Arnold established Fort Worth, Johnson’s organizational skills as politician and soldier were called into use to help organize Tarrant County.
Johnson received a land grant in Tarrant County following his service in the Mexican War in 1848, where he settled his wife and eight children on a cotton plantation. His wealth was widely accepted and his influence sought in many regional political matters. A settlement grew up around his plantation that was known as Johnson’s Station.
He was instrumental in working with Gen. Thomas J. Rusk in the survey of the Southern Pacific railroad line to El Paso. However, with his many contributions to Texas and in spite of influential friends like Sam Houston, Johnson was unsuccessful in his political ambitions for lieutenant governor in 1851, 1853, 1855, and 1857. He also failed in his election as Democrat governor.
Johnson returned to the Texas Rangers in 1860 to lead a regiment against the Comanche. This lead to a great deal of criticism and personal embarrassment, as the campaign was fraught with frustrations. The death of Vienna led Johnson to leave his command and venture to Galveston, where he met and married Mary Louisa Givens. All of these events created an atmosphere of dereliction of duty and lack of results, which resulted in his censure. However, ever the politically astute Johnson, donated land for the 1861 Fort Worth Courthouse.
Johnson was opposed to secession, but he served in the Secession Convention. He raised the Fourteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment, which served both East and West of the Mississippi River. The War Between the States took a personal toll on Johnson through the loss of two sons, Tom who was killed and Ben, who died of consumption.
Following the war and during the resultant Reconstruction, Johnson returned to politics in the role of elected representative to the state Reconstruction convention in December 1865. On May 15, 1866, he suffered a stroke and died returning home to Johnson Station. He is currently buried in Arlington. He was a Master Mason. Johnson County, Texas bears his name.

Source: Donald S. Frazier, "JOHNSON, MIDDLETON TATE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fjo20), accessed June 24, 2014.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 2, 2011.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association
Chisholm Trail Marker - Godley
In 1867, Joe McCoy diverted his cattle drive around the swollen Trinity River and stranded herds to the north. From Buchanan, he pioneered an uncharted course through Godley, Cresson, Decatur and Red River Station then back to the main trail.... Read More
Did you know?
The first herd to follow the future Chisholm Trail to Abilene belonged to O. W. Wheeler and his partners, who in 1867 bought 2,400 steers in San Antonio.

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