Submitted by: Nancy Denty Breidenthal
Joseph Johnston was born in Henry County, VA on 14 Aug 1786, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Ballenger Johnston. The family moved first to Warren County, GA in 1799 where Joseph married Mary (?Polly?) Darden on 6 Jun 1809, and then to Madison and Limestone Counties, AL. While he'd been very successful in Limestone, serving twice in the Alabama Legislature, the newly opened lands of northern Mississippi beckoned. On 13 May 1836 Joseph purchased 640 acres (S34 T2 R7W) in the just formed Desoto County. He divided this land into thirds, selling one to his oldest son Stephen Darden Johnston, one to his son Samuel Johnston, and later the last third to his son-in-law Jacob Prewitt. On 24 Dec 1836 Joseph bought an adjoining section (S35 T2 R7W) for himself. The family members that moved to Desoto County in 1837 consisted of Joseph and Mary, Stephen and Rebecca Flinn Johnston (married 12 Aug 1835), Samuel and Minerva Leonard Johnston (married 27 Aug 1835), Jacob and Matilda Johnston Prewitt (married 28 Jan 1836), Jesse Johnston, and Sarah Johnston, who would marry Benjamin H. Dockery in Desoto. They were joined later by John Ramsey and Nancy Johnston Denty, along with many other more distantly related former residents of Limestone County, AL. Joseph was shown on the 1840 Census with 1 male under 5, 1 10-15, 1 40-50; 1 female 10-15, 1 40-50; and 32 slaves. He served a third term as a legislator, this time to the Mississippi Legislature. Joseph died on 9 May 1845, leaving a substantial estate to his children. He was buried in the Johnston Family Cemetery, but his stone monument has apparently disappeared.
Stephen Darden Johnston (born 6 Feb 1812 in Warren County, GA) also served in the Mississippi Legislature, signing the Ordinance of Succession on 7 Jan 1860. He and Rebecca Flinn Johnston, who provided a home for Mary Darden Johnston until her death in 1862, had children James Bailey, Mary Amaranda, Lovie Elizabeth, Frances Wilson, Rebecca, Stephen Darden, William Jesse, Joseph Samuel, and Sarah Cornelius Johnston. Stephen died on 21 Aug 1863. His brother Samuel Johnston (born 8 Dec 1813 in Warren) had children Thomas Franklin, Sarah, Joseph, Theodore, Samuel Urbane, Mary, Nancy, and Laura Elizabeth Johnston. He and his wife Minerva Leonard survived considerable economic hardship during Reconstruction, never fully recovering their former prosperity. Samuel died on 4 Mar 1887.
There were other Johnston families residing in Desoto during the Nineteenth Century, but none have so far proven to be related to this family, which still has many descendants in Desoto today.
Note: My sources are much too numerous to list here. For further information, you may contact me at my email above.
DeSoto County Coordinator: Tim Harrison
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