Charles N. (Charles Nelson) Sinnett.

Jacob Johnson of Harpswell, Maine, and his descendants east and west online

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Online LibraryCharles N. (Charles Nelson) SinnettJacob Johnson of Harpswell, Maine, and his descendants east and west → online text (page 1 of 14)
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Mrs. Thankful Day (Johnson) Allen of Brunswick. Me., at 87 years.

The oldest liviiiK of our John.son Line,
The year.s behind her brightly glow
With helpful deeds, thought.s pure as snow.

And true hearl.s led to paths divine;

The Father whispers, " Child of mine,

Because of many triumi»hs won,

With rich rewards for scrvifc done

Shall all thy future moments shine."

c. N. s.






Rev. Charles Nelson Sinnett









« « o
t c u



The definite work of making this book was begun nearly nine
years ago. It was at the earnest request of some of the old-r
members of the Johnson family. I was then visiting at Bailey's
Island, Me. I at once placed before these relatives the fragments
of our Johnson history which I had collected when a lad of my
grandfather, Capt. James Sinnett, who had marri(Hl Mary John-
son, granddaughter of our ancestor, Jacob Johnson. He was a
man of wonderful memory in regard to past events in Harpswell
Me. His wife and her relatives had been a joy and strength to
him in all the changing scenes of life, until he came to speak of
their records as if they were his own. To my grandfather's
home, more than to all others, had come on visits the widely
scattered members of the Johnson family. They continued to
make these pilgrimages long after the wife, familiarly known as
"Aunt Polly," had passed away. He and his widowed daughter,
Hannah, made these visits such pleasant seasons that the de-
scendants of those who came to Bailey's Island still speak and
write of them.

My grandfather said tg me one evening, as if the woman whom
he, and all who knew her, loved so much, were with us still,
"Your grandmother is so glad to think you are writing down what
I tell you about the Johnsons. I have no doubt you will make a
book out of it some day." And well did I remember the quiet,
loving ways of this woman, who made every one of her grand-
children feel that she had a special love for them, and that her
prayers were speeding away itefore them to give light on all the
pathways they might follow in the coming years. And I thought,
"The book should be made for her sake, even if she had been the
only Johnson the world had known." She was a strong type
of our Johnson line through its many generations; loving, warm-
hearted and making her home one of true hospitality for each one
who came thither. And in the quiet hours she could tell us the
legends of the early days with that rare skill and chai-m which
has characterized our Johnsons, liowev<>r far they have gone from
our home town by the sea. Hundreds who read these words of


reminiscence will see before them the shining faces, will feel the
honest hand clasps and hear the tales of former years ringing in
their hearts as no other stories have ever done.

All my collections of records of our earlier Johnsons I at once
spread before those who asked mo to make this Johnson book,
and calls were often made on the older members of the family in
Harpswell, Portland, and many islands of Casco Bay. These pa-
pers were carefully corrected, with guidance such as this, and
much constantly added to them. Then also began a correspond-
ence with people of our race in every town where even a rumor
of one could be heard. This quest has been kept up through the
years. It was no light task to carry on such a work when I had
charge of two parishes among the New Hampshire hills, and was
writing much for papers and magazines. Then came many cares
and a removal to a hustling town in the West. But in all the hard
and weary places I have never ceased to see the shining face of
my grandmother, or to hear the words of her husband. Memo-
ries of other friends have cheered. And the finding of far re-
moved members of our Johnson line has given still more inspira-
tion. So, on land and sea, in clearest mountain sunshine, and in
the swirl of the darkest prairie storms, the work has gone on,
and its results are given to you with grateful thanks to the host
of friends who have aided in every way they could to make this
volume complete.

Emphasis has already been laid on some of the strongest John-
son characteristics. Wherever any representative of this line
has made a home it has been one of truest hospitality. Many a
child in such homes has been taught, "Honor thy father and thy
mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord
thy God giveth thee." And then a voice has added solemnly and
tenderly, "Ay, and do not forget thy neighbor nor the stranger
within thy gate." These golden rules have been handed down
from generation to generation in word and example. And their
glory and rewards are clearly seen if you mark to what a great
age so many of our Johnsons have attained and are still attain-

The story-telling gifts of our people have been indicated. Old
and young have felt the power of this inheritance. Some of the
legends and witty sayings of our ancestors have been published
in the writings of others, and have found wide praise.

The power to hold fast to any chosen work of life, and out of
this make a grand success, in spite of the thorny hindrances, is
also a marked trait of our Johnsons. Study well the varied oc-
cupations, by land and sea, of the people of whom this book tells,


und you will be asionished to soe what they have achieved along
hundreds of lines of duty and helpfulness. In the few cases of
failure in the bearing out of this strong rule I have found the
reason, not in any thinning of the .lohuson blood, l)ut in the per-
sistent influence of some unwise teacher, or the lower ideals of
some other family which has been allied with ours.

I have" set in the front of this book the picture of the woman
who is the oldest living of our line. I have done this with the
same clear purpose with which I have spoken ot my grandmother
and other women whose lives make glowing pages of history. It
is that each reader may carefully note how much of the family
sturdiness and love of truth has been transmitted through the
female lines of the faniily. You will notice that all of the five
daughters of our Ancestor Jacob Johnson married and moved into
towns quite far inland from their native Harpswell. Some of
their sons and daughters were widely scattered across this con-
tinent. But through all the long ranks of descendants the family
characteristics are clearly seen — truly a royal heritage.

The addresses of most of the living descendants of our Johnson
ancestor are given, that the widely-separated kindred may try
and keep up the old custom of visits where it is possible, and of
correspondence which shall bring us all into the close fellowship
which should l)e felt. Let each branch of the family keep its
record with care, that they may be added to this book from time
to time.

Edmore, N. D., Good Friday, March 29, 1907.


All accounts examined agree in the statement that our Ances-
tor Jacob Johnson was born in England, and came to America
when he was a young man. The date of his birth was about 1715.
He and his wife, and other relatives, are buried in the cemetery
at Bailey's Island, Harpswell, Me. His gravestone clearly states
that he died in Cumberland, Me., October 15, 1803, aged 88 years.
In another account the date of his death is given as June 29,
1802, but the inscription on the gravestone is no doubt correct.

Many legends concerning Ancestor Jacob Johnson have come
down to us, and it may be well to consider these. One writer
states, "The first American Johnson of our line was Sir James
Johnson, who is supposed to have been the son of an English
lord." A part of this statement is no doubt derived from the fact
that at Plymouth, Mass., was, at an early date, a Sir Isaac John-
son. The legend has the germ of truth that there is no doubt
our ancestor was of a fine old English family.

Another writes: "Our Ancestor Jacob Johnson was English,
and his real name was Hatheway. He took the Johnson name
so as not to be discovered when he escaped from an English
man-of-war." Some others give the original name as Hatheway.
This seems to be partially accounted for by the following state-
ment from the oldest family Bible preserved by the Johnson de-
scendants: "Jonathan Hatheway Johnson was born in Sweden,
and died of the plague, in Lrondon, England. He married Anna
Frazier, the daughter of Jonathan Frazier of London, England."
This Jonathan Hatheway Johnson would clearly appear to be the
father of our Ancestor Jacob Johnson. He named his first son
Jonathan, according to the custom in such old families, thus
remembering his father — also his grandfather Frazier. It will
be noticed how the names Frazier and Hatheway were preserved
among the children of James Johnson, the son of Ancestor Jacob.
Others state that the ancestor, Jacob, changed his name from
Hatheway to Johnson because of a love affair. There seems to
have been a rival lover, to whom Jacob surrendered all claims,
leaving his native land and going to bis relatives in Virginia.
Then, fearing some clue of his whereabouts might reach the home-
land and shadow in some slight way the lives of his rival and
wife, he changed his name and removed to the Maine coast, with
the strict charge that no due to his dwelling place should be given


to English friends. Many sacrificos macU' by this sturdy Jacob
incline one to cherish this story with cai'e. He certainly lived
the purest and happiest kind of life with his noble wife, in a
union which covered a space of uiore than fifty years. If one be-
lieves in rewards for sacrifices in love affairs, such as is attrib-
uted to Jacob Johnson, here is a glowing example in Abigail Bib-
ber, whom he married at Harpswell, Me., December 17. 1752. She
was one of the truest and bravest women the old town by the soa
has ever known. Her gravestone on Bailey's Island, Me., states
that she died April 20, 1813, aged 86 years, thus making her date
of birth about 1727. She was the daughter of James Bibber, who
was born on the Isle of Jersey, England, in 1706, and died in
Harpswell, Me., 1773. He was the sturdy ancestor of the Bibbers
of Maine. He married Abigail Drew of Dover, N. H., who died at
Harpswell, Me., 1783, and who was the daughter of John Drew of
a celebrated old New Hampshire family. Abigail Bibber was a
very beautiful woman, dark haired, with bright eyes, red cheeks
and a cheery smile for every hard place in life. Her witty words
were famous throughout the neighborhood. Her courage never
failed in those dark and troublous times in which her lot was cast.
While living on Harpswell Neck, Me., on the spot on which the
hotel called the Mau.sion House was afterwards built, she was
often left alone when her husband and sons were away fishing
or hunting. The Indians, who wei'e always prowling in the
shaggy forests which then clothed Harpswell Neck, had long de-
termined to destroy this home and take the life of the woman
who had already defeated some of their plans for surprising and
massacring the settlers on the Neck. To shut her bright eyes
forever meant to these warriors that they could safely count on
the scalps of her husband, children and others. One day Jacob
Johnson and his sons went up Harpswell Bay to a tide mill to
have some corn ground. "There is a fine breeze," said Jacob, "and
by four o'clock we shall be home with our grist." He stooped
down and kissed the ruddy cheeks of Abigail, who replied with a
merry laugh and the whirr of her spinning wheel. The wheel
whirred on until the sun set, though the wife knew that the bay
lay white and still as if no breeze would ruffle it for many hours
to come. Singing a cheery song she milked the cows and did all
the household work, as if she had no thought of black-eyed sav-
ages who watched beneath a great pine tree. But at an early
hour after midnight, when the Indians crept to the home, and one
had entered a low window of the log house, they heard the quick
cry, "Ho! Jacob! Jonathan! all! fire your guns!" There was a
murmur of hoarse voices, as if all the men of the household had


returnetl in some mysterious way through the calm that lay on the
bay. Then two sharp cries of the old flintlock gun followed. The
shriek of the Indian at the window pierced the night. It was
answered by a groan from the edge of the clearing. The rest of
the Indians fled and the house of Jacob Johnson was never mo-
lested again. "Ugh! we shall never get the sharp-eyed squaw,"
was the verdict heard by many an old tree on Harpswell Neck.
In the gray dawn Jacob Johnson and his sons reached home.
Tliey had heard the guns, and feared much harm for their home.
"How was it, Nabby?" Jacob cried, as he saw his wife on the shore.
"Oh, we caught the biggest bravef' laughed Abigail, "but he put
his hand in the meal chest before I could aim at him. Maybe
the porridge will not taste well to you." "Everything will taste
sweet, since you are safe." And the Ivisses fell fast on the cheeks
of the brave woman.

The clearest account of our Johnson aijcestor was given me
many years ago by my grandfather, Capt. James Sinnett, who
was well versed in historical matters, and who married Mary
Johnson, granddaughter of the ancestor: "The Johnson ancestor
came from England to Virginia at an unknown date. He was
connected with the Lee family, and probably located at James-
town, or near there. The names of his brothers are not known
with certainty. He is said to have been impressed on an English
man-of-war, and so escaped to the Maine coast."

With such a good history as our forefathers of the Johnson
line have made, we are well content to trace the deeds which
show a true worth, saying with one of a philosophic turn of
mind, "Hatheways we may be — but the Johnson name is one that
we love." The author of this, book likes that kind of philosophy,
too, as a descendant of the line. But he will study the history
well in the coming days, and all of the family shall share in his
researches. ^ '

As has already bt^n mentioned. Ancestor Jacob Johnson lived
on the lower pai-t of Harpswell Neck. His children were proba-
bly born there. Some think that he lived on Hope Island, in
Casco Bay for a time, but the evidence of this is not clear. His
death in Cumberland, Me., as given on his gravestone, would ap-
pear to have occurred while he was visiting some of his descend-
ants at Great Chebeague, or some other point. His sons, Jona-
than, David and James, all enlisted at Harpswell in the Revo-
lutionary War. He was then living in Harpswell, and his sturdy
spirit of patriotism was of great help in all town efforts for
truth and liberty. This home would be near that of the Bibbers,
the people of the wife to wliom he was so tenderly attached.


The children of Ancestor Jacob Johnson and Abigail Bibber:

(2) Jonathan Johnson, b. Oct. 4, 1754: m. (first), M:i.v 1, 1776,

Miriam Booker, b. Hai-pswell, Me., Jnne 23, 1755; in. (second).

Sept. 3, 1809, Mrs. xMehetable Hasey: d. Lisbon, Me., 1S50. (See

full records, chapter I.)


(2) David Johnson, b. Nov. 28, 1756; d. July IS, 1839, (72);
buried Bailey's Island, Me.; ni., Oct. 25, 1781, Jane Roduck, b.
Harpswell, Me., June 24. 1761; d. Sept. 19, 1832, in her 72d
year. (See full records, chapter II.)

(2) James Johnson, b. March 3, 1759. (The Freeport, Me.,
records give date of his birth March 31, 1758;) Resided Free-
port, Me.; m. (first), Aug. 27, 1788, Hannah Bates, b. Jan. 9.
1751; d. Feb. 23, 1801; m. (second). May 14. 1801, Hannah
P. Fickett, b. Sept. 9, 177G. (Sec lull records, chapter III.)

* * . * * *

(2) Sally .Johnson, b. Sept. 23, 1761: m., Feb. 25, 1784, Isaiah
Booker of Auj^usta, Me., b. Harpswell, Me., Jan. 5. 1762; sou of
James Booker and Mary Young.

(3) William Booker. (3) Jacob Booker. ( S(>(' Booker gen-
ealogy, by Rev. Charles N. Sinnett.)

(2) Ebenezer Johnson, b. Sept. 9, 1764; d. in the South, where
he went after his marriage. His brother, David Jolmson of
Bailey's Island, Me., sent South with him the negroes which
had been sent to him as part of his estate, from relatives in the
South. This Ebenezer used to visit bis relatives at Harpswell,
Me., but no records of his family could be found.

* * * * *

(2) Jacob Johnson, b. July 9, 1767; d. Bailey's Island, Me.. Sept.
17, 1858 (91 years). M. Mrs. Abigail (Eaton) Hasey, who d.
Bailey's Island, Me., Nov. 6, 1859 (86 years). These dates from
tlie gravestones at Bailey's Island, Me. (See full records, chap-
ter IV.)

* iji * * *

(2) Abigail (Nabby) .Johnson, b. Miiy 7, 1771 (June S, 1770):
m.. Sept. 27, 1792/3, Asa Talbot, b. July 3, 1769: d. Feb. 16, 1849.
(See full records, chapter V.)

* * * * *

(2) Hannah Eliza Johnson, d. Weld. Me., late in 1850; m., in
Durham. Me., Nov. 9, 1797, Daniel York, and resided at Farut-
ington. Me. (See full records, chapter VI.)

:>. * * * *

(2) Anne (Annie) Johnson, b. 1782; d. Dec. 7. 1846 (64); m..
May 22, 1800 (say old North Yarmouth, Me., records). Benja-
min W. Barker, who d. in Wisconsin. Oct. 11, 1870. (See full
records, chapter VII.)


(2) Lizzie Johnson. C;ip1. James Siiuiett of Bailey's Island. Me.:
"Aunt Lizzie Wilbin' died and was buried in the town of Avon.


Me., whifh adjoins Phillips. She left children, but they are
now all dead or gone away from the town. Her second hus-
band married a second time and had three sons, one of whom is
George L. Wilbur of Avon, Me., whose post office is Phillips,
Me. I think that Aunt Lizzie is buried in the same cemetery
as Aunt Ahbie Talbot, her sister. M. (first), Mr. Sawyer; m.
(second), Mr. Wilbur."

Children of first husband :

(3) Two daughters, who m. and moved to Foxeroft, Me.
(3) Joseph Sawyer; d. in Phillips, Me.

Children of second husband:

(3) "There were three daughters of this second marriage; they
went to the factory to work and I lost track of them;"
George W. Barker, Wayanwega, Wis.

(2) Capt. James Sinnett stated that there was one more child in
this family, but he did not remember the name. As no men-
tion of this child was found in any town records, it probably
died in infancy or youth.


(2) Jonathan Johnson, b. Harpswdl, Me., Oct. 4, 1754; buried
with his wives at Harpswell Centre, Me.; ni. (first). May 1,
1776, Miriam Booker, b. Harpswell, Me., June 23, 1755; 'the
daughter of Dea. James Bool^er and Mercy Young of York, Me.;
granddaughter of John Booker and Hester Adams of York, Me.',
John Booker being the American ancestor of this fme old fam-
ily, coming from England in 1707 and settling ,<it York, Me.;
m. (second), Sept. 3, 1809, Mrs. Mehetable Hersey' (called Hasey
in the old records), the widow of William Hersey and daughter
of Ephraim Allen and his wife, Abigail, of Harpswell, Me.; she
was b. Harpswell, Me., Feb., 1765; d. Lisbon, Me., 1850. Jona-
than Johnson spent most of bis married life on Bail(>y's Island,
Me. He lived in a house which stood near the shore a little to
the southwest of the home of his grandson, the late Capt. Elisha
Johnson. He was a very energetic man and of the same sturdy
qualities as the other children of Ancestor Jacob Johnson. He
was a successful captain of fishing vessels and is said to have
owned all the lower end of Bailey's Island, which was after-
wards divided into the farms of his grandsons, Capts. Ephraim
and Elisha Johnson. He was one of the most earnest patriots
of his day. Long before the battle of Bunker Hill be urged his
townspeople to do all in their power for the defence of their
country. His quick, earnest method of speaking impressed
deeply on many hearts the truth of his words. In April. 1775,
when Captain Mowatt, who afterwards burned Falmouth, now
Portland, Me., was at Falmouth Neck in the Cancean. protect-
ing Capt. Thomas Coulson in the rigging of his mast ship, Jona-
than said, "Destroy Mowatt's vessel and a great blow will be
made for liberty." He at once joined the company of Col.
Samuel Thompson of New Meadows (afterwards the famous
brigadier-general) and the Caiiccau would have been speedily
captured but for the plots of the Tories in the town.

Mr. Nathan Goold of Portland, Me., in his excellent history
of Brig.-Gen. Samuel Thompson, well says: "The history of
Brunswick, Me., states that Thompson's men were mostly young
adventurers who afterwards enlisted under Capt. James Curtis.
But the men who captured the Margaretta at Machias, Me., a
short time after this, were just such men, and their descendants
take great pride in their ancestry. The company of Colonel
Thompson arrived home on Sunday. On Monday, the 15th of
May, the enlistment of the company of Capt. James Curti.s
began. On that day Jonathan Johnson and his brother James
gladly enlisted in the first company of Harpswell, Me., men.
Doctor Wheeler, in his history of Brunswick, etc., calls bis name
John Johnson, but the name is clearly .Jonathan in the old
records. This company contained three Johnson brothers, as
David Johnson enlisted July 17, 1775. The time of enlistment
is given as three months,. l)ut in reality it continued until late
in October, 1775."


Of this fompauy Nathan GooUl says: "Capt. James Curtis
with his men, arrived at Cambridge, Mass., July 30th, and on
Aug. 8th was ordered to Deer Isle, Me., which then had a pop-
ulation of about three hundred souls. They were ordered to
take six whale boats, three barrels of powder, one thousand
pounds weight of ball, five hundred flints and two hundred
iiushels of Indian corn or flour. They were given forty shillings
advance pay and the town where they might be stationed was
to furnish the provisions, for which they were to receive six
shillings per week per man. Their duties were to prevent the
British from plundering tlie inhabitants of their cattle, sheep,
Wood, etc. The soldiers of this company receipted for their
advance pay at Cambridge, Mass., Aug. 9, 1775, and so their
names have been preserved." This list of fifty-seven soldiers
shows the wide influence for liberty of Jonathan Johnson and
his brothers. The first lieuten:int of the company was Mark
Rogers of Harpswell, Me.; Jacob Curtis of that town was ser-
geant and twenty-four other men were from that home town
of the Johnsons.

The duty to which General Washington assigned these sturdy
patriots shows the confidence which he placed in them, for that
part of the Maine coast to which they went was not only in
danger from British cruisers, but had many Tories of the most
desperate character. His faith in the brave deeds which they
would accomplish in a short time was well founded.

Mr. Nathan Goold continues: "This company of Capt. James
Curtis served until the latter part of Oct., 1775, the Capt.
being credited with five months and five days service. The
men did not stop here in their patriotism, but again entered the
army, and many of them had long and honorable service, while
some gave all that men can give, their lives, for the cause, and
their names are among tlie honored dead of the republic."

The children of Jonathan Johnson were all of his first mar-
riage with Miriam Booker.

(3) Bethiah .lohnson, b. Bailey's Island, Me., March 8, 1777; d.
April 15, 1S54; m.. July 8, 1797, Elisha Allen, b. Dec, 1769; d.
April 6, 1859. (Full records in the Allen genealogy by Rev.
Charles N. Sinnett.)

(4) Abraliam J. Allen, b. Jan. 12, 1798; d. April 19, 1879;
farmer at Harpswell Centre, Me.; m. (first), April 22, 1819,
Hannah Hodgkins, b. June 3, 1797; d. March 9, 1855; m.
(second), Nov., 1855, Mrs. Thankful (Johnson) Crawford,
b. 1819; resides Brunswick, Me.
(5) Five children of the first marriagt\

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryCharles N. (Charles Nelson) SinnettJacob Johnson of Harpswell, Maine, and his descendants east and west → online text (page 1 of 14)