James F. Johnson

With the new knowledge of Rosetta’s true maiden name, I searched and searched.  All I had at this point were indexes to records naming Rosetta, but I had not yet seen the actual records.  I found a few Rosetta Johnson’s in earlier census but could not be sure I had the right one.  One had a Rosetta Johnson living in the household of a family whose surname I did not recognize and one was in the household of James and Elizabeth Johnson in St. Marys township, Adams County, Indiana – where Rosetta married her first husband.  In this household were named the following household members:

1860 CensusRosetta’s obituary
James F. Johnson, age 40, born in OH
Head of household
Elizabeth Johnson, age 38, born in OH
John S., age 19, born in INBrother John Johnson of Corunna, MI
Lorenzo, age 13, born in IN
Mary Ann, age 10, born in IN“Sister Mary” from the letters
Mrs. Clemens of Portland, O.
Rosetta, age 8, born in IN
Frank, age 5, born in IN
Babe, age 9 months (female), born in IN

U.S. Census did not identify the realtionship between the heads of household and houshold members until 1880 so with this census we can only infer that these people are his wife and children.  Comparing this household to Rosetta’s obituary, we find at least three connections, Rosetta, a sister Mary, and a brother John.  Still, we need more.

I focused on this James F. Johnson and found a Will in the same county for him written in February of 1865.  In this will he names his beloved wife Elizebeth and children John Spillman Johnson, Lorenzo D. Johnson, Mary A. Johnson, Rosetta Johnson, Frank Johnson, Theresa Johnson.  This is very likely the same family in the 1860 census and corroborates the inferred relationships.  But is this the same Rosetta that married Daniel Rhodes and died in Allen County, Indiana?

Previously when I looked for John Johnson in Corunna, MI with no birth date or residence dates, I came up with too many John Johnson candidates.  With the Will and 1860 Census, I had an approximate birth year and a full name.  I found John Spillman Johnson in Michigan.  His death record confirmed this was the same son of James F. Johnson and Elizabeth from Indiana.  The big surprise was that Mrs. D.J. Rhodes (Rosetta) was the informant on his death certificate indicating he died before her (her obituary had him still living at her death).  It also ties Rosetta to James F. Johnson in Adams County, Indiana.  She names their mother as Elizabeth Waydrie or Maydine (depending on how you interpret the handwriting).

From the Death Certificate of John S. Johnson of Corunna, MI, 
Found in “Death Records 1867-1950,” Ancestry.com.

More documents began to crop up in my searches and Elizabeth is consistently named as Madden.  In 1850 James and Elizbeth’s houshold included a young man named Harrison Madden, perhaps her brother.  Census entries for Rosetta always indicated James and Elizabeth were originally from Pennsylvania, only John’s death certificate indicates Elizabeth was of French origin.  I haven’t started work on Elizabeth, but I’ll keep you all posted.

Here’s what I know about the life of James F. Johnson:

He was born between 1818 and 1820 in Pennsylvania.  He married Elizabeth Madden on 16 July 1839 at Van Wert, Ohio (just across the state border from Adams County, Indiana).  She was born between 1820 and 1822 either in France or the US.

Marriage record for James F. Johnson and Elizabeth Madden in Van Wert, Ohio.
“Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993,” Ancestry.com.

Together they had six children who were all likely born in St. Mary’s township:

  1. John Spillman Johnson, born 9 June 1844 in Adams County, Indiana, died 11 December 1919 in Shade township, Gratiot County, Michigan (Corunna, MI).
  2. Lorenzo Johnson, born February 1847 in Adams County, Indiana, died 29 January 1912 in Owosso, Shiawassee, Michigan.
  3. Mary Ann Johnson, born abt. January 1850 in Adams County, Indiana, married a man named  Clemens.
  4. Rosetta W. Johnson, born 17 February 1851 in Adams County, Indiana, died 18 December 1927 in Aboite township, Allen, Indiana.
  5. Frank Johnson, born abt. 1855 in Adams County, Indiana.
  6. Theressa Johnson, born November 1859 in Adams County, Indiana.

James died in March 1865 in St. Mary’s township at about the age of 47 and was buried in the Willshire Cemetery in Willshire, Ven Wert County, Ohio.  Rosetta was 14 years old.