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Guide to Johnson County Texas genealogy. Birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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Johnson County, Texas
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Map of Texas highlighting Johnson County
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Location of Texas in the U.S.
Facts
Founded February 13, 1854
County Seat Cleburne
Courthouse
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Contents

County Courthouse

Johnson County Courthouse
PO Box 662
Cleburne, TX 76031
Phone: 817.556.6311 

County Clerk has marriage, land and probate records from 1854,
birth and deat records from 1903; District Clerk has divorce records[1]


Johnson County Courthouse was constructed in 1913 by the architects Lang and Witchell.  It is constructed with brick and concrete.  The courthouse is located on the square in Cleburne, Texas

 

History

Parent County

1854--Johnson County was created 13 February 1854 from McLennan, Hill, Ellis, and Navarro Counties. County seat: Cleburne [2]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss

Places / Localities

Populated Places

Cities & Towns: Alvarado | Cross Timbers | Bono | Venus | Lillian |Brair Oaks |  |  Cleburne | Cross Timbers | Godley | Grandview | Joshua | Keene | Rio Vista     Burleson  Cleburne





Grand View; from Texas, Johnson and Hill Counties, Published CHICAGO - 1892

GRAND VIEW

We print this name as two words simply for the reason that the Post Office Department does so, not pretending to say which form is correct.

Grand View was so named from the magnificent view of the beautiful landscape in all directions that one could take from an eminence centrally located in the old town. The beginning of the town of Grand View may be placed in the year 1860. Previous to that date there was a general country store out in the prairie something over half a mile from the Chambers creek timber. This was kept by Mr. J. F. Scurlock, who was also postmaster for the settlement. About one mile west of this, also on the prairie, was another store kept by Mr. S. H. Richards. A few scattered farm houses on the prairie and edge of the timber at intervals of a mile or more comprised all that there was of the settlement of Grand View at that time.

The first mill erected in Johnson county was the one owned by John W. Westbrook, in 1860, near Grand View, since known as Stubblefield's mills. F. L. Kirtley was the original proprietor of the land on which Grand View now stands. He sold to Mr. Scurlock, to whom belongs must of the honor of founding the new town, although Jot J. Smith actually built the first house here. The writer remembers him as being of the true material from which pioneers are made. He was a man of sterling honesty and integrity, of indomitable energy, and a warm and generous friend. He had long conceived the project, and accordingly in the fall of the year above mentioned he took the initial step by donating land for a new Methodist church and Masonic hall, and actively engaging in the raising of funds necessary for the erection of the building. In this he was liberally supported by his neighbors, and by the winter of 1860 the house was completed and ready for use. Around this new building as a nucleus soon gathered the component parts of a neat and thriving village. About this time the infant settlement met with a loss in the death of its earliest friend.

Mr. Scurlock never lived to see the full realization of his hopes. About the commencement of hostilities between the North and the South, he with two of his neighbors, Mr. Lewis Goen and Captain Morrow, while

taking a drove of beeves to Southern Louisiana, were captured by the Federals. They were soon liberated, but not until they had all contracted a disease common in that locality. Mr. Goen and Captain Morrow recovered and returned home, but Mr. Scurlock and a young son whom he had taken with him succumbed to its influence and found graves on the Mississippi, far from home and friends.

There was but one important law suit that ever went up from the vicinity of Grand View until after the war. Mr. Scurlock established a system of arbitration among neighbors, and it was frequently mentioned that he and others were "starving out the lawyers in the county;" and the lawsuit referred to, after it was prosecuted a number of years, was finally settled by arbitration in a few minutes, on the spot where Grand View is now situated.

The town was platted by representatives of the Scurlock estate.

Other early settlers in the neighborhood of Grand View were ———Criner, Walker Meadows, William Kennard, Drew Kennard, Samuel Davis, John S. Morrow, Samuel J. Chapman, A. E. Jones, Joseph Watts, Dr. L. H. Gebhard and S. P. Hollingsworth.

The first church in the settlement was on the edge of the timber, not far from where the new one was erected. It was a log building, belonging to the Baptists, but used in common by all denominations. It had the old-time puncheon floor and batten door, and seats of the most primitive description. It was also a school. Here the young ideas of that early time were taught the rudiments of an English education, assisted at times by the gentle stimulus of black jack and broom weed. Here also the first Masonic lodge of Johnson county held its first meeting under dispensation. This was in December, 1860.

This historic building with all its time-honored associations clinging to it, is no more, and none remain "to do it reverence."

A great change in comfort and convenience had taken place when the church members and Masons took possession of their new quarters. It was a two-story building, the lower being used for church purposes, the upper by the Masons. The school was also held in the lower room. For a number of years this was the only church building in the village, but at last, in 1875, the Baptists erected a handsome building for themselves.

The school was taught in the Methodist church until the year 1881, when a new and commodious academy was built. One stormy Saturday night this house was blown down, but it was speedily rebuilt in a more compact and durable form, and remained the school of the town until some time after the town was removed to the railroad.

THE FIRST GROCERIES AND DRY GOODS

sold in the new town were by John C. Gibson, now of Ellis county. These were kept in the same storehouse that had been used by J. F. Scorlock and afterward moved to the village. Mr. Gibson was followed by the firms of Moore & Wade, F. M. Pool and Davis & Scurlock. These were about the earliest in that line of business. Some time after, when the earlier merchants had gone out of business they were succeeded by others, among whom may be mentioned Engilman & Adair, afterward B. L. Engilman, F. J. Penn, T. D. Farris, J. E. Hollingsworth, who was succeeded by Wellborn & Williamson, and G. W. Hayden.


The first drugs sold in the place were by Dr. Gebhard and two of the Files Brothers, under the style of J. O. Files & Co. Among others that followed them were W. McFarlin, Pittman & Sansom, afterward J. Russey, L. H. Gebhard & Co., Harwood & G. Kann.

In groceries alone were the names of Baillio & Boyd, Noah & Allen, Boyd & Davis, T. E. Penn, A. T. Brewer and R. N. Hill.

Mr. McAdams kept an undertaker and wood shop, and J. M. Aker and L. P. Clack were the blacksmiths of the village.

DESOLATE TIMES

Such is a crude statement of the condition of affairs in Grand View just before its translation to a new site, but of this more anon. In the meantime the surrounding country had not failed to keep pace with the town in growth and improvement. The first settlers were a mere handful in number. The writer recalls the names of Philip Walker, William Howard, Granville Criner, S. K. Davis, W. S. Quinn, B. C. Quinn, J. C. Barnes, Dr. Taliaferro, Lewis Goen, John Whitmire, besides J. F. Scurlock and S. H. Richards, before mentioned. These were about all or nearly all to be found within an area of several miles. At that time these men, though generally well to do, were of necessity compelled to put up with the privations and inconveniences of a new country. They lived mostly in log cabins, very often one room sheltering a good-sized family. But we must mention one peculiarity about these cabins. Small and crowded as they often were, none were ever too full to admit a benighted stranger. He was sure wherever he went to meet with a warm reception, a good, homelike meal, and a bed as comfortable as circumstances would allow. The capacity of those cabins was wonderful. In illustration of this it is said that a certain doctor, being overtaken in his travel by night coming on, was impelled to ask shelter of a prominent citizen, and as a matter of course was taken in and furnished with lodging. The room he slept in was occupied by two families, comprising some ten or twelve individuals, five or six young girls being among the number. Unperceived by the doctor the girls had made down their palettes and slipped under one or other of the beds that night. The next morning the doctor was sitting by the fire when he noticed one of the girls coming out from under a bed, then another, and another, and still another. Struck with wonder, the doctor exclaimed, "Good God! are the gals never going to quit coming out from under the beds?"

The comforts and conveniences of life were scarce and high in those days. Goods were brought from Houston, a distance of over 200 miles, by means of ox teams, the time employed on the round trip being some five or six weeks. The prairies, with the exception of one or two roads from town to town, was almost a trackless wilderness. The traveler might take his course and keep it with but little impediment, guided by the sun in the day-time, at night by the wind and by the stars. All of this had been wonderfully altered at the time the new era of Grand View had set in, and our sketch now brings us to that point.

THE PRESENT ERA was inaugurated by the passage of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railway through the country. Unfortunately for the village the track missed it nearly a mile, and so in the opinion of most of the inhabitants the town must be moved. Accordingly, in 1883, the move began. This continued until nearly all the stores and dwelling-houses had been moved to the new site, and the days of old Grand View were over. Among the last buildings to be removed were the churches and academy, but finally they had to go the way of the rest. The Masonic fraternity purchased from the Methodist church their share in the building they occupied jointly, and moved their building to a location they now occupy. (We had forgotten to state that in the year 1867 the first Royal Arch Chapter of Masons in Johnson county was opened in this building.) The Methodists built for themselves a new church in the new town. The Baptists moved their house, and still occupy it as a place of worship.

The academy remained in the old town some time, but was finally torn down and went toward the building of a fine institute of learning in new Grand View. This, presided over by Prof. Garrison, a scholarly and competent gentleman, who is assisted by an accomplished corps of teachers, is now one of the best institutions of learning in the country.

As might have been expected from the sudden tearing up of a village and setting it down somewhere else, considerable time generally been in good hands and well conducted.

The principal merchants of the town are Messrs. Walton & Ramsey, dry goods, groceries and hardware; Walker & Hayden, dry goods and groceries; Hill & Head, dry goods and groceries; Ross & Co., hardware; Savage & Gebhard and John W. Ross, drugs; J. A. Bill, furniture and musical instruments; A. J. Sewell, groceries. There are also two blacksmith shops, conducted by Messrs. Aker and Miles; a tin shop, by Otho Miles; several saloons, livery stables, etc. Business during the past season seems to have been good, though not so thriving as it might have been, owing to the low price of cotton. Some idea of the amount done may be arrived at from the fact of nearly 7,000 bales of the fleecy staple having been handled here this season. With regard to the growth of the surrounding country, this may be said: It continues to keep pace with that of the town. It is now almost a solid farm. No more can the weary traveler sight a place several miles off and go direct to it. He must follow a road or lane between adjoining farms. The old log cabins are things of the past. Neat and comfortable, and in some instances even costly residences have taken their place, and evidences of growing wealth and refinement greet us within their walls. No more do we see the long ox teams drawing wagons loaded with freight from the far-off South. The iron horse now brings our supplies nearly to our very doors. The old residents of over thirty years ago are nearly all gone. They have joined the silent throng who lie in the elapsed before it entirely recovered from the violence done to business and the rupture of old associations. Like a newly transplanted tree, which requires time to recover from the shock and send forth its new roots, so the new Grand View, lopped of some of its fair proportions by removal, remained for some time without any great visible improvement. The new second growth has, however, been well begun and promises to be more hardy and vigorous than the first. Of course in the interval between the inception of business in its new quarters and the present time, some change in business matters necessarily occurred. Some dropped out and others took their places.

It is with the present we have now to do. The list of public buildings was increased in the year 1890 by the addition of a bank styled the First National Bank of Grand View, with a capital of $50,000. It has for its officers W. G. Davis as president, and T. E. Pittman as cashier. It has been doing a very fair business. In 1891 the members of the Christian church erected a building for church purposes, making the third church for Grand View, being a very fair showing for the people of a small town.

Shortly after the removal Mr. J. C. Denman commenced the publication of a weekly newspaper, which he styled the Grand View Sentinel. About a year after this he sold out to Mr. G. W. Humphreys, who retained it about two years, and at the close of 1888 turned it over to Mr. O. F. Dornblaser, the present editor and proprietor. The paper met with good success from the first, and has

(It seems the Printer left out a page.)


city of the dead, close to where that old log church once stood. To enumerate the living would be beyond the limits of a short article like this. Their name is fast becoming "legion."

The town was incorporated in May of 1891. It has a mayor (Mr. T. E. Pittman) and a board of five aldermen. H. C. Gardner and S. J. Lancaster are lawyers here.

And in this connection it might be well to name the practicing physicians. They are Dr. J. H. O'Hara and Drs. C. M. & W. M. Yater . The early physicians of the old town were Drs. Hamilton and Gebhart, who were afterward joined by Drs. Chambers and Hayden. There are two hotels in Grand View. The proprietors are Mrs. Vickers and Mrs. Marr . Their houses are well kept and are well patronized.

Perhaps this is as good a place as any to insert a biographical sketch of one of Johnson county's most prominent pioneers, who located in the eastern part of the county.

PHILIP WALKER, GEDCOM, one of the oldest settlers of the eastern part of Johnson county, Texas, was born in Chester district, South Carolina, in 1815, to James and Martha (Telford) Walker, the former of whom was of Irish descent, and was also born in Chester district. He was a tiller of the soil, which occupation his father, Philip Walker, also followed. About 1821 James Walker removed with his family to Madison county, Alabama, and two years later to Jackson county, two or three years were then spent in Pickens county, six years in Chickasaw county, Mississippi, and one year later, in Shelby county, the parents were called from life, both dying in 1845.

In 1834, Philip Walker left home and for one year thereafter, traveled from place to place, then came to Texas in the spring of 1835 and the subsequent two or three years were spent in the lumber business. One summer was then spent at Belgrade on the Sabine river; but while at St. Augustine the war came on, and in 1836 he enlisted for the Mexican service under Captain William Ratcliffe, and started for Houston, but upon reaching the Neuces river they were sent back in double quick time to meet the Mexicans at Natchitoches, but no battle was fought and they soon moved onward. After three months, active service, he received his discharge, in July, but very shortly afterward was taken ill and returned to St. Augustine, where he remained for two years, during which time he did but little work, owing to impaired health. In 1839, he removed to Shelby county and purchased a headright of 1,400 acres, upon which he at once began to make improvements, with the aid of two hired men. The country was in its primitive state at that time and provisions were very expensive, meal costing $4 per bushel, and salt 37 cents a pound. All expedients were resorted to for economy's sake, but the first year of his residence here he raised some corn, potatoes, pumpkins, peas, etc., and also erected him a pole cabin twelve feet square, and considered himself quite well off, considering the fact that wild game could be easily killed. In 1844 his parents came to the locality in which he resided , and there made their homes for one year.


In 1845, Philip Walker was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Job and Elizabeth (Landrum) Cooper of Tennessee, and their union resulted in the birth of the following children: Martha Ann, wife of John C.

Lockett, but both are dead, three children surviving them; Solon S. is a farmer and stockman of Stephens county, and is married to Clemence Hill, by whom he has seven children; Sarah Jane is the wife of William A. Clack, a preacher, fanner and blacksmith of Stephens county, and is the mother of three children; James H., a farmer and school teacher of Fisher county, married J. Gathen and has four children; and J. Effie F. married Dr. James Dodson, a practicing physician of Newberry, and has one child.

In 1855, Mr. Walker came to Johnson county, purchased his present farm, and although he at first resided in a little log cabin he in 1859 erected his present substantial residence, hauling the lumber from Cherokee county. His farm then consisted of 320 acres, but he now has between 600 and 700 acres and 350 under cultivation.

Although he devoted the most of his attention to raising stock until the opening of the war, he has also raised cotton, corn, oats, millet, etc. During the civil war he furnished many horses to the Confederate army, also a large amount of beef, blankets, shoes, guns, etc. During this time he remained at home to care for the families whose natural protectors had gone to the front, but he was later called upon to shoulder arms in defending the homes of the settlers from the depredations of the Indians, who had become hostile.

The first Mrs. Walker died in 1867, at the age of forty years, a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and in November, 1874, he was married to Eleanor Laney, a native of North Carolina and widow of Squire Stephens, but has no children by his second wife.

He is a Democrat, a member of the A. F. & A. M., of which order he has been a member for the past thirty years, and in the support of worthy enterprises has shown himself to be a liberal patron. He saw his first railroad train in 1855, at Decatur, Alabama. Mr. Walker's early life was marked by many adventures of great interest, but space forbids a detailed mention of them: suffice it to say that he has seen the ups and downs of life, and although starting out in life for himself with little means he now has a comfortable competency for his declining years. He is one of the very earliest settlers of the country and can well remember the time when the now well tilled fields were covered with buffalo, deer, wild horses, etc.

Neighboring Counties

Resources

African American

Cemeteries

Online Grave Transcripts Published Grave Transcripts County Cemetery Directories

Findagrave.com

Family History Library

Findagrave.com

Interment.net

WorldCat

Names in Stone

USGenWeb


Billion Graves

Billion Graves


Cemeteries of Texas



Names in Stone



See Texas Cemeteries for more information.
Additional Cemetery Sources


Church

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death/burial date and place. For general information about Texas denominations, view the Texas Church Records wiki page.

Census

Historical populations
Census Pop.
190033,819
191034,4601.9%
192037,2868.2%
193033,317−10.6%
194030,384−8.8%
195031,3903.3%
196034,72010.6%
197045,76931.8%
198067,64947.8%
199097,16543.6%
2000126,81130.5%


Court

Land

After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions, including deeds and mortgages, have been recorded by the county. You can obtain copies of these land records by writing to the county clerk at the county courthouse. For more information, see Texas Land and Property.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists microfilm copies of deeds, trust deeds, and mortgages of many counties.

Local Histories

Local histories are available for Johnson County, Texas. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the wiki page section Texas Local Histories.

  • A memorial and biographical history of Johnson and Hill counties, Texas : containing the early history of this important section of the great state of Texas together with glimpses of its future prospects...  Digitized book online at archive.org:  Volume 1
  • Johnson County Bios and History  ~  TXGenWeb
  • Johnson County Landmarks  ~  TXGenWeb
  • Texas Museums  ~  List of all museums in Texas  ~  Hidden Ancestors

Maps

Txjohnson.jpg

Military

Newspapers

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as Johnson County, Texas newspapers in online catalogs like:

Obituaries

Probate

Probate records of Texas have been kept by the probate clerk in each county courthouse. You can obtain copies of the records from the clerk's office. In most counties, all information pertaining to a probate case is recorded in the "probate minutes."

Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence.

Record types: Wills, estates, guardianships, naturalizations, marriage, adoption, and birth and death records.

See the Wiki page Texas Probate Records for information about how to use probate records.


Taxation

Texas tax records complement land records and can be used in place of censuses or to supplement the years between censuses. Because only persons who owned taxable property were listed, many residents were not included in tax lists. There may also be gaps of several years in the tax records of some counties. For more information, see the wiki page Texas Taxation.

Texas County Tax Rolls, 1846-1910 lists FHL films with county tax lists. The lists vary by county and year. Most records are between the years of 1846 - 1910.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. United States Vital Records has additional research guidance on researching and using vital records. See Texas Vital Records for more information about Vital records in Texas or How to order Texas Vital Records


A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Texas Vital Records State Department of Health, the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred, ordered electronically online or download an application for Texas Birth and Death Certificate, Marriage or Divorce Verification Application to mail.

Birth

Online Birth Indexes and Records

Original Birth Records on Microfilm

Marriage

Online Marriage Indexes and Records

Original Marriage Records on Microfilm

Death

Online Death Indexes and Records

  • Texas Death Records 1890 – 1976 [with images]
    Name index and images of statewide death certificates, 1890-1976. The name index has been created by FamilySearch and is tied to images of the Texas death certificates. Few certificates are available prior to 1903.

Original Death Records on Microfilm

Divorce


Societies and Libraries

Burleson Public Library
248 Sw Johnson Ave
Burleson, TX 76028
Phone: (817) 295-6131
Website
Cleburne Public Library
302 W Henderson St
Cleburne, TX 76033
Phone: (817) 645-0934
Website
Alvarado Public Library
210 N Baugh St
Alvarado, TX 76009
Phone: (817) 783-7323
Website
Joe A Hall High School And Community Library
12 Bulldog Dr
Venus, TX 76084
Phone: (972) 366-8353
Website
Joshua School & Public Library
907 S Broadway St
Joshua, TX 76058
Phone: (817) 202-2547
Website
Grandview Public Library
112 S 3rd St
Grandview, TX 76050
Phone: (817) 866-3965
Society Hill  ~  Links and addresses to Texas genealogical and historical societies

Family History Center

303 S Nolan River Road, Cleburne TX 76031, 817 645-0566, Hours Tuesday and Thursday 9am-12pm, Wednesday 6pm-9pm

Web Sites

References

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Johnson County, Texas. Page 667 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).

 

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