Smiley H. Johnston


SMILEY H. JOHNSTON, one of the best known and highly respected old residents of the county of Jefferson, was born in Beaver county, Penn., November 4, 1799. His father was James Johnston, a revolutionary soldier, who fought by the side of his father at Brandywine, when sixteen years old. He was ensign and carried the falg of his command as long as its tattered remnants held together. Mr. Johnston, father of Smiley, came west after the war of the revolution, and settled on Big Beaver Dams, Penn. While there he participated in many campaigns against the Indians. He was with Crawford in his ill-fated expedition. He afterward served in the war of 1812, under Harrison, and lost three horses in pursuing the Indians through the Black Swamp. About 1816, Mr. Johnston, the subject of this sketch, accompanied his father on a visit to the celebrated Indian fighter Adam Poe, and heard from Poe's own lips the story of his fight with the big Wyandot-chief Big Foot. Poe then lived in a log cabin by himself about four miles from Geortown, Penn. Mr. Johnston is undoubtedly the only living man who wver heard the story from Poe himself. On his father's side Mr. Johnston is a direct descendant of Bridget, daughter of Oliver Cromwell, whom the great protector gave in marriage to one of his favorite officers, Gen. Ireton. James Johnston married Sarah Barnes, also a native of Pennsylvania, and they had eight children besides Smiley, viz: Isabel; George, who lives near Wellsville; Jane, Robert, Margaret, Eliza, Polly, Marvin. Isabel Alexander, of Mt. Pleasant, the oldest, is aged ninety-three, and the two youngest brothers are Presbyterian preachers, one of Carlisle, Penn., the other of Peoria, Ill. Smiley H., the second born, was in early manhood a cabinet-maker and joiner. He built the first house at Akron, a storehouse in the woods for Lothrop & Co. He built and hung the gates of the locks at the Portage summit of the Ohio canal, also just below Akron, and built the gates at the Ohio falls. He afterward went to Wheeling, worked there a year, then married and went to farming opposite Wellsville. That place he sold in 1832 to his brother, and bought a quarter-section of land where he now lives. He has been successful in increasing his land holdings to 1,000 acres, and has made $40,000 at his agriculture pursuits. Though always a hard-working man he has given much time to the interests of the public, was kind and affable to all, and has always been popular. In 1843 he represented the county in the state legislature. Some twelve years ago his eye-sight began to fail, and for the past five years he has had the misfortune to be totally blind. Mr. Johnston was married January 17, 1828, to Lavinia, daughter of Judge James Alexander, of Belmont County, by whom he had three children: Samantha, wife of Dr. R. M. Ramsey, of SMithfield; Amanda, who died at the age of thirteen years, and Laura, who married Senator W. H. Tarr, of Wellsburg. Mrs. Johnston, a member of the Presbyterian church for over helaf a century, and a lovable lady, died September 28, 1886, aged seventy-eight years.

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