Captain Peter Johnson
Stromstad, Denmark, April 16, 1812
Grave stone inscription of Peter and Wilhelmina:
and Mother Thou have from us flown to the regions far above.
Peter Johnson was a true Viking, 6’ 7” in height, and gone to sea
as a mere lad. Family lore states he left Denmark as a stowaway on a
ship headed for the United States. However he got on the wrong ship
and ended up in Greece. It is not known just how he ended up with his
own ship at such an early age. Some say he must have been a Pirate. If
this is so, he must have been a good Pirate for he and his wife
Wilhelmina were devout Catholic and raised all their children in the
Catholic faith and taught all to sing. He came to the United States in
the early 1830’s, landing first at Alabama. He navigated the
Southern coast of the U. S., bringing settlers and supplies to Texas.
While living in Galveston, an incident occurred which had a lasting
influence on his life and career. A survivor of a shipwreck off
Galveston Island, Theodore Johnson, was brought to Capt. Peter, who
signed him on as a sailor on the “Bellport”, his three masted-schooner.
It was an association which was to last for a quarter century, when
Capt. Peter retired from the sea, and beyond, as the younger Johnson
married Peter’s step daughter.
The business was prosperous when the Civil War began, and it continued to be so until the blockade became effective. The Civil War ruined Captain Peter Johnson and most of the St. Joseph Islanders. During the second year of the war, landing parties of Union troops were sent to the islands, and soon their ships began to bombard the settlements, which they could do from a distance of three miles. It was then the islanders abandoned their homes and went to the mainland for safety.
The Peter Johnson family loaded its portable possessions into his abandoned stagecoaches, drawn by mules "Susan" and "Sally". At Cedar Bayou the stagecoaches were loaded on the ferry, which was tied to one of his sailing vessels and towed up St. Charles Bay to the outskirts of Lamar. Hardly had the family left the island when the Union troops burned many of the buildings including Captain Peter's two-story edifice.
In Lamar, the family moved into a concrete building
on St. Charles Bay. They lived in several rented houses until
1868, when Captain Peter bought Lots 1, 2 and 3, a lovely site
fronting Aransas Bay. Here he spent the remainder of his
life. The property belonged to his heirs until the 1940s.
Click to enlarge.
Submitted by Roger Taylor 3/18/02 (email@example.com)
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