Thursday, September 20, 2018

Whatever happened to Joshua O. Johns?

On April 9, 1865, Pvt. Joshua O. Johns rode into the village of Appomattox Court House. He was one of three Confederates on the grounds of the McLean home as Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Johns held the horses, his, Lee's favorite mount Traveler, and that of Col. Charles Marshall, as the details were worked out. Following the surrender, Johns rode out of the village, and pretty much out of the pages of history. What happened to Johns after the war?

Joshua O. Johns was a member of Company C, 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry. His compiled service record from the National Archives is really short. It states he joined the Battalion on December 21, 1863, at Orange Court House. He was present in September and October 1864 and November and December 1864. On April 9, 1865, Johns was paroled at Appomattox Court House.

It appears that Joshua Johns was born in Mississippi, and then enlisted on July 11, 1861, at Camp Perkins, Virginia, in Company E, 8th Louisiana Infantry. He was present or accounted for (sometimes sick) until January-February 1862, when he was "Detailed as Courier for Genl. Jackson." In August 1863, that detail changed to "Courier for General Ewell." Johns was reported present in September-October 1863. Was he back with the 8th Louisiana Infantry? The next card in his file states that on December 11, 1863, he was  "Transferred... to Capt. Taylor Co. C. Bat of S. G., and C. [Scouts, Guides, and Couriers]". Who is Captain Taylor? Yet another card, this time stating that he was 23 years old when he enlisted, that he was born in Mississippi, and living near Winnsboro, Louisiana, adds that he was "Transferred to Richardsons Batt. of Cavalry Dec 1863." Johns was captured on May 2, 1863, sent to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D. C., and paroled in June 10, 1863. It also appears that when he was captured, he was also wounded - "Flesh R. side of scalp battle minie..." On the hospital card it sates "Rank: Courier, Co. For Stonewall Jackson." Many believe he was with Jackson the night he was wounded.

The grave of Joshua O. Johns in Mississippi? 
Looking at the 1860 US census, there is a Joshua Johns, age 22, living with the R. J. Pricket family in Franklin County, Louisiana.  This Johns was born in Mississippi, is unmarried, an overseer, and quite wealthy: $2,400  in real estate and $13,475 in his personal estate (probably a slave owner, but I've not researched that out yet).

Looking at the 1870 census, there is Joshua O. Johns, Franklin County, Louisiana. He is 26 years old, a farmer with $100 real estate and $369 in his personal estate, and he is now married to Susannah E., who is 27 years old.

In 1880, it appears that Johns has returned to Mississippi. He is (I believe) listed as living in Meadville, Franklin County, age 47, and married to Sousanna Johns. He is listed as J. O. Johns, and as a farmer. There is a black man living with them as a servant. (First name Harry?, last name Beal.) The 1880 census states he was born in Mississippi, his father was born in Alabama, and his mother was born in Mississippi.

Rooting around on ancestry (I don't usually trust ancestry), I find a Joshua Oliver Johns, born 1834 in Wilkinson, Mississippi. His mother was Rebecca Harriet Wilkinson and his father was James Johns. Joshua married Susannah E. McDaniel.

Looking at newspapers, there was a J. O. Johns appointed the first sheriff of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1891. (Hattiesburg American January 31, 1982.) As an aside, there was a decision rendered by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1883 - J. O. Johns v. John McDaniel. It seems that Johns was leasing property from McDaniels (in Franklin County) since 1867 and was later kicked off that property. (Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of Mississippi, Vol. 60, page 486-7). (It also appears this case first started in 1872)

I lose track of Joshua O. Jones about 1890 - no 1890 census, and I can't not find him in the 1900 census, or beyond. I also do not see a pension application for him. There is a J. O. Johns buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The stone has no dates, and I cannot find a wife nearby.

So did Joshua O. Johns, private, Company C, 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry return to Mississippi after the war, get married, and lease land in Franklin County? Did he marry Susannah McDaniel, and then get into a legal battle with a member of the McDaniel family? Did Johns lose his land and move to Hattiesburg where he became chief of police? Is he buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Hattiesburg? Got any details you can add?

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