Thursday, February 28, 2019

Celebrating the Life of Asahel Johnson

Asahel Johnson, my maternal 5x great-grandfather, was born 251 years ago today.   

  • While doing research about a year ago on I was able to get my female direct maternal line back to Amanda Johnson and I was stuck.  A brick wall.  Hmm… What to do next?  I tried a new technique for me, by developing a research plan for Amanda and in the course of following my plan discovered some valuable sources of information. (click on titles to read previous posts Trying Out a New Research Technique: Finding Ancestors in the Early 1800s, Follow Up Friday-Trying a New Research Technique and My Maternal Line and Mitochondrial DNA to learn more) When I was looking at family trees on Family Search I found Amanda Johnson Browning and about another 6 generations beyond Amanda!  Wow!  I emailed Steve, the owner of the Tree, to say thank-you and ask about his sources.  I was delighted to find someone who shared the passion I have for family history and the dedication to verifying information.  Then my search was on for information about Amanda’s grandfather-Asahel Johnson.

What can I learn about Asahel?

Asahel was born 28 February 1768 at Woodbury, Connecticut.  Asahel is believed to be the 2nd of nine children born to Artemas and Mary Barns Johnson.
  • Woodbury, founded in 1673 is currently in Litchfield County, CT
  • As reported in the London Magazine in July 1753 America-Connecticut“Several hundred people of this Colony [Connecticut] have agreed to purchase a large tract of Land of the Six Nations of Indians of the Susquehanna River, about 300 leagues to the Westward, lying within the bounds of their Charter, to settle upon it.  Expecting that it will be in a short time a distinct Government.”  The land was in what is now Pennsylvania. 

I believe Asahel arrived in Pennsylvania, first locating in Shesequinn and later settling in Orwell, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  Asahel purchased land from the Connecticut Delaware Company on Towner Hill.  The title supposedly proved worthless but he decided to stay and reportedly took 3000 acres.

Asahel would marry Beulah Hitchcock on 3 March 1782 in Orwell, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  They would have 12 children: Lydia, Artemus, Simeon, Amanday, Charlotte, Joel (my 4x great-grandfather), Welthy, Julia, Clarissa, Lydia, Nelson, and Mary.

In 1797 it is reported that Asahel moved into the wilderness with his family.  “His first years were a severe struggle, and he was compelled to work at  Sheshequin to produce grain for family supplies, during which time Mrs. Johnson remained alone with her small children [possibly 5], caring for them and the cow, their only stock.”  (from the Files of the Bradford County Historical Society in family history titled Twiggs from Family Trees Hoagland)

Asahel died 25 November 1857 in Orwell and is buried in the Darling Cemetery.

  • Oh, how I wish Asahel had kept a diary of that journey back in the 1780s from Woodbury, CT to the Susquehanna Valley, PA area, a distance of about 200 miles in a westward direction.  I wonder what he went through to get there and to settle in the then ‘wilderness’.  Looking at the map I guess I can see why the Connecticut Colony contained the land westward in to what is now Pennsylvania.  I just wonder about that strip of land above New York City?

If you have any corrections, additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,

*I always try to remember to thank those who have done a lot of research and graciously shared their trees to give me the bread crumbs I love to follow that help me kick down my brick walls!  Thank-you Steve!!  Steve also shared a link to a website for the Spencer-Benham Reunion Association.  The reunion has been held in Illinois for 122 consecutive years and Steve remembered that Amanda Johnson Browning was mentioned in the minutes. Steve and Judy Witt transcribed most of the minutes and posted to the Genealogy Trails History Group, Carroll County, Illinois website.

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