Samuel Johnston

Samuel Johnston and Ellen/Helen Dougherty


Pioneer Settlers of Whitchurch Township

Samuel2 Johnston, (Robert1), about 1800-22 January 1890. According to family legend Samuel was born in Munahen (sic?) Township (Townland?), County Tyrone, Ireland. In 1828 Samuel married Helen or Ellen Dougherty of County Monaghan, Ireland. In 1833 Samuel, Ellen and their three young children set off on a sailing ship bound for North America. Tragically, they lost their three month old daughter on the voyage and she was buried at sea. It is thought that the name Mary Ann would have been intended for her. The next child Samuel and Ellen had was named Mary Ann. Brown’s Toronto City and Home District Directory, 1846-47 records “Samuel Johnston” residing at Lot 13, Concession 8, Whitchurch Township, York County. The 1861 Canada West census shows that Samuel and Ellen, both aged 60, were still living in Whitchurch Township, York County. On 11 August 1861 Ellen passed away. Her gravestone in Bloomington Christian Cemetery records her age as “61 years” and her name as “Ellen Johnson”. According to family record she died from cerebral hemorrhage. On Wednesday 28 October 1868 Samuel married Sarah Ann Cool. 1 Sarah had been recently widowed and was a daughter of Samuel and Mary Rose. Samuel and Sarah Ann’s marriage registry is exceptionally informative. Samuel recorded the names of his parents as Robert and Esther Johnson! The marriage registry also says that Samuel was (still) 60 and Sarah Ann 47 years old. The 1871 census lists Samuel, 65, Sarah Ann, 50, Sarah’s two children and the family of Samuel’s third son, Samuel Johnston Jr. at Lot 13 of the 8th Concession in Whitchurch Township, York County, Ontario. Also stated is that Sarah Ann’s children were of English descent and that all were of the “Christian” faith. Samuel’s occupation is given as “weaver”, a common profession in his native area of Ireland. In 1879 both families moved to Bridge End or Kent Center, near Chatham, Kent County, Ontario. They moved close to Sarah’s daughter Maria, wife of John Hood of Chatham, Ontario. Samuel died there at the farm of his son Samuel Johnston Jr., of flu and pneumonia. Samuel’s death registry states that the cause of death was “La grippe – 3 days sick”. Samuel Jr. was the informant to the registrar whose name was W. R. Fellows. An interesting point is that Samuel’s age at death is stated as “90”. Samuel seems to have aged 30 years since his second marriage in 1868 some 21 years earlier! Samuel’s obituary in the February 14, 1890 edition of the Newmarket Era states that his remains were interred in “Blenheim cemetery”, about ten miles from Chatham. Evergreen Cemetery is the only cemetery in Blenheim. A cemetery transcription records one “Samuel Johnson” in Lot 18, but unfortunately states “no stones located”. 2 This is disappointing as a gravestone inscription might have provided his age or his birth date or even clarified his place of origin in Ulster. Family records say Samuel left a brother named Robert Johnston in Ireland and that two half brothers, John and Fred, came to Canada. One went west of Toronto, but nothing further is known of them. A half sister, Margaret married Simon Johnson. They had two sons, Robert and George, the latter a storekeeper in Ballantrae, and three daughters, Crity, Tilda and Janey who married William Rose. Simon Johnson passed away and then on 28 June 1866 Margaret married Christopher Riley, 1804/05-aft 1881, of Whitchurch, Ontario. The marriage registry states that Margaret’s parents were Robert and Jane Johnson. 3 Ellen Dougherty had five brothers, John, Samuel, James, Isaiah and Benjamin Dougherty. Samuel and Ellen Johnston had at least eight children.

1 James3 15 December 1830-26 September 1915 md Mary Jane Armitage
2 Robert3 15 March 1832-13 May 1925 md Elizabeth Johnston 4
3 unknown3 1833-1833 died 3 months
4 Mary Ann3 15 November 1835-15 June 1861 md Albert Rose
5 Samuel Jr.3 5 March 1837-7 August 1920 md 1 Hannah Baker
md 2 Sarah Jane Pews
6 Isaiah3 10 November 1840-10 January 1903 md Mary Ann Davis
7 Nancy3 4 May 1842-5 April 1909 md 1 John Arnold
md 2 George Hamilton Jr.
8 Ellen3 1 January 1844-4 March 1906 md James Carleton

1 Film FHC350 [1030082], Vol. 85/86, York County marriages, 1858-1869, page 349, Family History Library, 1017 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa, Ontario. This marriage lists Samuel’s parents as “Robert and Esther”.
2 Film M-7729, National Archives of Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa. The transcription was microfilmed by Archives of Ontario.
3 Film FHC350 [1030082], Vol. 86, York County marriages, 1858-1869, page 53, Family History Library, 1017 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa, Ontario. This marriage record lists Margaret’s parents as “Robert and Jane”.
4 Elizabeth’s maiden name is known to have been “Johnston”, spelled with a “t”. Her father was John Johnston who is buried in Pioneer Cemetery in Mount Albert, Ontario.

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