|Written by Administrator|
|Monday, 04 June 2007|
Descendants of William Johnston (1745-1825)
Of Scotch-Irish descent, the Johnston family came to the American colonies from Annandale, Scotland in the early 1700s. The Johnstons were among the earliest wave of immigrants to leave the eastern seaboard and push on to Western Pennsylvania, and were probably the first family to have settled in what is today’s Monroeville.
John Johnston was married to Elizabeth Campbell and they had four children, two of whom were boys (William and Robert), and both of whom settled in our area prior to the Revolutionary War.
William was raised in Franklin Township, and served in the war under Anthony Wayne at Stony Point, returning to Patton Township after the war. He married Mary (Polly) Clugston, and they were to have four children (Robert, Mary, William, jr., and Margaret). Historical records describe him as a “farmer and a wheelwright.” His son Robert, who was to marry Martha Scott, filled many local offices, became a prominent Wig and later a Republican, and was a member of the Cross Roads Presbyterian Church. One of his sons, William, married Sarah Jane McCully, from another of the pioneering families in the area, in 1851.
John Johnston’s other boy, Captain Robert Johnston, also served in the war, as wagonmaster in the cavalry for Colonel George Washington. In April 1769, Captain Robert applied for a land grant in the area which he received in February, 1789. Robert and his wife Margaret, who would live in PattonTownship until their deaths (in 1828, and 1815, respectively), were to have two sons: John and Robert.
The Johnston property was located near the center of Monroeville. It straddled today’s (in 2006) Monroeville Boulevard and included the present site of Beverly Manor/Stone Cliff Apartments on the south; and Walnut Crossings/East Boro Apartments on the north.
When their original house was burned in an Indian raid, the family escaped by hiding in the nearby grainery. In the aftermath of the raid, the sturdy grainery was converted to a house, and it served as the family homestead right up till 1970. Over time, additional rooms were added as the house grew from four rooms to 14 rooms.
Such Indians raids often left pioneering families in dire straits. So urgent was the need for food after the Johnston house was burned to the ground that 100 acres of the original land grant were traded to a neighbor, Mr. Snodgrass, for a half of beef, meat from nine hogs and other foods which could be spared to tide the family over until the next season of planting, growing and harvesting.
Sometime during the early winter of 1799, a small child was lost in the vicinity. When the snow melted, the child’s body was found and then buried near the site where it was found, on a part of the Johnston farm. In February 1800, Captain Johnston dedicated that portion of the family’s land as a “Common Cemetery.” Later, both the Snodgrass and Monroe families also donated land, and so began the present Cross Roads Cemetery, where many of the Johnston’s were to be buried in the family plot.
Among the last owners and residents of the Johnston Dairy Farm on Monroeville Boulevard were Floyd Johnston and his two sons, Robert and Edward -- the seventh and eighth generations, respectively. Floyd’s grandchildren, would be the ninth generation of this prominent family. The Johnston farm was one of the last working farms in Monroeville when it went out of business in 1980, and the land was sold to a real estate developer.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 06 July 2007 )|