- JOHNSON, Middleton Tate
- Arrived in Texas 25 Nov 1839. Land Grant
issued for 640 acres 11 Jan 1840
- Source of information: Lone Star Junction
- JOHNSON, MIDDLETON TATE (1810-1866). Middleton Tate Johnson, ranger and
politician, was born in 1810 in the Spartanburg district of South Carolina and moved to
Georgia at an early age. He won election in 1832 to the lower house of the Alabama
legislature, where he served four successive terms. In 1839 he and his wife, Vienna, moved
to Shelby County, Texas. There Johnson secured an immigrant's headright of 640 acres in
what is now Tarrant County. He served in the Regular-Moderator Warqv of 1842-44 as a
captain of the Regulators. In the final days of this conflict he represented his county in
the Congress of the Republic of Texasqv and served for a short while in the Senate. In
1845 he raised a company of volunteers, mostly former Regulators, and served in Col.
George Tyler Wood'sqv Second Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, at Monterrey. He was
discharged on October 2, 1846, and returned to Texas, where he raised a mounted company
that became Col. Peter H. Bell'sqv ranger regiment, which served on the northern frontier.
Johnson, as lieutenant colonel of the unit, served near the trading post at Marrow Bone
Springs, at the site of present Arlington. On June 6, 1849, he and brevet major Ripley A.
Arnoldqv established a fort and army outpost at the junction of the Clear Fork and the
West Fork of the Trinity River. They named it Fort Worth in honor of Gen. William J.
Worth.qv Johnson also helped to organize Tarrant County. For his service in
the Mexican Warqv he received a grant of land now in Tarrant County. He settled his family
(three sons and five daughters) in 1848 near Marrow Bone Springs, where he established a
cotton plantation. He soon became one of the wealthiest and most influential men in the
region; he is reported to have owned the largest number of slaves among Tarrant County
planters. The settlement surrounding his home became known as Johnson's Station.
Johnson worked to secure a railroad route west of Fort Worth and helped Gen. Thomas J.
Ruskqv survey the proposed Southern Pacific line to El Paso. In the state election of 1849
he failed in his bid for the lieutenant governorship. In 1851, 1853, 1855, and 1857, he
unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for governor. In 1859 he bolted from the party and
supported Sam Houston.qv Johnson returned to the Texas Rangersqv in 1860 to lead a
regiment against the Comanches in a much criticized and largely useless campaign.
During this time, after the death of his first wife, he left his command to travel to
Galveston to marry Mary Louisa Givens. Because of this apparent dereliction of duty and
the lack of results from his campaign he was widely censured. In 1861 he donated land for
the courthouse in Fort Worth.
Although opposed to secession,qv Johnson served in the Secession Convention.qv For the
Confederacy he raised the Fourteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment, which served on both sides of
the Mississippi. He was regimental commander until he was succeeded by John L.
Camp.qv Johnson also supervised a blockade-running system to bring supplies into the
Confederacy. In the course of the war his oldest son, Tom, was killed, and his
second son, Ben, died of consumption. After the war Johnson returned to politics. He
was elected to the state Reconstructionqv convention in December 1865.
On May 15, 1866, while returning to Johnson's Station, he suffered a stroke and died. He
was first buried in the State Cemetery,qv then reinterred near his sons in the family
cemetery, now in Arlington. Johnson was a Mason. Johnson County was named in his
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Thomas W. Cutrer, ed., "`My Wild Hunt After Indians': The Journal of
Willis L. Lang, 23 April-7 September 1860," Military History of the Southwest 21
(Spring 1991). James Farber, Fort Worth in the Civil War (Belton, Texas: Peter Hansborough
Bell Press, 1960). Michael Walter Farrington, Middleton Tate Johnson: Texas' Would-Be
Governor, General, and Railroad Entrepreneur (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at
Arlington, 1980). Arista Joyner, comp., Arlington, Texas: Birthplace of the
Metroplex (Waco: Arlington Bicentennial-Centennial Celebration Committee, 1976). A
Memorial and Biographical History of Johnson and Hill Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1892).
James Pike, The Scout and Ranger: Being the Personal Adventures of Corporal Pike
(Cincinnati: Hawley, 1865; rpt., Princeton University Press, 1935). Marcus J. Wright,
comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861-1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill
Junior College Press, 1965).
byDonald S. Frazier
- Source of Information: The Handbook of Texas Online