(1778–January 4 1812
) was the father of Andrew Johnson
, the seventeenth President of the United States
Jacob Johnson was born circa 1778. Some sources indicate that he was born in Newcastle
and sailed to America around 1795, but other sources indicate that he was born in Raleigh
, North Carolina
, and that it was his grandfather (and possible namesake) who sailed to North America from England
Historian Rev. Nash A. Odom writes that "In the year 1760, Peter Johnson, migrated from Kintyre Scotland to North Carolina with his large family and settled in Cumberland County. The preaching instinct broke out again and a number of the Johnsons became ministers. One was the father of Jacob Johnson, who moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and was the father of President Andrew Johnson."
Author Billy Kennedy writes that Jacob's father, named Andrew, a Presbyterian
, came to North Carolina about 1750 from Mounthill
Marriage and family
Jacob married Mary (Polly) McDonough on September 9
. They had three children: William Patterson Johnson (1804–1865), Elizabeth Johnson (1806–unknown), and Andrew Johnson
). Andrew is said to have been named after his uncle or grandfather, Andrew McDonough.
Known as "mud-sills", Jacob and Mary were both employed at Casso's Inn (see below), where Mary worked as a weaver and clothes washer, and Jacob worked as a hostler
. Jacob also served as a militia Captain
of Muster Division 20, as a sexton
for the Presbyterian Church
, and as a porter
for the State Bank of North Carolina
(chartered in 1811). Jacob is also reported to have been the sole bell toller in Raleigh.
The Johnson family log home was located on the property owned by Casso's Inn, a popular antebellum inn located northeast of the present-day North Carolina State Capitol
building. Casso's Inn was run by Peter Casso, a Revolutionary War
The Johnson home is now preserved at Mordecai Historic Park in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Jacob Johnson saved the lives of Colonel Thomas Henderson, the young editor of the Raleigh Star
, and his friend Mr. Callum, when the enthusiastic group of fishermen capsized their fishing skiff on Walnet Creek near Hunter's Mill in December of 1811. The third occupant of the skiff, Mr. Pearce, had no trouble getting to shore. Jacob Johnson jumped in the water and saved Henderson and Callum, to the detriment of his own health. Jacob died several weeks later—ironically, while ringing the funeral bell. He is buried at the Old City Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina.
His obituary from the Raleigh Star newspaper (dated January 10, 1812) read as follows:
- "Died, in this city, on Saturday last, Jacob Johnson, who had for years occupied a humble but useful station in Society. He was a city constable, sexton, and porter of the State Bank. In his last illness he was visited by the principal inhabitants of the city, by all whom he was esteemed for his honesty, industry, and humane and friendly disposition. Among all whom he was known and esteemed none lament him more (except, perhaps, his relatives) than the publisher of this paper; for he owes his life, on a particular occasion, to the boldness and humanity of Johnson."
Jacob's grave remained unmarked until 1867, when the current marker was erected. The writing on the marker has been obliterated from weather and vandalism, but an early account indicates that it was inscribed as follows:
- "In memory of Jacob Johnson. An honest man, loved and respected by all who knew him."
Then-president Andrew Johnson was invited by Raleigh Mayor William D. Haywood to attend the public erection of Jacob's monument. He agreed to attend the dedication; this marked Johnson's only trip to the south during his term as President. He departed Washington, DC on June 1, 1867, stayed at Richmond, Virginia on the 2nd, and arrived in Raleigh on the 3rd. Johnson stayed at the Yarborough House Hotel on Fayetteville Street during his stay, and delivered a lengthy speech about various topics shortly after arriving.
The gravesite dedication took place on June 4. He spent the 5th and 6th in Chapel Hill, where he attended one of the commencement ceremonies for the University of North Carolina, and left for Washington on the 7th.
- State Library of North Carolina Encyclopedia Entry for Andrew Johnson:
- Legacy Family Tree entry for Jacob Johnson:
- Bergeron, Paul H. et al. The Papers of Andrew Johnson, Volume 12, February - August 1867. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press. 1995.
- Savage, John. The Life and Public Services of Andrew Johnson, Seventeenth President of the United States. New York: Derby & Miller, Publishers. 1866.
- Stryker, Lloyd Paul. Andrew Johnson: A Study in Courage. New York: The MacMillan Company. 1936.
- Thomas, Lately. The First President Johnson: The Three Lives of the Seventeenth President of the United States of America. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc. 1968.
- Winston, Robert W. Andrew Johnson: Plebeian and Patriot. New York: Henry Holt and Company. 1928.
- Graf, LeRoy and Ralph W. Haskins, Editors. This Clangor of Belated Mourning. The South Atlantic Quarterly. Volume 62.3, 1963.