The family of Johnson in the early days of New England contained many distinguished representatives, and not least among them was Captain Edward Johnson, of Woburn, Middlesex county, Massachusetts, the progenitor of the so-called Woburn family of Johnson. He enjoyed the distinction of being the first general historian of New England. His descendants as a whole have been numerous. They were mostly tillers of the soil, Indian fighters on occasion, and were largely represented in the Revolutionary war; some have been members of congress and judges of courts, and many of the family have been notable for their longevity. The progenitor himself was not only the author of the earliest printed history of New England, called the "Wonder-Working Providence," but also the first military officer commissioned in his adopted town, and its first town clerk. He was also the explorer of undiscovered wilds in New England. He represented his town twenty-eight years in the general court, and for a short time was speaker. Several attempts in the last hundred years have been made to write his biography, the last being made in 1905.
Captain Edward (I) Johnson, of Woburn, Massachusetts, the author of the celebrated history of New England called "The Wonder-Working Providence," was the son of William Johnson, of Canterbury, county Kent, England, where Edward was baptized September 16 or 17, 1598. He died in Woburn, Massachusetts, April 23, 1672. Edward was a man of much influence in the colony at large, and no citizen was better known. He was active in founding the First Church of Woburn. His history received the commendation and appreciation of his contemporaries, and his writings are remarkable as an example of the Puritan style. He married Susan (or Susanna) ________, died March 7, 1689-90.
(II) William Johnson, son of Edward (I) and Susan or Susanna Johnson, was born in Canterbury, England, and was baptized there March 22, 1628-29. He came to this country with his father's family in the general immigration to New England, became a prominent citizen of Woburn, and was its second recorder, or town clerk. He attained to high civil office, was one of the assistants of the colony, and a military officer of several ranks, from ensign to major, and was at one time in active command against the Indians. He was one of the resistants of the aggressive policy pursued by Governor Andros. He died at Woburn, May 22, 1704. He married, at Woburn, May 16, 1655, Esther, died December 27, 1707, daughter of Elder Thomas Wiswall, of Dorchester and Newton. They left a family of children, whose descendants have been for a long period prominent in the civil and military life of Woburn.
(III) Edward Johnson, son of William (2) and Esther (Wiswall) Johnson, was born in Woburn, March 19, 1658, and died there August 7, 1725. He was a deacon in the church. He was ensign, lieutenant, and captain of a Woburn military company, 1693 to 1724, was in active service against the Indians in the winter of 1704, and commanded his company at that period. He was twice married: His first wife, Sarah died May 31, 1804, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Reed) Walker. He was the father of ten children.
(IV) Reuben Johnson, son of Samuel (4) and Mary (Butters) Johnson, was born in Woburn, May 12, 1727. He served in the army at Lake George during two terms of service in that war, and died in 1760 or 1761. He married Sarah Johnson, of Woburn, died in Burlington, Massachusetts, April 12, 1809, at the age of eighty years, daughter of Ebenezer (4) and Sarah (Stearns) Johnson, of Woburn. Her father served in the Crown Point expedition against the French and Indians in 1756, and died about November 3, that year, while in the service.
(VI) Reuben Johnson, eldest child of Reuben (5) and Sarah (Johnson) Johnson, was born in 1751, died August 12, 1804. He resided all his life in Woburn. He was in the battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775. He married, August 5, 1777, Kezia (Wyman) Baldwin, died October 23, 1822, aged seventy-five years, widow of Reuben Baldwin (a brother of the well-known Colonel Loammi Baldwin), and daughter of Zebadiah and Abigail (Peirce) Wyman, of Woburn. Of this marriage were born six children.
(VII) John Johnson, youngest child of Reuben (6) and Kezia (Baldwin) Johnson, was born April 28, 1788; in Woburn, where he died March 17, 1858. He was twice married, his first wife being Sarah, daughter of Obadiah and Sarah (Johnson) Kendall, of Woburn.
(VIII) John Johnson, Jr., eldest child of John (7) and Sarah (Kendall) Johnson, was born in Woburn, February 12, 1814, and died there December 7, 1902, aged eighty-eight years. He was apprenticed in 1833 as a wheelwright to his uncle, Isaac Hall, with whom he spent several years in the town of West Cambridge, now known as Arlington, Massachusetts. He worked at his trade afterward for Oliver Parker, of Woburn West Side, and in 1839 built a shop and excavated a millpond in Cummingsville, Woburn, and began business for himself. He pursued his trade there, with farming to a more or less extent, until 1854, when he was elected treasurer of the Woburn Agricultural and Mechanics' Association, and held the position until the association went out of existence. He was an original stockholder of the State Bank, predecessor of the First National Bank of Woburn, of which latter institution he was director for many years, vice-president from 1874 to _____, and president from 1891 to 1900, his active association with local banking thus covering the long period of a half century. He was town auditor from 1847 to 1876, a selectman and assessor, and for seventeen years a member of the school committee. As one of the executors of the will of Charles Bowers Winn, he had a part in the erection of the Woburn Public Library building given by Mr. Winn. Mr. Johnson had an affection for things which are called antiquarian, and collected a large amount of information relating to the early history of the Johnson family. He had a definite idea of where the early settlers of Woburn lived, and delighted in reminiscences of the men of the past. He had a reputation for integrity and fairness in financial affairs which was never questioned. In his earliest life he was denied the privileges of a liberal education, which he desired, and entered trade instead, in which he was highly successful. He was twice married, his second wife being Julia Ann Bulfinch, died May 1, 1903, aged seventy-seven years, having survived her husband but a few months. She was a daughter of Amos B. and Hannah (Coombs) Bulfinch. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were the parents of two sons and one daughter: Rosella Maria, John Warren and Edward Francis Johnson.
(IX) Edward Francis Johnson, son of John (8) and Julia Ann (Bulfinch) Johnson, was born in Woburn, October 22, 1856, where he still resides. He prepared for college and graduated at Harvard in 1878. He then studied law, traveled in Europe, entered the Harvard Law School in 1879, and was a student there for two years. He was admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1881; in 1882 attained his degree of LL. B. from the Harvard Law School, and was appointed clerk of the fourth district court of eastern Middlesex, a position he held until 1888. He practiced law, first in Boston and Woburn, but after 1883 in Woburn only. In 1887 and again in 1888 he was elected town treasurer of Woburn. He served as Woburn's first mayor upon its incorporation as a city in 1889, and again in 1890. In 1891 he was appointed justice of the fourth district of eastern Middlesex. In 1894, he was elected a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and in 1899, president of the Rumford Historical Association. He is also a member of the American Antiquarian Society, and the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. He inherited from his father a fondness for genealogical matters, and edited for publication "The Woburn Record of Births, Deaths, and Marriages," published by the city of Woburn, the series now reaching its seventh volume (1906). This work was arranged on a plan which has been used as a model by many others. Mr. Johnson is also the author of a genealogy of the Johnson family entitled, "Captain Edward Johnson of Woburn, Massachusetts, and some of his Descendants' (Boston, 1905).
He married, September 26, 1882, Mary Elizabeth Simonds, daughter of Edward and Mary (Tidd) Simonds, of Woburn. Their children were: Harold Poindexter, born November 10, 1883; Kenneth Simonds, February 12, 1885, and Eleanor, June 28, 1900.
Source: Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts - W.R. Cutter - pp. 135-136.
William Johnson, the English progenitor of this family, lived at Canterbury, county Kent, England, where his children were baptized in St. George's Church. His wife, Susan was buried there, April 10, 1604. He married, August 24, 1617, (licensed August 25, 1617) Ann Cobb, widow. She was buried September 27, 1637, and he was buried December 27, 1637. William Johnson was a joiner by trade. Children all baptized at St. George's, Canterbury:
1. Matthew, February 17, 1593-94. 2. George, 1594. 3. George, January 18, 1595-96. 4. Edward, September 16 or 17, 1598, mentioned below. 5. Elizabeth, September 6, 1601, buried September 14. 6. Thomas, August 8, 1602. 7. Daniel and Bartholomew (twins), March 18, 1602-03.
Edward Francis Johnson, who wrote a sketch of this family, says: "The conjecture which I formed regarding these (dates of baptisms and burials extending back to 1545 in St. George's register) was that 'William Johnson, parrish clarke' was the father of the town clerk of Woburn, and that he occasionally put in a back item into the records when he came to have charge of them; that he was born in 1559; that perhaps the John Johnson who died in 1598 was his father, born perhaps in 1541 or 1542; that the William Johnson who died in 1576, was his grandfather, 'husband of Elizabeth,' who died in 1575."
(II) Captain Edward Johnson, son of William Johnson (1), was born in Canterbury, Kent, England, and baptized in St. George's parish, September 16 or 17, 1598; died in Woburn, Massachusetts, April 23, 1672. He came to Charlestown with the first immigrants and soon returned to England, about 1636, brought his family, wife, seven children and three servants. He was famous as a surveyor and early explorer of New England. In 1665, he was appointed by the general court to make a map of the colony in conjunction with William Stevens. He was recognized as one of the leading historians of his day, and in 1672, after his death, the general court in carrying out its purposes to preserve records and historical data relating to the establishment of the colonies and towns, appointed a committee "to make diligent inquiry in the several parts of this jurisdiction concerning anything of moment that has passed, and in particular of what has been collected by Mr. John Winthrop, Sen., Mr. Thomas Dudley, Mr. John Wilson, Sen., Capt. Edward Johnson, or any other; that so, matter being prepared, some meet person may be appointed by this court to put the same into form; that so, after perusal of the same, it may be put to press."
His will dated, May 15, 1671, mentions wife, Susan, his children and some of his grandchildren. The inventory returned May 11, 1672, gives the value of his estate at seven hundred and six pounds, five shillings, six pence; homestead one hundred and fifty-nine pounds; rents supposed to be due in England; houses and lands in England three hundred pounds. The will of his wife, Susan, dated December 14, 1689, proved March 2, 1690-91, mentions her husband, Captain Edward Johnson, and states that her son John, with whom she had lived since her husband died, had taken care of her during that time and was entitled to what estate she had. She died March 7, 1689-90.
Captain Johnson was a man of much influence in the colony, held many offices and was in many ways the foremost citizen of Woburn. At the first meeting of the commissioners for the settlement of the town he presented a plan of the territory and was chosen first town clerk. He was active in founding the first church, and commanded the first military company of Woburn. He is the author of some unique lines at the beginning of the first volume of the Woburn town records. "His verse-making when compared with the work of other writers of his time in this country was no better nor worse than theirs. No fuller account of the origin and settlement of a town of equal age in New England has been given than that by him of Woburn, in his "Wonder-working Providence of Zion's Savior in New England," first printed in London in 1653.
Children, all born in Canterbury, England: 1. Edward, baptized November 7, 1619, married Katherine Baker. 2. George, baptized April 3, 1625. 3. Susan, baptized April 1, 1627, married James Prentice, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. 4. William, baptized March 22, 1628-29, mentioned below. 5. Martha, baptized May 1, 1631, married John Amee, of Boston. 6. Matthew, baptized March 30, 1633, married Hannah Palfrey and Rebecca Wiswall. 7. John, baptized May 10, 1635, married April 28, 1657, Bethia Reed.
(III) Major William Johnson, son of Captain Edward Johnson (2), was born in Canterbury, England, in 1629, and baptized March 22, 1629, married May 16, 1655, Esther Wiswall, daughter of Elder Thomas Wiswall, of Dorchester and Newton. She died December 27, 1707. He attained high civic offices; was assistant to the colony; major in the military forces of the colony and during the days of Governor Andros was one of those who resisted the aggressive acts curtailing the liberty hitherto enjoyed by the colonists, and commanded, until superseded by an officer deputed by the government, a detachment of about three hundred men, assembled in arms at Billerica, August 23, 1695, because of the killing or capture of fifteen persons at that place by hostile Indians. As second in command he accompanied the troops in a search for the enemy, but the Indians made good their escape. He was the second town clerk and held many town offices. He died May 22, 1704, in Woburn. His will was dated May 10, 1695, and proved September 11, 1704.
Children: 1. William, born February 26, 1656. 2. Edward, born March 19, 1659. 3. Ebenezer, born March 29, 1660. 4. Esther, born April 13, 1662, married Lt. Seth Wyman. 5. Joseph, born June 14, 1664. 6. Benjamin, born October 15, 1666, mentioned below. 7. Josiah, born January 15, 1669. 8. Susanna, born June 29, 1671, married, June 6, 1704, Daniel Reed. 9. Abigail, born October 4, 1674, married, June 14, 1705, Samuel Pierce.
(IV) Sergeant Benjamin Johnson, son of Major William Johnson (3), was born in Woburn, October 15, 1666. Married, November 22, 1699, Sarah (Wyman) Walker, of Billerica. He died April 22, 1733, and she died January 17, 1749. He was known as a sergeant from 1700 to the time of his death. His house was that occupied later by Rev. Thomas Jones and the latter's successors, the Marrett and Sewall families. It was destroyed by fire, April 23, 1897. He gave, June 3, 1732, to the Second Precinct of Woburn (now Burlington) land for a meeting house at a place called Forest Field Hill "near my dwelling house, on the road leading to Sandy Bridge."
Children: 1. Benjamin, born October 8, 1700, mentioned below. 2. Josiah, born July 28, 1702, settled in Billerica. 3. Seth, born April 23, 1707. 4. Sarah, born March 19, 1709, married David Comee, of Lexington. 5. Hanna, born September 7, 1710. 6. Esther, born February 2, 1715, married John Wood.
(V) Captain Benjamin Johnson, son of Sergeant Benjamin Johnson (4), was born in Woburn, October 8, 1700. Married (first), April 10, 1728, Mary Walker, daughter of Samuel and Judith (Howard) Walker, of Woburn, who died June 5, 1763-63. He married (second), February 14, 1765, Mary (Pierce) Wyman, widow of Solomon Wyman and daughter of John and Mary (Parker) Pierce. He was captain of a Woburn company in the Crown Point Expedition from September 8, 1755, to January 3, 1756. The records show that he lost his gun, sword and certain articles of clothing for which he was reimbursed by the government. As one of the four selectmen of Woburn, he signed a census of that town in 1764. He was styled a captain in the alarm list of Captain Walker's company, Woburn second precinct, March 9, 1776. He died May 4, 1781, aged eighty years, seven months. His estate was settled by the agreement of the heirs. He deeded the land for the old burial ground to the town, this plot having belonged to his family, but having been used as a cemetery for forty years before the deed was given, June 26, 1769, the condition being that the wall around the grounds be kept up.
Children by the first wife: 1. Joel, born January 31, 1729, died September 4, 1758. 2. Mary, born November 6, 1730, married (first) Eli Wyman, and (second) Abraham Sheldon, she being his fourth wife. 3. Azal or Asahel, July 9, 1732. 4. Judith, born February 26, 1734, married David Wilson, of Bedford; married (second) James Johnson. 5. Benjamin, born April 9, 1736, died June 21, 1756, when a student at Harvard, by drowning. 6. Keziah, born April 9, 1741, married June 25, 1761, Jacob Kendall; married (second), February 2, 1779, Amos Wyman; married (third), October 22, 1799, Ebenezer Richardson as his seventh wife; she died November 13, 1814, aged seventy-five years. 7. Ruth, born June 1, 1743, married October 31, 1765, Silas Cutler; died April 4, 1802; resided in Templeton, Massachusetts. 8. Abijah, born June 13, 1745; mentioned below. 9. Enoch, born May 12, 1748, died April 13, 1750.
(VI) Abijah Johnson, son of Captain Benjamin Johnson (5), was born in Woburn, June 13, 1745. Married, May 7, 1765, Mary Reed, daughter of George and Mary (Wood) Reed, of Woburn. He was located in the West School district, Woburn Second Parish, in 1791; was in Captain Walker's company at Lexington in 1775; belonged to the Third Company in Woburn, Captain Timothy Winn in 1775; was corporal in Captain Paul Dudley's regiment, at the battle of Bunker Hill. He was also in the Rhode Island campaign in 1778 under Captain Dix. He died May 10, 1809, aged sixty-four at Burlington, Massachusetts.
Children: 1. Martha, born February 28, 1767. 2. Milly. 3. Abijah, born July 20, 1769, mentioned below. 4. Mary, born July 8, 1772. 5. Asa, born November 25, 1774, of Rindge, New Hampshire; married 1798, Sally Perry, who live after his death in Westford. 6. Phebe, born April 4, 1776. 7. Luther, born September 12, 1779. 8. Cyrus, born September 8, 1781. 9. Lucy, born August 4, 1785.
(VII) Abijah Johnson, son of Abijah Johnson (6), was born in Burlington, Massachusetts, July 20, 1769. He settled in Rindge, New Hampshire, in 1803, and died there October 2, 1819, very suddenly, while engaged in threshing grain. He was a prosperous farmer.
Children: 1. Lucy, born in Newton, Massachusetts, July 20, 1797, married (intention dated February 24, 1821, at Waltham) Joseph M. Dodge, of Newburyport, Massachusetts. 2. Rebecca, born September 16, 1798, at Little Cambridge, Massachusetts, died 1819. 3. Cyrus, born October 5, 1800, mentioned below. 4. William, born February 13, 1803, in Burlington, Massachusetts, married Sophia Gay. 5. Charity, born June 5, 1805, at Rindge, New Hampshire, married _____ Mitchell; (second) ______Collier. 6. Phebe, born March 17, 1808, at Ridge, married Jonathan Perry, of Dover, Massachusetts. 7. Augustus, born December 8, 1810, in Rindge, died unmarried; a mariner. 8. Eliza, born June 21, 1813, in Rindge, married, 1840, Asahel Davis. 9. Sophronia, born November 9, 1815, at Rindge, married Ari Davis, and resided in Lowell, Massachusetts.
(VIII) Cyrus Johnson, son of Abijah Johnson (7), was born in Burlington, Massachusetts, October 5, 1800. He was educated in the public schools. He settled first at Pelham, New Hampshire. He married September 23, 1823 (intention dated August 20, 1823), Harriet Tilden, at Waltham, Massachusetts. She was born October 9, 1801, and died at Lowell, Massachusetts, July 27, 1866. He learned the trade of carpenter in his youth and followed his trade until he engaged in business for himself as builder and contractor in Lowell, Massachusetts. He built many of the large structures in Lowell in the early days of the upbuilding of that town. He was a member of the Universalist church. He died in the prime of life, October 20, 1837, at Lowell.
Children of Cyrus and Harriet (Tilden) Johnson: 1. William A., born January 24, 1825, mentioned below. 2. Joseph, born February 5, 1827. 3. Cyrus P., born March 11, 1827. 4. Charles W., born April 17, 1831. 5. Andrew L., born August 6, 1833. 6. Horace D., born February 10, 1836, died October 6, 1854.
(IX) William Augustus Johnson, son of Cyrus Johnson (8), was born January 24, 1825, at Pelham, New Hampshire, and was educated in the public schools of Lowell, Massachusetts, where his father made his home when he was quite young. He was a traveling salesman for the firm of Cutter & Walker, Lowell, Massachusetts. He was well known in business circles all through the New England states. He was a man of conspicuous ability and spotless integrity. He made his home in Lowell and commanded the utmost respect and confidence of his townsmen. He was a member of the Odd Fellows. He married, at Rumford, Maine, Lucy Adams Hutchins, December 22, 1846. She was born in Rumford, April 4, 1822.
Children, born in Lowell: 1. Coolidge Robbins, died in Illinois. 2. Harriet Adelpha, married Marcus Cole, of Lowell. 3. Lucy Ardena, married Nelson H. Wardwell, of Lowell. 4. Carrie Augusta, married H. H. Bennett, of Lowell. 5. Susan Abby, born in Lowell, Massachusetts, July 10, 1857, married (first) Fred Nelson Edgell and they had one son, Walter B. Edgell, cashier of the American Express Company at Salem, Massachusetts; Susan Abby (Johnson) Edgell married (second), June 1, 1904, Emory Francis Blodgett, of Lowell, superintendent of the Walter L. Parker Works, Lowell. 6. Rebecca Alice, married Walter L. Parker, of Lowell. 7. Clara Blanche.
Source: Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts - W.R. Cutter - pp. 295-298.
Thanks to Patty Bancroft Roberts for providing this information!
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