Fort Johnston

By: Morris L. Britton

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: November 7, 2015

Fort Johnston (or Johnson), a small, transient fort of the Republic of Texas, was between Coffee's Station and Basin Springs at a site now in northern Grayson County. It was established in November 1840. The site was selected by William G. Cooke, commander of the Military Road expedition, immediately after his arrival on the Red River. The post was constructed by First Infantry companies D (commanded by John Holliday) and E (commanded by James P. Goodall) under the command of Holliday. It was to be the upper post in a line of frontier forts proposed by Albert Sidney Johnston. In March 1841 the post was abandoned. After learning of the disbanding of the Army of the Republic of Texas, Holliday left Coffee's Station on April 19. He joined Capt. William D. Houghton, from Camp Jordan, and arrived in Austin on May 3. About this time the post was used as a rendezvous for Gen. Edward H. Tarrant and James Bourland, in preparation for their Village Creek campaign (see VILLAGE CREEK, BATTLE OF).

In 1842 commissioners Esther Stroud and Leonard H. Williams met at the fort during their preparation for a Texas Indian treaty. The community at the site became known as Georgetown, after George Ivy (Ivey) who lived in the area, but later renamed for George R. Reeves, who represented Grayson County in the legislature from 1856 to 1858. The Snively expedition mustered and departed from Fort Johnston in 1843. In the winter of 1845–46, Lyman Wight, leading a congregation of defecting Mormons into Texas, used the fort as his headquarters. The commissioners' journey to Comanche Peak in connection with the Comanche treaty of 1846 (see INDIAN RELATIONS) passed through Georgetown, as did that of Randolph B. Marcy on his return from Dona Ana in 1849. The old road became the upper part of the military road from Preston to Fort Belknap. The community is mentioned in the log of the Leach wagon train. The site is now just west of Fink, a few miles from Lake Texoma. A Texas Centennial historical marker located there says that the post was named for Francis W. Johnson. It now seems more likely, however, that the fort was named Fort Johnston in honor of Albert Sidney Johnston. It is called by both names in historical sources.

Gerald S. Pierce, "The Military Road Expedition of 1840–41," Texas Military History 6 (Summer 1967). Gerald S. Pierce, Texas Under Arms: The Camps, Posts, Forts, and Military Towns of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Encino, 1969). Northern Standard, July 31, 1852.

Time Periods:

  • Republic of Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Morris L. Britton, “Fort Johnston,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 24, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 7, 2015