Johnson, Grant (1858–1929)

By: Nudie E. Williams

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1995

Updated: November 11, 2020

Grant Johnson, one of only a dozen or so Blacks commissioned as United States deputy marshals on the western frontier, was born in June 1858 in northern Texas. He was the son of Alex Johnson, a Chickasaw freedman from Missouri, and Miley Johnson, a Creek freedwoman from Mississippi. Johnson settled in the Creek Nation between 1880 and 1890. Though many Indians had come to regard Whites with suspicion and disdain, there was a history of intermarriage and tolerance between Blacks and Creeks and Seminoles. Such Blacks as Johnson, who spoke Creek fluently and knew other Indian languages as well, were sought and hired to serve as United States deputy marshals. Johnson received his first commission from the federal Western District Court at Fort Smith, Arkansas, on May 28, 1893. In 1895 Judge Isaac C. Parker described him as one of the best deputy marshals he had known. Johnson worked as a deputy marshal from 1893 to 1906 in an area stretching from northern Texas to Muskogee, Indian Territory. After his commission ended, he worked for a number of years as a policeman in Eufaula, Oklahoma, where he patrolled the Black section of town. He had a son who served as a staff sergeant in the United States Army during World War I. Johnson died on April 9, 1929, and was buried near Eufaula.

Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., and Lonnie E. Underhill, "Negro Marshal in Indian Territory," Journal of Negro History 56 (April 1971). Nudie E. Williams, "Black Men Who Wore White Hats: Grant Johnson," Red River Valley Historical Review 5 (Summer 1980).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Law Officers
  • Peoples
  • African Americans

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

Nudie E. Williams, “Johnson, Grant,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 24, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995
November 11, 2020

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