Johnson, Joseph Burton (1816–1874)

By: Allan C. Ashcraft

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1995

Joseph Burton Johnson, soldier, planter, and early Freestone County settler, was born on April 7, 1816, in Clinch County, Georgia. He later moved to Leon County, Florida Territory, where he met and married Patience Ponder. They had six children, two of whom died in infancy. He fought in the Indian wars of Georgia and Florida, and was appointed captain on March 2, 1837, and major on August 25, 1846, by the governor of Florida. He served as a major of the regiment of cavalry of the Second Florida Brigade during the Mexican War. In 1848 Johnson moved his family to Texas, where he settled in Tyler County and later near Bryan before moving to Freestone County. By 1860 he had substantial agricultural property and owned twenty-eight slaves, fourteen under the age of twelve. At the beginning of the Civil War Johnson organized ten companies of state troops and was elected their regimental commander. On November 2, 1861, he was commissioned colonel of the Freestone County First Regiment, a part of the Nineteenth Brigade of Texas State Troops. On August 1, 1863, he was commissioned brigadier general of the Nineteenth Brigade. During the war he was stationed in Galveston but does not appear to have seen any combat. After the war he returned to Fairfield. He served as a county commissioner, gave land for the Grange hall and for an African-American cemetery. He was interested in education and sent both daughters to college. In 1873 he was chosen first master of the Texas State Grange. Johnson died on January 18, 1874. He was buried in the family plot on his property six miles north of Fairfield.

Confederate Service Records, 1861–1865, National Archives, Washington. Freestone County Historical Commission, History of Freestone County, Texas (Fairfield, Texas, 1978). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

  • Agriculture
  • Plantation Owners

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

Allan C. Ashcraft, “Johnson, Joseph Burton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995