Johnson, William H. (1819–1891)

By: Michael M. Ludeman

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 27, 2019

William H. Johnson, attorney and politician, was born in Marion County, Alabama, on May 9, 1819, and moved with his family to Mississippi as a young man. He obtained his license to practice law in Mississippi in 1843 and about two years later moved to Texas, where he settled at Mount Pleasant in Titus County and established a law practice. On April 9, 1848, he married Amanda Melvira Mortimer Gray; they became the parents of three sons. Johnson also expanded his law practice to include a partnership with Byrd W. Gray, his new brother-in-law. In 1851 he was elected to the Fourth Texas Legislature as the representative from District Twenty.

He served as a delegate from Titus County to the Texas Democratic convention in 1853 and on a local Democratic party committee in 1854. In 1856 he entered the race for district judge of the Eighth District as the candidate from the American (Know-Nothing) party, but he withdrew from the race before the election for unknown reasons. He moved to Paris, Lamar County, about 1857, although he continued his law practice in Titus County as well. In 1861 he was elected a delegate from Lamar County to the Secession Convention in Austin and was one of eight members who voted against secession.

Johnson served in the Confederate Army as lieutenant colonel of the Twenty-second Texas Cavalry regiment, composed almost entirely of former Unionists and also known as the First Indian-Texas Regiment. After the Civil War he resumed his law practice in Paris in partnership with different individuals, including Nathan W. Townes, William M. (Buckskin) Williams, and Fred W. Miner. In 1866 he was an unsuccessful candidate for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court, and in 1882 he lost the race for state senator from the Twentieth District.

Johnson was a Mason, and although he was never a member of an organized church, his wife was a founding member of the First Christian Church in Paris. He retired from his law practice in 1888 and died in Paris on November 13, 1891.

E. W. Winkler, ed., Journal of the Secession Convention of Texas (Austin, 1912). Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

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

Michael M. Ludeman, “Johnson, William H.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 27, 2019