Hugh Blair Johnston, early Liberty County settler and Republic of Texas congressman, was born in Georgia in 1794. He moved to Mississippi, where he established a plantation in Wilkinson County. He married Martha White, daughter of Matthew G. White, about 1823; they had nine children. In 1825 Johnston and his father-in-law led a number of families to Texas, where he claimed a league of land along the east bank of the Trinity River north of the site of present-day Liberty. Although Johnston joined a number of area residents in petitioning the Mexican government for official title to their claims in 1827, he served as captain in a military company which helped put down the Fredonian Rebellion. Mexico recognized his land title four years later.
In 1831 Johnston was elected alcalde of the newly formed town of Liberty. A vigorous opponent of Juan Davis Bradburn, he signed the Turtle Bayou Resolutions and escaped an apparent assassination attempt by Bradburn's cronies in 1832. Johnston was a member of the Consultation in 1835 and served on the General Council, which elected him to the committee to organize the Liberty militia. He continued his political activity after the Texas Revolution. He was Liberty County justice of the peace in 1836–37 and was one of two members of the county board of land commissioners. In 1838 Liberty residents elected him representative to the Third Congress. In the spirited election he defeated his brother-in-law, James B. Woods. He was chief justice of Liberty County for the latter half of 1839.
Johnston retired from public life and, in 1847, declined a nomination for the state Senate. The 1826 census had listed him as a carpenter, farmer, and stockraiser; by 1840 tax rolls showed that he had title to more than 4,000 acres of land and owned 6 slaves, 150 cattle, and 2 horses. He was a friend of Sam Houston. Johnston died in 1850. In 1976 the Liberty Bicentennial celebration erected a monument at his old tract, one of a number of prerevolutionary grants in Liberty County.