Who’s Yer Daddy, Sarah Jane Johnson?

Yet another assumption in the family tree was made as to the parentage of Sarah Jane Johnson, second wife of Martin McGraw – the second one found in the records of West Virginia, the one most now refer to as “Junior.”

A man usually chose a wife from a family living in close proximity: Someone he would see often (I don’t mean daily when I say often, I mean when he went to church or attended a public function and back in the 1830s that could mean once a month or once in a blue moon), even a bride from his own relatives. When Martin Jr.’s first wife, Nancy Wood, died about 1833, Martin McGraw owned land at what is now known as Chimney Corner “overlooking the cliffs of the New River.” Chimney Corner is on Rt. 60 – the Midland Trail – between Gauley Bridge and Hawks Nest State Park where Rt. 16 splits from Rt. 60 and heads toward Beckwith and Fayetteville.

I should think Miss Sarah Jane Johnson was living in the vicinity along with her family.

But listed as her father and mother in the family trees that I have seen are Robert Johnson and Catherine Doran of Greenbrier County. Robert died in 1820 alongside his wife and is buried at Johnson’s Crossroads. I’ve been to the cemetery. It’s in Monroe County now, back up on the mountain from Wolf Creek (or Lowell, depending on the way in which you travel) and it is nowhere near Chimney Corner in Fayette County. By car its an exhausting trip so I can’t imagine what a drive like that would be by wagon or on horseback. That said, it means Sarah Jane and her mother would have (probably) had to have moved to Fayette County and were living with a near relative, perhaps an older brother/son. The gist of my post is this: It’s possible that Robert Johnson and Catherine Doran were Sarah Jane’s parents but it doesn’t seem likely.

Therefore, there is a need to study the Johnson families living in the vicinity of Chimney Corner – Gauley Bridge – Ansted, West Virginia before settling on Sarah Jane’s parents’ names. So far, I haven’t found any record in which she would have left clues as to who her parents were.

She could have been the daughter of Benjamin Johnson, the husband of (Martin’s cousin) Elizabeth (McGraw-Johnson-Price). She may have been the daughter or granddaughter of William Johnson, a Methodist minister residing at Swiss (a few miles from Gauley Bridge and along the Gauley River). There are these possibilities that must first be considered before determining the correct parentage. And we know how difficult that can be.

The search continues…