Annie Eliza Haire and Joe Johnson

This photo was taken after the Great Florida Hurricane of 1926, somewhere in the vicinity of McGregor Boulevard at Whiskey Creek, southwest of Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida... at the same house where the photo of Mary Lee Haire Davis (my grandmother) and Pauline Davis (my mother)... and others... was taken.  The woman is obviously my grandmother's sister, Annie Eliza Haire.  Back in 2003 I had tentatively identified the man as great aunt Annie's first husband John Allen Osteen, Sr., but that was WRONG.  As identified by my aunt Barbara Davis Pendarvis at the Davis Family Reunion on 8 October 2006, the man is "Joe Johnson".   (Aunt Bobbi also told me that this "Joe Johnson" had later married "Laurine Pipkins" and this helped me confirm his exact identity.) 

I knew of two "Joe Johnson"s...  Grandpa K. Walter Davis's sister Mattie Lou Davis married John Robinson Johnson and they had a son... Joseph Paul Johnson, Sr., who was generally called "Paul Johnson".  His son, Joseph Paul Johnson, Jr., was usually called "Little Joe" which was kind of funny in a way.  In several of my ancestral lines from South Georgia the term "Little" attached to a name has no significance whatsoever as to the person's physical size.  It's a term used to differentiate a younger male from an older male of the same name, whether father and son or (often) more distantly related.  For instance, my great grandfather was named John Wilmot Davis, but there were other John Wilmot Davises in the family.  I have only a middle initial for what may have been the first one, John W. Davis who was a son of L. C. Davis and Asenith Mallison Jones, was born  in 1833, and died  on 3 October 1862 at Jordan Springs General Hospital in Virginia.  He was at that time a private serving in Company E of the 50th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  My great grandfather John Wilmot Davis, a son of Jonas B. Davis and Clarissa Prevatt, was born before that John W. Davis died, on 3 August 1861... but I believe it very likely that great grandpa was named after him.  My 2-great grandfather Jonas B. Davis was a brother of L. C. Davis.  Another son of Jonas B. Davis, Joseph Jefferson ("Joe Buck") Davis, also named a son by his first wife Matilda Braswell, John Wilmot Davis.  My great grandfather was born in 1861 and this "other" John Wilmot Davis was born in 1881, so I believe that he was known at least by some, as "Little John W. Davis".

"Little  Joe" Johnson was little, physically, all through school age.  The last time I ever saw "Little Joe", though, I drove to great aunt Mattie Lou's house to pick up someone... my mother, I think, and "Little Joe" was there, wearing his dress green U.S. Army uniform.  He was on leave having just returned from Vietnam... and he was about as tall as me... (I'm about 6 feet 5 inches tall).  We spoke for a few minutes, only.  As such things go I was unaware that was the last time I would see him.  My memory on this is a bit foggy, but at the time I had either just been drafted and had not reported for induction yet, or, possibly, I was on leave before going to Vietnam myself.

John Robinson Johnson was a son of Joseph D. Johnson and Mary Margaret Logue, and Joseph D. Johnson was a son of John Absolom Johnson and Mary Spear.  The "Joe Johnson" in this photo, was descended from John Absolom Johnson and Mary Spear, and Joseph D. Johnson and Mary Margaret Logue as well.  His father was Charles Franklin Johnson, who was another son of Joseph D. Johnson and Mary Margaret Logue.  His mother was Minnie Lee Jones.  Minnie Lee Jones was a daughter of Thomas Jones and Sarah Butler.  Here is where this story becomes exceedingly interesting.  That Sarah Butler may be one of the children of my 3-great grandparents Levi Butler and his first wife whose name is unknown, though I suspect that she may have been a Kemp.  If so, she was a full sister of my 2-great grandmother Eliza E. Butler (wife of John Haire).

I also note that John Absolom Johnson's wife, Mary Spear, was possibly either a sister or cousin to my 2-great grandfather Allen Spear, Jr.  Allen Spear, Sr. who appeared on the 1820 census in Marlboro County, South Carolina, and on the census in Thomas County, Georgia, in 1830, apparently was a widower and only he and two sons, Allen Spear, Jr. and William Spear, appear on the 1840 Thomas County census (the 1840 census did not name wives and children but Allen, Jr. and William were shown living side by side in the 1850 Thomas County census).  The 1850 census in Decatur County was taken by someone who exceeded the instructions, and wrote down the counties in which those he enumerated were born.  Mary Spear was born in Twiggs County, Georgia, about 1822, and John Absolom Johnson was born in Wilkinson County, Georgia, about 1813 (Wilkinson County was created in 1803 and Twiggs County was cut from Wilkinson County in 1809).  Allen Spear, Jr., married Sarah Ridley in Wilkinson County in 1836 and in 1840 appeared on the Thomas County census near one of her brothers, David Ridley.  Allen Spear, Sr., either died before 1840... or, possibly... moved to Wilkinson County.  An Allen W. Spear was born in Wilkinson County in 1836, and it is possible that he was another son of Allen Spear, Sr., but in any case he was probably related to him.  If Allen Spear, Sr., had a daughter and no wife in 1840, he could have left the daughter with kin in Wilkinson County... or... she could have been the daughter of some kin of his who lived there.  William Spear moved to Recovery in Decatur County, and Allen Spear remained in Thomas County till after Sarah Ridley died.  In 1874 Allen Spear, Jr., remarried to Mary Penny Barber and also moved to Decatur County, where they had several children including... another Allen Spear (III).  Allen Spear, Jr., died in Decatur County on 14 March 1879 and was buried beside his first wife, Sarah Ridley, and several of their sons who died while serving in the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment, in the Old Thomasville City Cemetery, in Thomas County.

Circuitous, not fully definite... yes... but that is the best I can say at this point, as to who this "Joe Johnson" in the photograph was.  His full name insofar as it was known was Joseph F. Johnson, and it is uncertain but likely that the "F." stood for the middle name as his father... Charles Franklin Johnson.  Joseph F. Johnson married Laurine Pipkins in Decatur County and later married Minnie Dewitt.  He died in Indianapolis, Indiana, on 29 May 1971.

"Joe Johnson"'s father and son, both named Charles Franklin Johnson, are buried at Butler Cemetery, south of Whigham in Grady County, Georgia.

This page was originally created in July of 2003
and was greatly edited on 11 October 2006.

Richard White
Tallahassee, Florida