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Ringgold County Biographical Sketches

Biographical and Historical Record of Ringgold and Decatur Counties, Iowa
Lewis Publishing Company, 1887. pp. 264 - 267.

Captain ANDREW JOHNSTON

civil war flags.jpg "Captain Andrew JOHNSTON, one of the principal stock-breeders of Ringgold County, is a native of Jefferson County, Ohio, born February 11, 1829. His parents were Michael and Jane (Nixon) Johnston, his father born at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and his mother near Steubenville, Ohio. They located in Jefferson County after their marriage, and when he was about ten years old they moved to Holmes County, where they lived fifteen years, and then went to Knox County, and from there to Richland County, where the father died, aged sixty-seven years. The mother is still living, now making her home in Ringgold County, where she has lived since 1876. Their family consisted of ten children, eight of whom are living, Andrew being the eldest.

He was given a good education, attending some time the Wooster Academy, and also was a student of Ohio Wesleyan University, at Delaware. His youth, when not in school, was spent in assisting his father on the farm, and in teaching school, remaining at home until manhood.

He was married in Knox County, Ohio, June 10, 1855, to Phoebe Rush, a native of that county. In September of the same year they came to Iowa, and lived in Muscatine County the following winter, and in the spring of 1856 located in Ringgold County, entering eighty acres of his present farm in Liberty Township, from the Government. He built a house of round logs 16 x 18 feet in dimensions, in which he lived until able to have a better one. He went to work to improve his land, doing the best he could with his limited means, and by perseverance was successful, and now owns 410 acres, which is well adapted to his present business of stock-breeding. For some time he engaged in general farming, and then began dealing in sheep on a small scale. He gradually increased his stock until he had 700 head, herding them on the prairie. At that time prairie wolves were troublesome, and he had no small difficulty in protecting his sheep from their ravages. After engaging in that industry about fifteen years he disposed of his sheep and turned his attention to short-horn cattle.

He purchased his first stock of cattle in 1866, of one of the principal stockmen of Iowa, Tim Day, and later bought of others. He now has over fifty thoroughbred cattle on his farm, all eligible to registry. Some of them are of fine families, Young Mary being his favorite. He also has a number of very fine grade horses of the Percheron and Clydesdale draught breed, and has been very successful in the various branches of stock-raising, and has gained a wide reputation, extending beyond the limits of his own county.

In 1862 Captain Johnston enlisted in the defense of his country, and was assigned to Company G, Twenty-ninth Iowa Infantry. He was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant, and then to Captain of his company. He participated in the battle at Helena, Arkansas, July 4, 1863, and the capture of Little Rock. Was with General Steele on this Camden expedition, and took part in the battle of Saline River, the siege of Mobile, Alabama, and thence to the Rio Grande on the borders of Mexico. On account of sickness of the Colonel he commanded his regiment during the last month of service. From there went to New Orleans, where he was mustered out in August, 1865. He was wounded twice, but not severely, never being obliged to leave his regiment.

Since returning home he has served his county and township in several official capacities, and has made an efficient and capable public officer, devoting the same care and attention to his duties that characterized his life as a soldier. He has served one term as county superintendent of schools, and two terms, Fourteenth and Fifteenth General Assembly, in the State Legislature.

Has served three terms as a member of the Board of Supervisors, being at the present writing a member of the Board. His family has been four children, three of whom are living - Sophronia, Hattie, wife of Joseph Atwood, and Poe. A son, Ray, died in early childhood.

The wife, Phoebe, after nearly thirty-one years of married life, died suddenly, from paralysis, April 17, 1886; thus ending the history of this Johnston family, as a united family among us. The Captain says that whatever of popularity and character as a soldier and citizen he may have acquired, he must attribute a very large portion of his success to his wife, who in courage and industry, as also in many of the finer qualities, he has always regarded as more than his equal. "Without her I have no history."

Submitted to the Ringgold County IAGenWeb Project by Christy Jay, email: Jaygenie@aol.com

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