The Dallas Journal, Volume 41, 1995 Page: 71
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Henry F. C. Johnson Civil War Letters
Collection at the Texa~fDallas History and Archives Division
processed by Margaret Monroe Edited by Cindy Smolovik, Archivist
Before the Civil War, Henry F. C. Johnson lived as a rancher and farmer, moving from his
native Kentucky to Indiana; Mount Sterling, Illinois; and finally to Dallas County, Texas in the
area just north of Lancaster. His ranching flourished and he became a slave-owning farmer and
businessman on a large scale. Johnson expanded his interests to become an oxcart trader in
Lancaster and traveled fairly widely, making at least one traveling trip to Mexico City, in which
he exchanged cotton for coffee and gold.'
During earlier time at Mount Sterling, his first wife Sidney Brown died, leaving six children
including J. Roll Johnson, as successful farmer and businessman who eventually became Sheriff
of Dallas.' After Henry Johnson's move to Texas, he remarried in 1858. His second wife was
Delilah (Lilah) Hall, widow of Thomas A. Burks and John Warren Hall, a Texas veteran of the
War of 1812.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Johnson enlisted in the Confederate Army as a first
lieutenant in Captain Guy's Company, Stone's Regiment, Sul Ross's Brigade, and served with
his company in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. He fought in the
battles of Corinth, Tupelo, Holly Springs, and Pea Ridge. The core of the Henry F. C. Johnson
collection in the Dallas Public Library is a series of letters written by him to his wife Delilah
before and during the war, from the various camps through which Guy's company passed. The
earliest letter is dated April 11, 1859, and the latest March 20, 1865 (the year of Henry
Johnson's death). Also in the personal letter collection is one reply from Delilah to her husband
and one letter from Johnson to an unnamed friend.
The two common threads running through Johnson's correspondence are loneliness caused
by his enforced separation from his wife and family, and anxiety for his stock and business.
These business worries lead to frequent recriminations, often in the same letter as the
Johnson briefly survived the Civil War conflict, only to die in a duel over a horse with one
Captain Coffee in August, 1865. Apparently, the widowed Delilah Johnson was left with means,
despite her already mentioned stepson J. Roll Johnson who propered after the war. Mrs.
Johnson, however, lived on for many years with record.
In 1899, 34 years after Henry Johnson's death, Delilah successfully applied for a confederate
widow's pension, stating in the interview with the state official concerned that she was in poor
health and was without other means of support. At the time, Mrs. Johnson was 65 years old.
Eventually she died on March 12, 1918, aged 85. The cause was listed as senility on the
certificate, and the death itself was reported by Charles Groves, a Church of Christ minister
who named Henry and Delilah Johnson's daughter, Anna Laura, in 1875. This daughter is the
only child of Johnson's second marriage recorded in the collection.
[ed note: the above was written as biography and content notes of the collection by Cindy Smolovik,
Archivist. What follows are just a few of the letters of the collection that were written during the
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Dallas Genealogical Society. The Dallas Journal, Volume 41, 1995, periodical, December 1995; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth186854/m1/77/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Genealogical Society.