Family Stories

John Johnston, Esq., and Oshahgushkodawequa, Woman of the Green Meadow – Chippewa County, Michigan

One of the few things we can do during this pandemic, and be fairly safe, is visit a cemetery!  Earlier in the week I stopped by Riverside Cemetery in Chippewa County, Michigan.  This cemetery is also known as St. Mary Cemetery.  I was the only person in the cemetery.

When you go to Find A Grave, how many of you have noticed the box marked ‘relevance’ when searching for names in a cemetery?  Until recently I’ve paid it no attention.  If you click on that box wonderful sort options appear!  Birth Date (older) is the one I use most.  If you have clicked on the number of memorials for a cemetery, all that have been added will come up, alphabetically.  If you sort by Birth Date (older) it will list your oldest people first – what I generally look for when I first visit a cemetery.  You can also sort names Z-A, death date older, death date newer, birth date newer.  I hope you found this sorting button long ago, but just in case thought I would mention it.

When I arrived at Riverside Cemetery, I looked for the oldest person buried there – John Johnston, born in Ireland, 1762, died in 1828.  He was buried in Block E.  And what an amazing gravestone I found!  The cemetery, or historical society, has enclosed the old stone in a glass case.  With such harsh winters this should protect the gravestone for many more years.

From Ontarian Families, Genealogies of United Empire Loyalist and other Pioneer Families of Upper Canada by Edward Marion Chadwick, 1895, I found the following information on the Johnston family.

John Johnston came to Canada in 1790, and resided for a short time at Longe Pointe, and afterwards at Sault Sainte Marie, of which he was the chief founder.  Assisted with a party which he raised, at the taking of Mackinac, under Col. MacDonell, in 1812, and in recognition of his services, was presented by Col. MacDonell with the sword of the American General Holmes, who was killed in the action.  While Mr. Johnston, with his party, was proceeding from Sault Sainte Marie to join Col. MacDonell, a party of Americans passing by another channel went to Sault Sainte Marie, where they plundered Mr. Johnston’s stores and dwelling house, taking a large quantity of goods, plate and other valuable property, for which subsequently Mr. Johnston claimed from the Government an indemnity of forty thousand dollars, which, however, he never received.  While the Americans were plundering Sault Sainte Marie, Mrs. Johnston, with some of her children, fled and took refuge in the woods, where they subsisted for some time on berries and edible roots.  He was a Justice of the Peace.  In 1819 or 1820, he was one of the Commissioners appointed to settle the differences and terminate the conflict between the Hudson Bay Company and the North-West Company at Fort Garry, now Winnipeg.  He married Oshahgushkodawequa, the Woman of the Green Meadow, daughter of Wauhojeeg, the White Fisher, an Ojebwa Chief of the Ahtik (Reindeer) Totem or Family, son of Waishky, and a member of a family distinguished as Chiefs and Warriors; he was a Chief of great power and influence, and had jurisdiction over a wide extent of country, from Sault Sainte Marie to the Falls of St. Anthony on the Mississippi; he and some of his braves were present at the taking of Quebec, having gone down that immense distance in their own bark canoes, and he was with General Wolfe when he fell.

Issue of John Johnston and Oshahgushkodawequa, also known as Susan:

  1. Louis-Saurin, served as a midshipman on board the Queen Charlotte, and was wounded in action on Lake Erie, in 1812 or 13; for his services he was appointed an officer in the Indian Department, and was stationed at Amherstburg, where he died.
  2. George, was present with his father at the taking of Mackinac; he held the office of Indian Interpreter at Sault Sainte Marie.
  3. William, Indian Interpreter at Mackinac.
  4. Jane, married to Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, Indian Agent for the United States Government. He was a man distinguished in science and literature, the author of a large and costly work of six quarto volumes prepared, after many years of great labour and research, for the United States Government, of which copies were presented to all the crowned heads of Europe, and copies were obtained by Rev. William McMurray for Trinity  College, Toronto, and the Toronto University, and another for Quebec.  Schoolcraft visited England and the Continent, and was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Geographical Society of London, after which more than twenty similar honours were conferred upon him by the leading societies of Europe.
  5. Eliza, never married.
  6. Charlotte, married Rev. William McMurray.
  7. Anna-Maria married James Lawrence Schoolcraft, brother of the above-named Henry Rowe Schoolcraft.
  8. John McDougal Johnston.

Sacred to the memory of John Johnston, Esq., who was born at Antrim, Ireland, August 25th, 1762, and died September 22nd, 1828, aged 66 years 28 days.

To mark the widow’s grief, the daughter’s fears,
The name a son bemoans, a friend reveres.
Thy own dear circle’s honor’d joy and pride
Their earthly father, and their heavenly guide
For this, we raise they lonely simple tomb
Far from the world, and from thy native home
Warm was thy heartland and true to ev’ry fire
That love, hope, friendship, charity, inspire
Yet not to laud thy worth and polished mind
By fancy west and varied love reclined
Oh flesh of our own flesh, home of our own home
Inscribe we here thy monumental stone.
Ah Johnston no, the tablet mem’ry rears
Embalms our love, and sanctifies our tears
Accept oh sainted shade, the humble rite
And lead, oh lead us, to the realms of light.

Susan Johnston, born Oshauguscodaywayqua, Woman of the Green Prairie, wife of John Johnson, born Ca. 1775, died November 28, 1843.

Belfast News Letter, Ireland

Friday, February 23, 1844

On the 27th November last, at Sault Sainte Marie, at the outlet of Lake Superior, North America, Mrs. Susan Johnston, widow of John Johnston, Esq., of the county Atrim.  Mrs. J. was a daughter of the celebrated war chief Wahojeeg, the ruling chief of the Chippewa nation during the period of their greatest military efforts, in the latter part of the last century.  She was instrumental in saving the party of Governor Cass from an attack, during his encampment at those falls, in the month of June, 1820.  Her grandfather, Mongazida, was present on the plains of Abraham, in 1758, among the auxiliaries of General Montcalm.

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