Philip Ludson Johnston

by Edmund Starling, 1886

 

of Pennsylvania, came to Henderson in 1839 or '40, and, being a practical distiller, engaged in that business in the Horse Shoe Bend with two of his brothers. This was the first sweet mash distillery built in the county. On the twenty-fifth day of February, 1841, he married Miss Eliza Worsham, and, only a short time afterwards, returned to his native State, Town of Easton, where his first child, a son, Eugene Ludson, was born on the eighteenth day of February, 1842. A short time after the birth of his child, Mr. Johnston removed to Illinois, and settle at Russellville, on the Wabash. There he purchased a tract of land, and, again with his brothers, commenced distilling. On the twenty-sixth day of September, 1845, his second son, Joseph B. Johnston, was born, and a very short time thereafter Mr. Johnston again removed to Henderson and engaged with his brother-in-law, Elijah W. Worsham, in sawing lumber and grinding grain for the town and surrounding country. Their mill was run by steam, and was situated on the river front, above the present mill of Joseph Clore. Mr. Johnston confined himself closely to his work, and his unrestrained energy and constant exposure of himself brought on pneumonia, from which he died in 1850. His wife and two sons survived him. Mrs. Johnston, on the twentieth day of December, 1854, married George A. Mayer, and lived to the fourth day of June, 1875, at which time she died. Eugene L. Johnston, the eldest son, was educated in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, and, when yet quite young, entered the Banner office in Henderson to learn the art of type setting. At the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion, he espoused the cause of the South, and on the fifth day of August, 1861, in Henderson, enlisted as a private in Captain James Ingram's Company, and marched overland away to "Dixie." He was shortly afterwards appointed Orderly Sergeant, and his company was attached to the Fourth Kentucky Regiment. On the fourth day of December, 1861, his company was detached from the regiment and assigned to the Light Artillery Service under the command of Captain Rice Graves. He fought at Fort Donelson, and on the sixteenth day of February, 1862, was taken prisoner and sent to Indianapolis. A few days prior to the battle, his commanding officer desired to send him South on a recruiting expedition, but the honor was declined, owing to his anxiety to participate in the coming deadly conflict. On Sunday night, May 18th, 1862, he effected his escape, and walked to Madison, where he procured a skiff and worked his way to Louisville. From there he passed on down through Owensboro and Henderson to Uniontown, where he procured a horse and rode again into "Dixie," halting at Chattanooga, where the Confederate Army was stationed. He soon after joined the Third Grand Division, General Wood commanding, and was appointed Acting Ordinance Sergeant, under Major T. R. Hotchkiss. During the months of July, August, September, October, November and December, his command was mostly upon the march, going from place to place, watching the enemy. Tuesday, December 30th, the great battle of Stone River was begun by heavy skirmishing. Wednesday there was a heavy artillery engagement, beginning in the morning and lasting most of the day. There was also heavy fighting between the infantry and artillery during the day, and the slaughter on both sides was terrible. Thursday there was again heavy fighting. Friday, January 2d, Eugene L. Johnston was killed. When he enlisted and left his home he carried with him a neat folding memorandum book, in which he kept a correct diary account of the doings of his command. Not a day escaped him, and his minutes were liberal and well written. He gives an interesting description of the battle of Stone River up to Thursday night before his death, and closed by heading the next page Friday, January 2d. 1863. Poor boy! that was the last line ever written by him. Twenty years after, the finder of young Johnston's book, by some means discovered the residence of his brother, Joseph B. Johnston, and mailed him the book with the following written on the inside of the cover:

"Found on the battle field of Stone River, near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Friday evening, January 2d, 1863, by the subscriber and forwarded to J. B. Johnston July 26th, 1883, after a period of over twenty years between dates.

"R. C. Lane, Capt. Co. H. 40th, Ind. Vet. vol. Infantry. Paris, Illinois."

When Captain Lane discovered the body lying upon the battlefield, it was after nightfall, and the book found open in his hand. Mr. Johnston prizes the little book as only a brother can, and will ever hold Captain Lane in kindly remembrance. Joseph B. Johnston, second son, followed the footsteps of his brother Eugene, and he, too, learned the art of type-setting, but this work was too monotonous for his active spirit. His first venture was in partnership with R. P. Evans, in the drug business. A short time after he went West, Returning home he again entered the drug business in partnership with H. S. Park. IN 1867 he sold his interest to Cabell & Towles, and accepted a clerkship with G. A. Mayer's Sons, where he remained for three years. He then built the brick storehouse on the northeast side of Second, between Main and Water Streets, and opened a builders' emporium, where he continued seven years, or up to 1880. He then joined the firm of French Mayer & Co., and established the spoke and handle factory, corner Fourth and Green Streets. Several months after, he sold his interest to Edwin Robards. Then, in partnership with his uncle, E. W. Worsham, he built the Peerless Distillery, and made two crops of whisky, when he was elected City clerk and gave up distilling. He is now serving his fourth term, and it is due to him to say, that he has, by systematic improvements in books and forms, so simplified the work that it is now a pleasure where it used to be irkesome. Mr. Johnston's strict attention and intelligent capacity, will, no doubt, secure him the clerkship so long as he may choose to accept it.

On the twenty-ninth day of April, 1869, Mr. Johnston married Miss Margaret Gobin, a lady of most excellent domestic character, and unto them have been born six children, four of whom are living. Eugenia, Joseph Russell, Robert Evans and Gilbert Ludson. Miss Eugenia is of the sweet girl graduate class, and is greatly admired for her excellent character and womanly graces. The other children are promising. Mr. Johnston has been, throughout life, an active, intelligent man of business, and, by his honesty, sincerity, and open frankness, numbers a host of friends. He is an active member of both the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias Lodges.


-The History of Henderson County, Kentucky by Starling 1887 page 810-13;

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