Elizabeth Catherine (Johnston) Greenlee


Biography Index



On the 14th of February 1848, at Jones Bluff, Alabama, the Stork left me as a "Valentine" to Henry G. and Mary Swilley Johnston. They at once named me "Elizabeth Catherine", meaning "Worshiper of God Pure in Heart", and I have always tried to live not only up to the meaning of my name, but up to their expectations. I was a delicate child, and naturally my mother humored me greatly, so when I was six years old Aunt Isabella Caufield, of Boligee, Greene County, Alabama, came over on a visit and noticed how I was being humored by every one, so she too me home with her, and kept me two years, for she felt I needed to be dealt with in a more positive manner. She and Uncle Henry were deeply religious, and I was not only taught self control, but how to be a good Christian and a loyal Presbyterian. I have always looked back with a great deal of pleasure to the time spent with those two old people. One of the outstanding events of my life was a trip to Texas with Mama, Aunt Kittie Johnston and two kinsmen. We left home about the 1st of October 1856, in two carriages, with big fine mules for teams, instead of regular carriage horses. It took us three weeks to make the trip, driving all day and spending the night at some farmhouse, where all were kind and good to us all the way. Only wish I could remember all about the trip, as it is, can only remember we crossed the Mississippi River at Natches on a ferry boat and spent one night at Nacogdoches, Texas the names impressed me then, even though I was only 8 years old. We left one conveyance and team with the Texas relatives, so they could visit us the following year, and all went to Galveston by stage, and by water on home, reaching there in time for Christmas dinner that was what Christmas meant those days, gathering of the family and loads of everything to eat. In 1858 my father bought the old Swilley plantation, four miles from Gainsville, on the Tombigbee River. I was sent to school in Gainsville, and had the best music teacher to be had, boarding in town and going home for Saturday and Sunday. During the War Between the States, I taught my younger sisters and brother, also taught my uncle's children. In the fall of 1865, I went to Lebanon Kentucky and spent a year with an Aunt who lived there. My stay was very pleasant in many ways, but I also studied music and practiced three and four hours daily. In January 1868 my father died, and on the 30th of April that year I married Robert Greenlee, also of Sumter County, Alabama. Mr. Greenlee bought a large plantation near my mother's, and we lived there until the fall of 1882, when we moved to Texas, much against my will, and bought a farm near Eureka, Navarro County built a new house and improved the place generally, sending the children to the neighborhood school, attending the Community Church, doing the best possible for all. In July 1895, my husband died and I was left to "carry on". I tried to stay on the farm, but after four years decided the effort was too much, so we rented the farm and moved to Corsicana, where the older girls could get work and the younger children attend better schools. Here I also own our home in town. My oldest son and two single daughters live with me, my three married daughters and their families live here too my younger son and his wife make their home in Dallas. On the 3rd of September, 1931, on our way home from a visit to a sick friend, our car turned over and I was badly hurt, having a broken hip and other injuries was in hospital two months and confined to my bed most of the winter, but am now able to walk, sometimes without either crutch or stick. My children have done all they could for me and my friends have been very kind and thoughtful. Written by Lizzie Johnston Greenlee October 22, 1935 FROM THE SCRAPBOOK OF ELIZABETH "LIZZIE" CATHERINE JOHNSTON GREENLEE, BORN 1848 AND GRANDAUGHTER OF GEORGE JOHNSTON OF IRELAND Recorded in 1930's (This is transcribed by Elizabeth Graham Chatterjee, great granddaughter of Lizzie Johnston Greenlee; my corrections are in parenthesis) As far as I can tell of the JOHNSTON family is: George Johnston and Bettie Caufield were married in Ireland (they were from Londonderry, Northern Ireland). One son, David J. was born in Ireland. (Actually, it was the eldest son, William Bear who was born in Ireland in 1820). While sailing to America in 1822, another son was born in American waters. His name was Henry George Johnston. George Johnston settled in Greene County, Alabama, bought a plantation, but was chiefly in the mercantile business. The Indians were among those who traded with him. After a time his health failed so he went to Cuba (Havana), taking a faithful manservant with him. He died while there and he is buried in or near Havana. The good darkey came back to his white people and brought his watch and other belongings to them. Besides Henry and David, there were three other sons. William J., Robert B., and John or Jack the good physician of the family. (The sons of George and Bettie Caufield Johnston were: William Bear, born 1820, Henry George, born 1822, David G., born 1824, and Robert B., born 1829. There may have been a Daniel who died early). William and Robert came to Texas in 1848 and my mother (Mary Lamanda Swilley Johnston, wife of Henry George Johnston) made their pants of cloth she had spun and wove when I was a baby. Henry George Johnston married Mary Lamanda Swilley, January 7, 1847. After a few years, Robert Johnston came back to Alabama and married my Mother's sister, Martha Ann or "Aunt Chick" Swilley as she was always called after an Indian seeing her when a baby said "Chickamofino" meaning "pretty baby". William B. Johnston married Keturah Mayes of Springfield, Kentucky, and was in the mercantile business with his brother Robert B. in Centerville, Leon County, Texas. He moved to Lebanon, Kentucky in 1861 and while defending his father- in-law's property, he was murdered by a horse thief. I attended the trial in 1865 and Paddox, the murderer, was set free. He had served in the Union Army and four years had elapsed since the murder. Proctor Knott was the prosecuting attorney. (Shows the soft treatment of Union vets after the war). Dr. Jack Johnston married Willie Ann Mitchel and had no male descendants. He died shortly after the surrender. About twenty five or twenty six years after George Johnston came to America, his brother William and more of the Caufields came to America. Another brother, David J. Johnston came with his family. He had married Isabella Milling. They brought several children, William, Mary, David J., Kate, Isabella, Tom and Fannie. They all stayed at our house for awhile, went to Boligee, Greene County, Alabama and a year or two later came to Texas where all grew up and married, all leaving families. In telling that Grand Pa Swilley lived in the Boligee Community, I forgot to say the Greenlees too were early settlers there. John and Joseph Greenlees came over and settled there. Mr. Joe Greenlee was my husband's father (Lizzie Johnston married Robert Calvert Greenlee in 1868). His (Joseph Greenlee's) father, Hugh Greenlee, married a Scots girl named Belle McGowin (Isabella), whose mother tongue was Scots. Therefore, her children (Joseph and John) talked with more accent Scots than Irish saying "ony" for any and "childer" for children like Bobby Burns, for instance. All being Presbyterians, faithful to have them baptized in infancy, teaching them the shorter Catechism. I was in Boligee, Alabama last summer and visited the old Bethlehem Presbyterian Church, and I saw many of the graves and tombstones of many of our family. Some of the Caufields are now living in Waco, Texas, coming before the war (War Between the States). Others gave their lives for their country. After our marriage (she and Robert Calvert Greenlee), we lived for 12 years in Alabama near my Mother. Then in 1882 we came to Texas. I came ahead of my husband to Navasota, where my aunt and family lived. I sent three of my children to school there until Mr. Greenlee came for us. We lived in Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas for several months, then bought a farm near Eureka, a Johnston settlement. Other Alabama families such as Blackmons, Montgomerys, Davidsons, McCrery's, making by no means a sorry community. Hospitality and good feeling reigned supreme, and around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, turkey dinners. Neighborhood parties lasted well into the New Year. I know Grand Pa Swilley had a brother named Jaradoah, named for a great Missionary. He married Miss Cherry Mann. Their boys moved westward, on to Missouri, and one son, Nicholas went to California or Nevada during the gold rush of 1849. On his return to Alabama he married my Mother, his cousin, and became my stepfather. His two children are Jodie Mrs. Pete Diken of Birmingham, Alabama, and Sallie, Mrs. S. H. Redd of Austin, Texas. Aunt Sara, Mama's oldest sister raised two sons, Jaradoah and John. Aunt Sara married three times: 1st Jackson, 2nd Grant, and 3rd Cameron. Now what ever has happened since 1882, why my children can remember. An addendum added later: My Mother, Mary Lamanda Swilley, born 1829 and died February 2, 1890. She was the daughter of Samuel Swilley who died in 1863 in Gainsville, Sumter County, Alabama. He married Martha Anderson Newton. She was born 1800, and died 1862 in Gainsville, Alabama. My grandfather Samuel Swilley lived in Rome Georgia. They moved to Greene County Alabama, and bought a farm. A few years later, he sold the farm and moved across the Tombigbee River into Sumter County. He had a large plantation in the bend of the river called Swilley's Bend. Here he built a two-story home and many of the grandchildren were born there, and there the older people died. E-mail Elizabeth Chatterjee <mailto:[email protected]> You have permission to Post: Sandra Johnson- cc for Sumter Co.,AL ----------------------------------------------------------------------- USGENWEB NOTICE: In keeping with the USGenWeb policy of providing free information on the Internet, this data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other gain. Copying of the files within by non-commercial individuals and libraries is encouraged. ALGenWeb File Manager - Lygia Dawkins Cutts <[email protected]> ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Contributed by Elizabeth Chatterjee <[email protected]> JAN 1999

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