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"Say not with the Grecian misanthrope:
"Come not to me again: but say to Athens,
Timon hath made his everlasting mansion
GENERAL JOSEPH EGGLESTON JOHNSTON.
Some account of the first families" of Virginia.--Ancestry of Joseph Eggleston
Johnston.-Peter Johnston in the Revolutionary War, and in the State councils of Virginia.-Early life of Joseph E. Johnston.-Military tastes of the boy.Services of Lieut. Johnston in the Florida War.-An incident of desperate courage.-Services in the Mexican War.-Bon Mot of Gen. Scott.-Johnston appointed Quartermaster-General.
The people of Eastern Virginia have a creditable practice of tracing family lineages to their earliest sources. In democratic communities, where inherited rank is disallowed, and distinctions of blood are decried, the practice may be somewhat invidious; but yet there is no sentiment more natural, more laudable, or more conducive to the welfare of the State, than pride of family founded upon merit continuing, or honourable public services repeated, through successive generations. The Virginia habit is the more praiseworthy, innocent, and useful, inasmuch as the claim so often heard, of descent from the “first families," far from being generally a pretension to superiour rank and blood, is nothing more than a commendable claim of regular and honest descent from early settlers in the colony. By “first” families is meant nothing more pretentious or aristocratic than families that came to Virginia in periods of history more or less early. Not many families, however, now claiming this attribute of first in order of time, can be traced further back than a few generations beyond the colonial war of independence.
Among the first families of Virginia, in this sense of time, are those of Lee and Johnston; names which were as intimately identified in the Revolution which succeeded in 1783, as they have
been in that which failed in 1865. If the Virginia habit of tracing lineages be pardonable, the reader will excuse the indulgence of it in the instance of JOSEPH EGGLESTON JOHNSTON; for both his paternal and maternal ancestry were prominently known in the early history of the State.
Peter Johnston, the first of his family in America, was a na
Annandale, the famous border chieftains, celebrated in Scottish song and legend. Emigrating to the colony of Virginia when about sixteen years of age, he became a merchant, and settled at a place on James River known as Osborne's, at that time the chief « Tobacco Inspection” in the colony. He remained single until his fifty-first year, and then married a widow, Mrs. Martha Rogers, daughter of Mr. John Butler, a merchant of Prince George County, who lived on the south side of the Appomatox, a mile below Petersburg. Peter Johnston and his wife lived four years at Osborne's, and then (in 1765) removed to the County of Prince Edward, and settled on a farm, which they called Cherry Grove, but which was afterwards called Longwood, a mile from Farmville. This place was the family residence until 1811. They prospered, acquired a handsome property, and gained high standing. Mr. Johnston, always a strong advocate for learning, was one (the chief) of the founders of Hampden Sidney College. He gave his four sons a liberal education--first, under the care of tutors, whom he imported expressly from Scotland, and afterwards at Hampden Sidney. He was a High Churchman, a firm royalist, and a great stickler for family dignity and paternal authority. He gave most of his property to the eldest son.
On Thursday the 6th of January, 1763, the first son of Peter and Martha Johnston was born, at Osborne's on James River, and was baptized by his father's name. The son was two years of age at the removal of the family to Prince Edward.
Imbibing at a very early period of the Revolutionary War an enthusiastic attachment to the cause of liberty, and sensible that the opinions of his father, whose political creed sanctioned the pretensions of Britain, would militate against his ardent ambition to serve the patriot cause, Peter Johnston the younger, at the age of sixteen, eloped from his college, and joined as a volunteer the Legion of Lieut.-Col. Henry Lee, then passing through the country. His