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"Johnston" or "Johnstone" is a name that originated in Scotland. Many Johnstons migrated to England and Northern Ireland before reaching America in the 1700s and early 1800s. We have not yet traced our particular Johnston line back to Europe.

We have, however, learned much about the Highlander branch of our Johnston legacy.

Highlanders (to about 1801)

April 16, 1746 is perhaps the most infamous date in the history of Scotland. On that day, the English army defeated, and commenced to slaughter, an army of Scottish Jacobite rebels. The slaughter continued for months across Scotland, accompanied by general mayhem and oppression. Scottish culture and the Gaelic language were oppressed, and tens of thousands of highlanders were evicted from their homes. Highlanders were compelled to leave Scotland for distant lands.

Near the scene of the great slaughter in April 1746 lay Loch Ness, and on the opposite shore of the loch is Urquhart. This was where John Chisholm senior and junior were born and raised in the aftermath of the Jacobite defeat. Duncan Cameron, who would later marry John Jr's daughter, may also have born and spent his early years there, as many Camerons were known to live in the area, and these people tended to emigrate in tight groups.

In 1801, the emigrant ship "Sarah" left the shores of the highlands with a large group of Chisholms, Camerons, and others from Urquhart, and highlanders from other areas as well. Our Chisholms and Camerons were probably on that ship. They sailed south to Liverpool before turning westward for Canada. 50 passengers died of small pox on that journey.


William Johnston and Family (1792 to ?)


Nova Scotia (1784 to 1847)

When the Chisholms and Camerons landed in Pictou, Nova Scotia, they settled within a few miles of Antigonish, in a village called Salt Springs.

John Chisholm (Jr.) married Mary Livingstone (also Scottish), who was born in Montreal. Their daughter Isabella was born in Salt Springs in 1803. She married Duncan Cameron ca. 1822, around the time their families moved to Glengarry, between the Middle and East Rivers. Glengarry was where Duncan and Isabella had most (if not all) their children, of which we have record of John, Hugh, and Christy.

Wisconsin (1847 to 1856)

The Camerons left Glengarry for the Wisconsin Territory in 1847. According to old family correspondence, they were in Beaver Dam by August, perhaps earlier. The Johnstons probably arrived from ???, New York at about the same time.

Both families migrated in large groups. The parties from New York and Nova Scotia both appear to have landed in Green Bay, and traveled up the Fox River to Dodge County and the shores of Beaver Dam Lake, and settled in Beaver Dam Township.

Christy and William's first child to survive childhood, Harvey Henry Johnston, would live to be our Grandma Cora's paternal grandfather. He would adopt the nickname Dick; Grandma remembered him as Richard, and that was all she every told us about him, though she must have known him in his last years, as they both lived in Northwestern Minnesota from about 1915 to 1920, and the lived in the same locality from 1920 to 1927.

After seven to eight years in Beaver Dam, four of the Cameron and Johnston families moved to the Minnesota Territory.

In late May, they left Beaver Dam in a caravan of 13 wagons, pulled by oxen. They proceeded westward, probably through Portage (the portage of the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers), and crossed the Wisconsin River at Wisconsin Dells. From there they proceeded directly westward, crossing the Mississippi by ferry, then travelling up the Root River Valley. The Johnstons arrived at Houston Township on Saturday, June 9.

Minnesota (from 1854)

The Johnstons settled at what would become Houston, Minnesota. Many Camerons in the same caravan continued up river to Rushford. More Camerons and Chisholms would come to Rushford in the coming years.

As far as we can tell, the Johnstons, Camerons, and Chisholms were all historically Presbyterian, the religion born in Scotland during the Protestant Reformation. In 1859, our Camerons and Johnstons appear to have become Methodists.

The Johnstons moved to Ottertail County, Minnesota in 1870. Dick appears to have been one of the founders of Woodside Township. It was there, in Wrightstown, that their son Delacy (Cora's father) was born.

It has been passed down through Delace's family that Eleanor died on a wagon train returning from Kansas to Minnesota in 1891, but we have discovered that Eleanor died in 1886. Where she died is unclear, but it is very unlikely it was as far away as Kansas. Perhaps she died in North Dakota.

Little has been passed down about the years that followed. By 1904, Delacy, now De Lace, found his wife-to-be Elva Sweet in Luverne, Minnesota. The hard times would continue.


Grandma's Parents


Grandma Cora's father, Delace Johnston, was born Delacy Johnston in Wrightstown, MN on 23 September, 1879. He was probably named after a Quennette family surname from New York. Delacy is a Norman name, familiar to Ireland.

Grandma Cora always said her grandfather's name was Richard Johnston. It appears that this was because he took the name "Dick", but his given name was "Harvey Henry".

Mom has always said that Delace's grandmother was French Canadian. The record shows that his grandmother, Eleanor Quenette, was born in New York State, as were Eleanor's parents. There is most likely some French Canadian in her background - perhaps a lot, but it must have been diluted by time and perhaps some intermarriage.

Grandma's mother, Elva Sweet, was born in Linn Grove, Iowa on 15 September, 1885. She moved with her family, drawn by oxen, to Minnesota in 1903.

De Lace and Elva married in Luverne, MN on 17 August, 1904.


Grandma Cora


De Lace and Elva's firstborn, Cora Idella, arrived on 26 March, 1905 in Luverne.

The Johnstons then moved out to Blunt, South Dakota, where they had four more girls. After about 8 years in South Dakota, they moved to Northwestern Minnesota. Cora married John Sjostrand about ten years later.

Grandma Cora saw most of the 20th Century, living nearly 95 years and passing away in Fresno, CA on 23 January, 2000.


More Detail


Origin of the Johnston Name

The Camerons in Nova Scotia

The Quenettes