Hon. James T. Johnston
Portrait & Biographical Record of Montgomery, Parke & Fountain Counties, Indiana.
Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1893, p. 163.
Hon. James T. JOHNSTON is the junior member of the legal firm of Rice & Johnston of Rockville. He was born in Putnam County, Indiana Jan 19, 1839 and when he was 2 was orphaned by the death of his mother. The father afteward married again and by his 2nd union 6 children were born. He died when our subject was a mere lad and the responsibility of carrying on the home farm afterward fell upon his young shoulders. At the opening of the war, Mr. Johnston was preparing for college, but Lincoln's call for 3000 volunteers forever put an end to all aspirations in that direction. He enlisted as a private in Co. C 71st Indiana afterward the 6th Ind Calvary and 4 weeks later we find him fighting in the unequal and desparate engagement at Richmond, Ky. Being surrounded by the enemy, Gen. Nelson and the troops were forced to cut their way out. In Dec 1863, Mr. Johnston participated in thebattle at Muldraugh's Hill, where the union forces made a most stubborn resistance for one day, but were obliged to capitulate. In 1863 several hundred prisoners, Union men who had been conscripted into the Southern service from East Tenn, volunteered in the Federal army. By request of the officers, Gen. Burnside issued a special order in August of that year promoting James T. Johnston to the position of 2nd Lt. He then took command of the 8th Tenn Cavalry which was composed of the aforementioned prisoners. From the day of the appointment he was in regular command of his company, the Capt. and 1st Lt. having been detailed on other duty. The company being familiar with the topography of E. Tenn were sent in advance as scouts. It was a most desparate service and the men were commonly said to have "fought with hatlers around their necks." In one engagement ont he Holston, Lt. Johnston with only 25 men received a volley which killed 7 horses and wounded 11. He himself received a ball in thewrist and his horse, having been shot through the heart fell dead under him. During all the E. Tenn campaign, his comapny was in the advance, and was the first to enter Knoxville. After the seige of Knoxvill the 8th & 10th Tenn Cavalries were consolidated and ours ubject was offered a position in another command. Being, however, exhausted with sickness and the hardships incident to service, he concluded to resign and enjoy the well-earned rest. As soon as Mr. Johnston's health was restored he again enlisted, becoming a member of Co. F 133rd Ind Inf and was mustered in for 100 days' service. The most of this time he filled the position of Commissary-Sgt. At the expiration of his term of service, he reenlisted, this time in Co C, 149th Ind Inf, under Lt. Col. WD Mull. Soon afterward he was apointed by Gov. Morton as 1st Lt. and Assistant-Quartermaster and remained with his command until sept 27, 1865 when he was honorable discharged at the close of hostilities. While on the farm, Mr. Johnston had employed his leisure in the study of law. he now took a full couse with Williamson & Daggy at Greencastle, indiana and in 1866 located in Rockville as their resident partner. 3 years later he formed a partership with Hon. TN Rice, which firm is still in existence. In 1866, Mr. Johnston was elected Prosecuting Attorney for the Common Please District, comprising Parke, Vigo & Sullivan Counties. Two years later he was chosen representative from Parke County to the Legislature, where he filled that responsibility position with efficiency and success. In 1872, Mr. Johnston was elector on the Grant ticket for his district and made a thorough canvass of his territory. The citizens of Parke & Vermillion Counties honored him in 1874 by electing him to the State Senate where, as in other positions to which he was called, he served with credit to himself and to the general satisfaction of his constiutents. While in the House he was he was Leader of the Republican party and as the Democrats were in the majority he had to conduct many a battle on parliamentary tactics and always acquitted himself with consummate skill, winning the hearty encomiums of his party. in 1884, Mr. Johnston made the race for Congress and was elected by a majority of 354. Two years later he was reelected by 1156 majority, in a district that usually gave a Democrat majority of 1000. During his first term as Congressman he served as a member of the Committee on War Calims, and was in thethickest of the Congressional fights over the Southern war claims. During his second term of office occurred the famous contest between Tobin & Carlyle over the Speakership and our subject was chosen by the Republican caucus as a member of the Committee on Elections, in which responsible position he served with distinguished ability. In the White-Lawry contest, Mr. Johnston managed the case for Mr. White. The majority of the committee, being Democrats, favored Lawry and the Republicans gave their influence to the support of White. Mr. Johnston made the closing debate in the case and secured the victory for White. In 1888 he was again a candidate for Congress but was defeated by a majority of about 53. It may be stated of him, however, that although defeated, he ran far ahead of his ticket and received many more votes than the Presidential elector. In addition to the active part he has taken as a public official, he has been prominent in every campaign, and his services have been utilized often by the Republican State Central Committee. Since his retirement from Congress, Mr. Johnston has devoted himself to his legal practice and the management of his farms, one of which is located in Putnam County, Indiana and other in Edgar County, Illinois. He owns altogether about 450 acres of land all well improved and in a good state of cultivation. Socially, he has been identified with the Masonic fraternity since his initiation at the age of 21. He has been a member of the Grand Army of the Republic since its organization and served as Comander of post No. 9 for 3 successive years, and April 7, 1893, was elected Deportment Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic for the Department of Indiana. He was a delegate to the national Encampment 3 times and once filled the position of delegate of the state-at-large. In Feb 1866, Mr. Johnston married Miss Mattie M. Morrison who died Nov 14, 1872 leaving an infant daughter. The second marriage of our subject occurred Nov 1873 and united him with Miss Lucy, daughter of Dr. George P. Daly, one of the oldest physicians of Parke County. Financially, Mr. Johnston is well-to-do and the owner of valuable property, including his residence in Rockville. His life is well worthy the emulation of the young, for through perseverance and energy he has gained success and is prominent both in professional and social circles. Upon starting out in life for himself, he was not only without money but was burdened by a debt of $1,000 which his father, having gone security for a friend was called upon but was unable to pay. The debt was liquidated by Mr. Johnston and his brothers after he had commenced the practice of law. The law firm of Rice & Johnston has a very extensive practice and is usually represented, as clients for plaintiff or defendant in every important case in the county. They have been associated in practice since 1869 and their relations have always been of an amicable nature. Their knowledge of legal technicalities is widely known and their opinion concerning important questions always carries weight.
The Indianapolis Journal this morning publishes the biographies of the Congressmen from Indiana. We reproduce this which will prove of interest to our readers: 89th District - James T. JOHNSTON of Rockville was born in Putnam County, Indiana Jan 18, 1839; received a common school education commenced study of law in 1861 in July 1862 enlisted as a private in Co. C 6th Indiana Cavalry in Sept 1863, was transferred to Co A 8th Tenn Calvalry and commissioned 2nd lt. and served in that capacity until Jan 1878 resigning on account of disability; afterwards served as commissary sgt of 133rd Ind; was commissioned Lt. and Assistant quarter mast of 149th Ind Inf and mustered out with the regiment in Sept 1865 and was admitted to the bar in March 1866; was elected prosecuting attorney serving two years, was elected as rep to the State Legislature in 1868, from Parke County was elected State Senator from counties of Parke & Vermillion in 1874, serving for four years; was elected to the 49th Congress as a Republican received 20,185 votes, against 20,035 votes for John E. Lamb, Democrat, 149 votes for Andrew Tomlinson, Prohibitions and two votes scattering.
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