Strangeman JOHNSON (Strong-muhn), and the Strange Mystery He Has Left For Us – 52 Ancestors (Ancestor 126)

I need to tsk-tsk myself. Last week when I wrote about Thomas and Rachel (JOHNSON) JOHNSON, I briefly discussed Rachel’s father. His name was Strangeman JOHNSON. One thing I have never done is to get too hung up on spelling while hunting for information about an ancestor. I am aware that words were often spelled phonetically and names with many variations. However, this week while Googling, I came across an uploaded WorldConnect tree from 2012 by Janice Stensrude on Rootsweb [UPDATE: 28 November 2016 – link is broken] which lists information that has been previously researched and documented about Strangeman’s grandfather Strangeman HUTCHINS‘ descendants, as well as her working notes and statement saying they are such. What I found interesting was this that she said:

Though I have for many years pronounced [Strangeman HUTCHINS’] name Strange-Man, I recently learned that it is pronounced Strong-muhn. In early English, strong was spelled Strang or stronge. There is a theory that the surname was first assigned to the strongest man in a village.

For almost 30 years, I have been pronouncing the given name as “Strange-Man,” too. Is that fine? Should I worry about that? Perhaps. Because you see, even though I don’t get too hung up on spelling, with this I realize that pronunciation is a whole other matter. Not knowing, and not learning, how my ancestors pronounced their names deprives me of a part of their daily lives. It also deprives me of possible spelling variations and research opportunities. How many documents may I have overlooked had I continued down this path? Have I missed any up to this point? Now I’m going to have to go back and check it all out, which is not a bad idea anyway. Strangeman HUTCHINS had other descendants named for him (Strangeman STANLEY, Strangeman HUTCHINS, and others…). Knowing how to pronounce it is not a bad idea.

I did another Google search to see if I could find additional references to how the given name and surname STRANGEMAN and variations were pronounced. I came up with similar results. So, seriously, after almost 30 years, in my mind and out loud, I’m going to pronounce my ancestor’s name correctly, as “strong-muhn” from now on.

But did my not-as-distant ancestors know how to pronounce his name? Let’s for a moment study this page. It’s the title page of the manuscript that got me hooked on family research. I showed it last week.

Anderson Johnson and Strangeman Johnson manuscript cover page, 1975. Copyright Notice: You do not have permission to download or copy this image without obtaining it from me. Thank you.

Notice how Myrtle (KUHN) LARMORE spelled his name “Strangman,” and not “Strangeman” on this cover page? Did she know it was pronounced “strong-muhn”? She was his great-great granddaughter, and her own grandmother (my great-great grandmother) surely spoke his name to her. How did they pronounce it?

If it hadn’t been for this 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, I probably wouldn’t have thought of this seemingly trivial thing. So thank you Amy Johnson Crow for having the genius to start this challenge and for allowing me to set myself straight. Over the years, I have gotten lazy. Once you think you know something, you think you know something. There is much about this ancestor that I still don’t know.

Strangeman JOHNSON was born a Quaker. From William Wade Hinshaw, compiler, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Volume VI: Virginia (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973), page 252, Strangeman JOHNSON was born on the Quaker date 9th month, 28th day, of the year 1772. We should be able to safely translate this into 28 September 1772. Earlier dates would have to be converted differently, but by 1772, we should be fine with a straight conversion. The source page is within the record abstracts of the Cedar Creek Monthly Meeting of Hanover County, Virginia.

His parents were John JOHNSON, son of Ashley JOHNSON and Agatha STANLEY, and Lydia HUTCHINS, daughter of Strangeman HUTCHINS and Elizabeth COX. All four grandparents and their ancestors were Quakers. He had an old Quaker pedigree, yet he was disowned from the Society of Friends, and he didn’t seem to choose, or perhaps couldn’t, to go back. From William Wade Hinshaw, compiler, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Volume I: North Carolina (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973), page 990,

JOHNSON. 1796, 10, 11. Strangeman dis[owned].

Friends were disowned for a number of reasons, including taking up of arms, marrying someone who was not a member, marrying contrary to the normal discipline that the Society requires, partying, dancing, and such. Often one will see the course of events prior to disowning within the records, and usually the reason is given. The records will show if the member condemned his or her actions and was reinstated. However, this is the only reference to anything having to do with his disowning. Keep in mind that Hinshaw’s volumes are abstracts of what was considered relevant data for genealogical purposes. These are not actual records, nor are they transcripts, so while extremely genealogically relevant, other relevant documentation could exist within the originals, I suppose.

This marriage bond between a Strangeman JOHNSTON and a Mary WHITAKER, with bondsman Elijah MARLOW, in Rowan County, North Carolina, 6 March 1798, is the first (in time) marriage record I know of for any Strangeman JOHNSON anywhere.

Marriage Bond of Strangeman JOHNSON and Mary WHITAKER, 1798, Rowan County, North Carolina.

Is this my Strangeman? “Everyone” seems to think so. It’s the only marriage on record that seems to “fit.” But did I quit looking at this one? Did I try to attribute it to any other Strangeman JOHNSON?

If Strangeman JOHNSON did not marry Mary WHITAKER until 1798, for what reason was he disowned in 1796? Why was no reason given? Was it something really bad or so shameful at the time that even writing it down wasn’t done? My autosomal DNA shows that I have both African and American Indian ancestry. We have a “man named Johnson married a daughter of Tecumseh” family legend. My ancestor Rachel JOHNSON is Strangeman’s presumed first child. I want to use my mitochondrial DNA to find out if other of Strangeman’s descendants carry the same haplogroup (U5a1) as me.

I have wondered if his other children descend from Rachel’s mother. Was Rachel’s mother half “Indian” or half “Negro.” Was she “mulatto”? Was she Mary WHITAKER at all? The haplogroup U5a1 is associated with Europe and the U.K. On Family Tree DNA, my exact matches at the coding region level have most distant known maternal ancestors with English/Irish surnames (RIGGS, PATRICK, WOODRUFF, WILSEY or WILTSE, and BENEDICT).

My User ID on is 9B6R7. If on you wish to play around with my results as they compare to yours, my Kit Number is T121974. If you are not familiar with DNA genealogy or these tools, refer to Roberta Estes’ blog DNA-Explained. She’s a gift to us.

My “What if the Tecumseh legend is true” scenario is now “what if Rachel’s mother was Tecumseh’s daughter by a white woman”? I never really took this whole “Tecumseh ancestry” thing seriously – until I saw last month that I do indeed have Native American ancestry. But if it is true, I have held in the back of my mind that the JOHNSON involved might be Strangeman JOHNSON because of the “wife mystery.” I guess I’ve just kept an open mind about it.

Anyway, back to my strong man.

Did my Strangeman JOHNSON have a second marriage in North Carolina? Here is a mysterious marriage bond in 1830 in Surry County, North Carolina. No bride given. Is this my Strangeman JOHNSON? I have not seen it attributed to any particular Strangeman JOHNSON, but it could just as easily, and perhaps more likely, be for a nephew. Strangeman JOHNSON had a brother Ashley JOHNSON, a signer on this bond.

Strangeman JOHNSON marriage bond, 1830, Surry County, North Carolina.

And there’s this one in Henry County, Indiana, with Ann BARRETT, which has been attributed to my guy. Prior to 1840, my ancestor Strangeman JOHNSON moved to Henry County, Indiana, possibly with his youngest children. There is an 1850 Census record for a 78-year-old Strangeman JOHNSON with housemate Ann JOHNSON, age 60 (Ann Barrett?), and Hutchins JOHNSON, age 10 (a grandson?).

Strangeman JOHNSON and Ann BARRETT, 1846, Henry County, Indiana.

Did he move to Indiana with the mother of his children? When and where did she die? How did he meet this Ann BARRETT? Who was she? What was her maiden name?

Strangeman. The strange man. The enigma.

I have been able to put together a working list of Strangeman JOHNSON’s offspring from various sources, but to be quite truthful, I have focused much of my JOHNSON research on Anderson JOHNSON’s descendants. Anderson JOHNSON was the father of Thomas JOHNSON, who was Rachel JOHNSON’s husband. I wrote about them last week, as I said in paragraph one, above. At least four of Strangeman’s children married Anderson’s children.

  1. Rachel JOHNSON b. 1799, married Thomas JOHNSON, son of Anderson JOHNSON (my ancestors)
  2. Possibly a John JOHNSON b. c. 1800, (information unknown)
  3. William JOHNSON b. 1801, married Jane “Jennie” JOHNSON, daughter of Anderson JOHNSON
  4. Lydia JOHNSON b. c. 1806, married Jesse E. JOHNSON, son of Anderson JOHNSON
  5. Sarah JOHNSON b. 1809, married Edward BEESON
  6. Patience JOHNSON b. c. 1812, married John B. JOHNSON, son of Anderson JOHNSON
  7. Hardy JOHNSON b. 1813, married Mariah DAVIS; married Mary E. GRIFFIN
  8. Catherine JOHNSON b. c. 1816, (information unknown)
  9. David JOHNSON b. c. 1821, married [?] BURRIS; married Belinda DAVIS
  10. Christina JOHNSON b. 1825, married Tilman CASEY

There is also a woman named Frussannah B., born 30 November 1796 in North Carolina, surname unknown, who married David Brooks JOHNSON, son of Anderson JOHNSON. I have often wondered if she was a daughter of Strangeman JOHNSON. David Brooks JOHNSON condemned his marriage out of unity on 2 February 1822, so Frussannah was not a Quaker at that time. She was born about 15 months before Strangeman’s daughter Rachel, over a year before the supposed marriage of Strangeman to Mary WHITAKER, and about 7 weeks after Strangeman was disowned. In 1843, David B. requested that his wife “Prusanna” [sic] be received into the Friends’ Society. She was accepted and became a Quaker. They are buried in the Hunting Creek Friends Church Cemetery, Yadkin County, North Carolina.

So, here’s the scenario that I am pondering. Make no mistake about it, though. I am not not not one to try to fit the facts to the fiction. I say that because I’ve seen others do that, and it drives me insane. So I’m sort of “thinking out loud” in this blog post – a new way of looking at Strangeman now that I have seen the data that shows there actually is Native American ancestry in me somewhere.

Back to my pondering: Let’s say, for instance, that Strangeman found an unacceptable girl or woman (e.g., “Indian,” “negro,” under-aged, not Quaker, etc.), they had a fling, she became pregnant in 1796 (hence his being disowned on 11 October 1796), and then baby (Frussannah) was born on 30 November 1796.

Let’s say this girl was Mary WHITAKER. Let’s also presume that Mary was the mother of all of his children. The last known child was Christina, born in 1825. I’ll let Mary be 45 when Christina was born (I gave her a little bit of a break). This would have made Mary born about 1780, and she would have been about 19 when my ancestor, Rachel, was born. If there were an earlier child, perhaps Frussannah who was born in 1796, then Mary would have only been 16. Why not marry then? Maybe nobody gave permission? What were the marriage laws in North Carolina in 1796? Did the woman have to be 18 and the man 21? If so, that could explain the wait.

DNA testing of a direct mitochondrial descendant of Frussannah B. [?] JOHNSON may be the only way I can get any answers to this puzzle.

As I said last week, family legend was that five of Strangeman JOHNSON’s children married five of Anderson JOHNSON’s children. So I have four of them down. If Frussannah (Frusannah, Frusanna, Fruzanna, Fruzannah) is Strangeman’s daughter, then there’s the fifth couple.

…….WHOA!!!!! Hold on there!!! I just found an undocumentated “Bowles DNA Project Kit” page listing Frussannah (spelled Fruzannah) with the maiden name BOWLES. If this turns out to be the case, so much for my silly theory. There is also an archived WELLS family forum post with a transcript of the will of Mile WELLS who is the grandfather of Fruzannah (says so in the will). So scratch all that crazy rambling. We can learn so much with the Internet now. This obviously means that Strangeman JOHNSON is not the father of David Brooks JOHNSON’s wife Frussannah. Her name was Fruzannah BOWLES. So back to our story….

Isn’t this fun? I wish I had my mother to play this game with. We loved to talk about these things.

Back to Strangeman – again.

I found an 1898 biography of a grandson of Strangeman JOHNSON, John JOHNSON, that, although it does not name Strangeman’s wife, does state that they were married in North Carolina and “were the parents of…David, Hardy, William, Lydia, and Catherine.” (It leaves some out.) It also states that David JOHNSON (John JOHNSON’s father) “accompanied his parents to Indiana” in 1836 at the age of 15. This biography is within Biographical and Genealogical History of Cass, Miami, Howard and Tipton Counties, Indiana, vol. 2 (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1898), on page 1278. It can be accessed via Google Books (make sure you access Volume II, not Volume I).

I would like to make special note of Strangeman’s child Patience JOHNSON who married John H. JOHNSON. On the marriage bond of a Strangeman JOHNSTON with Mary WHITAKER (image above), the bondsman is Elijah MARLOW. Well…. an Elijah MARLOW married a Patience WHITAKER, also in Rowan County, North Carolina. Isn’t that something?

Elijah Marlow and Patience Whitaker Marriage Bond, 179[5], Rowan County, North Carolina.
This is a black and white microfilmed copy with numbers missing from the date year. The witness, L. Troy, was a witness to at least two other marriages between 1794 and 1795. Richard Dobbs Spaight, Sr., was governor of North Carolina 1792 through 1795. The Rowan County Marriage Bond Index Book give the year as 1795.

They even named a son Strangeman MARLOW! Was her father-in-law her son’s namesake? Was Strangeman JOHNSON the kind of man after whom you wanted to name your children? Or was Patience WHITAKER or Elijah MARLOW descended from Strangeman HUTCHINS or another person named Strangeman? Or perhaps someone with the surname of STRANGEMAN?

There is so much that leads me to think that the marriage between Strangeman JOHNSON and Mary WHITAKER did take place, that Mary was the mother of all of Strangeman’s children (or at least up through Patience). I sense it so much that I can taste it! But no hard evidence. Just soft, gooshy, marshmallowy evidence.

Here’s another marshmallowy thought I just had. Look at the first four children, in order. What if they followed the rule of naming in order of family members? From

  • The first daughter after the mother’s mother – RACHEL – ooooh
  • The first son was named after the father’s father – JOHN? – if existed, then check
  • The second son was named after the mother’s father – WILLIAM – ooooh
  • The second daughter after the father’s mother – LYDIA – check
  • The third son was named after the father
  • The fourth son was named after the father’s eldest brother
  • The third daughter after the mother
  • The fourth daughter after the mother’s eldest sister

Well, it looks promising. Scratch this next sentence. Not sure where a Frussannah would fit in, unless if she is Strangeman’s daughter, she’s not Mary’s. Or maybe I could throw part or all of the naming convention thing out the window. Nonetheless, there are noticeable gaps in time for the birthdates of the children. There could be missing children. Is there a William WHITAKER who married a Rachel? That’s a question.

Strangeman JOHNSON, why must you torture me so? Did you know what you would be doing to your descendants someday? Come and speak to me, tell me your stories, give me the facts, tell me who you are!

To be able to have thoroughly researched the life of my ancestor Strangeman JOHNSON, which I have not done, I need to complete at least these items on this randomly ordered To Do List:

  1. The religion he switched to, if any. Exactly where in North Carolina he lived. How many children he had. What his cause of death was. Where he was born. What his reasons were for moving to Indiana. Where he was buried.
  2. Learn the history of the formation of the counties and Meetings in Virginia as they apply to Strangeman and his family, and find or create a trail of public and private record locations pertaining to these counties. Consult,, Our Quaker Ancestors : Finding Them in Quaker Records by Ellen Thomas Berry, Monthly Meeting histories in Hinshaw volumes, Parish histories of the counties in the area, and more.
  3. Locate the will and probate records of Strangeman’s father, mother, siblings, wife, children, et. al.
  4. Locate the deeds, land transfers, and taxation records pertaining to the lands of Strangeman’s parents, siblings, and children.
  5. Search for and locate existing Parish birth records for Strangeman’s parents, siblings, and himself.
  6. Get out and study my JOHNSON notebooks, pull all records that apply to Strangeman and his family, and transfer to electronic format with sources. Verify my sources and cite them appropriately, as they were taken long before I was aware of citation standards.
  7. Re-read and take notes from all sections of Rita Hineman Townsend’s volumes on the descendants of Strangeman HUTCHINS that apply to Strangeman JOHNSON’s lines.
  8. Sort out all of the Strangeman JOHNSONs.
  9. Try to locate an actual marriage record of proof that Mary WHITAKER married Strangeman JOHNSON, and that it was this Strangeman JOHNSON. Finding this could uncover all sorts of treasures. Certainly a church or county might have such a record. The marriage bond was made in Rowan County, North Carolina. Has anyone sought a record, or has everyone stopped at the marriage bond, which was indexed decades ago and its image is now available for download online from, and gone no further?
  10. Trace the lives of all all all Strangeman JOHNSONs, and all Strangeman [ANYTHINGs].
  11. WHITAKER families and parents.

Where is my ibuprofen? I have a headache. Where’s my pillow? I need a nap!

This entry was posted in 52 Ancestors, JOHNSON, Mom's Side and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Strangeman JOHNSON (Strong-muhn), and the Strange Mystery He Has Left For Us – 52 Ancestors (Ancestor 126)

  1. Pingback: The Massa Theory – Does Our Family Descend from Tecumseh, and If So, How? | Coon Family Genealogy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.