Guide to the George Wesley Johnson Papers, 1829-1939


Correspondence, daybooks, in the early 1840s, ledgers, notebooks, accounts, bills, receipts, orders, promissory notes, postal records, and other papers (chiefly 1831-1888) of George Wesley Johnson and of his family. The material pertains to Tennessee agriculture, purchases of goods in Philadelphia and other northern cities before and after the Civil War, Wake Forest College, the University of North Carolina, Greensboro Female College, economic conditions after the Civil War, and the mercantile activities of the Johnsons.

Collection Details

Collection Number
George Wesley Johnson papers
Johnson, George Wesley
10 Linear Feet, 7 boxes, 2,620 items and 77 vols.
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

This collection contains business and family papers of George W. Johnson, postmaster, justice of the peace, general merchant, and farmer; of his brother and business partner, James M. Johnson; of George W. Johnson's son, Francis Marion Johnson; and of other members of the family.

The collection contains letters to George W. Johnson from friends in Tennessee relative to agricultural and economic conditions there, 1838-1844; letters between George W. and James M. Johnson while one or the other bought goods in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before the Civil War; bills, accounts, receipts, orders, promissory notes, and letters of a business nature, including occasional reference to another brother of George W. Johnson, Hiram, who had a financial interest in the mercantile establishment; numerous letters from George W. Johnson, his wife, Martha Johnson, and friends, including one at Wake Forest College, North Carolina, to Francis Marion Johnson while the latter was a student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1855-1858; letters, 1858-1861, from another brother of George W. Johnson, J. H. Johnson, who-was operating a store at East Bend in Yadkin County, North Carolina, as well as references to the debt of Olin High School, North Carolina, notices of meetings of Mocksville Lodge No. 134, letters to Martha Johnson from her daughter, Jennie, while a student at Greensboro Female College, North Carolina, 1857-1859, prices of foods and general commodities, letters from Eagle Mills, Buffalo Paper Mills, and W. Turner's cotton mill at Turnersburg, North Carolina, and bills of lading for various commodities.

Material during the Civil War period is limited to a few letters in 1863 from W. G. Johnson (younger brother of George W. Johnson) near Kinston, North Carolina; tax in kind returns and a petition from Francis Marion Johnson asking for military exemption on the basis of operating a grist mill. Postwar material consists largely of mercantile records of the Farmington store showing that goods were purchased from wholesale firms in New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Richmond and Lynchburg, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; and Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Wilmington, and Salisbury, North Carolina.

Volumes consist of small notebooks, recording goods bought by George W. Johnson; daybooks; ledgers; postal records of the Farmington, North Carolina, post office, 1838-1856, including postage books, newspaper postage books, and receipt books for registered letters; blacksmith accounts; itinerary of a journey made by George W. Johnson, S. Taylor, and D. N. Reynolds through North Carolina and Tennessee in 1836; minutes of the Farmington Lodge No. 46 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; and the Davie County Division of the Sons of Temperance. Included also are a few business letters from Nathaniel Boyden and Son, and a letter to Francis M. Johnson from a friend in Norfolk, Virginia, describing a typhoid epidemic in 1855.

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Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, 1829-1859
Box 1
Correspondence, 1861-1907 and undated
Box 2
Financial records, 1831-1852
Box 2
Financial records, 1853-1864, 1867-1884
Box 3
Financial records, 1885-1939 and undated
Box 4
Misc. materials
Box 4
Post Office material, 1836-1853 and undated
Box 5
Printed material, 1863-1879
Box 6
Post Office records, undated
Box 6
Bethlehem Church volume
Box 6
Newspaper postage books, 1837-1854

[previously volumes F:1993 and F:1994]

Box 7
Meeting minutes, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Farmington (NC) Lodge No. 46, 1853-1859
Volume F:1996
Proceedings, Sons of Temperance of North America, Grand Division of North Carolina, Davie Division, No. 18, 1853-1862
Volume F:1997
Account book, 1859-1861
Volume F:1948
Account book, 1860-1868
Volume F:1949
Account book, 1864-1869
Volume F:1950
Blacksmith account book, 1847
Volume F:1951
Day book, 1838
Volume L:1953
Day book, 1839
Volume L:1954
Day book, 1840
Volume L:1955
Day book, 1841-1843
Box 7
Day book, 1845-1846
Volume L:1957
Day book, 1846
Volume F:1958
Day book, 1847
Volume L:1959
Day book, 1849
Volume L:1960
Day book, 1851
Volume F:1961
Day book, 1852-1853
Volume F:1962
Day book, 1854
Volume F:1952
Day book, 1856
Volume F:1963
Day book, 1857
Volume F:1964
Day book, 1859
Volume F:1965
Day book, 1860
Volume F:1966
Day book, 1861-1862
Volume F:1967
Day book, 1873
Volume F:1968
Day book, 1873
Volume F:1969
Day book, 1874
Volume F:1970
Day book, 1875-1876
Volume F:1971
Day book, 1876-1877
Volume F:1972
Day book, 1878
Volume F:1973
Day book, 1879-1881
Volume F:1974
Day book, 1880-1881
Volume F:1975
Journal, 1860-1884
Volume F:1977
Ledger, 1836
Volume F:1978
Ledger, 1839
Volume F:1979
Ledger, 1840
Volume F:1980
Ledger, 1841
Volume F:1981
Ledger, 1843-1844
Volume F:1982
Ledger, 1847
Volume F:1983
Ledger, 1848
Volume F:1984
Ledger, 1849-1850
Volume F:1985
Ledger, 1851
Volume F:1986
Ledger, 1852
Volume F:1987
Ledger, 1854-1856
Volume F:1988
Ledger, 1857-1858
Volume F:1989
Ledger, 1857-1859
Volume L:1990
Ledger, 1858
Volume F:1991
Ledger, 1870
Volume F:1992
Newspaper postage book, 1854-1863
Volume L:1995
Journal, Travels through North Carolina and Tennessee, 1836
Volume S:1976

Historical Note

George W. Johnson was a postmaster in Farmington, North Carolina from 1838-1856. He also served the public as a justice of the peace, general merchant, and farmer. His brother and business partner was James M. Johnson. Another brother, Hiram, also had a financial interest in the mercantile establishment.

George W. Johnson's son, Francis Marion Johnson, was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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The George Wesley Johnson Papers were acquired by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in January 1947.