Katherine Courtenay Johnston Collection LU-016
Information about the Collection
Katherine Courtenay Johnston was born in 1877 in Botetourt County, Virginia to Charles Johnston (1844-1910) and Nannie (Thornton) Johnston (1852-1911). In the late 19th century, Katherine Courtenay Johnston moved to Los Angeles, California where she attended school and was later employed as a teacher. In the early 20th century she received her law degree and subsequently moved to New York where she worked as an attorney in Manhattan until her death in 1952. Katherine Courtenay Johnston is buried in the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.
Through her father’s family, Katherine Courtenay Johnston was descended from Peter Johnston, who emigrated to Virginia from Scotland in 1727. In 1765 he moved to Prince Edward County and purchased a large tract of land which he originally named Cherry Hill and later renamed Longwood. Peter Johnston and his wife Martha (Rogers) had four sons: Peter Johnston, Jr., Andrew, Charles, and Edward. Two of those sons, Peter Johnston, Jr. (1763-1831) and Charles Johnston (1769-1833) are represented in this collection.
Peter Johnston, Jr. left home at 17 to fight in the Revolutionary War. He served with Light Horse Harry Lee’s regiment throughout the war, eventually attaining the rank of Lieutenant. After the war, he returned to Prince Edward County where he studied law, was elected to the House of Delegates, and was later appointed judge. He inherited the Longwood land and Johnston home after his father’s death. In 1811, Peter Johnston, Jr. sold the Longwood estate, consisting then of 1181 acres to Abraham Venable. In 1928, the State Teachers College purchased the Longwood house and a portion of the property. It is from this that Longwood College took its name in 1949.
Charles Johnston was the third son of Peter and Martha. In 1790, Charles was kidnapped by members of the Shawnee tribe while traveling down the Ohio River. In 1827, he wrote and published his memoirs, “A Narrative of the Incidents Attending Capture, Detention, and Ransom of Charles Johnston of Botetourt County.” In 1808 he built his home “Sandusky” in Lynchburg, VA. Charles was the father, through his 2nd marriage, of Frederick B. Johnston, Katherine Courtenay Johnston’s paternal grandfather.
Through her mother’s family, Katherine Courtenay Johnston was descended from the Thornton and Moseley families, both of which are represented in this collection. Her maternal grandfather, Richard Clough Thornton was a prominent attorney and planter in Cumberland County, Virginia. Her great uncle, John T. Thornton was a Colonel with the Confederate Cavalry who was killed at the Battle of Sharpsburg. During his final retreat, General Robert E. Lee stopped at the Farmville, Virginia home of Col. Thornton’s widow, Martha Thornton, to pay his respects. William Mynn Thornton, the son of John T. and Martha Thornton, was a well-respected longtime professor at the University of Virginia.
On both sides of her family, Katherine Courtenay Johnston was related to some of the most influential and important Virginia families. As such, this collection of materials related to her family provides tremendous insight into Virginia history before, during, and after the Civil War.
This collection was originally assembled by Katherine Courtenay Johnston. Upon her death in 1952, the collection was inherited by her cousin Nancy Burwell Johnston. In 1953, Nancy Burwell Johnston donated the first of the materials contained in this collection to (then) Longwood College President Dabney Lancaster. Other Johnston family members added items to this collection in 1954 and again in 1955.
Scope and Content
The materials in this collection date from 1829 through 1946 and consist of correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, and ephemera.
This collection consists of 3 linear feet contained in (2) archival binders and (3) flat boxes.
There are no restrictions to access or use for research purposes.
• While the majority of the correspondence in this collection pertains to people related to the Johnston, Thornton, or Moseley families, there are (2) pieces of correspondence that cannot be positively attributed to those families:
#3-a: “Stonewall” Jackson to William Cook Lewis, December 29, 1863.
#9-a: Harriot Brown to Maggie ___________, January 17, 1863.
• Short biographies of those known subjects mentioned in the correspondence are provided at the end of the full finding aid for this collection.
• The photographs in Binder #16 retain the same order in which they appeared in the original Johnston family photo album.
Contents of the Collection
Regarding estimate for new cadet barracks at West Point.
Regard Cadet Longworth Powers delayed date of arrival at West Point.
Regarding a request for leave of absence for Clay's grandson Henry Clay, Jr.
Letter of reference for William Mynn Thornton.
Regarding the hire of Jim.
4-a: Fitzhugh Lee to Ben _______, December 7, 1885. (transcript)
Regarding Ben ________’s recommendation for ________ Johnston to be hired as Lee’s clerk.
Regarding a planned visit to Frederick Johnston and his family.
6-a: John T. Thornton to “Dick,” July 10, 1861. (transcript)
Regarding life at Camp Ashland.
Regarding march through Virginia to cavalry camp in York County.
Requesting horse to be sent to stables at Farmville, VA and possibility of enemy attack.
7-a: Charles Johnston to _____________, May 20, 1829. (transcript)
Regarding a debt.
Regarding artillery training and the chances for a battle at Craney Island.
Regarding family, the cancellation of furlough, and the evacuation of Richmond.
9-a: Harriot L. Brown to Maggie ________, January 17, 1863. (transcript)
Regarding the unreliability of mail during the war. Written on stationery captured from Union General Milroy.
10-a: A. Thornton to J.J. Thornton, May 14, 1855. (transcript)
Regarding father’s (William M. Thornton) care at hospital and acceptance of loan from brother.
10-b: A. Thornton to J.J. Thornton, May 15, 1855. (transcript)
Regarding bonded stores and the price of cotton.
11-a: Paul Carrington to Richard C. Thornton, September 20, 1853. (transcript)
Regarding the death of his mother (Richard C. Thornton’s sister) Sarah Carrington.
11-b: James H. Fitzgerald to Richard C. Thornton, May 4-5, 1855. (transcript)
Regarding inability to visit.
11-c: William Mynn Thornton to Richard C. Thornton, May 29, 1855. (transcript)
Regarding care received at New York hospital and hopes for crops at home.
11-d: William Mynn Thornton to Richard C. Thornton, June 7, 1855. (transcript)
Regarding hopes for returning home and plans for harvest.
11-e: James D. Thornton to Richard C. Thornton, February 18, 1860. (transcript)
Regarding health and death of child from scarlet fever.
11-f: W.P. Moseley to Richard C. Thornton, May 2, 1860. (transcript)
Regarding crops, planting, and politics.
11-g: Silas Bigelow to Richard C. Thornton, November 26, 1860. (transcript)
Regarding insurance policy on furniture.
11-h: Paul Carrington to Richard C. Thornton, December 3, 1860. (transcript)
Regarding the birth of his son, Richard Thornton Carrington.
11-i: Robert L. Dabney to Richard C. Thornton, February 28, 1861. (transcript)
Regarding the need for funding for missionary efforts.
11-j: William Thornton Carrington to Richard C. Thornton, undated. (transcript)
Regarding congratulations on marriage and cotton crops.
11-k: Mary Thornton to Richard C. Thornton, November 12, ____. (transcript)
Regarding best wishes and congratulations on brother’s marriage.
11-l: _______ Thornton to Richard C. Thornton, undated. (transcript)
Regarding illness and death of his daughter Kate.
11-m: Cumberland County Court, September 23, 1861. (transcript)
Resolution regarding Richard C. Thornton’s death.
12-a: S.P. Allison to Maria Moseley, January 5, 1845. (transcript)
12-b: Sarah Carrington and (son) William Thornton Carrington to Maria Moseley Thornton, May 20, 1852. (transcript)
Regarding marriage of daughter and quality of crops in Alabama.
12-c: Bettie Venable to Maria Moseley Thornton, March 26, 1860. (transcript)
Regarding death of Maria’s daughter Kate.
Regarding the war and family news.
Regarding the war, Maria’s brothers, and Col. John T. Thornton.
Regarding the death of Col. John T. Thornton.
12-g: John C. Page to Maria Thornton, January 31, 1888. (transcript)
Regarding rent for her land and the sale of tobacco.
12-h: John C. Page to Maria Thornton, May 1, 1888. (transcript)
Regarding rent for her land and the sale of tobacco.
12-i: John C. Page to Maria Thornton, April 1, 1889. (transcript)
Regarding rent for her land, the price of tobacco, the sale of tobacco, and economic distress in Virginia.
12-j: John C. Page to Maria Thornton, May 12, 1890. (transcript)
Apologies for inability to forward rent money collected.
12-k: John C. Page to Maria Thornton, April 11, 1893. (transcript)
Regarding rent for her land and changes happening in Virginia.
13-a: J.T. Parrish to Nannie Thornton Johnston, January 16, 1877.
Regarding history of Thornton family.
13-b: E.W. Wilson to Nannie Thornton Johnston, February 27, 1879.
Regarding history of the Wilson family.
14-a: M. Louise Johnston to Katherine Courtenay Johnston, June 28, 1932.
Regarding family history.
14-b: Charles Johnston to Katherine Courtenay Johnston, March 26, 1946.
Regarding life in post-war Japan.
Partial letter, unknown writer or recipient, unknown date.
Copied letter, Judge Buckner Thruston to R.Y. Hubard, April 8, 1840.
“Longwood” by Sallie Bruce Dickinson.
“The Story of Longwood” by Jane Waring Ruffin.
Mary Johnston, obituary, May 1936.
Christmas card, Mary Johnston to unknown, unknown date. Front of card is photo of “Three Hills,” Mary Johnston’s home in Warm Springs, VA.
Christmas card, Charles, Charlotte, & Ricky Johnston to Nancy ______, unknown date.
Charles Johnston, ephemera.
Charles Johnston, Appomattox Court House Parole Certificate, April 10, 1865.
Katherine Courtenay Johnston, ephemera.
Family histories & genealogical information.
Re: Wilson Family Genealogy
Re: Anderson Family Genealogy
Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 26, 1905 – clipping re: Flying Artillery, Salem, VA
Confederate Bond Certificates, signed by Ro. Tyler.
Clipping from funeral wreath from the casket of Robert E. Lee.
Note accompanying clipping, addressed to Katherine Courtenay Johnston, Oct. 19, 1870.
Located in Photograph Binder #16:
016.001 – John Wm. Johnston (image)
016.002 – Bettie Alexander (image)
016.003 – Mary Johnston (image)
016.004 – Cousin _____
016.005 - ______ Logan
016.006 – Robert Logan
016.007 – Martha Diggs Burwell Logan
016.008 – Robert Logan
016.009 – Natural Bridge
016.010 – Nora _____ Braxton Macon
016.011-016.012 – unknown
016.013 – General Beverly H. Robertson (image)
016.014 – Mattie Brown
016.015 – Fanny Royal
016.016 – Nathaniel Burwell Johnston (image)
016.017 – Nathaniel Burwell Johnston & Robert Logan (image)
016.018 – Elizabeth Prentiss Johnston
016.019 – Mattie Brown
016.020 – Nathaniel Burwell Johnston
016.021-016.022 – Mary Carter Burwell
016.023 – Philip Ludwell Burwell
016.026 – Nannie Trent Johnston
016.027 – Charles Johnston
016.028 – Elizabeth Randolph Preston Allan
016.029-016.031 – Charles Johnston
016.032 – Frederick Johnston
016.033 – Anne Carter Burwell Johnston
016.034 – Elizabeth Prentiss Johnston Cavitt
016.035 – Frederick Johnston
016.036-016.042 – unknown
016.043 – Hallie ________
016.044-016.054 – unknown
016.055 – Gertrude ________
016.056 – John Cunningham
016.057 – Mulberry Hill
016.058 – Fred J. Johnston
016.059 – unknown
016.060 – Edward Dillon
016.061 – Bishop James Steptoe Johnston
016.062 – John Cunningham (image)
016.063-016.064 – John C. Robertson
016.065 – B.H. Robertson
016.066 – Churchill, Henry, & Julius Robertson
016.067-016.068 – John Robertson
016.069 – Fred J. Johnston
016.070-016.071 – unknown
016.072 – F.R. Johnston
016.073 – Peter Johnston
016.074 – Katy Power
016.075 – Ema Brown
016.076-016.084 – unknown
016.085 – Hugh Carter Henry
016.086-016.088 – unknown
016.089 – Georgina S. Henry
016.090 – 016.095 – unknown
016.096 – Lewis Logan & Mattie Welsh Logan
016.097 – Rev. Lewis B. Johnston
016.098 – unknown
016.099 – Trigg Mc______
016.100-016.106 – unknown
016.107 – Julia McKay Buchanan
016.108 – Mary Dillon Johnston
016.109 – Frederick Johnston
016.110 – Coulter Logan
016.111-016.112 – unknown
016.113 – Julia Johnston
016.114 – Charles Johnston
016.115 – Anne, Reynolds, and Peanuts
016.116-016.121 – unknown
016.122 – Samuel G. Willard
016.123 – Cynthia B. Willard
016.124 – unknown
016.125 – Cynthia B. Willard
016.126 – Samuel Porter Willard & Abbie Gregory Willard
016.127-016.138 – unknown
016.139 – Mary R. Willard