Felix Johnson

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1813 - 1883

Moderator of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
May 20, 1858 - Huntsville, Alabama

         

 

REV. FELIX JOHNSON, D.D., died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Ramsey, at Cleburne, Texas, at 10 o'clock Sabbath night, the 9th inst. A card form Rev. F. M. Gilliam says, "His dying moments were peaceful. He sent messages to many friends." He had been sick for some time, as we mentioned some time back. He has now entered into rest, and upon the reward of his labors. How little we know about death and the things that lie beyond our present vision! No wonder those who go alone shrink back with fear. To the Christian, who has the Saviour with him, it is quite different. Though he walk through the valley of the shadow of death he need fear no evil. To him there is both a light and a support.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, December 20, 1883, page 4]


REV. FELIX JOHNSON, D.D.

THE Red River Presbytery, of which Dr. Johnson was a member, adopted the following:

Your Committee on Deceased Ministers ask leave to report that as far as information extends, the lives of all your members are spared, except Rev. Felix Johnson, D.D., who passed away on the 9th day of Dec., 1883, in the town of Cleburne, Texas, at the residence of Mr. Ramsey, his son-in-law, in great triumph, leaving a wife and several children to mourn their loss, and this Presbytery, with the entire Church, to realize that one so able in counsel and highly gifted in the pulpit is taken from our midst. We shall greatly miss Dr. Johnson in our Presbytery, and your committee would recommend that you extend to sister Rosa Johnson our sympathies and prayers, that the evening of life with her may be useful, calm, and happy. Your committee would also recommend that a memorial service be held at the next meeting of Presbytery at Brookston, and that the moderator appoint a committee to make suitable arrangements for the occasion. In view of this sad affliction and bereavement,

Resolved, That in the death of Dr. Johnson the Cumberland Presbyterian Church has lost one of her most gifted ministers and useful laborers.

2. That we bow with humble reverence and submission to an all-wise Providence.

3. That as a Presbytery we extend all material aid in our power to the sadly bereaved wife.

4. That a copy of this report be sent by your stated clerk to the wife of the deceased.

5. That this report, with the memorial service, be recorded on a memorial page in your presbyterial book.
           J. G. Harris, Chm.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, February 7, 1884, page 5]


Rev. Felix Johnson, D.D.
By Mrs. Molly Yates - 1948

Dr. Felix Johnson was born in Wilson Co., Tennessee, in 1803 [sic: 1813], of pioneer parents. He grew to manhood there. He had two brothers and two sisters. His older brother was James, familiarly known as Jimmie. His younger brother was Alva, who became a Cumberland Presbyterian minister.

Felix Johnson was educated at Old Princeton College [Cumberland College], at Princeton, Ky. He worked in the Machine Shops as an apprentice, working one half the day and attending classes the other half. He was fond of the Languages, Latin and Greek, and especially the Latin poets, pages of which he often quoted in the original, then translating them into English for the delight of his friends or family.

When he had finished his education, he entered the ministry of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in which he laboured throughout his life. In those early days the Cumberland preachers underwent great hardships, riding from place to place on horseback for weeks at a time, receiving little more than food and shelter and feed for their horses. After serving some years in this way he took a pastorate, his family requiring more of his time and care and more remuneration than he could obtain in this way, for church salaries in those days were very scant.

He was married about 1838 to Miss Lucinda McCord. They were the parents of seven children, as follows: Robert, Edward, Marcella, Mary, Rowena, Felix and Emma.

He served in pastorates in middle Tennessee and north Alabama for several years. Then at the urgent call of Lagrange College in Alabama, he accepted the Presidency of that school. It was a male school, and principally patronized by the sons of rich planters of that day. Feeling that a different environment would be more suitable for his family and the work would be more congenial for himself, he yielded to the earnest call to take the presidency of Bethel College, at McLemoresville, Tennessee. This was also a male school and was founded for the purpose of educating young men for the ministry of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. This was a few years before the outbreak of the Civil war, and when war was declared, the school was broken up because the boys all had to go to the army. His son, Robert Pollock Johnson, being one of the number, had graduated shortly before. Dr. Johnson was also pastor of the church at McLemoresville part of the time while serving as president of the school.

His second son, Edward, had died at the age of nine. Marcella, the eldest daughter, was married in May 1861 to Robert L. Hart, whose father came years before the war from Raleigh, N.C. to McLemoresville, Tenn., and whose eldest son, William Priestly Hart, was the first graduate of Bethel College. Mary became the wife of William H. Gregory in November 1865. He was a member of the cavalry in the Confederate army. Rowena married Robert L. Young in April 1867. They were the parents of a large family, ten of whom were sons who all grew to manhood. His son Felix died in 1869 at the age of sixteen while his father was pastor of a church in Paducah, Kentucky. Emma, youngest daughter, married W. F. Ramsey, attorney of Cleburne, Texas in December 1878, and died at the age of twenty eight, leaving only one son, Felix, named for his grandfather.

He had a number of grandchildren, several of whom are still living, three of them in McKenzie, Tennessee. They are Mrs. H. F. Bobo and Mrs. Rowena Thedford, who was for sometime head of the Music Department of Bethel College. A grandson Mr. Luther I. Young also resides there.

Dr. Johnson had a strong and rugged nature and these qualities were characteristic of him through life. He had been taught to hammer things out on the anvil and later he hammered things out on the pulpit. His was a very genial, jovial, friendly nature, having a very keen sense of humor. He was very hospitable. He always had a fund of anecdotes from which he could draw on any occasion. He was very affectionate. he loved his family, he loved his friends, he loved his church, he loved humanity with all his great, warm heart. He was equally at home in the mansions of the wealthy or in the log cabin of the poor. He was a great mechanical genius and was offered the superintendence of the Machine Shops in Nashville, Tennessee during the Civil War, but he declined the offer, feeling his place was in the pulpit. But he mended the guns for the soldiers in his own private shop which he maintained throughout that period. He could make with equal skill a ladies' brooch or a gun. After he came to Texas he invented a prairie plow, for which he was offered a large sum of money which he refused. The plow later proved to be too large for practical use.

He was a great historian and had a remarkable memory, being able to quote at will, either in conversation or in the pulpit, incidents from medieval history, dates and places, the names of battles and of Generals. He was also a great student of the prophecies and had wrought out a theory of their fulfillment several years before he died. He was always ready to preach, for he had great themes stored away in his mind, never needing to use a manuscript in the pulpit.

After his three older daughters were married, he organized a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the community in which they lived, which was called Pilgrim's Rest, near which is the old church yard where lie the ashes of these three daughters and their husbands and several of their children. He preached to these people for a while until they could get a regular pastor. And in this old church hangs a portrait of him painted by his youngest daughter, Mrs. Emma Ramsey. She having died young, gave this picture to her oldest sister, Mrs. Hart, and asked her to hand it down, which she did, and at the death of Mrs. Young, the youngest of these three sisters, her children, thinking it to be appropriate, hung it in the old church to the right of the pulpit where it hangs today.

He married a second time, a widow with one daughter, just the age of his youngest daughter Emma. His second wife was Mrs. Rosa Coulter Calvert. She was a noble woman and was a great blessing to him throughout his later life.

In 1870, when these daughters were about thirteen years old, he decided to come to Texas to educate them in Trinity University at old Tehuacana. Trinity had been founded there shortly before, and where later on his nephew, Leonard Johnson, son of his brother Alva, became president.

Dr. Johnson and his family remained there until after the girls graduated, then went to Paris, Texas, and he took the pastorate of the church. He served there for several years. At his resignation, Dr. Charles Manton, then a young man, became pastor.

After moving to Texas he made only two visits back to Tennessee, one in 1877 and one in 1883. On returning to Texas from his last visit he went to the home of his daughter, Mrs. Ramsey, in Cleburne, and after a short stay was stricken with paralysis and passed away about the middle of November.

During his stay in Tennessee he went to the Spring Meeting of Hopewell Presbytery which met at Milan, Tennessee. He was asked to examine the candidates for the ministry. One young man who was examined that day said "When Dr. Johnson was examining me, he looked me squarely in the eye and pointed his finger in my face and said," "Did you ever see Jesus Christ?" Anyone who had ever looked into those piercing gray eyes, beneath beetling brows can imagine how that young man felt as he stood before that giant soldier of the cross; for he, like Saul of Tarsus, believed that no man had a right to preach that had not received his commission from the Lord.

He was a great soul and a great preacher, honored and loved by all who knew him, and on hearing of his death might well have exclaimed, as David did at the death of Abner, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel"?

On the morning he was to take his leave for his home in Texas, he gathered together the families of his three daughters at the home of the eldest and had prayers, using for the scripture, the 12th Chapter of Romans, after which they all kneeled down and he prayed, committing them to the care of the Lord. After fond embraces they parted, never to meet again.

As he was dying, he asked Major Heath, a good friend to his and a neighbor of his daughter to read a few verses of the 4th chapter of 2nd Timothy, saying "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." He quoted a line from an old song, "I'm Waiting by the River," and giving his blessing to the loved ones around his bed, he passed triumphantly into Life Everlasting.
[Source: Typescript in collection of the Historical Foundation of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America]


1835 & 1836
Felix Johnson attended Cumberland College in Princeton, Kentucky
[Source: A Brief History of Cumberland College 1825-1861, by Matthew H. Gore, pages 92-93]

An early member of Tennessee Presbytery
http://www.cumberland.org/hfcpc/minister/BellAaronA.htm

1844
He purchased Lauderdale County, Alabama land from William P. Johnson and Mary Johnson in January
1844. This land became the Johnson Factory operated by Felix & James. Felix & Lucinda Johnson later sold the property to Wright & Rice.

1848
Minister - McGready Presbytery - Synod of Columbia
Commissioner to General Assembly in Memphis, Tennessee, May 16-24, 1848.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1848, page 4 ]

1855-1858
Dr. Felix Johnson was president of Lagrange College near Leighton, East Colbert County, Alabama.

   

1855
Felix Johnson
Minister - Richland Presbytery - Synod of Columbia
In article it says Felix Johnson preached the ordination sermon of J. M. Walker of Richland Presbytery.
[Source: The Cumberland Banner, March 30, 1906, page 7]

1856
Felix Johnson, Leighton, Ala.
Minister - Richland Presbytery - Synod of Columbia
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1856, page 62 ]

1857
Felix Johnson, Leighton, Ala.
Minister - Richland Presbytery - Synod of Columbia
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1857, page 73 ]

1858
Felix Johnson - LaGrange, Ala.
Minister - McGready Presbytery - Synod of Columbia
Commissioner to General Assembly in Huntsville, Alabama, May 20-28, 1858.
Moderator of the General Assembly.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1858, pages 4, 6 & 83]

 

 

He was president of Bethel College for 2 years ?

 

1860
F. Johnson
Minister - Hopewell Presbytery - Synod of West Tennessee
Commissioner to General Assembly in Nashville, Tennessee, May 17-25, 1860.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1860, page 5

 

1868

1869

1870

1871

1872
Johnson, (D.D.) Felix, Tehaucana, Texas
Tehuacana Presbytery - Synod of Brazos
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1872, page 122]

1873
Johnson, (D.D.) Felix, Tehaucana, Texas
Tehuacana Presbytery - Synod of Brazos
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1873, page 99]

1874
Johnson, Felix, D.D., Tehuacana, Texas
Tehuacana Presbytery - Synod of Brazos
Commissioner to General Assembly in Springfield, Missouri, May 21-29, 1874.
Served on the Committee on Education.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1874, pages 4, 9 & 98]

1875
Not in List.

1876
Used 1875 Directory in the General Assembly Minutes.

1877
Johnson, F., Paris, Tex.
Minister - Red River Presbytery - Synod of Texas
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1877, page 89]

1878
Johnson, F., D.D. Paris, Tex.
Minister - Red River Presbytery - Synod of Texas
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1878, page 98]

1879
Used 1878 Directory in the General Assembly Minutes.

1880
Johnson, F., D.D. Paris, Tex.
Minister - Red River Presbytery - Synod of Texas
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1880, page 121]

1881
Johnson, F., Paris, Tex.
Minister - Red River Presbytery - Synod of Texas
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1881, page 92]

1882
Johnson, F., D.D. Paris, Tex.
Minister - Red River Presbytery - Synod of Texas
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1882, page 123]

1883
Johnson, F., D.D. Paris, Tex.
Minister - Red River Presbytery - Synod of Texas
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1883, page 131]

1884
DECEASED MINISTERS
Red River Presbytery
Felix Johnson, D.D.
December 9, 1883

[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1884, page 28]


Johnson Family Information


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Updated July 19, 2011

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