This Day in History — January 1

James Johnson, a Kentucky congressman and soldier, was born January 1, 1774 in Orange County, Virginia. His family moved to Kentucky in its infancy, when in 1779 his father helped to build Bryan’s Station on North Elkhorn Creek, just a few miles from Lexington. The family moved to Bryan’s Staton in 1781, but in 1783, the elder Johnson built his own settlement known as Johnson’s Station or Great Crossing in what is now Scott County.

The Johnson family was a very influential family in this new Commonwealth. Many of the sons were involved in politics, and James himself went on to serve as representative of Scott County in the Senate from 1808-1811. But political office was not all that concerned James Johnson. When Britain threatened the new America with their supply blockade, America took up arms against their former rulers. Johnson served under his brother Richard in the War of 1812. He was involved in both the Battle of the Thames and Battle of New Orleans.

Johnson was also concerned with the growing need for transportation. He promoted the stagecoach indutry even forming his own company Johnson, Weisiger and Company, a line that ran from Frankfor to Louisville. He was reported to be one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky, owning a plantation near Great Crossing. Johnson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from March 4, 1825, until his death in Washington, D.C., on August 13, 1826. He was buried in the family cemetery at Great Crossing.

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