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Western Shore

Dunnock Johnson Family ~ Dorchester & Washington DC

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Our family roots are in Delmarva, the peninsula that is the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia. Our first family members in Virginia were Henry Blair, Levin Denwood, Simon Fosque, Roger Woolford, and William Whittington, arriving in the first half of the 17th century. Some moved to Maryland and its Dorchester County, arriving there the in mid 1660s. Others like Timothy MacNamara, Andrew Insley, and Michael Todd came directly in Maryland from Great Britain and had holdings in Dorchester County, by the mid 1600s.

Members of these families live today in Dorchester and many other places. We are the children of the Western Shore, our immediate ancestors moved to Washington, DC with the great population shifts of the mid-1860s. Our Irish ancestors also came to Washington, DC in the nineteenth century, to build new lives.

We count mayors, governors, and hard working farmers amongst our family along with steamboat captains and steamboat owners. From the first Levin Denwood, a Friend and dissenter of the 1600s to our most recent PTA President, we have always been avid members of our communities and hometowns. We cousins live in Ireland and Hawaii and a few points in between but most of us are within 150 miles of where our family has been for nearly 400 years.


Eliza Jane Dunnock Johnson with her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren. The photograph was taken on her 71th birthday, November 23, 1915 in the parlor of her home, 319 11th Street, SW, Washington, DC.

back row: Rudolph Johnson, Roy M. Perry, Richard M. Perry, Ethel Perry, P. J. Galligan, Milton White Johnson

center row: Mame Johnson, Edna Marion Johnson Brewer, Ethel S. Johnson Perry, Eliza Jane Dunnock Johnson, Estelle Johnson Galligan holding Margaret Galligan, Cora Pauline Johnson, Ida Johnson, Henry Fenton Brewer, Jr.,

front row: Donald Galligan, Dorothy Johnson, Gladys Perry, Jane Dunnock Brewer, Russell Johnson

Cornelius W Johnson
Garden of 319 11th Street SW, Washington DC


Neighborhood of 1004 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, home of Mary Levin MacNamara Johnson, widow of Alward Johnson. The avenue is diagonal street running upper left to mid right. 1004 faced the small park in center image. Park still remains today. The map below shows the Washington waterfront with the Johnson whaves. The circle on the upper right of the image marks 319 11th ST. [maps 1884, Library of Congress]




Two views of the rear of 319 11th Street.  The family tradition says the roses were blue and had been brought over from Dunnock's Island.

JOSEPHINE WIMSATT as she drys her sails in a cove

Alward Johnson died in 1871, leaving a large family on Secretary Creek. His son Albanus had already come to Washington DC, married, and established a business. Widow Mary Levin MacNamara decided to move to Washington DC. The brothers Eratus Kurtz and James Harrison joined to form Johnson Brothers. They had several offices in the City, selling coal, ice, and lumber. J. Harrison and E. Kurtz joined with William Wimsatt to form Johnson and Wimsatt Lumber. The families were also joined by the marriage of J. Harrison and E. Kurtz to two of William's sisters.

Johnson and Wimsatt owned the JOSEPHINE WIMSATT, a three-masted 91 foot schooner. She brought the raw timber from throughout the Chesapeake Bay area to up the Potomac to Washington for their lumberyard. According to Burgess, she was the last schooner in regular freight service on the Potomac, her trips run until the early 1930s. The brothers kept their other business ties to Albanus as did their younger brothers Milton White, Alward Geary, and Van Wert Baldwin.

Oliver Perry served in the 32nd Virginia CSA Infantry from 1861 to his parole with the rank of Captain in Richmond in May 1865. He came to DC after the War and was on the water like his brother Cornelius. Cornelius is known to have been Captain of the TRED AVON, of the Choptank Steamboat Line.

In 1882, Elbridge Smith established the Choptank Steamboat Line and was its President. The line had built the CAMBRIDGE, CHOPTANK, and TRED AVON in Baltimore, where Elbridge made his home. In 1894, the line was sold to the Baltimore, Atlantic & Chesapeake. The steamers continued in service, one until the 1940s.

Mary Levin MacNamara Johnson lived at 1004 Massachusetts Avenue, NW until her death in 1887. Her daughters and younger sons lived with her until they married. When Mary died, her casket was carried in Mt. Vernon Place Methodist Church by eight of her sons.

Sarah Brooks Woolford Slacum lived at 319 11th Street, SW with Cornelius and her daughter Eliza Jane Johnson. Seven of the eight children of Eliza Jane and Cornelius were born in that house as was their grand daughter Jane. Eliza Jane lived there for 50 years, staying on after Cornelius died in 1913. When Sarah Brooks Woolford died in 1893, her daughter took her home, and she is buried in Old Trinity, over-looking Church Creek, where Woolfords have lived for 300 years.

Today the Washington DC waterfront has pleasure craft but no lumber laden three mast schooners call, nor are ice and coal delivered. The red stone of the B&O Railroad overpasses along Maryland Avenue and the Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian are the only local landmarks still greeting visitors that would have met the Johnsons when their first sons arrived in the 1860s.