Eliza <I>Griffin</I> Johnston

Photo added by James Henkel

Eliza Griffin Johnston

  • Birth 26 Dec 1821 Virginia, USA
  • Death 25 Sep 1896 California, USA
  • Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Memorial ID 10447261

Eliza Griffin Johnston, artist and diarist, was the second wife of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston. She was born in Fincastle, Virginia, on December 26, 1821, the youngest child and only surviving daughter of John Caswell and Mary (Hancock) Griffin. Her parents died when she was five years old, and she was raised by her Grandmother and later an uncle. She was a cousin to General Johnston's first wife, who died in 1835 and he began courting her when she was about eighteen years old. They married on Oct. 3, 1843.

Her diary from the fall of 1854 and winter of 1855 as she traveled with her husband and his regiment from Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, to Fort Mason, on the Texas frontier, is the best source of information on the regiment's journey.

Eliza's obituary, from The Los Angeles Herald, Volume 25, Number 362, 26 September 1896, reads: HER LONG ILLNESS ENDED
Death of the Widow of the Late Gen. AlBert Sidney Johnston.
Mrs. Eliza Griffin Johnston, widow of the late Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, died ln this city yesterday morning; at the residence of her son-in-law, United States Attorney George J. Denis, at the age of 75 years, after a lingering illness. She leaves one son and two daughters, all residents of this state. Mrs. Johnston came to California in 1861 with her husband. Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, then in command of the dlvlsion of the Pacific with headquarters at San Francisco. Gen. Johnston resigned his command in the United States army, and, leaving his family in San Francisco, returned east and entered the service of the confederacy, being killed at the battle of Shiloh. Mrs. Johnston resided in San Francisco with her family until 1880, when they removed to this city, which has since been her home. Mrs. Johnston was a member of the Episcopal faith, and for years was prominent in that faith. She was of a singularly lovable character, and had many friends, not only ln Los Angeles, but throughout the state, who will sincerely mourn her death.

The obituary doesn't mention her short sojourn in a home she named "Fair Oaks" and had built in Pasadena on land purchased from her brother, Dr. John S. Griffin, a retired military surgeon, who purchased and developed the Rancho San Pasqual. The residence was completed in the spring of 1863 and had nine rooms including three bedrooms, a parlor, dining room and kitchen. The house was later moved and is now the oldest framehouse in the San Gabriel Valley.

Eliza Johnston left the house after the death of her son Albert Sidney Johnston Jr. in the explosion of the steamship "S.S. Ada Hancock" in San Pedro Harbor on April 27, 1863. He was one of 26 people killed when the ship's boiler exploded during rough weather. Among the survivors were the ship's owner Phineas Banning and his wife, who were both injured in the explosion.

In 1894 she donated relics of her husband and family to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.The donation included a book she had compiled for her husband of watercolors of Texas wildflowers she had painted in the 1840s and 1850s. She continued to reside in Los Angeles until her death on September 25, 1896. Texas Wild Flowers, a book of 101 of her paintings, was published in 1972.

Buried next to her are her sons Griffin Johnston, and Albert Sidney Johnson, her daughter Alberta Johnston Denis, son-in-law George Jules Denis and grand-daughter Alberta Denis.


Family Members


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  • Maintained by: Kathleen
  • Originally Created by: James Henkel
  • Added: 8 Feb 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10447261
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Eliza Griffin Johnston (26 Dec 1821–25 Sep 1896), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10447261, citing Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Kathleen (contributor 47602782) .