Johnson vs. Armistead
About This Case
It is not entirely clear how this case, which is principally concerned with affairs in Virginia, ended up in the files of the Florida Supreme Court. Further research on the principal parties involved is needed to fully explore the Florida connection.
John Armistead died sometime prior to 1834. Armistead’s large estate included lands in Virginia and Florida, homes, tools, commodities, and slaves. His will divided the estate between his widow and their three children, including Adelia H. Johnson. Before the estate was settled, Adelia died intestate (without a will). The court determined that her share of the estate would revert to her young son, John Evans Johnson. Her husband, William A. Johnson, represented John, referred to as an infant under 21 years of age throughout the case documents.
In order to account for young John’s portion of the estate, it had to be determined with exact details what property remained in the estate. The majority of the documents in this case file consist of an accounting of lands, debts, credits, and various economic activities related to the estate of John Armistead. The value of this case for researchers is in the details contained in the list of property attributed to the estate of John Armistead, a wealthy Virginia planter.
Marcus Armistead administered the estate of John Armistead and agreed to ensure the timely and proper transfer of inheritance to the young John Evans Johnson. Like many other landed elites, the Virginians Latimus and Marcus Armistead came to Florida in search of economic opportunity. They established a trading firm on the Lower Chattahoochee River and later conducted substantial business in Jackson County, Florida. Other members of the Armistead family, including John Armistead, had acquired lands in Jefferson County, Florida by the time of this trial. It is possible that the Armisteads living in Florida requested copies of this document for their own legal purposes, and that the documents later ended up in the files of the Florida Supreme Court.
This case serves to illustrate the economic connections between Florida and other southern states in the 1830s. It also provides a glimpse into the operation of an antebellum Virginia plantation.
- Hastings County, Virginia