Johnson Wilson was born in Tennessee in either Carter County or Johnson County.  Johnson County was formed from Carter County, so it could be either one.  His father's name was Tapley Wilson.  Tapley married Elizabeth ?? (last name unknown). Tapley had eight children. Nancy Wilson,John (Johnson) Wilson, Dicy Wilson, William Wilson, Hamilton Wilson, Mary Wilson, Singleton Wilson and Alfred Wilson.

Johnson married Maria(h) Maynard (or Manard) on August 2, 1838 in Johnson County, TN.  Sometime between 1840 and 1850 Johnson and Maria moved to Ducktown in Polk County, TN.  They are listed in the 1850 census there. 


1850 Polk County Census  Age
Johnson Wilson 32
Maria 30
Henry 11
Sarah N.   9
Mary C.   7
Joseph   4
Thaddeus   1


NOTE:  Look at the ages from census to census.  You will see how inconsistant they are.  This is very common in most census records.  I don't know if they forget how old they really are or just want to fib about their ages.
  • In the 1860 census of Fannin County, Johnson's age was 46, Maria-42, Henry wasn't listed, Sara -18, Mary C.-15, Joseph-13, Thaddeus-11.  New children that had been born in the last ten years were:  Daniel W.-8, Jane M.-5, John A.-3, and Burton F.-10 months.
  • By 1870, Callie was born.  Callie was later listed as California. That was a total of ten children for Johnson and Maria. Now Johnson was listed as age 52, Maria-52, Joseph-24, Catherine (Mary C.)-23, Thadeus-20, Daniel-20, Margaret (Jane M.)-15, John-13, Horace (Burton F.)-10, and Callie-7.

The first five children, Henry, Sarah N., Mary C., Joseph and Thaddeus were born in Tennessee.  The remaining five were born in Fannin County, GA.

  • By 1880, Johnson was listed as age 58, Maria-50, Joseph-30, T.Johnson (Thaddeus)-28, Margaret-22, John-21, Horace-18, California-17.  Now there is a granddaughter named Clarissa, age 13, born in GA.  A laborer named Odeny Rayborn lives with them.  At this time, Johnson was a farmer.  Joseph and John worked on the farm.  Thaddeus was a County Officer.  Margaret, Horace and California are listed as "keeps house".  Clarissa is just listed as "at home".
  • The 1890 Fannin County census is unavailabe as they were destroyed by fire.
  • The next census in Fannin County is June 7, 1900.  Johnson had moved in with three of his children.  All three of these, Joseph H., Margaret and John never married.   Johnson is an invalid and 82 years old.  His is also a widow now.

Johnson died sometime between 1900 and 1910.  He isn't listed in any more census records after 1900. 


After Johnson moved to Fannin County, he built the Iron Works Mill in what is known to this day as the Forge Mill area.  Johnson was a collier when he came to Fannin County.  He already had a lot of experience at iron working, so he just began his own business which turned out to be very successful.

Click on the link below to view an article about Forge Mill Iron Works which was printed in a local Blue Ridge newspaper. (GIVE IT SOME TIME TO DOWNLOAD.  This is a PDF file and might not show up instantly, but computer might be a little slower than yours).,%20Hemptown%20Iron%20.pdf

PICTURED ABOVE: Edna and Cecil Wilson - earlier 1900's at the Forge Mill.  Edna and Cecil are children of Boon and Okie Wilson.   This photo came from as did the one below.

PICTURED ABOVE: The Forge Mill as it stands today.



This following is a story passed down through the family.  My dad, Vernon Boggs, remembered "Uncle John" (Johnson's son) very well.  Uncle John told him a lot of old family stories, and this was one of them. 

Johnson was commissioned by the U.S. Government to make whiskey for the troops either during or right after the Civil War.  He stored the whiskey in 60 gallon barrels.  The barrels were loaded onto a horse-drawn wagon, then taken to Cleveland, Tennessee through way of the "Old Copper Road", better known today by The Ocoee River Road, where it was loaded and taken by train up north.

During one of the trips while hauling the barrels, the tailgate of the wagon either fell off or just came open and the barrels spilled out and rolled down a hill.  It took a while to get them loaded onto the wagon again, but they did, then finished their long trip to deliver them.

NOTE: A DOCUMENT WAS RECENTLY FOUND REGARDING THIS DISTILLERY.  To view the contents of this document, click on the "DOCUMENT" tab on the menu.



Most of this Wilsons from back then in this line are buried in the Toccoa Church cemetery located in Lakewood, GA, Fannin County.  Johnson's grave no longer has a marker, but he is buried next to his wife, Maria(h) Wilson. He used to have rock markers, but they have been gone for a few years.  Maria does have a nice tombstone and is easy to locate.  Around Johnson and Maria you will  find many of their children and their families.


Johnson's son, Horace "Babe" Wilson, had slaves that worked for him, but after the slaves were freed, they liked the Wilson family so much that they just stayed on with them. 

My dad, Vernon Boggs, remembered them.  He said when he was a boy, he and his parents, Bass and Bess Boggs, drove up to the old Wilson place at the Forge Mill area to visit.  They pulled up at a little house and a black lady came out.  The called her "Pug", but her name was Margaret.  Pug and Bess were so happy to see each other and they just hugged each other for a long time.  Vernon said she was so nice and had a great big laugh that was almost contageous and it came from deep down inside.  He also knew her husband, John.  He was kind of a quiet, gentle man.

My dad also said that Pug talked a lot about someone named "Em".  He was never sure who that was, but after finding the census records, I'm sure it was her son, Emory.  I found Margaret and John listed in the 1900 and 1910 census records in Fannin County.    In 1900 they had only been married for seven years.  Living with them are two of Margaret's sons.  It lists them as John's step-sons, so she evidently was married before.  I found him listed in 1880 in Polk County, TN.  He was married to someone different at that time.

Notice from the census records the difference in their ages in 10 years. 

Here are the census records that I found:


John Collett - husband, black, male, born 1835, age 65, married 7 years, farmer, born GA, father/mother from GA

Margaret - wife, black, female, born Mar. 1850, age 50, married 7 years, 10 children born-3 living, born GA, father/mother from NC

Frank Dickey - step son (to head of house), black, male ,b. Aug. 1869, age 30, single, born GA, father/mother from GA

Emory Dickey - step son, (to head of house), black, male, b. Feb. 1887, age 13, single, R.R. worker, born GA, father/mother from GA



John Collett - hus., black, 65, male, married twice, m. 20 yrs., born NC, father/mother NC, farmer

Margaret "Pug" Collett - wife, Mulotto, 65, married 1 time, 10 children-3 living, b. GA, father/mother NC, laundress


Vernon said that John died in 1925.  After John died, he heard that Margaret moved into Blue Ridge somewhere over behind the courthouse.  He didn't know what happened to her after that.   He remembered that John was buried at the Toccoa Church Cemetery.  He said there used to be a black section of graves down at the far edge, but when we went out there to try to find it years ago, we couldn't find any signs of it at all.

The whole family loved John and Margaret.  She helped raise the Wilson kids and they were just thought of as part of the family.