The son of a Black Chickasaw, and Black Creek, mother, Johnson was known to be
a quiet reserved man who served as a Federal Marshall out of Ft. Smith for at
least 14 years. He began working for Judge Parker about 1887, and received
his last commission from Parker in 1896, the year of Parker's death. Being a
Black Indian, he knew the customs and language of the Muskogee Creek nation,
and was effective in Indian Territory. He often would go on assignments with
Bass Reeves. His record included the capture of Abner Brasfield, a white outlaw
who was notorious in Indian Territory. The book, " Black Red, & Deadly" by Art T.
Burton describes the capture of Brasfield by Johnson and Reeves in full detail.
Many of the captures made by Johnson occurred in and around Eufala, in the Choctaw Nation.
Parker considered Johnson one of his most effective deputies. Besides Brasfield, Johnson
is known for having captured Jake Stanley, the noted counterfeiter Amos Hill,
Choctaw outlaw Chahenegee, the murderers John Pierce, Bill Davis, Cherokee
outlaw, Columbus Rose. Other characters such as train robber Wade Chamberlee
and bootlegger Elijah Congar were among his captives. A full account of some
of Johnson's successes can be found in Burton's book (published by Eakin Press.)
The book can be purchase in Ft. Smith at the bookstore of the NationalHistoric
Site in both paperback and hardback.
Additional information about Johnson's life can be found in the information that appears in the New Handbook of Texas. Part of the statement about Johnson says:
JOHNSON, GRANT (1858-1929). Grant Johnson, one of only a dozen or so blacks commissioned as United States deputy marshals on the western frontier, was born in June 1858 in northern Texas. He was the son of Alex Johnson, a Chickasaw freedman from Missouri, and Miley Johnson, a Creek freedwoman from Mississippi. Johnson settled in the Creek Nation between 1880 and 1890. Though many Indians had come to regard whites with suspicion and disdain, there was a history of intermarriage and tolerance between blacks and Creeks and Seminoles. Such blacks as Johnson, who spoke Creek fluently and knew other Indian languages as well, were sought and hired to serve as United States deputy marshals. Johnson received his first commission from the federal Western District Court at Fort Smith, Arkansas, on May 28, 1893..... Johnson worked as a deputy marshal from 1893 to 1906 in an area stretching from northern Texas to Muskogee, Indian Territory. After his commission ended, he worked for a number of years as a policeman in Eufaula, Oklahoma, where he patrolled the black section of town. He had a son who served as a staff sergeant in the United States Army during World War I.qv Johnson died on April 9, 1929, and was buried near Eufaula.
Articles about Johnson can be found on microfilm in Ft. Smith, and in
the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City. The following newspapers
contains articles about Grant Johnson:
The Ft. Smith Elevator July 4, 1890
Muskogee Phoenix August 27, 1891
Eufala Indian Journal Dec 24, 1891
Muskogee Phoenix April 12, 11842
Muskogee Phoenix Oct 5, 1893
Muskogee Phoenix August 23, 1894
Muskogee Phoenix Sept 22, 1894
After his commission ended in Ft. Smith, Johnson settled permanently in
Indian Territory continuing his legacy in settling the territory.