The Day Coffeyville Bled - The Dalton Johnson Gang
Chapter IV - Jennie
Jennie Mae Johnson was born on November 17, 1889. She was thrust
into an outlaw environment, even as that element of society was on its way
out of existence. She was to have no control over the first few years of her
life and was to suffer under the cruel upbringing that lay in store for her.
Throughout it all, she would survive and eventually raise a family.
She was to lead as checkered a life as her mother, yet she would fare much
better. Before she was able to recognize the faces of her parents, they were
to adopt her out to another family. Jennie, as a small child, inevitably
proved to be a burden to Julia Gilstrap and was subsequently farmed out
to other members of the Johnson family.
The only family she grew to know for many years was that of Julia
Johnson’s. By then, Julia was married to one Robert Gilstrap. Jennie was
given that last name, though it was not her own, and she would wear it
until she was given a new one in 1902.
Julia Gilstrap was, now widowed as the result of the December 24,
1889, gunfight near the Jacob “Jake” Bartles store, at the future site of
Bartlesville, Indian Territory. Robert Gilstrap had gotten into an argument
about money with a man named Frank Lenno. According to Lenno, Gilstrap
refused to repay a loan. Lenno shot and killed Gilstrap with one bullet.
Jennie’s first encounter with her relatives was when she was but
a few months old. She was given to Westley and Martha Johnson, her
grandparents. Almost from the time of her birth until the deaths of the
elder Johnsons in 1891, Jennie lived with them and was loved and cared
for on the Johnson farm. This farm was the same one where Julia had spent
her last years as a teenager. It is located approximately four miles west of
Dewey, Oklahoma. The house where Julia and her family lived at one time
still stands today. Currently, it is being used as a barn for cattle and other
After Julia’s parents had both died, Jennie was again transferred to
another group of relatives, this time the Whiteturkey clan. Jennie remained
with the Whiteturkeys for about three years. There, as before with her
Johnson grandparents, Jennie was taken care of quiet well.
By 1894, Julia could foresee an opportunity to make a cash settlement
in the not-too-distant future. She could see a reason for change, so Jennie
was moved once more. She would be living with her aunt and uncle from
the Gilstrap side of her lineage. Robert Gilstrap’s brother, Dempsey, had
married Artelia French. Together, these Gilstraps were able to provide a
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Mark S. Pannill
P. O. Box 372
Waxahachie, Texas 75168
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