Born in Virginia in 1802, Nathan Johnson spent his boyhood years near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In 1824 he was licensed to preach and served as a Methodist missionary to the Cherokee Indians and others in the Tennessee Conference. Johnson brought his wife, Sarah, and five children to Texas in 1851. For the next seven years he rode the circuit in the East Texas Methodist Conference, serving towns such as Marshall, Jefferson, Clarksville, and San Augustine. During the last years of his life, Johnson served as pastor of the Daingerfield Methodist Church. He died of pneumonia in 1860.