Ancestor US marshal until he was 87

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A man has discovered that his Brechin ancestor was one of the oldest serving United States marshals in the early 20th century.

Harry Smith, who lives in the Merseyside area of England, discovered his great-uncle, who came from the Brechin area, was a US marshal in Stewartsville, Minnesota.

Harry’s great uncle was David Low Johnston, who hailed from Bonhard, near Edzell, and was a US marshal well into his 80s.

US marshals and their deputies have served as the instruments of civil authority used by all three branches of government.

Johnston, who was born in 1861 to James Johnston and his wife Jane Middleton, emigrated to America in 1880 and farmed at Glyndon, Minnesota.

In his later years, he moved to Stewartville where he became town marshal at the age of 52.

Due to the lack of retirement age in the states, Johnston continued in his role until he was 87, retiring only when a fall on the ice brought an end to his career.

When he celebrated his 80th birthday in 1941, the local press featured a story on him.

In it, they stated that along with his marshal duties, Johnston was “a member of the village fire department, his duties centring around service at the municipal pumping station during fires.”

However, it was added that Mr Johnston was assisted by a night marshal.

Mr Smith also discover that he was related to a Scottish capped footballer, who lived many a year in Brechin.

Johnston’s sister, Annie, was the mother of former Sunderland footballer, Bob Middleton, who earned played the sport in the 1930s. He was capped for Scotland in February 22, 1933.

Descendants of the Johnston family still live in the Angus area. David Johnston’s great niece Dorothy lives in Brechin, and another great-niece, Doreen, lives in Arbroath.