JAMES PORTER JOHNSON, Notary Public, insurance, real-estate and loan agent, at Vinton, is a native of Mansfield, Conn., born Sept. 10, 1816. He is a son of William and Roxa (Smith) Johnson. His father was of English and his mother of Scotch descent. Her father was Recompense Smith, a leading spirit in the church for many years. The parents of James were lifelong members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which his father was a Class-Leader for many years. They had a family of thirteen children, eleven of whom lived to be adults, and five of whom are now living — Ora C. married Willis Matton, deceased: Mary E., wife of Prof. J. S. Henderson, residing near Columbus, Ohio; James P., of Vinton; Henry, of South Coventry, Conn.; George B., of Hartford, Conn. The father was a soldier in the War of 1812, and died in 1841; the mother died in 1882. William Johnson was a very religious man, and trained his children to follow in his footsteps. James was reared upon his father's farm, and received a common-school education. When nineteen years of age he went to Hartford, Conn., where he was employed in the City Hall Market. He spent twenty-four years in that city.
Mr. Johnson was married in Hartford, in 1838, to Miss Hannah L. Worthington, of Norwich, born in 1815. They had three children, born in Hartford — Mary L., wife of Henry A. Jordan; he is her second husband, the first being Walcot Hoborn, who was killed at the seige of Port Hudson; Cornelia A. married A. C. Holt, and has since died; Porter L. died in infancy.
In 1859 Mr. Johnson went to New York, where he spent two years as foreman of a large packinghouse. On the 12th day of May, 1861, he landed in Vinton, where he has since made his home. On the 3d day of September, 1862, he enlisted in the 37th Iowa Infantry, Col. George Kinkade, known as the Gray beard Regiment. The regiment rendezvoused at Muscatine for a short time and was then sent to Benton Barracks, and did garrison duty in St. Louis. In 1863 it was sent to Alton, Ill., to guard prisoners, and there remained until January, 1864, when it was sent to Rock Island for the same purpose. On the 5th of June it was sent by steamer to Memphis, where it was placed on picket duty. From Memphis it was sent to various places, and was finally discharged at Davenport on the 26th day of May, 1865. Mr. Johnson was Commissary Sergeant of the regiment.After receiving his discharge he returned to Vinton, where he has since been engaged in the insurance business. While in the service Mr. Johnson and Sergt. Smith were instrumental in the organization of a lodge of Good Templars, known as the Veteran Lodge. Almost the entire regiment became members of the organization. Mr. Johnson was its Worthy Chief Templar. He is now a member of P. M. Coder Post, G. A. R., of Vinton. He has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for sixty-two years, and has been a Class-Leader for forty-five years. Up to the time he was sixty years old he was a member of the choir. He still retains his interest in the temperance cause, and works as faithfully for it as when he was a younger man.
Source Citation: "1887 Benton County, Iowa Biographies" [database online] Benton County IAGenWeb Project. <http://iagenweb.org/benton/>
Original data: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa." Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887, p. 208-209.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on January 28th, 2009. Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.