Posted By: County Coordinator
Date: 3/10/2009 at 12:22:58
William Johnson, for twenty-nine consecutive years William Johnson was successfully engaged in merchandising in Madrid, and was one of the leading representative men of that place. He passed away April 29, 1902, and his death was mourned throughout the entire community, for he was a man who endeared himself to his fellow men by reason of his possession of those sterling traits of character which in every country and every clime command respect. In his business affairs he was found to be reliable, just , accurate and diligent, and in social life his friendly interest in his fellow men, his genial manner and kindly disposition won for him the high regard of those with whom he came in contact. It is therefore proper that the sketch of his career should be given in a volume, the purpose of which is to preserve the history of the men who have taken a part in molding the progress, improvement and up building of Boone county.
His name indicates his Swedish lineage. He was born in the kingdom of Sweden on June 1, 1839, and when a lad of fourteen years crossed the briny deep to the new world in company with his brother, arriving in August 1852. They remained for some time in New York city and state, also residing for a time in Pennsylvania, during which period Mr Johnson of this review worked as a farm hand. He had few advantages, educational or otherwise, in his youth. He early had to depend upon his own resources for a living, and whatever he achieved or gained in life was the result of his indefatigable efforts. In 1859 he went to California, where he secured employment, and later he engaged in farming on rented land until he was enabled to purchase a farm of his own. He then operated his property until 1870, when he sold his possessions in the far west and came to Iowa, establishing his home in Polk county, He purchased a farm in Madison township, that county, and continued its cultivation for four years, but in 1874 he again sold out and in that year he came to Boone county, making his home in Madrid. Here he purchased an interest in an established general mercantile store, and as the years passed built up an excellent trade. For twenty-nine years he was a representative of the mercantile interests of this place. He carried a large and well selected stock of general goods, and his reasonable prices and his earnest desire to please, together with his trustworthy methods, secured to him a very desirable patronage. After residing in Madrid for a time he purchased a good business house and also erected a comfortable home and two other brick business blocks in this city, He likewise purchased and sold several other business houses and aided materially in the improvement of the town. His assistance was never sought in vain in behalf of any movement intended to promote the public welfare. When he came to America he was a poor boy with no capital and no influential friends to aid him, but he possessed energy, resolution and strong will, and these enabled him to meet business opportunities in a way to make them return to him a good income. He thereby accumulated a very desirable estate, a good home, and moreover he won an honored name in the land of his adoption.
Mr Johnson was married in Boone county July 7, 1871, to Miss Anna Johnson, a native of Sweden, who came to America when a little maiden of twelve years, and was reared in this county. She was born December 12, 1853, and is a daughter of Jonas and Josephine (Barnquist) Johnson. Her birth occurred in the town of Mjolby, Sweden, and there she pursued her studies until she attained the age of twelve years, when the family removed to America, settling at Swede Point, now Madrid, and it was here on July 7, 1871, that she gave her hand in marriage to William Johnson. Her parents are both dead, her father having passed away February 20, 1873, while he mother died on March 21, 1902. They were residents of Madrid and were laid to rest in the cemetery of this place. They were the first passengers into Boone over railroad, having come here in a freight car on the first train that entered the city. They left Sweden in the month of May and arrived at their destination in September. Two children blessed the union of William and Anna Johnson, Arthur, a young man, who assisted his father in the store and Selma, at home. Mr Johnson was a pronounced republican in his political views, and when he became a naturalized citizen of American he cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln, in 1860, and at each presidential election from that time until his death he supported the men and measures of the party, but was never an aspirant for office, himself, his time and attention being occupied by his business affairs. He however, served as a member of the town board, as town treasurer and as school treasurer for seventeen years. Both he and his wife were reared in the Lutheran faith and he adhered to the church of that denomination until his death. Mr Johnson aided in building and supporting various churches, not only in Madrid but in the adjoining districts. He looked at life from a broad and practical standpoint and realized that there is nothing of true value in the world save character, and he so lived as to develop an upright, honorable manhood. He was known as a reliable merchant and a loyal citizen, a devoted husband and father, as well as a consistent Christian man, and thus in his life recorded there is much that is worthy of emulation.
1902 Boone County History Book
Boone Biographies maintained by Jan Bony.
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