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W D Johnson


Posted By: County Coordinator (email)
Date: 5/4/2010 at 10:25:21

The history of the development of this section of the state would be incomplete and unsatisfactory were there failure to make reference to W D Johnson, for many years a prominent business man and highly respected citizen of Boone. It has been said of him that he lived a good life and was ever a fried to those in need or distress. He has reached the age of seventy-seven years when called to his final rest on October 31, 1910, for his birth occurred in Tennessee, March 15, 1833. The period of his boyhood ad youth was largely passed near Chandlerville, Illinois, he being about a year old when his parents established their home in that locality. In his boyhood he attended the public schools, which , however, were of rather a rudimentary character. His parents, John and Rosa (Adkins) Johnson, were both natives of Tennessee, where the father followed farming until 1833, when he took his family to Illinois. The district in which he settled was a frontier region and in his young manhood he was noted as a hunter and trapper, his adventurous and tireless spirit finding vent in pursuit of the abundant game then found in all the states bordering the Mississippi. The usual experiences of frontier life fell to him and hot his family, which numbered fourteen children, seven sons and seven daughters.
W D Johnson was the eldest son and third child and much of the farm work devolved upon him up to the time when he reached the age of seventeen years. He then left home to make his own way in the world. It was in 1854 that he started from St Joseph, Missouri to Salt Lake City to assist in driving a block of sheep and was away from home on that trop until the spring of 1856. There were many hardships and difficulties to be encountered for on the entire trip there was no one to be seen, save as they occasionally et a government wagon train or gold seeker’s outfit. In 1859 Mr Johnson again started for the west, this time with a train of wagons drawn by oxen, their destination being the mining regions of Pike’s Peak. Again Mr Johnson penetrated into the western wilderness, when in 1860, he had charge of a train of five hundred wagons with fifteen hundred people in the party. With that caravan the long and tiresome journey to Oregon was accomplished and en route they had several encounters with the Indians. In crossing the Wind River mountains a party of Sioux Indians attacked the train and an engagement followed which continued for twenty-four hours. A great deal of stock belonging to the wagon train was run off by the Indians, who drove the cattle to a flat topped mountain nearby, and as there was an urgent need of recovering the property, Mr Johnson called for volunteers to aid hi in making the attempt. Only thirty-six men responded to the call ad when at length, the mountain was reached and they saw the Indiana, all but one of the men deserted Mr Johnson and fled. Of course, under the circumstances, there was nothing to do but to join in the retreat. Two other Indian attacks occurred before the five months’ journey was completed, but at length they reached their destination with the loss of only four men.
Mr Johnson passed the winter of 1860 in Oregon and the following spring made his way to the mining regions around Placerville, Washington, where he worked with varying success for about six years. In 1866 he again went to Illinois and not long after began buying cattle in southwestern Missouri, which he drove to the Illinois markets, the business proved profitable, and he continued therein for a number of years. In 1871 he went to Texas, where he engaged in buying and selling cattle in partnership with W B Warsham of Henrietta, Texas, making his home in Cooke County, In the years following he extended his operations through a number of counties until 1881, when he removed to Hale county and there, in partnership with J M Morrison, purchased a ranch of 87 thousand acres, stocked with a herd of three thousand cattle. In 1883 they exchanged half of the land with C C Slaughter in return for ten thousand head of cattle ad in 1890 they sold the remainder of their land to Mr Slaughter. Mr Johnson then took his share of cattle and drove them to Swisher and Castro counties, where he had about five thousand head upon the rage until the year 1900. He then disposed of both is land and cattle in Texas and came to Boone county to live with his daughter in law, Mrs Mary E Johnson. In the meantime or in 1882 he had become financially interested in the Logan & Canfield coal mining business and from that time until his death he was president of the w D Johnson & Company Coal Company. He as also connected with other important business enterprises of Boone, including the Boone Brick Tile & Paving Company, the Boone National Bank and the Security Savings Bank. He was a man of sound judgment and unfaltering energy, carrying forward to successful completion whatever he undertook.
Mr Johnson was united in marriage to Miss Eliza A Warshaw, a native of Missouri who died in 1875 leaving a son, Ira D Johnson who married and removed to Boone. There he passed away in 1898, leaving two children, William D and Lucile.
The death of W D Johnson occurred as previously stated in 1910 and was a matter of deep regret to all who knew him. One the local papers said: “In disposition Mr Johnson was firm but kind. With relatives and members of his home he was generous, amiable, never speaking a work to would the feelings of his intimates. To every relative and persona friend he was generous to a fault. To the idle and vagrant he gave no sympathy. He as a man of wise public spirit, bestowing his time and wealth upon only the most worthy enterprises. The unfortunate and needy had not better friend.” No better estimate of a man’s character can be given than the opinion of his fellow townsmen who have had excellent opportunity to judge him. Mr Johnson received ad merited he high regard of those with whom he came in contact, and his many good qualities were widely recognized and warmly commended.

1914 Boone County History Book


Boone Biographies maintained by Jan Bony.
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