Tama County Iowa Obituaries

William F. Johnston

August 13, 1914
The Toledo Chronicle

William F. Johnston was the oldest of eleven children born to Uriah and Mary C. Johnston. He was born in Mount Pleasant, Penn.(Westmoreland Co.) April 20, 1833 and died in his home in Toledo, Iowa, August 8, 1914, at the age of 81 years, 3 months and 18 days.

Two sisters died at the ages of two and four years and all of the other nine grew to manhood and womanhood and later moved to this vacinity as did the mother and father. The living brothers and sisters are Wesley and Winfield S., Mrs. Lydia Yeiser, Mrs. Kate Ebersole, Mrs. Sarah Berger, all of Toledo, and Mrs. Amanda A. Harrison of Mansfield, Alabama. All of the living brothers and sisters were present at the funeral except Mrs. Harrison. His sister Susan Wade died some 10 or 12 years ago and another sister, Mrs. Lovina Stauffer, preceeded him in death just three weeks to the day.

At the age of fourteen, he engaged to work as a laborer on a farm through the summer and attending school in the winter. He worked in this way for three years when he apprenticed out to learn the trade of carpenter and joiner, following the same for five years. In 1852 in company with his father, he came west and spent the summer viewing the country, stopping at different points and working his trade to defray expenses. The following fall, he returned to Pennsylvania where he got employment as a clerk in his uncle's store. Upon quitting this position some time afterward, his uncle offered him money to be divided equally, but the offer was not accepted. In the summer of 1856, in company with two other young men, he went to Portgage City, Wisc. where he remained but a few months, when he went to Iowa City, working for a time at his trade, and afterwards as a clerk in a store. Early in 1858, he came to Toledo and purchased a stock of goods in company with Henry Galley. He continued in the mercantile business with different partners until 1879, when he disposed of his interests.

In politics he was a Republican. He was one of the incorporators of the Toledo Savings Bank and also of the First National Bank of Tama. In 1872, he was elected president of the Toledo & Northwestern railway, which position he held until 1879. He was a prime mover in the history of the town, such as banking, railroad building, handling of grain, etc.

Mr. Johnston was married September 21, 1853 to Miss Maria J. Newcomer of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, who passed away nearly ten years ago. To this union one child was born, a daughter, Anna. Mr. Johnston was probably the largest land owner of land in Tama County, owning 3,200 acres of land in the county. Beside his land holding in Tama county, he owns land in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and in company with others owned an immense tract in Cuba. He owned a large interest in mines in Oregon, was a director of the Northwestern Portland Cenent Company of Texas. He also was president of the German-American coffee company of Mexico, with headquarters in New York City. He was Toledo's first mayor, and afterwards served another term.

Mr Johnston was reared in the United Brethren family but after coming to Iowa and Toledo, there was no society here of the church of his early choice; he transferred his membership to the Methodist church and remained a faithful member to the end.

Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon at his late residence in Toledo and were largely attended. Services were exceedingly simple and appropriate, well befitting the modest and noble character of the man to whom all were delighted to show respect.

The mortal remains of the late W.F. Johnston were taken to Woodlawn Cemetery followed by a long procession of relatives, neighbors, and old friends, where they were deposited in the family mausoleum built some years ago and where also lie the remains of Mrs. Johnston, who preceeded her husband in death some ten years ago."

Submitted by: Gary Wade (GaryWOTR@aol.com)

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