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JOHNSON Narrative
Variously E.Elmer, Ephraim E. and E. Elruer Johnson1 , he resided in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, NJ, at least in 1849 when his first son was born.2 In the1850 census, he is listed as Ephraim E. Johnston, age 25, married to Sarah B., age 20, with a son, Reuben, aged 9 mos (Reuben's Birth Certificate lists his mother as Sarah H.--possibly Henry? given her son's middle name--and is possibly more accurate).  In the 1860 census, he is listed as a resident of Franklin Township, Gloucester County, NJ--wife Sarah, son Reuben age 11 years, son Joseph age 6 years.1 Ephraim was a cabinetmaker and one of the "Grands" of the I.O.O.F. (Independent Order of Odd Fellows), Cumberland Lodge No. 35.3

Reuben moved from the Trenton area in 1888/9 (possibly to Palmyra NJ, since according to Mildred Schalk, her father Elmer Embury Johnson--the sixth son--was born in Palmyra, NJ.) to Long Island.    His 7th child, Florence Knox Johnson, was born in Brooklyn and at some point they moved to a farm in Richmond Hill, Queens, NY.  Reportedly, he had a violent temper and a troubled relationship with his wife and children4.  Living at 352 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn in 19098.

Reportedly a soft-spoken, gentle man6, he was also an ambitious businessman.  He began working after dropping out of grammar school first as plumber's helper in Jersey City, then for a series of banks in Brooklyn working his way up from messenger to cashier7.  He also reportedly ran a dancing school with wife Letitia (who played the piano)6.  In April, 1918 he took a position with the War Trade Board which resulted in his relocating temporarily to Washington D.C.5  He invested in real estate and apparently owned numerous properties in Queens and Brooklyn.  The crash wiped him out and he remained financially fragile for the rest of his life, though helping others whenever possible, providing advice and sometimes lodging to others down on their luck6.

Harry Sr.'s life was greatly complicated by the problems surrounding son Harry, Jr. who had serious mental problems which blossomed during his brief (non-combat) stint in the Army during WWI (he was discharged on an apparently "creative" diagnosis of TB).  Harry, Jr. was never able to care for himself and was hospitalized in King's Park Hospital, Kings Park, Long Island in 1921 12 when he became impossible to control, although he eventually (1926 11) was able to return home to the care of his parents.  

Significantly for later generations, Harry, Sr. followed and introduced his sons to Christian Science 9, although how he came to it is unknown.

Later in life, Harry, Sr. had a long-term relationship with Lila Raymond although they did not marry, reportedly due to the situation with Harry Jr. 6

"Bill" was drafted into the Marines during WWI and contracted influenza during the great influenza epidemic while stationed in Washington, D. C.  10  He and Hazel began their married life at Stanhope Street in Richmond Hill, moving in 1923 to 8977 216th Street, Queens Village, where they remained until their deaths.  He worked as an accountant at a Wall Street brokerage house until the market crash cost him his job and subsequently took whatever bookkeeping and accounting jobs he could find until he once again found fulltime work at a brokerage house, albeit at a lower level than before.  Life was made more complicated by Hazel's struggle with tuberculosis which resulted in several lengthy hospital stays while their children were still young.  A talented athlete, musician and lover of life, he nonetheless had an "explosive" temper and demanding parenting style that caused friction with his son, eventually resulting in a physical confrontation and their partial estrangement.  Bill, Sr. died at home under the care of his wife and daughter at the age of 45.


 1  Ephraim E. Johnston is listed in the NJ censuses for 1850 and 1860.  Bridgeton is his place of residence on Reuben Henry's transcribed birth record where his name is recorded as E. Elruer Johnson.  The birth record lists Reuben's mother as Sarah H., while the 1860 census lists her as Sarah B.  At LDS, there are two records that list Reuben's father as E. Elmer Johnson and his mother as Sarah D.  Since the Birth Certificate for Reuben is a typed transcript, it may have made the error of recording his middle name of "Elmer" as "Elruer". Since two of Reuben's sons have the name of "Elmer", we've decided that the preponderance of evidence suggests that Ephraim Johnson's middle name is "Elmer".
 2  Most of the information regarding Ephraim E. Johnson is contained on the copy of the Birth Certificate for Reuben Henry Johnson, obtained from the State of New Jersey.
 3  History of the Counties of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland, New Jersey, Cushing, Thomas.  From the NY Public Library, Genealogical Section.
 4 According to letters from Edith Hardmeyer Spiller (daughter of Florence Knox Johnson) to William D. Johnson, Jr.; according to a log kept  by Wm. D. Johnson Jr.,  Evelyn Johnson Bauer (daughter of Walter Mortimer Johnson) told him that when Reuben Henry Johnson was dying, he called his son Walter Mortimer Johnson who refused to go see him because he had treated Walter's mother (Hannah Dickson Johnson) so bady; also see letter in footnote 8
 5  This information is based on (a) a letter from Harry D. Johnson, Jr. to his mother where he references his father's address as being at the War Trade Board, Washington, DC,  (b) the fact that both his sons sent him letters at hotels in Washington DC during 1918, and (c) his draft resume lists a position which (though difficult to read) might be with  the War Board.
 6  Reminiscence of Hazel Marion (Johnson) Tretler.
 7  According to draft resume.
 8   see letter of Reuben Henry Johnson to his daughter upon his learning of his wife's death
 9  see letters from his sons and his brother, Elmer Embury Johnson, for example
 10  Reminiscence of Hazel Marion (Johnson) Tretler.  Except where otherwise noted, this narrative is based on that reminiscence.
 11  Parole Certificate issued by the State of New york State Hospital commission dated August 19, 1926
 12  Affadavit (dated November 14, 1924) in support of an application for a bonus of an unknown nature wherein it is referenced that Harry D. Johnson, Jr. was committed to Kings Park Hospital on October 10, 1921.  (Also, there's a reference in a letter from Letitia (Dawson) Johnson to her sister Marjorie "we had to call an ambulance on the 6th of October a year ago".