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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Thomas J. Johnson

History of Door County, Wisconsin : The county beautiful Chicago: by Holand, Hjalmar Rued; S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1917, Pages 442 - 443

Thomas J. Johnson, of Jacksonport township, is entitled to honor as a veteran of the Civil war and at all times in his life has manifested a strong spirit of patriotism. He followed agricultural pursuits for many years, but is now living practically retired, leaving the arduous work of the fields to others. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on the 16th of February, 1839, a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Goodgin) Johnson, natives of England. They were married in that country and a short time afterward emigrated to the United States and located in Cleveland. There the father engaged in merchandising until 1836, when he removed to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he conducted a store for two years. He then returned to Cleveland, but two years later took up residence in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and in engaged in general merchandising there until his death. His wife spent the later years of her life with a daughter in Manitowoc and there she passed away. To them were born thirteen children, only three of whom survive, namely, Thomas J., of this review; John, who is residing in Sevastapol township and a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this work; and Jennie, the wife of Thomas Noble, of Milwaukee.

Thomas J. Johnson was reared under the parental roof and acquired his education in the pioneer schools of Sheboygan. When sixteen years of age he put aside his textbooks and for five years devoted his time to helping his father in the store. On attaining his majority, however, he went to Lake Superior and in 1861 he enlisted in Hancock, Michigan, in Company H, Third Michigan Cavalry. Later, on account of an injury to his back, he was transferred to Battery C, First Regiment of Michigan Light Artillery. He was in the thick of a great deal of hard fighting and took part in a number of important battles before he was discharged in 1863 because of injuries received at the front. He returned to Sheboygan and worked there as a painter a number of years. He then went to Manitowoc and for six years had charge of the painting of the boats owned by the Goodrich Transportation Company. In the fall of 1871 he arrived in Jacksonport township, Door county, and for seven years was in the employ of the lumber company and was engaged in cutting cedar wood. In 1878 he purchased the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter of section 14, Jacksonport township, and in the intervening period has transformed that tract of wild timber land to a highly cultivated and well improved farm. His well directed labors were rewarded by good crops and he so managed his affairs that he accumulated a competence.

Mr. Johnson married Miss Ann Jane Watts, a daughter of Joseph and Jane (Watson) Watts, natives of Scotland and of Welsh-English and English lineage respectively. On their removal to the United States they located in Maine, where Mr. Watts passed away. Subsequently the mother became the wife of George Edwards and removed to Manitowoc, where both she and Mr. Edwards passed away and are buried. Six children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. Ida was born May 16, 1854, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and on the 27th of April, 1883, was married to Stephen Douglas, a native of Quebec, Canada, and of French descent. He died leaving a son, William, who was adopted by his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and reared by them. He is now a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, and is editor of the Journal of Agriculture. Following the death of Mr. Douglas, Mrs. Douglas was married November 18, 1895, to Wallace Coffin, a son of David and Louise (Snavely) Coffin, early settlers of Gardner township, Door county, where both passed away. Mr. and Mrs. Coffin became the parents of five children: Bernard, who was born August 29, 1896, and is assistant editor of the Journal of Agriculture of St. Louis; Anna, born September 29, 1898; Wallace, November 26, 1900; Clarence, October 17, 1902; and Samuel, December 10, 1904. All are residing at home except Bernard, the eldest. Carrie, the second child born to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, married Abraham Peronto, of Jacksonport township and later Sturgeon Bay. She passed away and is buried in the Episcopal cemetery. Charles is engaged in farming in Jacksonsport township. Joseph died when twenty-six years of age and in also interred in the Episcopal cemetery. The other two children died in infancy.

Mr. Johnson was for many years a stanch supporter of the republican party, but of late has voted independently, considering the qualification of the candidate before his political affiliation. He has held a number of local offices, having served as township clerk for one term, as justice of the peace for several years, as clerk of the election board and as school clerk. His official duties were invariably performed with conscientious regard for the public welfare and all movements calculated to promote the general good have received his hearty support. In religious faith he is an Episcopalian and takes a keen interest in the work of the church. He has almost as many friends as acquaintances, for his salient characteristics are such as ever command respect and regard.

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