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Lee County Biographies

EBENEZER H. JOHNSON

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This gentleman, whose death took place at his old home in Palmyra Township, this county (Lee), August 29, 1885, was one of the old pioneers whose history is coincident with that of the township and county, and a sketch of whose life will prove interesting, not only to those intimately associated with him, but to all who love to hear of the early times in the Prairie State.

Mr. Johnson was born in Bainbridge, Chenango County, N.Y., July 5, 1810. His parents were Seth M. and Mary (Hough) Johnson of English descent, who removed to New York about 1807. His parents were natives of Connecticut, coming of the good old New England stock and of English ancestry. Seth was a farmer in his native State and after his marriage and the birth of two children, emigrated with his family in a very early day to Chenango County, N.Y., settling in the heavy timber near Bainbridge. There he and his wife encountered the hardships of a pioneer life and diligently toiled until they had improved and cultivated a good farm on which they spent the remainder of their days, the father dying at the age of fifty-seven, and his wife living until 1865, when she too passed away at the venerable age of eighty years. He was an active Whig in those early days and both he and his wife were consistent members of the Baptist Church. Their memory has been handed down to their descendants as an honored couple worthy of all respect and kindly remembrance which has been accorded to them.

The subject of this sketch was very young when his father became a resident of New York State and in order to make a comfortable home in the then unbroken wilderness his assistance was required as soon as he was old enough, to help his father in clearning the farm. He left home before attaining his majority, engaging in various pursuites until his marriage, directly after which he came to the West.

His wife, whose maiden name was Sarah Johnson, was born in Blanford, Hampton County, Mass., August 10, 1808. She was a daughter of Jonas and Sallie (McCray) Johnson. At the age of nine she removed with her father's family to Colesville, Broome County, N.Y., where she was engaged in teaching quite a number of years. She was a devoted wife and a worthy helpmate for her husband. She was upwards of seventy-six years of age at the time of her death, which occurred May 15, 1885, preceding that of her husband three months and thirteen days. A short sketch of her parents will prove interesting in connection with this sketch.

Capt. Jonas Johnson was one of the pioneers of Lee County, arriving in the fall of 1838, when he was near the age of seventy-six years. he was born near Leominster, Mass. November 30, 1762. His remotest ancestor is traved back to Hervie Hill, County Kent, England, who came to America in 1630 ettling in Charlestown, Mass. He was the son of Edward and Relief (Johnson) Johnson. His first wife was Sarah Ferguson, of Blanford, Mass., who bore him five children, but one of whom is now living. The second wife was Sallie McCrary of Sctoch descent, whose ancestors emigrated from Scotland to the North of Ireland. They were both members of the Episcopal church. Mr. Johnson was the parent of three children by his last marriage, Sarah, William and Morris, none of whom survive. His wife left him for the silent land three months and nineteen days before his own summons. Mr. Johnson died December 3, 1842, having just celebrated his eightieth birthday.

Rev. William Y. Johnson, a brother of Sarah and a son of Jonas and Sallie Johnson, came to Illinois in 1837, settling at Monmouth. He came to Lee County in the fall of 1838, and purchased Government land near Sugar Grove, built a house and opened up a farm. He next removed to China Township, where he remained several years, going thence to Chicago, where he was ordained a minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church in which service he continued until his death. His wife was a daughter of Col. Leman Mason, one of the first settlers of this county. Three children were born to this worthy couple. Mr. Johnson died at Fairfield, Iowa, August 29, 1873, aged nearly sixty-four years. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Dixon, Illinois.

Jonas Morris, youngest son of Jonas and Sallie Johnson, came to Lee County with his father in the fall of 1838. he settled near Sugar Grove, purchasing Government land, building a home and developing the farm now occupied by Mrs. J.P. Goodrich of whom see sketch in another part of this volume. His first wife was Elenora Stratton, of Nineveh, N.Y., who bore him two sons, one dying at the age of three years. His wife died after a brief illness October 17, 1842, followed three wees later by the death of the son. In 1844, he was united in marriage with Calista Mason, daughter of Col. Leman and Elizabeth Mason. Four children resulted from this union. About 1854, Mr. Johnson removed to Dixon, Ill, where he conducted a hardware store for some time. He went West during the Pike's Peak gold excitement, being one of the '59ers and settled at Golden, Col., where he kept an hotel for many years, and where he died November 8, 1888, aged seventy-four years. He was familiarly known as the "Judge" and held many ositions of honor and trust in the city and county, during a residence of thirty years.

Ebenezer H. Johnson, the subject of this sketch, came after his marriage to this county in 1838, and throughout his life time held a prominent place in its history. He became the owner of a fine property and carried on farming extensively, also being much interested in politics and taking an active part in all that related to the develpment and progress of the county. He was for several years the Supervisor of the Township and held other local offices. He was a staunch republican and an earnest member of the Methodist Church. He and his wife were the parents of seven children, two of whom are deceased, namely; Mary Janette who was the wife of William H. Swigart, a farmer of this township, and Theodore who met with a violent death at the age of 22, being assassinated by a robber near Aurora in Hamilton Co Neb. The children now living are Thomas H. who married Eliza M. Rodgers, of Palmyra township, this county, and is now a farmer in Loveland Colo.: Jane A. who resides in Dixon with her brother Mark, and who is the owner of the old homestead in Palmyra Towsnhip which is well improved and over which she exercises and intelligent supervision. She is a well informed woman of much ability and is highly esteemed in the community in which her family have played such an important part; Ralph E. married Abbie Knox, of New York State and they live in Palmyra Township; Howard married Allie A. Rogers of Palmyra Township, and also resides in that township; Marcus M. married Miss Emma C. Flamm and resides at Seward Neb. where he is carrying on a feed store.

1892 Portrait and Biographical Record Lee Co Pg 313

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