Truman Johnson of Viola Township, is a member of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, and is not only prominent as one of out most valued ptiblic officials, but he occupies a leading position among the farmers and stock-raisers of this region. He is of sturdy pioneer stock, his father, Smith H. Johnson, being an early settler of Viola Township, and an active promoter of its highest interests, educationally and morrally, as well as affording material aid in the development of its agricultural resources.

The father of our subject was a native of Vermont, whence he went to New York when a young man, walking from that place to New York, and in that State he met and was married to Miss Ziba K. Tompkins. He bought a tract of land in Allegany County, and resided there until 1836, when he pushed Westward into the forest wilds of the Territory of Michigan, going by lake to Detroit, and thence with a team penetrating into the interior of Van Buren County, of which he became a pioneer. He bought a tract of timber land, and made his home there some years. He was a man of superior intelligence, who knew full well the value of an education, and to him his fellow-pioneers owed the chance to give their children some schooling, for he built one of the first schoolhouses in that section of country, on his own land. There were but few signs of civilization then in those parts, and deer, bears, wolves, coons and other wild animals were freqnenthy seen in the woods near the settlements or in the clearings made by the pioneers.

In 1843, Mr. Johnson left his pioneer home in Michigan, to found another in the great Prairie State, coming hither with his wife and four children, with teams, h e located at Big Rock, Kane County, buying a tract of Government land at that point. A few months later, in the fall of the year, he went back to Michigan, but returned to his place in Kane County the following spring, whence he came to Lee County eight years later, and was one of the early settlers of Viola Township. He bought a traet of wild prairie land on section 13, upon which he erected suitable buildings, and at the time of his death February 11, 1873, had a well-improved farm. I-us wife also spent her last years on the old homestead. Viola Township owes him a debt of gratitude for his generous efforts in establishing educational institutions in her midst, as, soon after settling here, lie built a schoolhouse on his farm, employed the first teacher that ever taught here, paying her from his own funds. A liberal, broad-minded, public-spirited citizen, his name should be honored as that of one of our most worthy pioneers.

Truman Johnson was born in Allegany County, N. Y., April 3, 1832, and he was but four years old when his parents removed to Michigan. His early education was obtained in the schoolhouse that his father built on his land, which was a primitive structure, but answered the purpose as well as a more ornate building. The seats, which were without backs, were made of slabs, with wooden pins for legs, and had no desks in front. As soon as large enough, our subject had to work on the farm and help his father in clearing his hind, He was twelve years old when the family came to Illinois, and at that time the country was very sparsely settled, deer and other kinds of game roaming at will where are now smiling farms and thriving towns. There were no railways for some years, and Chicago was the nearest market.

Mr. Johnson continued with his parents until his marriage, and he then rented land for a year. At the expiration of that time he settled on the old homestead in Viola Township, which he now owns and occupies. It comprises one hundred and twenty acres of very fertile, highly cultivated laud, abundantly provided with all the improvements of a well-equipped farm. Mr. Johnson has three hundred and twenty acres of laud besides his home farm, two hundred and forty of which are in Reynolds Township, and the remainder in Viola Township. He has acquired his property partly by judicious investment, by skillful cultivation of the soil, and by excellent judgment in carrying out his plans:

In writing the outline of the life of our subject, we should be doing him but scant justice if we omitted his war record. He enlisted in February, 1865, in Company I, Fifteenth Illinois Infantry, and started from Chicago to join the army in North Carolina. He was taken sick at New York, which detained him there about a month, and he was then sent to Newburn, N. C. In a short time he was despatched from there to Alexandria, Va., where he joined the command and proceeded with it to Washington, and was in that city at the time of the Grand Review of the Union troops. He then started with the troops for the Western frontier, but was again taken ill at St. Louis, and entered the hospital, from which he was honorably discharged in July, 1865, and returned home to resumed the calling that he had abandoned at his country's call.

Mr. Johnson's assistance has often been sought in the guidance of public affairs, and he has held almost all the important local offices. He has served as School Trustee, School Treasurer and School Director; has been Constable, Collector and Justice of the Peace; and in 1890 he was elected to represent Viola Township on the County Board of Supervisors for a period of two years. He was formerly a Republican in politics, but is now Independent.

Mr. Johnson was married January 29, 1860, to Miss Mary E. Malugin, a representative of some of the oldest pioneer families of Illinois. Ten children complete the household of our subject and his wife, named as follows: Harvey, Addie, Rosa, George, Walter, Frank, May, Dollie, Maud and Wilber.

Mrs. Johnson was born at Malugin's Grove in the pioneer home of her parents, Zachariah and Mary (Ross) Malugin. Her paternal grandfather, Jonathan Malugin, was one of the early settlers of Sangamon County, this State, whither he had come from Tennessee. He lived there some years, and then came to Lee County and Spent the remainder of his life here. His son Zachariah was reared in Tennessee, and came to this State with his parents in early manhood. He was living in Sangamon County at the time of the Black Hawk War, and as a soldier during that contest with the Indians came to Northern Illinois with his regiment. He was attracted by the beauty of the country, and in 1833 carried out his resolution to settle here by becoming a pioneer of Lee County.

Mr. Johnson made a claim to the grove which has since borne his name, and which was then isolated and lonely, for his nearest neighbor on the west was Father Dixon, at Dixon Ferry, and the nearest settlers on the east were the Ross family at Ross Grove, De Kalb County. He did not find them too far away to be neighborly with, however, and presumably made good use of his time in visiting them, as that same year he married one of the Ross girls, and in the log cabin that he built on his claim he and his bride commenced housekeeping together. His life was cut short by his untimely death in that home in December, 1841, and Lee County was deprived of the services of an active and valuable pioneer. His wife survived him many years, and finally died in 1880 at a venerable age. She was a native of Virginia, and a daughter of Joseph and Jane (Norman) Ross. Further mention is made of her parents in the sketch of 0. P. Johnson, which will be found elsewhere in this

Portraits and Biographical Pg. 726-728


Lee Co Bios

Illinois - "Our Way"