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JOHNSON, JOSEPH M., contractor, was born at Pottsville, Schuylkill county, Pa., May 1, 1847; son of John and Melvina (Freck) Johnson. His grandfather, John Johnson, Sr., had three children: Mary, Ann, and John. John Johnson, Jr., father of Joseph M. Johnson, was one of the first locomotive engineers on the Reading railroad, and met his death November 8, 1848, while in the employ of that company. During a strike his fireman was attacked by rioters, and, going to his rescue, Mr. Johnson received a blow from a stick of wood which inflicted upon him a fatal injury. His death occurred in his twenty-eighth year. His wife is still living. They had two children: Joseph M. and Mary; the latter died at Millersburg, aged about nine years. Mrs. Johnson was married again, to S. H. Longabach. Their children are: Ella, born November 20, 1856, wife of Carson Jensen; Sophelia, born June 5, 1858, wife of Frank Bowers; Samuel Newton, born July 17, 1859, married Lizzie Baker; John Luther, born November 22, 1860, died aged nine months; Emma Elizabeth, born February 22, 1861, wife of Charles Seal; Loretta Venona, born September 22, 1863, wife of Harry Freeborn.

Joseph M. Johnson lost his father when he was but eighteen months old, and was sent to his grandfather, Matthias Freck, who lived at Millersburg, Pa. There he was kindly cared for and reared, and was kept in the public schools of the place until he was twelve years of age. He was of much service to his mother, who married again after Mr. Johnsonís death. In 1858, when he was but twelve, he started out to make his own living, not because he had no home, for there was room and employment for him both in his grandfatherís and his motherís home; but he was independent and self-reliant and preferred to be under obligations to no one but himself. For the first two years he found employment with the Minehill Railroad Company, in Schuylkill county, making his home with his mother. After this he was for one season a driver on the Schuylkill canal, from Pottsville to Philadelphia and New York; he then returned to the employ of the Minehill Railroad Company, in which he remained until September 10, 1862.

At this date Mr. Johnson enlisted in the United States army, at Schuylkill Haven, in company K, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania volunteers, under Captain Fox and Col. W. W. Jennings, of Harrisburg, for nine months. During his term of enlistment he participated in the first battle of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and other minor engagements, and was discharged from the service May 29, 1863; he returned to his mother, then living at Gordon, Schuylkill county. After serving a short time in the Twenty-seventh cavalry company, State militia, he enlisted, February 1, 1864, in the three yearsí service, joining company F, One Hundred and Sixteenth Pennsylvania volunteers, under Capt. George Reber and Col. St. Clair Mulholland. During this term of service he took part in the battles of the Wilderness, lasting seven days; Dodalís Tavern, Va.; Poe River, Va.; and Spottsylvania, where he was wounded by the fragment of a shell by the explosion of which seven of his comrades were instantly killed. Mr. Johnson was discovered among the dead by a lieutenant of company G of his regiment, who rescued him from his exposed position and had him conveyed to the field hospital. He was disabled by this wound, and was detained in the hospital about three months; when discharged from the hospital he rejoined his regiment, then at City Point, Va. He was in the engagements before Petersburg up to the time of its surrender, and in all other fights up to the close of the war.

After his discharge from the service Mr. Johnson went to Millersburg, Pa., whither Mr. and Mrs. Longabach had removed from Gordon. Here he entered the employ of H. C. Frick & Co. as a laborer, but by industry, skill and fidelity soon won promotion and was made superintendent of their workingmen in Centre and Cameron counties, who were engaged in cutting and preparing their timber for shipment. He was in this position about four years, during which time he was greatly aided by his faithful wife, who kept house and took the lumbermen to board, and in this way contributed no small amount to the family income. In 1873 Mr. Johnson bought Kramerís ferry, at Millersburg, which he operated in his own individual right until 1877, when he disposed of it. His next enterprise was the manufacture of staves for nail kegs, at Millersburg, in which he continued up to 1885. He then sold his interest in the factory and returned to the superintendency of the lumber operations of H. C. Frick & Co., in Cameron county. This engagement lasted only one year, at the end of which he returned to Millersburg and became interested in the manufacture of barrel staves.

Some times after this Mr. Johnson took up the business of contracting, which he carried on alone until 1892. He then associated himself with the promoters and builders of water works, first at Millersburg, and subsequently at Mifflintown, Patterson, Steelton, and Womelsdorf, Berks county; he is at present active in the projection of similar improvements in other places.

Joseph M. Johnson was married, November 18, 1867, to Mary Ellen, daughter of David and Catherine (Bush) Etien. They have eight children: Harry William, born December 19, 1868, married Lizzie Douden, has one child, Ray Edison, born October 5, 1895; Samuel Sylvester, born October 11, 1871, married Carrie Hall; Mark Edgar, born November 27, 1873; John Newton, December 20, 1877; Mary Catherine E., November 3, 1879; Luke Etien, December 4, 1882; Joseph Mathias, June 10, 1885; and Martha Melvina, September 14, 1888.

Mr. Johnson is a Republican. The family attend the Methodist Episcopal church, except Mrs. Johnson, who worships with the Evangelical church.

David Etien, father of Mrs. Johnson, died in November, 1855. His wife is still living. Of their four children, two are deceased; William, died in Illinois, aged about forty-five; Louisa Rebecca, died aged fourteen months. Their surviving children are: Mary Ellen, Mrs. Johnson; and Hiram, who married Ella Dirr. Mrs. Etien was married, the second time, to Hugh Urich; they had one child, Samuel Edward. Mr. Urich enlisted in company E, Ninth Pennsylvania volunteer cavalry, and died while in the service, aged about thirty-nine years.

Pages 1067 & 1068

Transcribed by Judy Warner Bookwalter, for the Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project Ė
Date of Transcription: 17 July 2001
Copyright © 2001 Ė All Rights Reserved; Use, duplication, or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.