Biography of Daniel Johnson
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Daniel Johnson. Business achievement far above the ordinary and the influences of a character founded on the bedrock of integrity, were the fruits of the long and active years spent by the late Daniel Johnson at Lindsborg. At the time of his death Mr. Johnson had been for thirty-nine years a merchant at Lindsborg, and was the oldest business man of the city. He built up a splendid mercantile establishment known all over that section of Kansas and still a flourishing enterprise. He gave himself with the wholesouled devotion characteristic of him to church and to all the progressive affairs of his community.
His was a long life, measured not so much in years as in the quality of accomplishment and experience. Daniel Johnson was born at Kronoborgs Län, Smolan, Sweden, September 29, 1843. His death came suddenly at his home in Lindsborg, April 13, 1911. At the time he was sixty-seven years, six months, sixteen days of age.
He grew up and received his early education in his native land. In 1868, at the age of twenty-five, he came to America, spent a short time in Chicago, and from there went to Michigan. In Michigan he lived with C. Lindberg, who subsequently came to Lindsborg, Kansas. Mr. Johnson’s experiences in Michigan was as an employe of the Cleveland Mining Company. Through correspondence with Mr. Lindberg, who in the meantime had come to Lindsborg, Mr. Johnson became interested in Kansas, and during the Christmas season of 1871 he arrived at Salina and thence drove to the Lindberg home. For a time he was employed in contract work for the Santa Fe Railway at Grasshopper Falls.
His connection with the Village of Lindsborg as a merchant began in 1872. He became a partner with C. R. Carlson, and beginning with a small country store in a small one-story building they gained first the confidence of their patrons by their personal integrity and the high quality of their stock, and almost every year saw some improvement in the store and an increased volume of business transactions. After twenty years Mr. Johnson became sole owner of the establishment, and by that time he was proprietor of a large department store occupying a quarter of a block. Under his individual control the business went on growing, and at the time of his death he left it one of the most complete and liberally patronized department stores in North Central Kansas. About three years before his death he organized the D. Johnson Company and made stockholders in the enterprise a number of his faithful employes who had been with him for a number of years.
The significance of his service both in business affairs and as a private citizen is well expressed by a quotation from the resolutions passed by the Lindsborg Commercial Club after his death. Two sentences from the resolutions follow: “We hereby express our sense of loss together with our appreciation of his sterling qualities as an associate and friend. Mr. Johnson was a man of clean Christian character, and of a most congenial disposition, kind hearted and public spirited, always ready and willing to assist in every good and worthy cause. In the death of Mr. Johnson we not only lose one of our charter members, but the City of Lindsborg her oldest and most respected merchants and one of her most useful citizens.”
The respect and good will given him by his numerous employes were perhaps the finest tribute paid to this worthy and purposeful life. In his store he was looked upon as the father of a large family rather than as the stern and fixed employer. But in fact a large community expressed their sense of bereavement at the time of his death, and at the funeral the Commercial Club attended the service in a body, and all business ceased during the hours of the funeral at Lindsborg.
Outside of business and home his life best expressed itself through his active work for the church. For many years before his death he was a member of the board of directors of the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant Church of America. In the Mission church at Lindsborg his place was seldom vacant during any service. With all the cares of business he seldom missed a prayer meeting, and he entered into the work and purpose of the church with a fullness of co-operation which was one of his dominant characteristics. He was an effective instrument for the spread and propagation of Christianity. In 1890 he began supporting two foreign missionaries, both in China, and these missionaries are still maintained by the Johnson estate.
Besides his wife and children Mr. Johnson left three grandchildren, a sister, Mrs. Jacob Peterson of Lindsborg, and one brother and three sisters in Sweden. On August 15, 1875, he married Miss Anna Christina Nelson, of Lindsborg. Mrs. Johnson was devoted to her home and was an inspiration and guide to her husband in his business affairs. She is still living at Lindsborg and was born in Värmland, Kristinehamen, Sweden, August 30, 1852, a daughter of Nels Nelson. She came to America with her sister Lena in 1872. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson became the parents of eight children, four sons and four daughters.
Robert Paul, the oldest, was born June 17, 1876, was graduated from Bethany College in 1894, and having grown up in the atmosphere of his father’s store he was well fitted by experience and talents for the duties of manager which he had capably discharged since his father’s death. He is also manager of the entire estate. For ten years he had served as a member of the city school board and part of the time as president. He is very active in the Swedish Mission Church, was secretary twelve years, and in many ways had taken his father’s place in the life of Lindsborg. On February 27, 1902, Robert P. Johnson married Miss Annabelle Anderson, who was born at Las Vegas, New Mexico, August 15, 1879, daughter of John and Anna M. (Johnson) Anderson, both natives of Sweden. Her father was accidentally drowned in the Rio Grande River in 1880, and the mother is now the wife of J. F. Johnson of Lindsborg. Mrs. Robert P. Johnson was educated at Bethany College in Lindsborg. Two children have been born to their union: Paul A. G., born March 9, 1903, and Marjorie A. E., born August 22, 1904.
Judith Elizabeth, the second of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson’s children, was born September 20, 1877, and died September 20, 1878.
Abel William, the third child, was born May 22, 1879, was graduated from Bethany College in 1897, and in 1901 completed his preparation for a medical career by graduation from Rush Medical College of Chicago. He spent two years specializing and taking post-graduate work in Germany, England, Sweden, France and Austria, and is now a successful practitioner at San Francisco. Doctor Johnson married in 1907 Thelene Anderson, and they have two sons, Daniel Elbert and Allan William.
Edith Emily, the fourth child, was born April 20, 1881, and died March 20, 1887. George Daniel, the fifth child, was born March 2, 1883, graduated from Bethany College in 1902 and from the University of Kansas in 1917. He was married in 1909 to Laura Nelson, and they have one son, Palmer Daniel. Gustav Adolph, the sixth of the family, was born March 2, 1884, and died January 2, 1885.
Lillie Edith Medora, the seventh in order of birth, was born August 7, 1888, is a graduate of Bethany College in the class of 1910, and on March 12, 1913, became the wife of Julius E. Brandt, who was born at Lindsborg December 26, 1888, is a graduate of Bethany College with the class of 1910, and he and his wife now live at Grand Island, Nebraska.
Evelynn Ethel Anna, the youngest of the family, was born June 11, 1891, completed her work in Bethany College with the class of 1911, taking both the arts and music courses, and for two years taught music at Buffalo, Wyoming. On August 30, 1916, she married Theodore W. Anderson. Mr. Anderson was born in Saline County, Kansas, July 4, 1890, had the degree Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Chicago, and is a man of brilliant scholarship and leadership in the educational world. He is now president of the Minnehaha Academy at Minneapolis, Minnesota.