Jackson Johnson of St. Louis, who as chairman of the board of the International Shoe Company has gained not only American but world leadership in connection with shoe manufacturing interests, was born in La Grange, Alabama, on the 2d of November, 1859, a son of James Lee and Helen (Rand) Johnson, the former a native of Mississippi, while the latter was born in Alabama. The father owned and conducted a plantation up to the time of the Civil war.
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Jackson Johnson pursued his education in the public schools of his native state and when nineteen years of age initiated his business career by becoming identified with a general merchandise establishment at Holly Springs, Mississippi, where he conducted business until 1892. He then disposed of his store and in the following year removed to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was active in organizing the Johnson, Carruthers & Rand Company, a business concern of which he remained the president for five years. On selling out he removed to St. Louis in March, 1898, and was active in organizing the Roberts, Johnson & Rand Shoe Company, manufacturers of shoes. He became president of this organization and so continued until the 29th of December, 1911, when the Roberts, Johnson & Rand Shoe Company was merged with the Peters Shoe Company, the new organization being incorporated under the name of the International Shoe Company, of which Mr. Johnson served as the president until 1915, when he became chairman of the board. This corporation controls the largest shoe manufacturing trade of the world and covers all branches of the industry. In May, 1921, they absorbed the W. H. McElwain Company of Boston, Massachusetts, and Kistler, Lesh & Company, tanners of the same city, this deal alone involving twelve million dollars and bringing the capitalization o1 the International Shoe Company up to forty-seven million dollars. Some idea of the magnitude of the enterprise which Mr. Johnson heads may be gained by the fact that the International Shoe Company is of greater magnitude than the other two largest shoe manufacturing companies of the United States combined and larger than the ten largest in Europe. From his entrance into the business world he passed on to positions of executive control and subsequently bent his energies largely to organization, to constructive effort and administrative direction. Possessing broad, enlightened and liberal-minded views and recognizing the vast potentialities for development as well as the specific needs o1 the country along the distinctive line chosen for his life work, his has been an active career in which he has accomplished important and far reaching results. He has no active business interests outside of his connection with the shoe trade save that he is a director of the First National Bank of St. Louis and the St. Louis Union Trust Company.
On the 30th of December, 1880, Air. Johnson was married at Holly Springs, Mississippi, to Miss Minnie Alva Wooten, a daughter of Andrew Jackson and Martha (McKinnon) Wooten, the former a native of Greenville, Pitt county, North Carolina, whence he removed with his parents to Mississippi when very young, becoming a planter in the latter state. Both the Wooten and McKinnon families were of Scotch ancestry. Mrs. Wooten was a daughter of John Bushrod McKinnon, of Glasgow, Scotland, who came to the United States In early youth and settled in Mississippi. To Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were born two sons and three daughters. Andrew Wooten, the elder son, is associated with his father in business and is now a director of the International Shoe Company. He married Helen Johnson, of Memphis, Tennessee, who though of the same name was not a relative, and they have two children, Jane and Jackson Johnson (III.). The second son, Jackson Johnson, Jr., was born June 3, 1897, and was but eight months old when brought by his parents to St. Louis. When twenty years of age he enlisted for service In the World war at New York city on the 12th of August, 1917, becoming a member of the artillery section in the ammunition train of the Twenty-seventh New York Regiment. He was trained in Spartanburg, South Carolina, but on account of illness was transferred in December, 1917, to the ordnance department at Washington, D. C. When twenty-one years of age, or on the 3d of June, 1918, he joined the Tank Corps, becoming a member of Company A, Three Hundred and Thirty-second Battalion Light Tank Corps. He then received training at Gettysburg and at Tobyhanna and sailed overseas on the 24th of September, 1918. He died of pneumonia on the 9th of October following in a military hospital in Liverpool, England, and was buried in the Everton cemetery at that place, but in January, 1920, his remains were returned to the United States and on the 26th of January were placed in the family mausoleum in Bellefontaine cemetery in St. Louis. Great as is the sorrow which has come to the family in the loss of this son, he leaves behind him a splendid heritage-that of a noble name and the record of faithful service and undaunted patriotism. Despite the handicaps which seemed to deter him in military service, he nevertheless at length succeeded in getting overseas, actuated by his love of the stars and stripes, which will ever be to his family and his friends the symbol of his heroism and his devotion to the ideals and principles of democracy. Of the three daughters Helen married Lee I. Niedringhaus, of this city, and they are the parents of two children, Marjorie and Lee L, Jr. Florence married Bradford Shinkle, of Covington, Kentucky, and they have two children, Bradford, Jr., and Jackson Johnson Shinkle. The youngest daughter of the family, Ada Rand Johnson, is one of the leaders in the younger social circles of St. Louis and by reason of her beauty and charm was chosen for queen of the Veiled Prophets ball in the fall of 1920-the highest honor that St. Louts society can bestow upon one of its members.
Mr. Johnson and his family are members of the Presbyterian church and he is well known in the club circles of the city, having membership in the St. Louis, St. Louis Country, Noonday, Racquet, Bogy and Commercial Clubs, serving for one year as president of the last named. He was the president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce for the years 1918 and 1919, during which time the organization was developed into one of the most efficient of its kind in the United States. Mr. Johnson is also president of the Home and Housing Association of St. Louis and is a trustee of Washington University. During the World war he acted as regional advisor of the war industry board for the district covering the territory from St. Louis through the southwest to the Pacific coast.