It now becomes our pleasant privilege to give in brief review the salient points of the life of the prominent and distinguished gentleman whose name initiates this paragraph, and who has been a potent factor in the development of Wallowa County, and also a well known figure in the political realm, both of the state, as well as in promoting and manipulating some measures that are of import to the United States, while his personal qualities of worth and integrity, together with his ability and keen foresight, have rendered him a gratifying measure of success in all of his private business undertakings and made him hosts of friends from every walk in life.
Joseph F. Johnson was born in Missouri in the year 1839 to Malchi and Deliah Ware, who came to Oregon when he was a child of about eight summers. The winter of 1847-8 was spent in Yam Hill County, and there they settled until 1869, when a journey to Douglas County was taken and a home made in that portion of the state. There they remained until the death of the parents. At the age of twenty our subject was stirred by a sturdy manhood and energetic spirit to go to the Cariboo regions in British Columbia in search of gold, but after one year he went thence to Idaho, where he remained until 1868, and then returned to the Willamette valley, stopping for a time in Yam Hill county and then repairing to Douglas county. He farmed and followed carpentering there until 1872, and then migrated to what is now Wallowa County, settling in what is known as the lower valley, three miles west from where the town of Wallowa now stands. He took a homestead and added betimes until he now owns a fine estate of eight hundred and forty acres and gives his attention to handling cattle, horses and sheep. He is one of the heavyweight stockmen of the county and in addition to the property that we have mentioned, he owns considerable in the town of Wallowa, consisting of lots and the town hall and other improvements. Mr. Johnson was the promoter of the town, laying it out and starting on the journey to distinction. In political matters Mr. Johnson is and has been one of the leaders of the county, Having served in the county conventions of the Populist party, also in the state conventions and once in the United States convention, in all of which capacities he has rendered excellent service. He was also a member of the first irrigation congress that convened at Salt Lake City to induce the Federal government to take up the subject of irrigation.
In 1871 the marriage of Miss Fannie, a native of Oregon, and a daughter of (Charles and Melinda Miller) Applegate, to the subject of this sketch was solemnized and to them have been born the following children. Ernest, Leonard, Ada, Arthur, John, Ray, Olive and Roland. Mrs. Johnson’s parents came to Oregon in 1843, remaining in Polk County for seven years and then removing to Umatilla County. Later they went to Douglas County and there remained until their death. Mr. Johnson has labored long and faithfully in this county and to him is due much credit for advancing its interests as well as always maintaining an active interest in the affairs of government, while his reputation is unsullied and his character is stanch and good. He has gained success in many lines, and he now has the pleasure of spending the days of his life in the enjoyment of his portion, knowing that labor, intelligence and careful handling of the resources placed in his hands have brought to him this competence.