For more than a third of a century Nels Johnson has been actively engaged in the coal, wood and coke trade in Racine and the volume of business which he has built up has made the undertaking a very prosperous one. He has lived in this city since 1870. He was born in Denmark on the 16th of March, 1844, and is a son of James and Caroline (Nelson) Johnson, who were likewise natives of Denmark and in 1870 came to the United States, being brought hither by their son. He had acquired his education in the Danish schools and in 1864 made his first voyage to the United States but did not remain permanently-. He joined the United States ship Britannia and from Shields, England, sailed around the world. He afterward came to this country on the bark Nova Scotia and sailed on the east coast until 1870, when he returned to Denmark and brought his parents to the new world, the family home being established in Racine. Through the four succeeding years he sailed on the Lakes but in 1874 severed his connection with navigation interests and returned to Racine, where he has since been permanently located. Here in 1880 he organized the coal and wood business in which he has since engaged and he also handles coke. He has a tract of land three hundred and ‘ten by one hundred feet on which are located his yards, his office and his home. He has built up the business to gratifying proportions and it is one of the profitable concerns of the kind in Racine. At a former period he was also owner of two boats, the Monitor and Silver Lake, both of which were sunk. After retiring from the life of a sailor he became a member of the first crew of the volunteer life saving service and so continued front 1876 until 1880, when he established his present business interests.
In 1872 Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Anna K. Johnson, who was born in Denmark, and they have three children: Alwilda, the wife of Robert Monroe, of Racine; Fred, living in New York City; and Arthur, who is associated with his father in business.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are members of the Lutheran church and fraternally he is connected with both the Odd Fellows lodge and encampment, with the Danish Brotherhood and with the Danish Society. In politics he maintains an independent course, voting according to the dictates of his judgment. His has been an active and useful life which has brought him wide and interesting experiences, while his unfailing industry and close application along commercial lines have won for him the satisfactory results that place him among the well-to-do citizens of Racine.