William Johnson, an honored resident of Stockton Township, is a venerable pioneer of Jo Daviess County. He has witnessed almost the entire growth of this section of Illinois, and has honorably done his part to promote it by his labors as a farmer. He is a veteran of the Black Hawk War, and can relate many interesting episodes of that famous contest with the aboriginal owners of the soil for the possession of this part of the country. And our subject can also give much valuable information concerning the early settlement of this county and its pioneer history. He has been a hard worker, having had his own way to make in the world, has been prospered in his undertakings, and is comfortably well off in this world's goods. He has a good farm of seventy-six and one-half acres, located on section 21, which, in point of cultivation and improvements, ranks as one of the best managed estates in all Stockton Township.
Mr. Johnson was born in Jackson County, Ill., Dec. 8, 1814, his father, Robert B. Johnson, who was born near Bowling Green, Ky., having been an early pioneer of that part of Illinois. He subsequently removed to Worth County, Mo., and died there in 1862. The maiden name of his wife, mother of our subject, was Sarah Flack. She was born in one of the Carolinas, and died in Davis County, Mo.
Our subject was reared amid the pioneer scenes that surrounded his early home in Jackson County, and he received his education in a subscription school that was held in a rude log-cabin, with split poles for seats, puncheon floor, and a board on pins against the wall served the double purpose of desk for the pupils to write on, and to cover the long opening in the wall that served as a window, when it was bad weather. Early in his youth he became an independent, self-supporting individual, and for several years after coming to this county he ran a sawmill. May 25, 1830, he settled on the Dixon and Galena road, ten miles east of Galena, in what is now Guilford Township. He subsequently enlisted in 1832 to take part in suppressing the Indian uprising under the noted Indian chief, Black Hawk, although he was then but a youth of eighteen years. He was stationed in the fort at Elizabeth, and helped to repel the attack of the savages. There was but one white man killed in the struggle, a friend and neighbor of our subject, who was shot down at his side. When our subject came to Jo Daviess County he found it in a very wild condition; as its early settlers had scarce had time to make any marked improvement. There were many deer, wild turkeys, and other game in abundance roaming at will over these prairies, and our subject often shot a deer or other wild animal, although he did not follow hunting regularly. When first settling here he mined for a short time, but soon turned his attention to farming. He settled on his present farm in the fall of 1870, and attended to its management personally until 1886, when he was thrown from a wagon and so injured his spinal cord that he has been paralyzed and helpless ever since. This serious affliction has not, however, impaired his mental faculties in the least, his mind remaining as clear as ever, and he bears his great trouble with characteristic cheerfulness and fortitude.
June 9, 1833, nearly fifty-five years ago, William Johnson and Sarah A. Johnson were united in the holy bonds of matrimony, and have since faithfully shared with each other life's sorrows and joys. She, too, is a native of Jackson County, Ill., born April 7, 1818, a daughter of William Johnson, a pioneer of that county. Of the happy wedded life of our subject and his wife nine children have been born, seven of whom are living: Elvira J., Jasper N., Henry H., Sarah A., Minerva S., Amanda L., Adolphus M. Elvira married Allen Whitson, and by him had three children - William Z., Robert A., Sarah J. Mr. Whitson died and Elvira married for her second husband Henry Holland, of Vilesca, Iowa, and they have five children - Patrick H., Leola, Elizabeth, Frances, and Bertha; Jasper married for his first wife Delilah Whitson, and they had three children, two of whom are living, James B., and Ida M. Jasper married for his second wife Malinda Miller, and they live in Hanover Township. They have eight children, six of whom are living: Lillie, Alice, Lizzie, Jennie, Samuel, and Georgia; Henry H. married Amanda O'Keefe, and they live in Elizabeth; Sarah married Patrick Hewitt, who was killed in the late war, leaving her with one child, William H. She married a second time, James Sheridan, of Carbon, Iowa, becoming her husband, and they have nine children: Peter, John, Sarah, Amanda, Marcus, Mary, Celia, Lillie, and William H.; Minerva married Henry Winter of Hanover, this county, and they have eleven children: George W., Rose A., Clara V., Maggie R., Christina S., Mabel M., Bertha, Henry G., Sarah E., Alva R., and Ethel V.; Amanda married Byron Clay, of Nora Springs, Iowa, and they have two children, Louisa E. and Roy; Adolphus who lives with his parents, married Rosetta Sheridan, and they have five children: Florence E., Maggie V., Hattie B., Sarah J., and William M.
For fifty-nine years Mr. Johnson has been a resident of Jo Daviess County, and during that long period of time has held the respect of his fellowmen by his manly, straightforward course in all the duties of life that have developed upon him as a man and as a citizen. One by one the old pioneers of this county have passed away until there are but few left to tell the tale of those early days; of the sacrifices, hardships, and privations involved in settling up this country by the sturdy, energetic, determined men who had in many cases left friends and comfortable firesides to build up new homes for themselves and families on the wild prairies of the West. As a representative pioneer who has honorably borne a part in the development of this great and wealthy county, and one who is still with us, it gives us great pleasure to place this sketch of his life in this Biographical Album.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)