Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 296
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
Mr Johnson has a remarkable record, and through the study of his life history one may learn valuable lessons. The spirit of self-help is the source of all genuine worth in an individual and is the means of bringing to him success when he has no advantages of wealth or influence to aid him. He illustrates in no uncertain manner what it is possible to accomplish when perseverance and determination form the keynote to a man’s life. Depending upon his own resources and looking for no outside aid or support, he has risen from comparative obscurity to a place of prominence in agricultural circles.
Mr Johnson was born in Rock Island county, Illinois, July 20, 1842. His father, Moses Johnson, was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on the 15th of May, 1801. The family is of German lineage, and in that country the grandfather of our subject first opened his eyes to the light of day. He it was who founded the family on American soil. His son, Moses, having arrived at years of maturity, married Catherine Woods, who was born in Switzerland, in 1811, and when seven years of age crossed the Atlantic on a sailing vessel to Philadelphia. Her mother died on the voyage and her father died in Pennsylvania within two weeks after their arrival. Thus the three children, two daughters and a son, were left orphans. Mrs Johnson was the youngest. She was bound out and therefore she had no educational privileges and very little advantages in other directions. At the age of nineteen she gave her hand in marriage in Galena, Illinois, to Moses Johnson, and they took up their abode in Rock Island county. The father served in the Black Hawk war. He was a shoemaker by trade and in later years carried on agricultural pursuits on his farm of eighty acres. Eleven children were born unto this worthy couple, of whom they reared six sons and two daughters: Alexander, who died in Knox county, Illinois, at the age of fifty-one years, leaving a wife, one son and one daughter; D W, a retired farmer now living in Barstow, Illinois; E N, a stockman of Montana, who has a wife and one son; Mary Ann, the wife of Ephraim Lambert, residing in Shannon county, Iowa, by whom she has a son and two daughters; Jacob, of this review; Ebenezer, who is living in Montana and has one daughter; George H, who resides on the old family homestead in Illinois and has two sons and three daughters; and Catherine, the wife of John Sharp, of Reno county, Kansas, by whom she has two sons and one daughter. The father of this family died in Rock Island county, Illinois, March 18, 1871, and the mother, remaining true to his memory, lived a widow for twenty-eight years. Her death occurred in Montana, where she was taken in the hope that her health might be benefited. She passed away January 20, 1899, at the ripe old age of eighty-seven years.
Jacob Johnson was reared upon a farm and early became familiar with the work necessary to its cultivation and improvement. He was thus engaged until his enlistment for service in the Civil war, in April, 1861, as a member of Company H, Twelfth Illinois Infantry. The call was for three months’ troops, and on the expiration of his term of service, in July, 1861, he re-enlisted as a member of Company H, Fifty-first Illinois Infantry, with which he served as a private until September 26, 1862. He then enlisted in Company K, of the Fourth United States Cavalry, and served for three years. He received but two slight wounds, although he was in thirty-five battles and his comrades fell on every side. At Lovejoy Station, Georgia, his regiment had a hard fight, seventeen men from his company having been lost, and although his horse was shot under him and he was obliged thereafter to go on foot, he was not injured. At the battle of Stone River seven of the boys in blue who stood near him were killed. He now receives a small pension of twelve dollars a month as a compensation for his services and the ill health engendered.
In the year 1870 Mr Johnson married Miss Eliza F Wesley, of Rock Island county, Illinois, born in 1848. Her parents, Mr and Mrs Daniel Wesley, are both now deceased. The father was a carpenter and skilled mechanic. He died in the ‘70’s and his wife passed away six years later. They left two sons and five daughters. Leaving Illinois, Mr and Mrs Johnson came to Rice county, Kansas, in August, 1871, and secured a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres, to which our subject has added as opportunity came to him, making judicious investments. He now has nearly seven hundred and twenty acres in one body. He grows wheat, having from one hundred to three hundred acres planted to that crop, harvesting from four to five thousand bushels each year. He has two hundred acres in corn and has raised as high as from five to six thousand bushels annually. He also raises stock, making a specialty of Hereford cattle and he has some fine thoroughbred animals. He keeps on hand from fifty to one hundred and fifty head, which he feeds and ships, and in both departments of his business he is meeting with good success.
The home of Mr and Mrs Johnson has been blessed with four sons and four daughters, and six of the family are yet living: Alice, the first born, became the wife of J F Willie, and died at the age of twenty-two years, leaving two sons; George D, the second child, is at home; Mary Eliza is the wife of Ernest McCracken, a farmer of this vicinity, by whom she has one son; Ida May is at home; Frank Jacob is a substantial farmer of the community; Clyde died at the age of seventeen years, in 1898; Phil Sheridan and Rosa Hazel, aged, respectively, sixteen and twelve years, are with their parents. Mr Johnson exercises his voting privileges in support of the men and measures of the Republican party and has served as a member of the school board, but has never sought public office. He belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic and his wife is a member of the Christian church. His is a creditable record and the salient features of his career has been unflagging industry, which has enabled him to overcome all obstacles and work his way steadily upward to success.