James Philip Johnson born 22 July 1855

James P Johnson was born 22 July 1855 in Morrison, IL, the son of William Johnson and Lorette Proctor.  James’ parents were from Vermont, and had moved west to settle in Whiteside County in Illinois in the early 1850’s.  Of their ten children, James was the first to be born in the west, and gets his middle name from his Proctor grandfather.

The family was counted in the 1860 census in the community of Lyndon in the northwest corner of Illinois, on the Rock River.  James’ father was a farmer, whose land was valued $1280, with an additional $225 value of his personal property.  In 1870, the family lived in Hahnaman, IL, in the Rock Falls postal district.  The farm had doubled in value to $2500, with personal property valued at $1050.  Hahnaman is only about 20 miles from Lyndon, and it is possible that the family didn’t move, but the locale names changed as the area developed. 

On 24 Feb 1878, James married Katie Thome, in nearby Rock Falls.  She was the daughter of Anthony Thome and Maria VanBuskirk.   James’ sister Lilly Gay later married Kate’s brother Anthony. 

James’ first daughter Maude was born in Rock Falls in 1878.  James moved his family 500 miles to Geneva, Nebraska. In 1880, he was a farmer.  Subsequent children were Grace, Harry, and Blanche.  Geneva is a small town about 60 miles southwest of Lincoln, in southeast Nebraska.  It was established about 1871 as a result of a large migration into the area.  The first election was held in a dugout home. 

The family was still in Geneva in 1900, and the four children were all in the household.  The entire family could read and write.   James’ farm was free of any mortgage.  During the next decade, James’ four children moved out.  Maude married Clarence Bumgarner and they moved to Idaho.  Grace married George Schingel and they stayed in Nebraska.  Harry married Effie (last name unknown) and they also stayed in Nebraska.  Blanche married Raymond VanPatten.  She died in 1909, as did an infant son named Harold. 

Blanche’s two daughters, Hazel and Goldie, went to live with grandparents James and Kate, and were counted with them in the 1910 census.  James had moved into town, and was living on Lincoln street in Geneva.  The census reports that rather than an occupation, he had his “own income”.  The 1920 census lists James and Kate and their two granddaughters still living on Lincoln Street on a home they owned.   

Kate died on 30 July 1924 in Geneva, and James died just over a week later, on 9 August. Both are buried at Geneva Cemetery. 

 

 

 

 

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