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John H. Johnson

JOHNSON, John H., a retired merchant of Bushnell, McDonough County, Ill., and ex-Mayor of the city, was born in Fulton County, Ill., November 9, 1834, a son of William D. and Martha (Shackelton) Johnson, natives of New Jersey, being one of a family of eight children. In early manhood Mr. Johnson pursued a course of study in Knox College, at Galesburg, Ill., and subsequently applied himself to farming until he reached the age of twenty-six years, when he devoted his attention to mercantile pursuits. During the Civil War he was a First Lieutenant in the Fifty-ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, serving in Missouri under Fremont, and later, under Curtis, Rosecrans and Thomas, in Tennessee and Kentucky. He was honorably discharged and mustered out of the service December 22, 1863, but in May, 1864, re-enlisted at Kirkwood, Warren County, Ill., and served as Assistant Regimental Adjutant of the One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Regiment, with the rank of First Lieutenant, being finally mustered out of the service October 14, 1864, by reason of expiration of his term of enlistment. He rendered much brave and valuable service to the Union cause. On April 30, 1862, he was detailed from his regiment for the command of the military force on the ram "Monarch," of the Western Ram Fleet, which was operating in connection with Admiral Porter's Gun Boat Fleet on the Mississippi about Fort Pillow, Memphis and Vicksburg. The special engagement of June 8th, in which Lieutenant Johnson took a brave soldier's part, was in front of Memphis. The Confederate fleet was engaged with such vigor that, in one hour and seven minutes, the Union forces sunk seven out of eight of their boats. The Federal fleet afterward dropped down to Vicksburg, where it also gave a good account of itself.

In 1876, Mr. Johnson came to McDonough County, and located in Bushnell. Here he was engaged in merchandising until 1896, when he retired from active efforts. He was the chief promoter of the Bushnell Fair Association, which was chartered in 1893, organized in November of that year, and has held fairs annually since that period. The association owes its success mainly to the efforts of Mr. Johnson. Its first officers were: T. H. B. Camp, President; B. F. Tudor, Vice-President; E. D. C. Haines, Treasurer; and Louis Kaiser, Secretary. The capital stock is $2,000, with a par value of $25 per share. The grounds where its fairs are conducted are held under lease for a period of ten years. The association has no debts, and had, on January 1, 1905, a balance of $1,253.09 in its treasury. Extensive improvements are now being made on the premises. The present officers are: George Bell, President; D. C. Neff, Vice-President; J. S. Nunnemaker, Treasurer; and John H. Johnson, Secretary.

On November 19, 1863, Mr. Johnson was united in marriage with Kate Zook, who was born near Lancaster, Pa. Politically, he is a Republican and served four years as Mayor of Bushnell; fraternally, is connected with the Masonic Order, a member of T. J. Pickett Lodge No. 307 and the G. A. R. The subject of this sketch is a man of superior mental traits and much force of character, and is regarded as one of the most public-spirited and useful members of the community.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, page 921, extracted 11 May 2019 by Norma Hass.

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