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Biographies
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Sacramento County

 

WILLIAM A. JOHNSTON

To be reckoned among the influential and successful citizens of a community requires both industry and good business judgment and seldom does a man retain his position without the possession of innate honesty and regard for others. The fact that throughout his career, which was cut short August 14, 1911, William A. Johnston received naught but esteem and friendship from his many associates through- out Courtland and Sacramento county in general, bears witness to the altruism and unwavering honor which formed the leading attributes of his character. His father, William Johnston, who was born in Wilkinsburg, Allegheny county. Pa., eight miles from Pittsburgh, emigrated to California as a member of a train comprising three hundred people in 1849, a year whose experiences were engraven upon the memories of those who answered the summons of the western gold fields. After mining in Eldorado county about a year with varying success, he purchased a squatter's claim consisting of a quarter-section several miles south of Sacramento, and engaged in farming, his executive ability and good citizenship playing a prominent part in the progress of the community. As a Granger, he occupied the highest chairs in the state organization and twice served as delegate to the National Grange. For some years he was president of the Grangers' Co-Operative Business Association, and from the time of its founding until his death he served as vice-president or president and director of the People's Savings Bank of Sacramento. He was one of the officers of Franklin Lodge, F. & A. M. From 1871 to 1873 he served as a member of the Legislative Assembly, and from 1878 to 1882 as a member of the state Senate, of which body he was chosen president pro tern. In 1883 he received membership in the State Board of Equalization and in his earnest and single-hearted service to the public won unanimous commendation. As a staunch Republican he rendered material support to his party and both public and private life was deemed a man of broad and generous principles, his death in 1905 being the occasion of sincere sorrow on the part of his many friends and colleagues. His wife, Elizabeth Hite, was a woman of rare tact and unfailing sympathy and in all her husband's interests expressed the deepest concern, her death, which also occurred in 1905, depriving the household of its mainspring of affection and tenderness.

 William A. Johnston was born November 11, 1858, at Hood, then called Richland, upon his father's Sacramento county farm and supplemented a grammar and high school education by a course in the Pacific University at San Jose, graduating in the class of 1882. For a time he assisted his father, who presented him in 1892 a tract of one hundred acres, which the young man stocked with cattle and horses, also continuing agricultural pursuits. Later he added to his holdings one hundred and three acres, and by means of keen business judgment and firmness of purpose in all his dealings he won a place among the largest stock raisers in the county. The new town of Hood is laid out on a part of this place.

 On September 5, 1885, Mr. Johnston was married to Miss Lizzie Richards, who was born in Sacramento county, her death occurring in April, 1890. Two years later, on July 3, 1892, at Clarksburg, Yolo county, he married for his second wife Miss Carrie Connor, a native of Courtland, Sacramento county, Cal., whose parents Hamilton S. and Amanda (Wilson) Connor, were natives of New Hampshire and Iowa respectively. Her father came to California via Panama in 1858 and her mother crossed the plains with her father, George Wilson, making the journey with ox-teams in 1852, the trip consuming six months. Mr. and Mrs. William A. Johnston had three children : Mrs. Matie Hollenbeck, whose husband rents from Mrs. Johnston the one hundred and three-acre tract belonging to the estate; Glenn William, who is a student in Atkinson Business College, Sacramento; and Dwight, who attends the Richland public school.

 Mr. Johnston was a Republican of progressive spirit, and was a consistent and energetic member of the Franklin Christian Church.

His widow has many times proved herself capable of the trust left her, not only giving a mother's attention to her ambitious children, but managing her affairs with unquestioned business ability. 


Source:
History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011