The Blue Grass State was early home of our subject, his birth taking place in 1829. His parents, Lively and Agnes (Thurman) Johnson, were natives of Virginia. They lived in Kentucky until 1830, the father in the meantime engaged in farming in Cass County, his land being located three miles from the town of Chandlerville. This was Government land when he settled upon it, and the first dwelling of the parents was a cabin in the timber. It contained but one room, and was built in the most primitive manner, no shingles, iron, sawed timber or glass being accessible. The fireplace admitted sticks of wood ten feet in length. Upon leaving Kentucky, they came to this county, where the father engaged in farming until his death, which took place in 1834, while he was still a young man. He had, however, signalized himself as a worthy citizen, and had been especially active as a temperance advocate. Religiously, he belonged to the Old School Presbyterian Church. The mother survived her husband a period of thirty-six years, and spent her last days on the old homestead, her death taking place in 1870. The nine children of the parental family all lived to mature years. Those surviving at the present time are Sarah, Mary, William B., our subject, and John B. The deceased are Martha, Nancy, Susan, Elizabeth and Catherine.
The subject of this sketch spent his younger years under the home roof, and later learned the tinner's trade in the city of Springfield. He established in business for himself, first in Mt. Pulaski, Logan County, but fourteen months later removed to Fulton, Whiteside County, and thence came to Jacksonville in 1850. In 1851 he was married to Miss Sarah E. Lawson, a native of Kentucky. Of this union there were born six children, two fo whom died at an early age. The four living are all sons. William H. married Miss Florence McGill, a native of New York State, and is the father of one child, a son, Frederick M. William is a partner of his father. John L. and Edward are members of the same firm. Charles A. is pursuing his studies in the city schools.
The family residence is pleasant located at No. 423 West State Street, and in its furnishings and surroundings is fully in keeping with the means and station of its inmates. Death entered this peaceful abode in November, 1887, calling away the devoted wife and mother. Mrs. Johnson was a very estimable lady, and a member of the Presbyterian Church for many years. About the time of her connection with this church, Mr. Johnson also became a member, and has served some twenty years as Trustee. In political matters his sympathies are with the Republican party. He has ever maintained a lively interest in the welfare of his adopted city, and has aided in the development of coal mines, the securing of railroad advantages through this region and the building of factories. He has thus signified the public spirit, without which no city can attain to prominence or prosperity.