by T. Miscia
JOHNSON was born in Stafford, Conn., February 2, 1815. At
the age of 14 he went as one of the hands in a cotton mill at
Chicopee, where he remained for five years. He then came
to this town [North Adams], where he worked about four years more
in the cotton mill at the Beaver, after which he went into the
store there as clerk. Here he remained until 1837, when
he commenced business in a small way for himself at South Adams.
In 1849 he sold his interests there to W. W. Freeman and removed
to Copake, N.Y., and engaged in the furnace business. This
new business being unsuited to his taste it was abandoned in less
than a year. In 1850 he returned to this village and established
a concern for the manufacture of cotton warps, which business
he carried on successfully to the date of his death.
He was instrumental in getting gas and water
in the village, was the principal mover in the Agricultural Society
and was acknowledged one of
the corner-stones of the town. He represented the town in
the State Legislature in the years 1847, '57, '59', '64 and '66.
He was chosen to the Governor's Council in 1869 and 1870.
He was also Selectman of the town for a number of years.
Mr. Johnson's business connections will be found under the head
of Johnson Manufacturing Company.
JOHNSON MANUFACTURING COMPANY.
In 1831 Stephen B. Brown formed a parternship
with Duty S. Tyler, under the firm name of Brown & Tyler,
for the manufacture of print goods. They purchased of George
Whitman for the sum of $800 the water power and about nine acres
of land adjoining, now the stie of the mill of the Johnson Manufacturing
Company. They built a stine mill, the material of which
was drawn from near the summit of the mountain north of the premises.
The means of the two partners were comparatively small.
Mr. Brown had about $8000 and Mr. Tyler $4000. The new
establishment commenced printing goods in the spring of 1832,
and carried on an extensive and prosperous business for about
eight years, during which time the plant was increased by the
purchase of about 300 acres of land adjoining the print works.
In 1839 Mr. Brown bought out Mr. Tyler's interest
and recieved as partners Elisha Harris of Providence, R.I., and
Arthur F. Marth. The new firm was Brown, Harris & Co.
An immediate heavy outlay was incurred for new machinery, etc.
Mr. Brown went to Europe and engaged a large force of hands, paying
their expenses here and giving them high wages for the time.
From this cause, in part, and from the importation of low-priced
delaines in competition to the high-priced prints they were making,
the company met with indifferent success, and in 1846 were obliged
to suspend operations. From this time until 1850 the mill
remained idle. In this year, however, Sylvander Johnson
returned from Copake, N.Y., and established a concern for the
manufacture of cotton warps, which business he carried on successfully
up to 1872, when his mill was burned to the ground. In the
following year the main part of the mill now standing was completed
and a stock company formed with Mr. Johnson at the head.
Here he continued until his death, in May, 1882. At the
annual meeting of the directors in the fall of that year his son,
William S. Johnson, was elected president of the concern, which
office he held in connection with the treasureship. This
arrangement continued for one year, when he resigned the office
of treasurer, but continued the presidency of the concern.
In 1884 Mr. D. D. Parmlee was elected treasurer.
W.F. History of North Adams, Mass. Hoosac Valley
News Printing House: North Adams, Mass, 1885.
Hon. Sylvander Johnson, a prominent citizen and business man of
North Adams, Mass., died yesterday morning in the Glenham Hotel,
of this City [New York], at the age of 67 years. Mr. Johnson
was born in Stafford, Conn., in 1815. At a very early age
he began to work in the cotton and woolen mills of his native
town, and soon acquired a practical knowledge of the manufacture
of cloths, which led him to the factories of North Adams, where
had since lived. Here he obtained an interest in a manufacturing
concern, and, being a man of ability, he soon acquired a prominence
not only in business, but in Republican political circles.
During the war, he was Selectman of the town of North Adams, and
had charge of the recruiting of regiments in that section.
The first company which went from that place was named the "Johnson
Greys" in his honor. Mr. Johnson served several terms
in the Legislature of his State, and was a member of the Governor's
Council for two years. For 40 years he was a leading manufacturer
of North Adams. In 1871 his mills were burned, and he then
established the Johnson Manufacturing Company, of which he was
President and one of the three stockholders at the time of his
death. He was also a large stockholder and a Director of
the Troy and Boston Railroad. For several months Mr. Johnson
had been an invalid, and he arrived in this City from Florida,
where he had spent the Winter, only a few years ago. His
death was caused by an affection of the bladder. He leaves
a widow and four children--a son and three daughters. His
remains were taken last evening to North Adams, where business
will be suspended until after the funeral, which will take place
The New York Times (New York), 12 May 1882.