Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 490-91.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson is now living a retired life in Alta, but for thirty-seven years was one of the active, energetic and enterprising farmers of Buena Vista county and still owns two hundred and fifty acres of land in Maple Valley township, which return to him a good annual income.  A noted lecturer on the public platform once said.  "Sweden is the home of the honest man," and this statement finds verification in the lives of the citizens of Buena Vista county who are numbered among Sweden's native sons.  To this class belongs Charles Johnson, who was born in Sweden, October 15, 1847.  He remained there through the period of his boyhood and youth and attended the public schools, acquiring a fair education in his native language, but he had no knowledge of the English language when he came to the new world.  The year 1871 witnessed his arrival in America and he has never had occasion to regret his determination to seek a home on this side of the Atlantic, for here he has found good business opportunities and has also gained many warm friends.


Mr. Johnson located first at Paxton, Illinois, and near that town secured work as a farm hand, remaining there for three years.  He then came west to Iowa and has since lived in Buena Vista county.  Here he also worked by the month as a farm hand for a year and during that time added to his savings until he had a sum sufficient to enable him to purchase eighty acres of raw prairie on section 6, Maple Valley township.  He soon became familiar with the arduous task of developing new land.  It is a difficult thing to break the sod, to pulverize the clods and to render the land mellow and productive, but Mr. Johnson set himself resolutely to this task and upon the place built a small house, which afforded him shelter while he was doing the early work on the farm.


He made further preparation for having a home of his own by his marriage, returning to Illinois for his wife.  There, on the 1st of February, 1878, at Altoona, he wedded Betsey Anderson, who was born and reared in Sweden.  They began their domestic life on the Iowa farm and Mr. Johnson bought more land, securing an adjoining eighty acre tract which was broken.  Later he afterward purchased eighty acres on the south, so that he became the owner of a farm of two hundred and fifty acres.  As he progressed and there was good market for the products which he raised, he was enabled to add many modern improvements to his place, erecting thereon a substantial residence, two good barns, a granary, double corncrib, a cow house and chicken house.  In fact, he added all the conveniences and accessories of a model farm of the twentieth century.  He also set out a good apple orchard, planting much small fruit and divided his place into fields of convenient size by barbed and woven wire fences.  In addition to tilling the fields he also raised and fed stock and keeping a good grade of cattle he found a ready sale for his stock on the market.  Rapidly the years passed until 1903 when he rented his place and removed to Alta, where he bought a neat residence and now makes his home.


Unto Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have been born six children:  Gustave, who follows farming in Boyd county, Nebraska; Carl, who is married and is associated with his brother in Boyd county; Esther, the wife of Harry Isaacson, who is operating her father's farm; Ida, the wife of August Larson, a farmer in Nokomis township; Benjamin, a student in the Rock Island Business College; and Mabel, a pupil in the home school.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are members of the Swedish Lutheran church and in politics he is a republican.  He has served as delegate to the county conventions, has filled the office of township trustee and has been identified with the schools for a number of years.  He is a self-made man, who came to America empty-handed and through his own labors and the assistance of his wife has become one of the prosperous residents of Alta.  Fortune has not favored him, for he has worked long and diligently to achieve the success, which is the result of his perseverance, industry and business integrity.