Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Richard Johnston

Richard Johnston, one of the early settlers of Goodrich township, was born in Randolph county, Illinois, October 4, 1833. He was the son of John and Jane (Murphy) Johnston. The father was a native of Scotland, and came to America when but a young man, and engaged in farming. He died in Denver, Colorado, in 1855. The mother of our subject was born in Illinois, and died in Carroll county, in that State. They had four children: John, deceased; our subject; Isabella, deceased; and William, who resides in the West.

Our subject was reared in Carroll county, Illinois, and was brought up to farm life and received his education in the log schoolhouse, going five miles to school. When he had reached the age of nineteen he decided to go into business for himself, and then purchased a farm and remained on it for ten years.

He came to Crawford county, Iowa, Jun 8, 1869, and that same fall he purchased a tract of 200 acres in what now is Goodrich township. Almost all of the land there was wild, but some thirty acres of his purchase was broken, and he had a small house. Here he decided should be his home, and he went to work with a will, improving, and it took him six years to get all of his land fenced. He then sold it, and for two years he rented land, after which he went to Buck Grove for a short time, and rented a farm there.

His house at this place was destroyed by fire, March 12, 1880, and every thing was lost but the night clothing. Most terrible of all was the loss of two dear little children in the flames, Elizabeth, aged eight years, and Emma, six.

After this heart-breaking experience the family returned to Goodrich township, and there rented land for two years, and then, in 1881, Mr Johnston purchased the farm where he now resides. This place consists of 160 acres on section 27 in Goodrich township, and it was also only wild land at that time. On this place Mr Johnston has made many improvements. He has laid out an orchard of 100 trees, and has put out 200 vines in his vineyard, and had made all the necessary fencing, etc. He has erected a fine residence, 16 x 26, with a kitchen, 16 x 18, and also a barn, 22 x 32, all of which are in modern style of finish.

Mr Johnston, after many trials and disappointments, has entered upon a season of deserved prosperity, and carries on a general farming, and also does some stock-raising. He has here some twenty acres of grove also.

Politically, our subject is a stanch supporter of the People's ticket. He has held the office of Township Trustee for the past fourteen years, and was the first one appointed in Goodrich township. He also was Road Supervisor.

The marriage of our subject took place in 1856, when he espoused Elizabeth Herner, the daughter of George Herner, a native of Canada.

Mr and Mrs Johnston have had twelve children, and ten of them are still living: Henry, the oldest, born in Illinois in 1858, lived in Crawford county until 1885, when he went to Garfield county, Nebraska, he married miss Lillie M Mately, of Burwell, Garfield county, Nebraska, in 1887, and returned to this county in 1890, where they now make their home; Sarah is the wife of Charles Schroeder, of Crawford county; Allen married Miss Annie Crawford, of Denison, resides in Goodrich township, near his father's home;

Mary is the wife of William G Mullinger, of Crawford county; she was a school teacher prior to her marriage, and suffered the hardships of frontier life, wading in the snow and facing the blizzard going to and from her school, often having two miles to walk, yet bravely and willingly striving to do her duty;

Ida May, the next daughter, was wedded to Edgar Brogdon, an industrious farmer of Goodrich township; William W spent his youthful days at home, then going to find a home in Nebraska, he found himself a helpmeet in the person of Miss Ada Cole, of Brewster, Nebraska, they then came to Crawford county, to make it their home;

Richard M, the first child born to Mr and Mrs Johnston after coming to Crawford county, being of a roaming nature, at one time left his paternal roof to seek his fortune in Texas; the climate not being agreeable to his health, he returned home a sick but a wise boy. He was married to Miss Helen Benson, of Otter Creek, Crawford county, Iowa, a school teacher prior to her marriage she taught in the neighborhood of her home for eight years, and many a youth and maid will look back with pleasure, thinking of the days when Miss Benson was a the helm in the schoolhouse;

Olive Ella is a present a school ma'am, enjoying modern conveniences of the present style and type; Clara and George are at home, to comfort and care for their parents.

Mr Johnston had a varied life. In his boyhood days in Illinois he underwent many privations incident to pioneer life, as his father was an early settler in Carroll county. As an instance of the inconvenience to which they were often reduced, he mentions that if the fire went out, it was necessary to go a distance for from one to two miles to get a coal with which to rekindle it. He has suffered losses but he has overcome them. The disaster in which he lost his children can never be repaired, but time has softened his affliction.

Source: Biographical History of Crawford, Ida and Sac Counties; Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago, 1893, pages 561, 562

Submitted by Norm Prince