WILLIAM H. JOHNSTON
Honored as the son of most worthy parentage and the father of a family that has done great credit to their country
and their bringing up, W. H. Johnston is the sixth in order of birth of seven children born of the marriage of
Rev. Thomas M, and Helen (Steele) Johnston, natives of Kentucky and North Carolina, respectively. The father went
to Missouri with his parents in the early thirties and there studied law and became a journalist; later he entered
the ministry, which calling occupied the greater part of his life. He came to California about 1859, followed by
his family in 1860, and they settled first in the San Ramon Valley, in Contra Costa County, removing in 1865 to
Stockton, While at Alamo he was publisher of the Pacific Observer, a Presbyterian organ, In 1870 they moved to
Berryessa Valley, in Napa County, where he had charge of the Presbyterian church work through his declining years.
The present pastor of this church at Winters, in 1923, celebrated the fiftieth anniversary as successor to Rev.
Thomas Johnston. He died in Napa in 1877.
The son, W. H. Johnston, was born in Greene County, Mo., on April 16, 1857, and educated in the schools of San
Joaquin and Napa Counties. He was brought up as a farmer's son and early gave attention to the production of grain
and stock. In 1886, in company with his brother, J. R. Johnston, he carried on a farm in Berryessa Valley for four
years when the partnership was dissolved. Our subject was thereafter for thirty seven years engaged in raising
cattle and hogs in the same location. Selling out the property in Napa County he came to Merced County in 1908
and engaged in the dairy business and fruit raising near Atwater, He is the owner of fifty acres on the edge of
Atwater, a portion of the late J. W, Mitchell estate.
W. H. Johnston was married in Napa County in 1885, to Clara Wassum, the third of seven children born to T. A, Wassum
and his wife. She was born in Yountville, Napa Valley, in 1865, and died from injuries received in a train and
auto collision at the Yam crossing on the Santa Fe, in 1921. There were four children of the union: Edith (Mrs.
W. S. Newhall), who has two children, William S. and Franklin; Thomas H.; Finis, and Bennett M. Thomas It served
in Company C, 361st Regiment of the A. E. F., and was honorably discharged on May 5, 1919. Finis served in Company
F, 58th Infantry, 4th Division, and was killed in action at Chateau Thierry, on July 18, 1918. Mr. Johnston recalls
the first steam train to Stockton in 1869. The family were living then on Sutter and Weber streets, that city.
History of Merced County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by John Outcalt
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1925
Merced County, CA
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