Biography of William H. Johnston
Merced County, CA Biographies





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.

From:
History of Merced County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by John Outcalt
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1925


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