GEORGE A. JOHNSON.
Though by birth an Englishman, George A. Johnson, veteran lumberman and former mayor of the city of Benicia, has
been a resident of the United States for more than forty years, thirty years of which time have been spent in California,
and thus accounts himself a thoroughgoing American with the added distinction of being also a thoroughgoing Californian,
and it is but fitting and proper that in this definite history of the favored region in which he so long has had
his habitation and abiding place there should be set out some brief review of his life and of his services to the
community to which he has for years been devoted.
Mr. Johnson was born at Braintree, an important manufacturing town in Essex county, England, August 9, 1856, and
was there reared and schooled amid an excellent social environment. As a lad he was apprenticed to George Williams
of the great dry goods firm of Hitchcock & Williams, St. Paul's churchyard, London, and under that capable
direction spent four years acquiring a thorough knowledge of the "art and mystery" of merchandising as
applied to the greatest city in the world. As a matter of interesting information it is but proper to explain that
this George Williams, Mr. Johnson's mentor, was the founder of the Young Men's Christian Association and Mr. Johnson
has the tenderest and kindliest recollections of the benefits he received in his youth from this good man. It was
in the summer of 1844 that Mr. Williams influenced twelve young men to meet with him for the purpose of creating
a society "for improving the spiritual condition of young men engaged in the drapery and other trades."
Out of the organization effected at that meeting on June 6 of that year under the inspiring influence of this kindly
merchant has been developed the great Young Men's Christian Association, with branches in every Christian country
on the globe.
Upon completing his apprenticeship as a draper Mr. Johnson determined that a somewhat more active vocation would
be better suited to his energetic temperament and instead of following the lines of the dry goods trade he took
up engineering and was connected with the engineering firm of Wimshurst & Hollick in London until in 1883,
when he determined on a trip to the United States with a view to effecting a location in this country should conditions
be found favorable to such a course. After looking about a bit in the east he went down into Texas, which in the
'80s seemed to promise much for ambitious and determined young men, and at Weatherford in Parker county became
connected with the lumber trade. He presently moved from there over to Fort Worth in the neighboring county of
Tarrant and there became thoroughly familiar with the lumber industry, learning the business "from the bottom
up" and becoming familiar with all branches of the trade. He then established himself in Chicago, where he
remained eight years, this period including that time of feverish activity in the building trades in that city
during the time of preparation for the great World's Columbian Exposition there in 1893, and then, in 1896, he
came to California, which state ever since has been his home.
In 1906 Mr. Johnson moved from Stockton to Benicia as the local agent for the Port Costa Lumber Company and was
thus associated here with the lumber trades until that company went out of business in 1914, since which time he
has been engaged in the lumber business on his own account, with a well established and well stocked lumber yard
on First street, where he is in a position to meet all demands for material in his line. He also for some time
has been engaged in the general fire insuranc business, local underwriter for several well established insurance
companies, and has created a valuable connection in that line. Ever since he took up his residence in Benicia,
Mr. Johnson has done his part as a good citizen in the promotion of the general civic affairs of the city and for
four years (1920-24) rendered efficient public service as mayor of the city, many important municipal improvements
having been brought about during this incumbency.
In 1891, in Chicago, George A. Johnson was united in marriage to Miss Jeannette Roe, who was born in the state
of New York, and they have a son, Alfred Roe Johnson, born during the time of their residence in Chicago. Mr. and
Mrs. Johnson are members of the Episcopal church and take an interested part in the general activities of that
parish. Mrs. Johnson is also one of the leaders in the work of the local chapter of the American Red Cross and
in general welfare service in and about Benicia. Mr. Johnson is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows
and of the Knights of the Maccabees, having joined the former order at Merced and the latter at Stockton.
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Solano County, CA
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