Biography of Simeon Johnston
Adams County, NE Biographies





SIMEON JOHNSTON.
Simeon Johnston makes his home in Juniata, where he assisted in building the first house of the town, arriving here with the first load of lumber which was brought from Grand Island. His original place of residence was a little sod house, while his present home is one of the finest in the town. For a considerable period he engaged in general farming and at the present is living retired, enjoying the fruits of his former toil. He was born near Mount Jackson in Lawrence county, Pennsylvania, January 4, 1844, a son of David and Margaret (McGeithen) Johnston, who spent their entire lives in the Keystone state, both passing away about the time of the Civil war. The father followed the occupation of farming and thus provided for his family of four children, of whom the three eldest, Eliza Ann, Margaret and John, are all now deceased.

Simeon Johnston, the only survivor of the family, pursued his education in the common schools of Pennsylvania and was reared to farm life, having the usual experiences that come to the farm lad as he divides his time between the work of the schoolroom and the work of the fields. At the outbreak of the Civil war he attempted to enlist but was not accepted. Finally, however, on the 5th of September, 1862, he was permitted to join the army and enlisted for three years, serving until the close of the war. He was taken prisoner at Millwood, Virginia, December 17, 1864, and was not exchanged until the following March. On one occasion his horse was shot from under him and fell upon him, from which he suffers a rupture to the present time. He was a member of Company B, Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and with that command participated in the battles of Rocky Gap, Cedar Creek and a large number of skirmishes with the troops of General Sheridan. After being captured he was in the prison at Richmond, Virginia, for three months and his health was greatly undernunded by the hardships of southern prison life, necessitating a period of rest in which to recuperate after the close of the war.

Mr. Johnston continued to live in Pennsylvania until 1868, when he removed to Clinton county, Michigan, where he engaged in farming until the spring of 1871, when he removed to Nebraska and homesteaded the southwest quarter of section 18, Denver township, Adams county. With the development and progress of the county he has since been closely identified. From Grand Island he hauled the first load of lumber into Juniata and assisted in erecting the first building here. On his own claim he built a sod house, planted trees and put out an orchard, but during the grasshopper plague the insects took the orchard and killed the trees. In 1874, however, he planted another orchard and he continued the work of further developing and improving his property until he had converted it into a very valuable and productive farm. He broke his land with ox teams and for four years continued to do his farm work with oxen before he was able to purchase a team of horses. He started out practically empty handed but he was industrious and ambitious and made good use of his opportunities, while his persistent labors year by year enabled him to progress steadily toward the goal of success. He is still the owner of one hundred and sixty acres of land - the old homestead place in Denver township - and he continued to carry on general farming until nine years ago, when he took up his abode in the town of Juniata, where he now owns a fine residence which he occupies and also the adjoining house.

Mr. Johnston has been twice married. In December, 1867, he wedded Miss Margaret P. McCollum, by whom he had five children, as follows: Joseph, who is deceased; Alfred, a resident of Fullerton, California; Harry C., living in Vancouver, Washington; Jessie, who died in the '80s; and Earl, who is a resident of Juniata. The wife and mother passed away February 1, 1905, and in the following year Mr. Johnston was again married, his second union being with Mrs. D. R. Ball, the widow of D. R. Ball, who was born in Henry county, Indiana. He served for three years and ten months as a soldier in the Union army during the Civil war and he continued his residence in his native state until 1880, when he came to Juniata. To Mr. and Mrs. Ball were born five children, namely: Cora, who is the wife of George Bivins and lives a mile south of Juniata; Mary E., who gave her hand in marriage to G. N. Munger, of Hastings, Nebraska; Cloyd S., a resident of Spirit Lake, Idaho; and Wilbur and Olive, both of whom are deceased.

Mr. and Mrs. Johnston are members of the Baptist church and he holds membership in the Grand Army post at Juniata. Their influence is always on the side of progress and improvement, of truth and of right and their well spent lives have gained for them the warm and enduring regard of many friends. As pioneer settlers of the county they have witnessed practically its entire development, Mr. Johnston having made his home within the borders of Adams county for about forty five years, during which he has seen notable changes as the wild land has been converted into productive farms, as towns and villages have sprung up and as all the advantages of the older east have been introduced.

From:
Past and Present of
Adams County, Nebraska
Supervisong Editor: Judge William R. Burton
Assistant Editor: David J. Lewis
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago, 1916


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