Biography of Hon. Joseph R. Johnston
Mahoning County, OH Biographies

HON. JOSEPH R. JOHNSTON, one of Youngstown's most prominent citizens, a member of both bench and bar, and also a surviving officer of the great Civil War, was born at Jackson, Mahoning County, Ohio, September 12, 1840, and is a son of John and Caroline (Roberts) Johnson.

Judge Johnston comes of Scotch Irish stock, his grandfather having been born in Ireland and his grandmother in Scotland. In 1811 they came to Milton township, Mahoning County, Ohio, and here spent the remainder of their lives. John Johnston, father of Judge Johnston, was born in i8oo in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and died at Jackson, Mahoning County, Ohio, in 1868. In this county he was married to Caroline Roberts, who was born in Fayette County,. Pennsylvania. Her great grandfather, William Roberts, was a soldier of the Revolution. Her parents came to Ohio in 1816 and settled in Jackson township, Mahoning County, not far from the Johnston homestead. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston had these children: John Z., Louise, Joseph R. and David R.

Joseph R. Johnston spent his early life on his father's farm and attended the academies at both Canfield and Jackson. He had not attained his majority when he enlisted for service in the Civil War, in August, 1861, entering as a private Company E, Second Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. On February 17, 1863, he received his commission as second lieutenant of the 25th Battery, Ohio Light Artillery, which had been organized out of his former regiment. He remained in the service until September, 1864, when illness caused his resignation. He had participated in many of the great battles of the war and his regiment was one of which Ohio had reason to be proud.

Immediately upon his return from the army, the young soldier entered upon the study of the law and was admitted to the bar on September 12, 1866. From that time to the present he has continued in his profession, gathering a wide experience and many laurels. His private practice has only been interrupted during his terms on the bench, and also during the years in which he served in the state senate. Immediately after his admission to the bar, Mr. Johnston, with no previous experience except such as he secured while clerk of the probate court, was brought forward by the Republican party and was elected probate judge, and in 1869 was re-elected. Upon his retirement from the bench, he took up practice at Canfield, where he remained until 1888, when he located permanently at Youngstown.

In 1875 Judge Johnston become the logical candiaate of his party for the state senate, and in the ensuing campaign proved his strength and was elected to the office, representing the senatorial district composed of Mahoning and Trumbull Counties. Judge Johnston was returned to the senate by re-election in 1877 and during a part of this period he did very efficient work in legislation as a member of the judiciary committee.

Seven years of private practice of his profession followed his long term of public service, and then he was again called to the bench, being elected judge of the Court of Common Pleas, of the Second Sub Division of the Ninth District. He was re-elected to this office in 1891. During his years in public life, his course both as statesman and jurist gained for him the confidence, respect and admiration of his fellow citizens. Since 1897 he has quietly followed his profession at Youngstown. His commodious offices are situated at No. 3 West Federal street, and his handsome residence at No. 533 Wick avenue.

Judge Johnston was married in 1868, to Mary S. Hartsell, a most estimable woman of rare culture and attainments. She died April 25, 1906.

Fraternal relations with the various Masonic bodies are held by Judge Johnston, and, he belongs also to the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and to Tod Post, No. 29, Grand Army of the Republic. His connections with professional bodies are. numerous and at various times he has held offices of responsibility in. educational and philanthropical institutions, being one of the incorporators of the Northeastern Ohio Normal College at Canfield, Ohio, and for niany years was one of the trustees thereof. His portrait is published in connection with this Oartide.

20th Century History of Youngstown
and Mahoning County, Ohio and
Representative Citizens,
Edited and compiled by Gen. Thos. W. Sanderson
Youngstown, Ohio
Biographical Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois 1897

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