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Martin H. Johnson

MARTIN H. JOHNSON,deceased, was born in Southport, New York, June 25, 1833, grew to manhood in his native state and after aquiring a good intellectual education in the schools, received a thorough practical training in the various business affairs with which he early became familiar. While still a young man he engaged in lumbering and continued that line of business in New York until about twenty-five years of age, when he went to Potter county, Pennsylvania, where he erected several large sawmills and engaged in the manufacture of lumber upon a very extensive scale.Mr. Johnson operated his mills quite successfully and in due time built up a business of large proportions, becoming in the course of a few years the leading lumber man in the above county and one of the largest in the state. By judicious management he acquired a large fortune, but subsequently met with a series of business reverses, which crippled him financially and from the effects of which he never entirely recovered.In hopes of bettering his condition, he wound up his affairs in Pennsylvania and in the fall of 1879 started for the Black Hills, reaching Boulder Park the same season and spending the winter at that place. The following spring he arrived in Deadwood, and from there, after a short time, came to Bear Butte creek and took up a ranch about fourteen miles east of Sturgis, where he turned his attention to stock raising and agricultural pursuits. He had no sooner moved to his new home than he began a system of improvements, and he continued prosecuting the same until his ranch was conceded to be the finest in the country, as he spared neither pains nor expense in beautifying the place and providing comfortably for his family.

Mr Johnson carried on farming and cattle raising exclusively until the year 1887, when he again resumed the lumber business, erecting a large steam saw-mill in the hills, which he operated successfully during eight years following.This enterprise fully met his expectations and it was not long until he began to recover from the losses entailed by his previous reverses. His other interests also proved quite fortunate, and his success in his different fields of endeavor not only rebounded greatly to his financial advantage and made him one of the wealthiest men of his community, but also gave him high standing in business circles, both locally and throughout the state. A short time before his death he built an elegant and imposing modern dwelling on his ranch , and at this time his place is considered one of the finest and most desirable country home in the county of Meade.

Mr Johnson was an influential member of the Masonic fraternity, in which he rose to a high degree, and he was honored with impotant official position in the order from time to time. He was a man of intelligence, widely informed and kept in close touch with the trend of events, having been a careful observer, a student of public affairs and a natural leader not only of matters of business, but in the domain of thought. He always manifested a lively interest in politics, but was never a partisan nor an office seeker, preferring the life he led to the honors and emoluments of public station. he attained the ripe age of nearly seventy years, dying December 18, 1902, honored and respected by all who knew him. Mr Johnson was one of nature's noblemen, true to every trust reposed in him, devoted to the cause of right and with a character above reproach, and a life fraught with great good to the world, he will long be rememered as one of the strong, stalwart men of his adopted state.Since her husband's death , Mrs. Johnson has managed the homestead and, like him, she exercises sound sense and discriminating judgement in the practical affairs of life. She is ably assisted by her two sons and a daughter, who take upon themselves much of the burden and responsibility of business cares and who, inheriting the many sterling qyalities and characteristics of their excellent parents, give promise of great usefullness in the future.


This biography transcribed from pages 1304-1305 in"History of South Dakota" by Doane Robinson, Vol. II (1904)

Transcribed Nov, 25 2008© by Lyle B. Johnson