WILLIAM A. JOHNSON.
William A. Johnson is filling the office of postmaster at Green River. He represents one of the old and prominent pioneer families of Wyoming. He was born May 25, 1882, a son of William A. and Ellen (Larsen) Johnson.
The father, a native of Texas, left home when thirteen years of age and went to California, then to Montana and then to Wyoming, making the journey across the country long before the railroad had been built to Green River. This section was a wild and undeveloped region in which lawless characters were prevalent, some coming by choice, while others had come to evade the officers of the law in the big cities of the east. It was into such an environment that William A. Johnson, Sr., was thrown upon his removal to the west and he soon became an adept pistol and rifle shot. As he grew to manhood he became acquainted with a number of the notorious characters of the west, but he soon learned how to protect himself and also how to protect the interests of the community. He stood strongly for law and order and by reason of the attitude which he took he was elected sheriff of Sweetwater, Carbon and Uinta counties, in which connection he was frequently called upon to arrest some desperate character, a cattle rustler or stage robber or holdup man of the worst type. He never failed to perform the duties entrusted to him and on several occasions had to resort to extreme measures to avoid being killed himself. One notable instance in which he did his extreme duty and for which he received the highest praise from officials of the railroads and the governor of the state was when he, single-handed, fought a pistol duel with a bandit and murderer known by the name of Mountain Jack, who bore a well known reputation for brutality, with willingness to kill at the slightest provocation. He had slain twenty victim's prior to meeting the same fate at the hands of W. A. Johnson. This ruffian had sworn to kill Johnson on sight and was quartered in a cabin with several other men, including Archie Blair and his brother, and a man named Jackson. Mr. Johnson was told by friendly Indians that Mountain Jack had threatened to kill him and was therefore on his guard. This Mountain jack recognized, and he made a proposition to Mr. Johnson that he go in league with him to kill the other men and take the horses and equipment. Mr. Johnson told him to give him until morning to think the matter over and that he would let him know in the morning. Before he was given an answer, while two of the men had gone after their horses, Mountain Jack showed indications of putting his murderous scheme into effect. The other men, not being aware of conditions, were helpless, and Mr. Johnson in order to save their lives and possibly his own, drew his revolver and shot Mountain Jack, killing him instantly. Mountain jack was no more; whereupon Johnson's companions, whose lives he had saved, carried Mountain Jack's body to the near-by stream, Black forks, and slipped it under the ice, against the protestations of Mr. Johnson. So ended the career of one of the boldest and worst criminals of the west. Many other deeds of valor on the part of Mr. Johnson won renown to his name. He was a sure shot with his revolver and could put four out of five balls into a common playing card at a distance of seventy-five yards.
After reaching manhood Mr. Johnson purchased from Mr. Granger the contract to supply hay to the government at Fort Bridger and other western posts. Later he engaged in ranching and in raising horses and cattle, and he became one of the prominent stockmen of Wyoming. He was thus actively engaged up to the time of his death, which occurred in Green River in 1910. He owned a large ranch there and for some time prior to his death ranked with the leading, prosperous and prominent stockmen of Wyoming. In the turbulent days of Virginia City, Montana, he also passed through various trying experiences at that point. It was such brave frontiersmen who reclaimed the west for purposes of civilization, making the region safe for the law-abiding citizen. Mrs. Johnson was born in Sweden and came to America when eleven years of age, her people locating in Ogden, Utah. She died at Wood River, Nebraska, in 1900. By her marriage she had become the mother of four children: F. W. Johnson, a prominent attorney of Rock Springs, now serving as prosecuting attorney of Sweetwater county; William A., of this review; Mrs. Ellen S. Honnold, of Wood River, Nebraska; and B. G., attending the University of Utah.
In his boyhood days William A. Johnson attended school at Wood River, Nebraska, until graduated from the high school with the class of 1900. He afterward spent a year in study in the University of Nebraska and then entered upon the contracting business, specializing on cement contracting, he was thus engaged until appointed postmaster of Green River on the 22d of December, 1914. He took charge of the office on the 1st of February, 1915, and has since filled this position, discharging his duties with marked promptness and capability. He is also a trustee of the W. A. Johnson estate.
At Ogden, Utah, Mr. Johnson was united in marriage to Miss Daisy N. Vickery, the wedding being celebrated on the 23d of June, 1909. She was born in Green River, Wyoming, and is a daughter of Gilbert Vickery. Mrs. Johnson's early ancestors were from Maine, she being a representative of the well known Vickery family of that state and of New England–a family of great wealth and prominence in the east. Both Mr. and Mrs. Johnson are identified with the Episcopal church and fraternally he is connected with Rock Springs Lodge, No. 624, B. P. O. E.
Spending his entire life in the west, there is no phase of early development and progress in Wyoming with which he is not familiar. His father was a most picturesque figure in connection with the pioneer settlement of the state and under changed conditions W. A. Johnson of this review is, like his father, bearing his part in the work of general progress and improvement, both being honored for their loyalty and progressiveness in citizenship.