Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Decorah Posten Obituary: Gustav Johnson

"Old Decorah Man Passed Away," Decorah Posten (9 Apr 1934). Image and translation courtesy of Verla Williams.

Old Decorah Man Passed Away

Gustav Johnson, well-known former printer, farmer and businessman died last Friday afternoon, 6th April at his home on East Broadway after just a week's illness. He got the cold, as has been so frequent this year, and when it developed into pneumonia, it became his death.

Johnson was born near Oslo, Norway, the 18th October 1855 and so now was in his 79th year. His parents, Andreas and Anna Johnson, immigrated to America in 1864 and settled in Madison, Wis. Three years later, when Gustav was 12 years old, he got employment in Rasmus B. Anderson’s printshop, where he remained for several years and became a fully-studied printer. He told often, how with his lack of schooling it was very difficult for him, and that he and many others from that time have Prof. Anderson to thank for the foundation they got for later private (self) study and further learning.

Prof. Anderson began namely with night school for younger rather than older men within his personal (private) field, which became the first stage so that Gustav not only became proficient in his field, but later in life a practical and very astute businessman.

He remained with Professor Anderson for several years, worked later as printer in La Crosse plus also a time with "Scandinaven" in Chicago, until he in 1879 came to Decorah as foreman in the Lutheran Publishing House's printshop, remaining there for about 1 year. During this time he became married to Miss Henrietta O. Sander, and they bought then the farm and dairy business out in Glenwood Township, where they remained for many years and raised a large family.

It was in 1922 that he retired as farmer and moved back to Decorah, where they bought a home on East Broadway, where they since have lived. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson had in their more than fifty years of happy marriage 9 children, namely George, Charles, Emma, Mabel, Lillie, Esther, Anna, William, and Arthur. Seven of these 9 are alive. They are: Charles, Decorah; Mrs. C. D. Hexom, Waukon, Route 5; Mrs. W. D. Williams, Decorah, Route 6; Mrs. Stanley Ask, Mabel, Minn., Route 1; Hrs. C. H. Rosenthal, Decorah; William and Arthur, both in Decorah. The deceased is also survived by a sister, Mrs. Bertha K. Sivisind, Seattle, Wash.

Johnson was a very active man right until his death, very useful outside of his own properties. He was therefore for more than 20 years Glenwood Township's Clerk, and in addition to have operated his own dairy business out there, he was among them there who pushed for establishment of Decorah Ice Cave Creamery here in Decorah, for which he for a great number of years served as president. He was also for many years president for Farmers Norwegian Mutual Insurance Co. But in spite of his many good qualities as pioneer, it was certainly in his daily life as neighbor and as the man one met at his cozy ballot box or out on the street with a hearty handshake and a friendly word that he won the most friends. One feels inevitably a sad void at the thought that Gustav Johnson is no more. In word and mind he remained a member of the bookprinters group throughout life, because these his professional brothers “stood nearest to him” outside of his own family.

The deceased was a member of Glenwood Congregation before he moved back to Decorah, and since he was active member of First Lutheran Church. He was elected as honorary member of the Luren Choral Society and also the Norwegian Society.

The funeral takes place today, Monday, from the home and from First Lutheran Church, with burial in the family grave plot in Glenwood Cemetery. Pastor T. A. Hoff officiated.


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