J. W. Johnson was born in Osage County, Mo., and was reared on a farm in that county until eighteen years of age, when he went to work on the Missouri Pacific Railroad on repairs between Jefferson City and the mouth of the Gasconade. From workman Mr. Johnson was raised to the position of foreman in his branch of service, and worked at different points. He stopped for awhile at Eldon and Centre Town, after which, in September, 1884, he came to Versailles and worked on the Boonville branch, between Tipton and Versailles. Here he continued until 1885, when, in July of that year, he met with a very severe accident while in his line of duty. He was holding a cold chisel to a piece of iron which was being struck by one of the men, when a piece of the hammer flew off, struck him in the right eye, and entirely destroyed the sight of that member. After a lawsuit that extended over three years, Mr. Johnson got a judgment against the company for $5,000. Since being able to get around again he has made a living for his family by inspecting ties until January 1 of the present year (1889), when he purchased a half interest in Padgett Bros'. blacksmith and wagon shop, Mr. J. M. Padgett retiring, and the firm continuing under the title of Padgett & Johnson. Mr. Johnson employs a mechanic to do his share in the shop business, while he occupies his time in improving a fine piece of property owned by him, and situated near the public square, on which he is building a nice two-story house. He was married to Miss Samantha McBride, a native of Osage County, Mo., and this union resulted in the birth of seven children, two dying in childhood. Those living are Thomas A., Lottie, Hattie, Harry and Ralph. Mr. Johnson affiliates with the Republican party in his politics, and Mrs. Johnson is a member of the Christian Church.
History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries and Osage Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.