Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 503] who, we are proud to say, is the largest dealer in limestone in the world, is also proprietor of the Arethusa Iron Works, and City Roller Mills, and a manufacturer of sheet iron and steel, and flour, feed, etc. Mr. Johnson is a thorough business man, and the career, which he has made for himself, and which has brought him wealth and those things that wealth bestows, is worthy of imitation in every particular, for he has strictly adhered to the upright principles which enter into the business life of every really successful man, and his business methods are open to the most critical inspection. Among the citizens of New Castle he occupies a high place, and it is with pride that they point him out as one of the most enterprising of its many energetic citizens.

Our subject was born near Clarksville, Mercer Co., Pa., in 1847, on a farm, like the greater share of the leading men of to-day, and was a son of John Smith Johnson, and grandson of John Johnson, Sr. Our subject's grandfather was also a native of the Keystone State, and was known as a prosperous farmer. His son followed in his footsteps. Our subject's father was born and raised on the farm in Mercer County, and later worked at mining for a considerable length of time. His wife, who was stricken low at thirty-nine years of age by an attack of typhoid fever, bore him seven children, who were as follows: Jane; George W.; Salvina; Frank, deceased; Hannah; William, deceased; and Joseph S., who died at an early age. Our subject's father was aged sixty-seven years at his demise. He was an active partisan of the Democratic party, but never ranked among the aspirants for office.

George W., at the age of ten years, entered the employ of Wilson, Lean & Co., at Clinton, Pa., working at mining, and clerking in the company's store, in fact, doing whatever a bright young lad with willing hands and thoughtful beyond his years could do, and at the age of fifteen, so faithful and conscientious was he in his efforts to do the best he knew how, that he had entirely gained the confidence of his employers, who accordingly even at that early age gave him charge of several departments, and so he continued until he had full charge of the large general store, holding the position of manager until 1871, when his ambition led him to enter greater fields of labor, and make his mark in the world. With this idea of a larger and increased field of usefulness in view, Mr. Johnson with A. R. Lee, and William Patterson, formed a partnership, styling it the Lee, Patterson, Johnson Co., and entered upon the lime business at Wampum, Lawrence County, continuing in the manufacture of that material and in its traffic for a time, when our subject bought out his partners, and operated the business alone. Later on, he became associated with Green, Marquis & Co., and in 1880 located in New Castle, where they engaged in business under the firm name of Marquis & Johnson; since 1889, Mr. Johnson has been alone in business, and to-day we find him among the most representative and prosperous of the citizens of New Castle, employing over 450 men, and although a thorough business man, he has always been very charitable and kind to the poor and needy, and respects the lowly laborer as much as those who occupy high and mighty positions.

The Arethusa Iron Works, built originally in 1873, and rebuilt by our subject in 1895, is located on Center Street, covering the greater portion of ten acres, and has the following excellent equipment for the manufacture of iron and steel: one double and four single puddling furnaces; four squaring shears; eleven trains of rolls; one squeezer for sheet iron and steel. The works use natural gas and coal, and have an annual capacity of 15,000 gross tons; W. L. Johnson, our subjects oldest son, is the general manager.

Mr. Johnson also owns and operates lime quarries at Hilltown, New Castle, the product of which is known as Bessemer limestone. He also quarries at Franklin Forge and Tyrone Forge. In addition to his other interests in the limestone industry, he is manager of the City Roller Flouring Mills, which turn out 150 barrels of flour per day. Mr. Johnson must also be included among the extensive real estate owners of New Castle, for, having confidence in the fut invest heavily in landed property.

Mr. Johnson married Elizabeth Ann Osborn of Lawrence County, and has two children, both of them sons. William L., the elder, born Oct. 24, 1868, is a graduate of Meadvile College, Class of 1890; he then spent three years engaged in civil engineering and mining in Colorado, and in 1893 became associated with his father in the management of the iron plant. Charles H., born July 9, 1870, graduated from the Massachusetts School of Technology in 1893, followed mining and engineering in Colorado also, and in 1895 became associated with his father, having charge of the limestone business.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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