|Birth: ||Sep. 4, 1894|
|Death: ||Jan. 26, 1995|
Harry M. Johnson was born September 4, 1894. It is noted that the birth record in the Livingston County Court Housse lists the child's name as Jasper Ernest Johnson. This was the only male child born on this date and was born to Aggie Seggerman and John A. Johnson who was a farmer of German nationality and was born in Prussia. Jasper Ernest was the fourth child and resided in Cornell. Jasper was the name of his maternal grandfather and Ernest was the name of his father's brother. Therefore, it appears that at sometime after his birth, his name was changed to Harry Merle Johnson. The "senior" was added upon the birth of his fourth son in 1931.
Harry (Jasper) was born September 4, 1894, in Amity Township, a son of Agatha and John A. Johnson. His early years were spent living on a farm near Cornell, Illinois. He moved to Pontiac with his family about 1910. Harry was educated to become a jeweler or watchmaker. I was told he was trained somewhere in Peoria. I did not learn this till after his death when I asked why Grandpa had so many clocks that were being sold at the estate sale. Harry did not care for work as a jeweler and preferred to work with motors and engines. He started out working on motorcycles, specifically as an Indian motorcycle mechanic, later working on automobiles.
When Harry was a young man, he took off on his motorcycle and headed west when the roads west of the Mississippi were little more than Indian trails. He got about as far as Oklahoma when he had an accident and broke his leg wrecking his motorcycle. After having his leg set, he threw his bike on a railroad car, jumped on and road back home to Illinois.
He served in World War I. He and his wife, Elva had four (4) sons, Myron, Richard, Robert and Harry Jr. The oldest three served in World War II.
Harry was a quiet man. He was an avid gardener, a beekeeper, loved dogs and was passionate about baseball. He did enjoy talking about baseball. He could be found almost daily in the park watching a baseball game or in a lawn chair sitting in his driveway, wearing a hat to shade his eyes, and listening to two radios -- each broadcasting a different baseball game. With his total concentration on the games, visitors would find it difficult to carry on a conversation till the game was over.
Here is a treasured poem written by a neighbor which so accurately described her attempts to befriend him though he seldom spoke.
AFTER TWO SEASONS, A HOME RUN
For Mr. Johnson
This poem is for you, old man,
with eyes so blue-soft they could
coo a baby into play-time dreaming.
Each day you sit across the street
in the noon-day shade of the maple tree,
a portable radio and thin-stick cane by your side
as you listen to the ball game
on that time worn lawn chair.
I am drawn into your world, old man,
into that shock of grey-white hair
beneath a frayed straw hat,
into your threadbare denim shirt,
tobacco smell and unbending reserve.
The bases are loaded with your favorite players
and I am like the third strike out
with my curiosity tip-toeing down the alley again
ready to pitch a curve ball
of chatter into the afternoon.
I greet you in the 6th inning --
eager to sip a bit of your cinder wisdom --
to quench my thirst for your
94 years of steeped memories.
Complacency oozes from your eyes
like sweet blue nectar
as you stare at the day's plays --
the hits, the runs and errors --
scribbled out on the scraps of paper
scattered on your lap.
I'm unaware of the score
and asking you is the key
to the secret door of your solitude.
You tap an old pipe in a smoke-stained palm
and say,"five to four, Braves,"
but call no time out before
your pencil hits the page again.
I tell you I'll be back after the game
to fill you in on the big black ants
building a hill by my tree out back,
about the hummingbirds dancing by my feeder.,
And for the first time in two baseball seasons,
you look up at me,
chuckle a brief moment with delicious simplicity,
and go back to the hopes
of a home run for the Cubs.
Old man, the echo, of that afternoon chuckle could shatter the moon tonight
as I gather the glistening stars to my heart
and listen to the lullaby of our budding friendship
singing in your blue blue eyes.
John A. Johnson (1862 - 1930)
Agatha Gesina Seggerman Johnson (1867 - 1937)
Elva Luella Mott Johnson (1892 - 1958)
Myron L. Johnson (1918 - 1994)*
Richard Mott Johnson (1921 - 2011)*
Harry Merle Johnson (1931 - 2001)*
Reka Johnson Fox (1886 - 1944)*
Lena Johnson Russow (1888 - 1981)*
Clara Mae Johnson (1892 - 1991)*
Harry M. Johnson (1894 - 1995)
Clarence E. Johnson (1902 - 1992)*
Minonk Township Cemetery
Maintained by: cletasdaughter
Originally Created by: Amy Robbins-Tjaden
Record added: Dec 26, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 12790413
Added: Mar. 9, 2013
Added: Mar. 31, 2009