Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson

Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Death 24 Mar 1909 (aged 80)
Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana, USA
Burial Madison, Jefferson County, Indiana, USA
Plot Records show Center grave, East ½, Lot 285, Plat 3 (now located in Lot 66, Plat H)
Memorial ID 7054282 View Source
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(Information submitted by Karen Phillips #46884884)

Married (1) - Elizabeth Armstrong
Married (2) - Janet Dickey 3 Jan 1853 Dearborn Co., IN
Married (3) - Jennie Vawter Wright 6 Nov 1900, Jefferson Co., IN
Published 1880
JOHNSON, Richard, starch manufacturer, Madison, was born at Belfast, Ireland--a place noted for the number of business men of prominence it has given to this country--Jan 11, 1829. He is the eldest son of John and Margaret (Waring) Johnson. His father was a soap merchant, and educated him with a view to a profession. But, preferring mercantile life, he went into the office of Mr. O'Neill Bayley, of Belfast, with whom he served his time. After this he went into the produce business on his own account. In 1850 he concluded to sell out and go to America. He was offered, as inducements to remain at home, a situations with some of his relatives, who were extensive ship-owners and shippers, doing business with the East Indies and America; but these offers could not make him alter his determination to strike out for himself and seek his fortune among strangers. Shortly after his arrival in New York, he obtained a situation in a commission house, where he remained for more than a year, and then came West. After traveling through different parts of the Western States, he finally settled at Madison, Indiana. Here he was employed in the pork-packing establishment of Mr. O'Neill Bayley, with whom he had served his time at home. He remained with Mr. Bayley several years, attending to his port business here, and in different cities of the West, and during the summer months, when business was dull--there was no summer packing in those days--would seek such other employment as it was offered. He could not endure idleness, and often worked as a laborer during the day and attended to his bookkeeping at night. In 1856, Messrs. O'Neill Bayley & Co. purchased the Crystal Starch Works at Madison, and appointed Mr. Johnson and Mr. John Clements, under the firm name of Johnson & Clements, purchased the same starch works. This had hitherto proved a failure and a bad investment for its owners, but, under their careful and judicious management, a large and profitable trade was established. In 1872 they talked of moving their works to some other locality, and, after looking around for some time, they finally chose Leavenworth, Kansas, as being a suitable place. When the citizens of Leavenworth heard of this possibly large addition to their manufacturing interests, they sent a committee of three citizens to confer with them in regard to the advantages of that locality. Upon the return of this committee, the city of Leavenworth made Messrs. Johnson & Clements the flattering offer of a gift of about fifty thousand dollars to locate their works there. An act of the Legislature was passed to enable them to issue bonds for that purpose. This offer was taken into consideration, but, on account of the possible failure of crops in that state, they decided to remain at Madison, and a short time afterwards dissolved partnership. The same offer was then made to Mr. Johnson to build at Leavenworth, that was made to Messrs. Johnson & Clements, but, for the above reason, was not accepted. He then associated with him his son John, under the firm name of R. Johnson & Son, and erected at Madison one of the largest corn-starch works in the country, with all the modern improvements, and in a locality unsurpassed for convenience by that of any other establishment in the state, having the Ohio River on one side and the Jeffersonville, Madison and Indianapolis Railroad on the other. The starch bearing their brand is well and favorably known, and finds a ready sale in all the principal markets of the world. Mr. Johnson in engaged in other enterprises, but the starch business receives the most of his attention. He has always been very successful and persistent in his undertakings, and his opinions and judgments are formed only after the most careful consideration. Having once decided upon a course of action he pursues it with fortitude, devoting his whole energy and constant efforts to the attainment of his object. He has been twice married, and is the father of seven children, five of whom are living. He is a regular attendant of the Presbyterian Church, and has always given liberally for charitable and other objects.
Versailles Republican
Versailles, Indiana
31 March 1909


Mr. Richard Johnson, Madison's "Grand Old Man, " died at his home in that city last week, aged 81 years. He had been a resident of Madison for sixty years and by industry, energy and splendid business ability, he had amassed a fortune and gave employment to hundreds of men.
Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel
Fort Wayne, Indiana
31 March 1909


Leading Indiana Manufacturer Expires at Madison

Madison, Ind.--March 25.--Richard Johnson, one of the leading manufacturers of Indiana, and one of the richest men in this city, died at his home here last night. He was president of the Eagle Cotton Mills company, president of the Johnson Cordage company, of the First National Bank, of the P.& M. Insurance company, of the Indiana Lumber company, of the Madison Packing company, besides being identified with several other enterprises. He was also a director in the American Starch company. He was eighty years old and a native of Ireland.
The Madison Courier??

Madison's wealthiest and foremost citizen, Mr. Richard Johnson, departed this life at quarter before ten o'clock last night at his mansion on West Second street. He had been confined to his home and bed with illness since Saturday, March 13, and despite the tenderest nursing and the most skillful medical care the end came as he predicted from the first. The bells of the fire Department, in deference to the wishes of his family, were not toiled until six o'clock this morning, and up to that hour very few knew that Madison's benefactor and everybody's friend had passed away.

The closing moments of the struggle of life against death were almost void of incident. To the dying man, who retained his mental faculties down to the final minute, it was simply a slow, steady sinking into the mysterious slumber from which there is no awakening save in that fair land where death ever enters and parting is unknown. To the members of the family and his pastor, who looked on with tear-dimmed eyes, it was a vigil, loving and anxious, from which the relieving element of hope was gently fading away. By one supreme effort, as the upper light was breaking in upon the scene, he partly raised himself from his couch and threw his arms about the neck of his youngest son, David, and then the weary wheels of a long and useful life stood still forever.

Richard Johnson was born at Belfast Ireland, (a place noted for the number of business men of prominence it has given to the country) January 11, 1829. He was the eldest son of John and Margaret (Waring) Johnson. His father was a soap merchant and educated him with a view to a profession. But he preferred mercantile life, and went in the office of Mr. O'Neill Bayley, then of Belfast, later of Madison, with whom he served his time afterwards he went into the produce business on his own account. But in 1850 sold out and came to America at the age of twenty-one, first locating in New York, he traveled through the Western (part of article missing).. supply his immense factory, his discontinued the starch business and turned his attention to other enterprises. The immense Eagle Cotton Mills plant, formerly a Pittsburg institution, had located here and was being operated at a loss, tottering towards it downfall, when Mr. Johnson came to its rescue, throwing his energy and wealth into the breach, and saved the institution to Madison. Replacing the old machinery for the most modern inventions in all lines, he soon placed it on a paying basis, and for many years he has there given employment to hundreds of hands. This factory, with the Cordage Mill he later built down town, has given work to four or five hundred people the year around.

Mr. Johnson has rendered invaluable service to the city as President and director of the First National Bank of Madison. President and director of the Firemen and Mechanics' Insurance Co., President and director of the Madison Chautauqua Association, President and director of the Commercial Club, owner of the Indian Lumber Mill, President of Western Fire Co., part owner of Madison Packing Co., and in various other public and private enterprises intended for the building up of his adopted city and the welfare of his fellow citizens. These concerns must keenly realize the absence of his wise counsel and advice.

He was a regular attendant and liberal supporter of the Second Presbyterian church and aided all other churches and benevolent institutions with a free and generous hand. The hundreds of families who have found constant employment in his factories for so many years will feel that they have lost their best friend, whose memory will be cherished by them and their children as long as they shall live.

Mr. Johnson was three times married, and leaves a wife, who was a daughter of the late Richard Vawter. He also leaves ten grandchildren--Miss Jeannette, daughter of Hon. and Mrs. M. D. Wilson; David, Jr., Mildred, William, Albert and Richard (3), children of Hon. William J. Johnson; Richard Jr., Edith, Annie, Jr., and Louise, children of Councilman David Johnson.

His sons are honorable and active business men, William J. being vice president of the Eagle Cotton Mills and manager of the Cordage Works. David is a member of the Council from the First Ward, manager of the Eagle Mills and a director of the First National Bank. His son-in-law, Mr. Wilson, is bookkeeper for the Eagle Mills, and his grand sons, Richard and David, are assistants in the Cordage Works and Indian Lumber Mill.

Mr. Johnson in the past several years, until last year, has made annual visits to the Old World, always going to his native Belfast, which, next to Madison, was his favorite city. He is credited with having said to his friends that his trip year before last would be his last to Ireland.

The funeral will take place from the residence at two o'clock Sunday afternoon (part of article missing)...

Mr. Johnson's characteristics were energy and affection. He had Scotch industry and Irish warmheartedness. His attention to business made him an example to both youth and manhood. His kindness was great and universal. Friend, acquaintance and employee were bound to him by hooks of steel--constant, voluntary, spontaneous deeds and words of good will.

In his family relations his affections knew no bounds. He loved his own, he idolized them.

The death of such a man is a tremendous loss to a community. The financial, industrial and social worlds all feel it. The forces for good in Madison are weakened by the withdrawal of his strong arm and enlightened sympathy. Surely we must believe such an admirable character, such a lovable personality, does not go out into darkness and oblivion, but advances into a higher and nobler state.

The memory of Richard Johnson will long endure in Madison, and his example and notable career will continue to exercise a wholesome and beneficient influence.
29 March 1909
Laid to Rest in Springdale Cemetery

Thousands of the people of Madison turned out on Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to the memory of Richard Johnson, by universal consent the most enterprising and public spirited man the city has ever had. Early in the afternoon large crowds assembled at the residence and gathered on the street in the vicinity of the residence and at the church and cemetery. Mr. Frank P. Vail had charge as funeral director, and under his careful supervision every arrangement was complete. The house was banked with flowers and filled will members of the family and intimate friends. The remains were conveyed from the residence north on Vine street to Main, east on Main West street, and north on West street to the Second Presbyterian church, where the memorial services were held. The space in front of and surrounding the platform was decorated with flowers, rich, fragrant and beautiful, and the casket was blanketed with white roses.

As the funeral party entered the church an appropriate selection, low and sweet, was played by Miss Drake on the pipe organ. The pastor, Rev. R. F. Seuter, made a brief prayer. The choir--Mrs. Frederick Crozier, Miss Mame Glauber, Miss Blanche Matthews, Misses Alice and Ellan Kahn, Mr. George M. Daily and Mr. George H. Simpson--sang impressively, "Lead Kindly Light".

Mr. Souter read an appropriate Scripture lesson and then delivered a heart-warm eulogy, pointed and eloquent, on the worth of the departed to the community, tot he state, to the church, and to his home, and spoke of the irreparable loss to all these interest brought (remainder of article missing)
An article in the Madison Courier, dated 9 Apr 1910, regarding the magnificent Richard Johnson Monument . . .

"The work of building the Richard Johnson monument at Sprindgale cemetery has progressed very rapidly during the past week and is now almost completed.

The monument is of Gothic design, richly carved and stands on a foundation ten feet square. It rises to a total height of about thirty-five feet.

The material used in the monument throughout (except the Italian marble statuary) is the famous Barre granite from Vermont.

The transfer of these large massive blocks from the cards to the cemetery on a 60 ton truck, has been watch with much interest by hundred of Madison people.

The George Dodds & Sons Co. are the designers and contractors for this work and Messrs. G. F., J.C. and E. C. Dodds are here personally looking after the work. This firm is one of the oldest and largest in the United States and makes a specialty of large monuments and mausoleums and operate three plants in Ohio (Xenia, London and Ironton) and also have a large force of men at work at several of the important granite centers in New England, with Eastern offices at New York City and Washington, D.C.

The Johnson family memorial is a splendid example of their work and is considered on the finest in the West.

The picture shown is not an exact design, but will give a good idea of the style and beautiful proportions of the monument. We hope later to present to our readers an exact picture of his monument as it stands in Springdale Cemetery, a most appropriate memorial to Madison's leading citizens, who died a little over one year ago."

Family Members