JOHNSON, John F. C.

From Islapedia

JOHNSON, John Frederick Carl (1830-1893), was the fourth child of Claus Johansen (1792-1874) and Magdalene Christine Wilhelmine Hartvigsen (1783-1963) of Heswig, Denmark. John and his brother, Charles Johnson (b. 1834), were early Santa Catalina Island squatters. As a young seaman, John left Denmark, becoming captain of his own ship at age 19. He arrived in the U.S. in 1849, and in San Pedro, CA in 1852. John F. C. Johnson moved to Santa Catalina Island in about 1853. A decade later it was reported that by 1863 Johnson had 200 head of cattle on the island. John met Iowa-born Martha Bennett, and they were married on October 18, 1868 in San Bernardino, CA when John was 38 years old and Martha was 20. Their first of eight children was born on April 30, 1869, six months later. The couple lived at Johnson's Landing, Santa Catalina Island and raised sheep. In 1869-1870 there was a drought on the island and only 4 inches of rain. In 1870 there was 7 inches of rain. Johnson brought the sheep back to San Bernardino. 4,000 sheep survived out of the original 20,000. Martha and their first-born child, born on the island, baby Josie, rode astride a mattress in a small boat from the island. The Johnsons had eight children in all. In 1880 John became Justice of the Peace in San Pedro. He had a membership in the Riverside Lodge #120 A.O.U.W. [Ancient Order of United Workmen]. In 1893 John F. C. committed suicide. In 1898, his widow, Martha, married Joseph Thomas Swope (1858-1910). She died the same year as her second husband. John F. C. Johnson is buried in Wilmington Cemetery.


John [Johan] Frederick Carl Johnson [J.F.C.] (1830-1893) = [10/18/1868] Martha Bennett (1848-1910)

  • 1. Josephine Anges Johnson (1869-1926) born on Santa Catalina Island = [1888] Daniel Davies
  • 2. Lilian Rose Johnson (1870-1902)
  • 3. Ella Marian Johnson (1871-1957) = Guy Lillie
  • 4. George B. Johnson (1876-1917)
  • 5. Eva May Johnson (1881-1946)
  • 6. John Godfrey Johnson (1883-1996)
  • 7. Edgar Louis Johnson (1884-1963)
  • 8. Martha ‘Marcia’ Cecilia Johnson (1889-1965) = [1910] Willis B. Hewitt



In the News~

December 5, 1857 [Los Angeles Star]: “NAMES and DESCRIPTION OF PROPERTY... Johnson & Brother. House and imps. on Santa Catalina.”


November 24, 1857 [Los Angeles Star]: “DELINQUENT TAX LIST For the State and County for the Year 1860... Johnson, John F. C., Santa Catalina; impts. on Santa Catalina.”


May 27, 1858 [DAC]: “Los Angeles, May 24, 1858. Considerable anxiety is felt here to learn the fate of Captain Morton and the schooner Laura Bevan. He sailed from San Pedro a month ago, with freight for San Buenaventura, and ballast, intending to take a cargo of asphalt from Santa Barbara. Since that day there has been no trace of him... The day he sailed there was a heavy northwester, and the sea higher at Catalina than for a long time previously. It is feared he may have been swamped in that gale... There were eleven persons on board, several of whom belonged to the ship, and whose names can be ascertained at the office in San Francisco. One of the brothers Johnson, the oldest, for several years a resident of Catalina Island, was a passenger. There were three other passengers...”


June 2, 1858 [Nevada Democrat]: “Shipwreck and loss of life,—By the steamer Senator the painful intelligence was received of the probable loss of the schooner Laura Bevan, with 11 persons on board, who are all believed to have perished at sea. The vessel sailed from San Pedro more than a month ago, for San Buenaventura with a very small freight. The day after she left, there was a heavy gale, and the schooner has never been heard of since her departure. Subsequently, some hatches, recognized as belonging to the schooner, came ashore at the Malagro Rancho, 40 miles northward of San Pedro; and the steamer Senator, on its passage up, picked up some doors, etc., which are said to have belonged to the Laura Bevan, and brought them to San Francisco. There is little room for doubt, therefore that the schooner swamped, and that all on board perished. The vessel was commanded by Captain Morton, said to have been almost careful and competent seaman. The oldest of the brothers Johnson, for a long time a resident of Catalina Island, was on board, and missing with the others.”


August 7, 1877 [SBMP]: “An Island Sheep Range. Los Angeles Star. A private letter received from Mr. J. C. Johnson, of Santa Catalina Island, states that he has secured a lease for twenty-five years from the Mexican Government of one of the Socorro Islands, situated about one thousand miles south of San Pedro, and three hundred miles west from the Mexican Coast. He intends using the island as a sheep pasturage, the first shipment of two hundred head having just been successfully landed. The schooner Surprise, which is used in the transportation of the sheep, will leave Santa Catalina again in a day or two with the second installment of two hundred head, and will continue her trips until some fifteen hundred sheep are landed on the island. The feed is reported to be luxuriant, and the enterprise of Mr. Johnson promises to be eminently successful.”


March 23, 1893 [LAT]: “Stopped by death. Justice J.F.C. Johnson of Wilmington, the guardian of the person and estate of Eddie Anderson, a minor, was to have appeared in the Probate Court yesterday morning in response a citation requiring him to render an account of his guardianship, a petition having been presented for his removal on behalf of his ward who nominated Peter L. Iverson, but when the matter was called for hearing the court was informed that Johnson had committed suicide a few hours earlier, and the matter was passed temporarily without action.”


March 23, 1893 [LAT]: “Shot himself. Suicide of Justice of the Peace J. Johnson at San Pedro: J.M.S. (sic) Johnson, one of the oldest residents of the county and Justice of the Peace at San Pedro, committed suicide yesterday morning by shooting himself through the head. Mr. Johnson was highly respected in the community in which he lived, a fact that is attested to by his fourteen years service as local justice in that place. No cause is assigned for the act, except that it is supposed that the deceased had become involved in financial difficulties, and, being unable to tide over his troubles, decided to end his life. Justice Johnson was guardian of the person and estate of Eddie Anderson, a minor. He was cited yesterday to appear in the Probate Court to make an accounting of his guardianship, a petition having been offered the court by parties interested, asking that he be discharged from the office of guardian, and that Peter L. Iverson be substituted in his place. When the matter was called in Department Two, Mr. Johnson was not present, and shortly afterward it was learned that he had committed suicide a few hours previous. Whether or not his difficulties were in connection with the estate is not know as yet. The Coroner's jury returned a verdict of death from a pistol wound inflicted with suicidal intent.”


An Associated Press dispatch from San Pedro last evening gives the following additional details of the tragedy: “This community was startled yesterday morning when a message was received from Wilmington that Judge J.F.C. Johnson, for many years Judge of San Pedro and Wilmington courts, had committed suicide by shooting himself. The facts as learned are as follows: About 9 o'clock Wednesday morning Judge Johnson left his home and went to the barn adjoining to hitch up his horse. A few moments later a pistol shot was heard by his daughter, who immediately ran to the barn, where she was horrified on finding her father lying on the floor with a bullet wound in his head. A doctor was summoned, but his services were of no avail. The suicide's death was almost instantaneous. The ball entered the right temple, coming out back of the left ear. At present no motive can be assigned as to the cause. Judge Johnson was 65 years of age, an able magistrate and highly respected by all.”


Johnson’s Landing, Santa Catalina Island (Johnson’s Cove), the original name for Emerald Bay, was named for early island resident squatters, brothers John F. C. Johnson and [James] Charles Johnson. John had moved to the island in about 1853. When James Lick acquired all the interests in the island between 1864 and 1867, he evicted squatters. Samuel Prentiss lived at Johnson’s Landing until his death and burial there in 1856. » Emerald Bay, Santa Catalina Island



In the News~

1853 [LASTAR]: “Dissolution of Copartnership. The copartnership hitherto existing between A. W. Timm, and J. F. M. Johnson, as Commission and Forwarding Merchants, at San Pedro, is this day dissolved by mutual consent. A.W. Timm will carry on the business on his own account. April 2, 1853.”


November 24, 1860 [LAStar]: “Delinquent Tax List for the State and County for the Year 1860: Johnson, John F. C. Santa Catalina; impts on Santa Catalina.“