William S. Johnson, of Garfield county, living on a ranch of one hundred and twenty acres fourteen and one-half miles southwest of New Castle, is a self-made man and one of the most enterprising, progressive and successful young ranchmen of the Western slope in this state, and one of its most representative citizens. It was on a farm near Mt. Vernon, Missouri, that his life began, and the date of his birth was May 2, 1864. He is the son of Larkin and Rosella (Blackburn) Johnson, natives of eastern Tennessee who located in Missouri early in their married life, and there passed the remainder of their days farming and raising stock, the leading pursuits of the section in which they lived, the father also was a devoted and loyal Democrat, taking an active part in public affairs in a local way. Of their nine children, a daughter named Laura is deceased and the other eight are living. They are: Louise, wife of William Colley, of Lawrence county, Missouri; Hugh, of Shawnee, Indian Territory; Sarah, wife of James Colley, of Lawrence county, Missouri; Joseph, of New Mexico; William, the subject of this sketch; Thomas L. and Florida, wife of Jefferson Steele, both of Lawrence county, Missouri; and John, of Mam [probably Mamm] creek, Colorado. William received a scant education at the common schools and also attended for a short time the Baptist College at Pierce City, in his native state. He also pursued a thorough course at a good business college. He remained at home and worked in the interest of his parents until he reached his twenty-third year. In the spring of 1888 he came to Colorado and for eight months worked in the employ of Austin & Toland, then of William L. Smith, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this volume, with whom he remained eight years. In 1897 he purchased of Jack Cunningham eighty acres of land, and has since taken up forty acres additional adjoining his purchase. Of the whole tract one hundred and twenty acres are naturally tillable, and on these he raises good crops of cereals, hay, vegetables, and also produces cattle in good numbers. His vegetables have an especially high rank in the markets, his potatoes being the largest grown in the state. He is now under contract to raise two thousand pounds of this vegetable for exhibition at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis in 1904. His ranch is well supplied with water and he furnishes the brain and a good portion of the brawn necessary for its successful cultivation. In national politics Mr. Johnson is a faithful Democrat, but in local affairs his interest in the general welfare of the community overbears all party considerations. On October 31, 1900, he was married to Miss Nora Steward, a native of Lawrence county, Missouri, where her parents James and Elizabeth (Allen) Stewart, the former a native of that state and the latter of Tennessee, lived many years engaged in successful farming and stock-growing, and where the father is now living, the mother having died on February 19, 1892. Of their ten children seven survive her, Hiram, Obe, Benjamin (of Bisbee, Arizona), John (of Garfield county, Colorado), Annie and Jennie (of Garfield county, Colorado), and Mrs. Johnson, who shares in the aspirations and enterprises of her husband, and is a cheerful and inspiring aid and encouragement in his progress and success.
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.