Mr. and Mrs. Swan Johnson and Their Descendants

[ 1 ]

Swan John­son was born in Walby near Cim­br­isham, Swe­den, Feb­ru­ary 28, 1826. His mother died a few years later and his father mar­ried again. There were sev­eral other sons in the fam­ily, broth­ers and step­broth­ers. As Swan grew up he learned the car­pen­ter trade, spe­cial­iz­ing in mill work, build­ing and main­tain­ing the old type mills with their upper and nether mill­stones which were then in use.

In 1853 Swan John­son was mar­ried to Kjer­stin Vester­son, of Wiby, Swe­den, and as Kjer­stin was the old­est of the liv­ing chil­dren, they lived in her home and took care of her mother for four­teen years. Six of their chil­dren were born there — Thilda, Peter, John, Nels, Ida and Eric. They were a sav­ing and indus­tri­ous fam­ily. Mr. John­son was always busy and received good wages, and they pros­pered there, but seek­ing bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ties for their already large fam­ily, they immi­grated to Amer­ica in May 1868, locat­ing at and liv­ing in Chicago for two years. Here another son was born, William, on Jan­u­ary 30, 1870. Leav­ing Chicago they moved to Bement, Piatt County, Illi­nois, where Mr. John­son worked eight years for a wealthy landowner, William Vorhies, elect­ing and main­tain­ing the improve­ments on his numer­ous farms. Three more chil­dren were born to them at Bement — Vic­tor, Oscar and Ellen.

Con­sid­er­ing that the West offered bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ties for expan­sion and edu­ca­tion, Mr. John­son, with­out see­ing it, bought a farm where Salem Church and Vil­lage of the same name is now located in Nebraska, west of Methodist Look­ing Glass Church. In 1878 they loaded their belong­ings into four cov­ered wag­ons drawn by horses, left Bement and steered their course west­ward toward the new land of promise. John and Jim Atkins and Hans John­son (my father) helped drive the teams. They brought a good milk cow with them so as to have milk for the fam­ily on the long jour­ney. They also brought a Singer sewing machine with them which was very use­ful in later years. The Atkins boys brought a “dresser” along which the John Atkins later used. Mother stated that they enjoyed the long trip across Illi­nois, Iowa and into Nebraska, as the weather and roads were fine, and all kinds of fruit, fowl, meat and veg­eta­bles were avail­able. Every day was a pic­nic, as they did not hurry, and would “stop” a day or two at pleas­ant camp­ing places.

They crossed the Mis­souri River on a ferry at Plattsmouth. The coun­try here looked too rough so they con­tin­ued the trip in search of smoother land and rolling prairies. Mr. John­son inspected the land as they pro­gressed, and many pleas­ant mem­o­ries linger in the minds of the chil­dren of this pro­tracted and won­der­ful trip.

They stopped at Colum­bus a few days, then moved on into Nance County, locat­ing tem­porar­ily near the Postof­fice at Keatsko­toos, just over the line in Platte County, where they rented a house from Lafayette Ander­son about one and a half miles east of Genoa. Here they lived about eigh­teen months.

[ 2 ]

Mr. John­son bought a farm of four hun­dred acres, one and one-half miles west of Genoa and here they built their home, the largest and best in that part of the coun­try, with cat­tle and horse barn, gra­naries, corn cribs, chicken house, ice house, smoke house, well and deep cave. They set out a large orchard, layed out a 1arge gar­den and oth­er­wise improved the place.

Grand­mother always had a drove of turkeys, geese, ducks and chick­ens, as well as a large gar­den where all types of veg­eta­bles were raised for sum­mer and win­ter use. The late sum­mers were always busy with cook­ing and stir­ring the large cop­per ket­tles while mak­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of apple, plum, peach and goose­berry jams and jel­lies, together with pick­les and rel­ish. Of course water­mel­ons and muskmel­ons (did not know about can­taloupes in those days) were a favorite with every­body, espe­cially on Sun­day after­noons. In the spring beef and hogs were butchered and smoked or salted for sum­mer use. Sausage was made, fried and packed in stone jars, and the cave was always well stocked with food of all types.

In addi­tion to farm­ing those 400 acres, of the home place they also, for some years, farmed the place at Salem Church. Later Mr. John­son dis­posed of it. He also built many of the homes, stores, and the Con­gre­ga­tional Church at Genoa.

Min­nie was born at Keatsko­toos, and Mary at the home west of Genoa.

Swan John­son passed away Jan­u­ary 26, 1894 from a heart attack at his home one and one-half miles west of Genoa, Nebraska, and was laid to rest at the Genoa, Nebraska Val­ley View ceme­tery. Will John­son took over and oper­ated the farm for two years and at the end of that time — the fall of 1896 — had a sale and dis­posed of all the farm live­stock, machin­ery and incidentals.

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