Wednesday, July 5, 2017

John Johnson

These are some notes from our visit with Duane and Shirley Johnson on their farm in Lafayette, Colorado, July 4, 2017.

Duane and Shirley have an upstairs room with exercise equipment and a wall of framed pictures of family members, mostly old photos.  One unframed oval-shaped convex is of a family with parents and eleven children.  I learned it was Duane father's family.  His father is one of the twin boys, Rodie and Ray; it could be Roderick and Raymond.  There were two older boys and one younger.  The oldest, Duane says, died in the Great War.  The next oldest is John, called Johnny, the same as his father John Johnson, who emigrated from Scotland, east side, about 1860, to Ontario, Canada.  He and his wife Jessie probably moved to North Dakota soon after.  All the children were born in North Dakota.

We are most familiar with the farm of Don and Amy McLeod which was just about a half mile south of the Ralph and Ellen Cameron farm on the Ayr/Argusville Road.  Rodie, Duane's father farmed this place and Duane and his siblings, Dallas and Amy, were born and raised there.  Grandfather John originally farmed a piece about four miles east of Rodie's farm on the corner of the Ayr/Argusville Road and the road to Erie.  One of the other brothers, Ray or Johnny, took over farming this piece and the other had a farm north of that corner.  Farming in the early thirty was very difficult with poor prices on farm products and very poor weather.  One of the farms was purchased from an individual who patiently waited maybe as much as a decade when crops were better to get paid.  Duane called him a wonderful man, someone who lived in Fargo.

It seems that none of them were very good farmers.  Ray moved to Mayville after losing his farm and managed a gas station.  Years later Rodie also moved to Mayville.  Ray and Rodie as twins were very close and so Rodie was very disturbed when Ray moved to Montana shorter after Rodie moved to Mayville.  Johnny also left the farm and moved to Mayville.

In 1925 Johnny married Francis McLean and in 1928 Rodie married her sister Mary.  Francis and Mary are sisters of Margaret Ellen McLean who married Ralph Cameron who were the parents of Gail Cameron Saxowsky.

Duane didn't say much about his aunts, the sisters of his father Rodie, except that several moved to California after they married.

Duane attended Ayr High School and earned a degree in mathematics at Mayville State Teachers College, now called Mayville State University.  He earned a Masters in mathematics at North Dakota State University and taught at Hamline University and Dickinson State Teachers College.  He joined the air force at the age of 19 and after taking a class was assigned to teach the class.  (I can't remember what he taught.  Something to do with repairing military radios if I heard correctly.)  At age 29 he moved to Colorado where he met Shirley (Rowden), the administrator in the math department at CU, whom he married the next year.  He also adopted her three children by an earlier husband: Jim, another son whose name I don't remember and Terri, the youngest, born in 1958.  Duane and Shirley have one grandchild.

Duane taught at the university for awhile and then worked for IBM for about 12 years.  After he retired he started sharpening knives at farmer's markets until it grew into business with persons sharpening about four sites two days a week for six months each year.  Many of the sharpening tools he created and built himself.  Shirley worked with him for years before the sharpening business selling the produce they raised on their farm.  The farm was a part of the land her great-grandfather accumulated after he came and homesteaded in 1860.  Their house is the expansion after three major remodeling of the farmhouse built in about 1916 and was adjacent to her mother's house.

More later.

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