Friday, September 30, 2016

Samuel S. Johnson (1857-1905): Millionaire lumber man

The Johnson Family Mausoleum at Plot 11

Samuel Johnson was born in Malahide, Ontario, Canada on September 9, 1857. His family moved to Almont, Michigan when he was three years old. In 1879, he married Emma Almeda Gibbs with whom he had two sons, William and Samuel.

He came to Berkeley on a few years before his death in 1905 and established himself as a successful lumber man. Minneapolis millionaire J.H. Queal purchased the Scott & Van Aisdale lumber mills on the McCloud River in Siskiyou County and renamed them the McCloud Lumber Company. Queal made Johnson the president and general manager of the company, which was one of the largest on the West Coast.

The McCloud Lumber Company circa 1915

The McCloud Lumber Company circa 1915
At it's height, the McCloud River Lumber Company owned or controlled over 600,000 acres of timberland. The company had extensive logging operations that produced the logs needed to keep the sawmill running, along with an extensive railroad system connecting the woods operations with the mill. Some of the railroad system was owned and operated by the McCloud River Railroad Company, but the vast majority of the railroad operation were owned by the lumber company.

In July 1905, Johnson fell ill with Bright's disease, a condition involving chronic inflammation of the kidneys. Friends and business associates came from all over the country to be with him during his surgery and recovery, but he he died the following month. He is buried in the Johnson family mausoleum by the second fountain on Mountain View Cemetery's main road.

Sources: Meriam Library. California State University, Chico;; San Francisco Call

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