Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

JAMES B. JOHNSTON. One of the well-known citizens of the north side in Springfield is James B. Johnston, the popular justice of the peace, who has been a citizen of Greene county for nearly thirty years. Over three decades of his life has been devoted to railroading on various roads and in various capacities, and for some time with the Frisco system, his last position being passenger conductor. He is a veteran of the Union army, having fought gallantly for his adopted country during its greatest crisis, although he was born under another flag. Since casting his lot among us he has been regarded as a good citizen in every respect.

Mr. Johnston was born in Toronto, Canada, September 4, 1841. He is a son of Benjamin and Ann (Davison) Johnston. The father was born in the same city and province, March 14, 1809, and the mother was born in Nova Scotia, May 30, 1813. They grew to maturity in their native Dominion and were educated in the common schools and married there, establishing their home in Toronto, where they lived until 1846, when they removed to Carroll county, Illinois, making the overland journey by team, after crossing the lake, and located on the wild prairie, where the father of our subject secured land, which he developed into a good farm, and there spent the rest of his life engaged in general farming. He learned to be a mechanic when young and worked at his trade for a number of years. His death occurred at Sterling, Illinois, February 3, 1873, and there the death of his wife occurred in July, 1890, having survived him seventeen years. They were the parents of nine children, three of whom are still living; they are: James B., of this review; Mary E., and Eugenia.

James B. Johnston was five years of age when his parents removed with him from his native province to Carroll county, Illinois, and there he grew to manhood on his father's farm, which he helped develop, and he received his education in the district schools in that neighborhood, later attending the Rock River Seminary in Ogle county, that state, and he was still a student in that institution when the Civil War broke out, and on November 5, 1861, he enlisted from Carroll county, in Company B, Seventh Illinois Cavalry, under Col. William Pitt Kellogg. Henry C. Forbes was the captain and Gen. Benjamin Grierson and he did a great deal of scouting and raiding, including the well known Grierson raid. He was discharged at Nashville, Tennessee, December 17, 1864, receiving an honorable discharge. He returned home at once, and later entered a commercial college in Chicago, where he spent one summer and remained in that city during the summer of 1865, and in September went home, remaining on the farm, and in February of 1867 went to Omaha, Nebraska, where he took a position as brakeman with the Union Pacific railroad, at which he worked until 1868, when he quit and went to Iowa, where he engaged in business for himself until 1874, when he took up railroading again and worked as brakeman, freight and passenger conductor on several different roads, and in 1886 he came to Springfield, Missouri, and went to work on the Ozark division of the old Kansas City, Ft. Scott & Memphis road, later worked for the Frisco. He continued railroading until the fall of 1898, when he was elected justice of the peace, and he has been re-elected three times, and is now serving his fourth term. His office is located at 212 1/2 East Commercial street, Springfield. That he has given the utmost satisfaction as a public servant is evident from the fact that he has been retained so long in office. His decisions have ever been noted for a clear conception of the law and for their uniform fairness to all parties concerned, and they have seldom met with reversal at the hands of higher tribunals.

Mr. Johnston was married twice, first on October 15, 1868, at Boone, Iowa, to Amelia L. Mastin, a native of Illinois, and to this union four children were born, all surviving at this writing, namely: Benjamin R., John D., Ida M. and Verde D. On January 15, 1889, our subject married Rebecea McRae, which union has been without issue.

Politically, Mr. Johnston is a Republican. He is a member of the McCroskey Post No. 210, Grand Army of the Republic, the Order of Railway Conductors and the Knights of Pythias.


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