George E. Johnson, obituary.

Early newspapers very often had brief mentions of visitors coming into town and residents and others who left. There may even be who the person visited and why they were in town. It was known that Elizabeth had hitched up the horses to take ill George to Prescott for treatment for an unknown illness. It was a long shot that I would find mention of them coming into Prescott. I was lucky and thus substantiated information that the family thought was true from statements made by family members, who either remembered or information that had been told to them by someone who had lived through the event.

The first mention of George was in a column titled “Thursday”: “The funeral of the late Geo. E. Johnson took place today from the residence, on South Montezuma street.” The paper, The Weekly Arizona Miner is published on Fridays so his death was probably on Wednesday as the family believed. In the next column more information is learned: “A Mr. Johnson, resident of Bill Williams’ Mountain, died in Prescott last night, of heart disease. He leaves a wife and five children.” His wife and children were not mentioned by name. However, we know that at this time the couple did have five children and a sixth was on his way, as a son was born in March, 1882.

The Citizen Cemetery in Prescott was began in 1864, however, no grave has been found there. That does not mean there wasn’t one as Elizabeth may not have had the means to buy a headstone so the grave location is unknown. Or, did she take his body back to their ranch and bury him or to the cemetery at Simms’ Camp? Simms’ Construction Camp sprang up as a place to house the workers building the railroad in Johnson Canyon. In the Weekly Arizona Miner, 2/3/1882 two men who killed each other were buried nearby. It is reported that old maps show several graves, but there is only one headstone that remains today. (Weintraub, 2005, revised paper, “The Johnson Canyon Abandoned Railroad Grade: A History of 9.3 Miles of Treacherous Railroading in Northern Arizona”, pgs. 11-13)

It was known that twice a year George would make a trip to Prescott for supplies. The exact months are unknown but it is very likely that I will find something mentioned about his visits with a tedious search of the newspapers for the years from 1876 (the family arrived in late 1875 so his first trip to Prescott would not have been to after that) to several months prior to his death in November 1881. If I am successful in finding mention of his supply runs into Prescott, I may find other information about him, also.

This information helps substantiate information from the family about George’s death in Prescott. Only time and more research will tell what other information can be found about Johnson and his sheep ranch near Johnson Canyon.

Our Wool Industry – Papers in Northern Arizona have been very generously giving Northern Arizona credit for having 150,000 head of sheep. They could have made the number 350,000 head, and still have been below the mark. Recently C. P. Head & Co., through their agent, Hon. Hugo Richards, shipped from Holbrook, per Atlantic and Pacific R. R, 19 cars of wool weighing 300,000 pounds. This is the largest shipment ever made from Arizona, and reminds us very forcibly that a woolen factory should be established here, and thus save the exporting of wool and the importing of woolen goods. With a Territory of 40,000 white inhabitants and as many more Indians, we cannot but conceive that the establishing of a woolen factory would pay beyond calculation. Some of the finer woolen fabrics might be brought in from States, but such goods as the miner, teamster and laboring man requires, together with blankets of all grades, could be manufactured in Arizona at a great saving. We earnestly call the attention of outside capitalist to this rare chance for investment.

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