There is something commanding respect and honor in the personal appearance of a man, and if to that is added a character of sterling worth we have a gentleman of whom any community is proud and does well to place in the foremost ranks of representative citizens. That is what we have in Oscar A. Johnston, dealer in hardware in Irwin, Cal. A man of powerful frame, large and generous-hearted, he has made his way to the top by an integrity of character, skill and native genius that have been the admiration of all who know him.

Mr. Johnston was the fourth of six children namely: Amanda, Mrs. Bjork, Sweden; Edward, who died single in Denver, Colo., 1910; Carl, who died single in Calexico, Cal.; Albert Oscar, our subject; Leonard F., a rancher in Irwin; Theodore, still in Sweden.

The son of Johanas and Anna Charlotte Johnson, he was born in Jan Kjoping, Sweden, April 24, 1871. His early education was obtained largely in the shop of his father, who was a blacksmith; it was there he got the principles of iron-working which made him an expert machinist. He was brought up and instructed in the faith of the Swedish Lutheran Church and passed his confirmation. Then, like all aspiring youths of red blood he began to think of what he was going to do in the world. His eyes were turned to the New World beyond the sea; accordingly on March 27, 1888, he embarked at Gottenberg on the Cunard line for England and after eight days in Liverpool he set out again for America and arrived in New York in April, 1888. His seventeenth birthday was passed on the train on the way from Chicago to Waverly, Nebr., where he found employment with his uncle, for whom he worked five years. With his earnings he was able to buy a threshing outfit, which he ran with unprecedented success. Being a natural machinist, he was able, not only to repair machinery of all kinds, but to make the tools to do it with, and he ran a whole season without losing more than an hour on account of a breakdown. For eight years he carried on this business threshing thousands of bushels of wheat, and he had a corn-sheller with a capacity of a thousand bushels an hour.

In May, 1902, he came out to the Hilmar Colony in California and bought 160 acres of land for himself and brother, who is living on that land. On December 1, 1906, he came to Turlock and engaged in farming and blacksmithing. He also had a blacksmith shop in connection with his farm for some years in Irwin. When he came to Irwin he sold part of his 160 acres to his brother and improved the rest of the farm with buildings. In 1918 he entered the hardware business in Irwin and built the A. O. Johnston brick block, 50x75 feet and further improved his sixty-acre farm; later he built a frame addition of the same dimensions, making a fine business block.

On February 6, 1915, he was married to Miss Hulda B. Anderson, a native of Minnesota and daughter of A. T. Anderson, now living in Irwin. There are two children of this union, Freda Olivia and Veda Evelyna, pupils in the Hilmar School. Mr. and Mrs. Johnston are both members of the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church. The name was originally Johnson but was changed to Johnston on account of confusion of names in the postoffice.

Mrs. Johnston's parents, A. T. Anderson and Hannah (Nelson) Anderson, were married in Minnesota and were farmers at Eagle Bend, Minn. They came to California in 1912. They had two children, Hulda Beatta, now Mrs. Johnston, and Nels T., who served in France, was wounded and honorably discharged. The Andersons own a farm of twenty acres near Irwin. Mrs. A. T. Anderson was born in Sweden in 1867 and came to America when she was eleven years old.

History of Merced County California With a Biographical Review OF The Leading Men and Woman of the County Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from Early Days to the Present

Author: John Outcalt (1925)
Johnston, Albert Oscar page: 600

Contributed by: Alma Stone