Biography of William Mindred Johnson of Bergen County

William Mindred Johnson is one of the most prominent lawyers of Bergen County, N. J., and since 1895 has represented that county in the State Senate. He comes from distinguished families, his father being Hon. Whitfield Schaeffer Johnson, Secretary of State of New Jersey from 1861 to 1866, and his mother Ellen, daughter of Enoch Green, granddaughter of John Green, and sister of Hon. Henry Green, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. His paternal grandparents were John Jolinson and Maria C. Schaeffer. His paternal great-grandfather was Captain Henry Johnson, a Quartermaster in the Continental Army. Hon. Whitfield Schaeffer Johnson, father of the subject of this article, was eminent in the State of New Jersey, alike as a leading lawyer, a leader of the Republican party, and as a public man. He was born in Newton, Sussex County, November 14, 1866, read law in Newark with Chief Justice Joseph C. Hornblower, and came to the New Jersey bar in 1828. For many years he was a successful lawyer in Newton, and for some time served as Prosecutor of the Please of Sussex County. In 1861 he was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Olden and served until 1866, and in 1867 he was made register in bankruptcy. He died in Trenton on the 24th of December, 1874; his wife’s death occurred there September 16, 1894.

William M. Johnson was born in Newton, Sussex County, N. J., December 2, 1847, and received his preparatory education at the Newton Collegiate Institute and the State Model School at Trenton. He was graduated from Princeton College with honor, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1867. Subsequently, he also received the degree of Master of Arts from the same institution. Mr. Johnson read law in Trenton with the late Hon. Edward W. Scudder until the latter’s appointment to the bench, and afterward in the same city with Garret D. W. Vroom, now and for several years State Law Reporter, and was admitted to the bar of New Jersey at Trenton in June, 1870, as an attorney, and in June, 1873, as a counselor. As a member of the firm of Klugman & Johnson he successfully practiced his profession in Trenton from 1870 to December, 1874, when he moved to Hackensack, Bergen County, where he has since resided, becoming one of the recognized leaders of the Bergen County bar. In connection with an extensive legal business, and as a progressive, public spirited, and liberal-minded citizen, he has achieved a wide reputation and an honorable standing throughout the State. He is one of the most conspicuous figures in the public and political life of his section. He has appeared in a large number of very important cases, and is universally regarded as one of the ablest and most talented lawyers of the county, eminent in the profession, and remarkably successful as an advocate and counselor. His sound judgment, his integrity, his broad legal attainments, and his fine sense of honor as a man have won for him the confidence of not only his clients, but of the entire community, in an unusual degree.

He is also one of the influential leaders of the Republican party in the State, having served on the Republican State Committee in 1884, and being a delegate to the Republican National Convention at Chicago in 1888. In the autumn of 1895 he was nominated and elected State Senator from Bergen County for a term of three years, and so ably and satisfactorily did he discharge the duties of that office that in 1898 he was re-elected for a second term of three years. He has been active in proposing and shaping legislation in the interest of the taxpayers of both the State and his district, and has served as Chairman of the Committees on Appropriations, State Library, and the Judiciary and as a member of the Committees on Boroughs and Townships and State Hospitals. In 1898 and 1899 he was the leader of his party on the floor of the Senate. He was the first Republican senator ever elected in Bergen County, and received 6,287 votes in 1895 and 6,999 in 1898; these facts speak volumes for the popularity, the confidence, and the esteem in which he is held by his fellow citizens, while his re-election by an increased vote attests the satisfaction he has rendered in this important trust. In 1900 he was elected President of the New jersey Senate and became Acting Governor during the absence of Governor Voorhees in Europe in May, 1900, and in August of the same year he was appointed by President McKinley First Assistant Postmaster-General of the Untied States, vice Perry S. Heath resigned.

Senator Johnson has also been prominent in the local affairs and public interests of Hackensack, where he has so long resided. He has held various town offices, has served on the Hackensack Board of Education, and has taken for many years a deep interest in the development of the public school system. “The Johnson Public Library,” costing nearly $50,000, was erected in 1900 by Mr. Johnson, at his own expense, and presented by him to the Town of Hackensack. Outside of the lines of his profession he has been eminently successful in the management of a number of business interests. He was one of the original organizers and founders of the Hackensack Bank, and has served upon its directorate continuously from its organization to the present time. He is also President of the Hackensack Trust Company. He is likewise a prominent member and one of the officers of the Second Reformed Church of Hackensack, while he is also a member of the Iritani Field Club, the North Jersey Country Club, the Hamilton Club, the Lawyers’ Club, and the Princeton Club of New York. In every capacity and relation in life Senator Johnson has exhibited consummate ability, a broad and liberal knowledge, and a commendable public spirit and enterprise. Privately he is possessed of scholarly attainments, and is universally respected for those virtues which make up the loyal friend and honest man.

He was married October 22, 1872, to Maria E., daughter of William White, of Trenton, N. J. Their eldest son, Walter Whitfield Johnson, died March 16, 1891, aged sixteen. The other two, who are living, are George White Johnson and William Kempton Johnson.

Source: Harvey, Cornelius Burnham, Editor; Genealogical History of Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey, New York: The New Jersey Genealogical Publishing Company, 1900.

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