Walter Johnson - 1925 Cincinnati article

This article was found in a scrapbook by Walter Johnson's grandson, Henry Thomas. It seems to have appeared in a Cincinnati newspaper in about 1925.

Johnson Tribe Not from Sweden, But from Ohio

Family of Famous Senator Hurler
Prominent in and Near Cincinnati

Pitcher's Great Uncle Was Assistant Postmaster Here

Walter Johnson, famous pitcher for the Washington Senators, of the American league, is not an immediate son of Sweden, as the sport writers have claimed. His family has, for about a hundred years, been prominent in and near Cincinnati, and not in or near Stockholm.

Johnson's grandfather, Nathaniel Johnson, was a resident near Bethel, Ohio, 70 or more years ago, and was well known in business and social circles in Cincinnati. The baseball star's granduncles were merchants in Cincinnati, and owned a large wholesale hardware store on Pearl Steet. Of them, William C. Johnson became assistant postmaster of Cincinnati under the Fleischmann administration, a score of years ago, was president of the Board of Public Service and instrumental in establishing many large Cincinnati improvements. He also was commander-in-chief of the G. A. R. His son, Parke Johnson, who died a few years ago, was one of the younger leaders in the Republican party of Hamilton county, and a powerful orator. Although comparatively a young man when he died, Parke Johnson was a seasoned veteran of political campaigns and the idol of the younger Republicans. G. B. Johnson, another Cincinnati grand-uncle of the Washington hurler, was for 16 years cashier of the Methodist Book Concern and a leader in many worthy affairs in Cincinnati.

Not in the sense of indignation do the Johnsons set forth disclaimers regarding the story of the pitcher's reported Swedish extraction. They are of American pioneer sources and naturally they are proud of it. Perhaps, far back in the centuries, the early Johnsons were of the Northern stock, in common with so many of the illustrious families of England and Scotland and America. G. B. Stewart of 167 Salem avenue, Dayton, O., a cousin of Walter Johnson, in a letter to the Times-Star, describes the family. He writes:

"Am snatching a few moments to give you a little 'dope' on my cousin, Walter Johnson, now famous as the pitcher for the 'Senators.' Walter Johnson is not a Swede. The Johnsons were prominent in and near Cincinnati. Walter's grandfather (my mother's brother) originally lived near Bethel, Clermont county, Ohio, and did business in Cincinnati 60 to 70 years ago, possibly longer. John Johnson, great-grandfather of Walter Johnson, had four sons and two daughters. Nathaniel was the oldest son and the grandfather of Walter. They were neighbors and close friends of the Grants -- Ulysses, Civil war general and President of the United States; Archie, etc. Nathaniel Johnson moved to Urbana, O., to a farm. He had five sons.1 Later to provide as many farms as there were sons, he moved to Kansas. Frank Johnson, one of the five sons became the father of Walter Johnson, and Frank was the only one Of the sons who remained a farmer.

"Walter went from a minor team in California direct to a major league team, the Washingtons, about 18 years ago. Previous to their Ohio beginnings tbe Jobnsons were old Pennsylvania Dutch."

1 See the 1880 census record for Nathaniel's family.
This page was last updated 7 Oct 2003.