Information on a merchant

Per Johnson - c1875.

The subject was born in Sweden about 1825 (some papers state Denmark). He lived in Springfield with his wife Mary who was born c1830 in Ireland, and their children.

1860 July 12 - Census for Columbia shows P. Johnson as Saloon keeping age 35, of Sweden living with wife Mary Johnson of Ireland age 30. Children: Ellen age 12, Anna age 8, John age 3, Andreas age 1 and a boarder Charley Mckenna born in Ireland age 28. (relative of Mary's?)

1862 Per Johnson sued 8(+/-) miners for destroying his Springfield vineyard in search of gold.

1866 August 1 - Registered to vote in Columbia as Per Johnson, a miner of Springfield, nautralized (citizen of US) 8 July 1862 in California 5th J. Disctrict.

1869 Per Johnson's home was robbed of wine and other provisions from his cellar. So he set up a "trap" for the thieves. He rigged a loaded pistol at the door of his cellar. He forgot he had created the trap and was the first person through the door, thereby he "received the contents of the weapon in the pit of the stomach - the ball ranging downward past his groin." (Columbia Cemetery Tour by Patricia Yokum Perry)

1870 July 8 - Census for Columbia shows F.S. Johnson age 45 with wife Mary Age 44. Children: John age 13, Andrew Johnson age 11, Mary Johnson age 7.

Per Johnson's invention.

1870 December 6 - Per Johnson's patent for an improved, portable wood sawing machine, granted. Patent #109910

1878 October 19 - Over the years Per Johnson had been living in too much pain from the accidental shooting. He left three letters to friends asking for forgiveness and to be buried in Columbia. He then committed suicide by shooting himself on the road to Columbia, at Summit Pass. Two bullet holes were found in his breast; "it was assumed that he fired two shots - the first not having the desired effect, which was a few inches over the heart, he picked out the used ball, reloaded the pistol, and fired again, killing himself instantly." (Columbia Cemetery Tour by Patricia Yokum Perry)

One of many single shot small pistols of the era.

1878 October 21 - Toulumne County Coroner John Van Harlingen made this statement: " hereby certify, that I held an inquisition upon the body of Per Johnson, a native of Sweden, aged fifty-four years, at Columbia, on the 20th day of October, 1878. Verdict of the jury-death from gunshot wounds in left breast inflicted by his on(sic) hands voluntarily and deliberately, with a view to suicide. And I further certify, the body was taken charge of by his family."

1878 October 22 - Coroner's inquest conclusion: "His body was found about a mile and a half north of Columbia at Summit Pass. He had 1 bullet hole in his left breast, a single barrel 1 shot pistol (or derringer) was in his hand. On his person were found: 1 pair of eyeglasses, three $5 gold coins, $3 in silver coin, two 3 cent stamps, a penknife and an empty cartridge case. Three letters were found: 1 to his wife, Mary and daughter, Hellen Myers; 2 to citizens of Columbia (contents not revealed at this time). His family and son John Johnson claimed the body.

1881 Probate court cleared, Per Johnson owing $1575.00 to Edward Kiel. (1860 census shows Keil as a miner from Bavaria age 30 living in Sonora. 1871 Keil is mentioned with the Riffle Saloon. By 1880 census Keil was a saloon keeper. 1882 the Riverside [mine], located by Keltz and Keil in 1857, and which is being worked at various intervals, chiefly in exploration, but a very valuable property, something neglected.)

© Floyd D. P. Øydegaard -
Cemetery marker


Unless noted some information came from A History of Tuolumne Co.1882

Thanks to John Horton for much of the research on Per Johnson.

This page is created for the benefit of the public by

Floyd D. P. Øydegaard.

Email contact:
fdpoyde3 (at) Yahoo (dot) com
created for the visitors to the Columbia State Historic park.
© Columbia State Historic Park & Floyd D. P. Øydegaard.