Posted by: lafouch | December 24, 2009

The Holidays: Time for Families

Great-Grandaddy Johnson with me, my mother and Grandmother

The holiday season…a time for families. This picture is from my mother’s side of the family. It shows my Great-Grandfather (Papa) Johnson holding me, with my Mother and Grandmother standing by. I have a vague memory of going to see him at my Grandmother’s house, when he was bed-ridden shortly before he died.
My Great-Grandfather was Martin J. Johnson, a Hardware Merchandiser, who lived for a time at 321 Market Street in Paterson, New Jersey. He was born in 1854 (probably in or around Paterson).
Through his connections with people in construction, he became a member of the camping group that bought and developed the Hawthorne Park Club property in Sussex County. He built his summer home near the road and set a large stone chair up in the yard where he would sit and greet strangers who wandered into the property. His house had a grape arbor near the back door. I remember helping my moth
er make grape jam from the grapes that grew there…many years after he had died.
Martin married Lillie L. Vreeland. They had, I believe, three children. My grandmother Bertha Johnson, her brother Percy Johnson and another girl whose birth certificate I found. The name on the certificate is unclear. She was born on July 8th 1884 and must have died in childhood as I never heard my family speak of her.
My Great Grandmother died sometime after my grandmother and grandfather were married. I don’t have much direct knowledge about what she was like. I don’t remember my mother or grandmother speaking about her often. I know that she must have been very interested in the arts. My grandmother and grandfather went together for 7 years before she agreed that they could marry. She had really wanted my grandmother to become a concert pianist. My grandmother was given piano lessons by the foremost piano teacher in the area and was his star pupil, according to Carrie Berry who was also his student. (Carrie Berry became my grandmother-in-law years later.) My uncle was encouraged to become an artist and he did become a commercial artist.
While I can’t be sure, I do believe that she had help running her home. I know that my grandmother had help with the cooking for much of her married life. My mother gained some knowledge of what to do in the kitchen not from her mother but from her mother’s cook.

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