Bennie Johnson and his brothers
(Donald's father and paternal uncles)
Top left: The Johnson brothers, left to right: Bennie, George, John, in November 1892.
Top right: John Johnson, with bicycle, 1892.
Bottom left: George and Bennie, tintype, 1898. Unfortunately, this photo is very badly damaged.
Bottom right: The Johnson brothers, left to right: John, George and Bennie, 1898.
Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:
"Pa was tall and thin and his brother John was short and stocky, more like a German. Pa could lick his brother until John got a growing spurt and could handle Pa. John said, 'Never again are you going to lick me.' After a little, Pa got a growing spurt and again he could lick John, and could do it ever after." [2.3-5]
"One fall, Pa and his two brothers, George and John, went to northern Wisconsin and worked in a logging camp for the winter. His brothers were older and more experienced and got jobs as sawyers, cutting trees with a crosscut saw. Pa was only a swamper -- they cut roads for the teams to haul the logs out on and leveled the bumps with an axe and grub hoe." [2.2-6]
"They slept in a log building that had been built that fall from green logs and it was cold and damp all winter. Pa got catarrh real bad, but his brother swabbed out his throat with some medicine every day and he survived the winter. [2.3-1]
"They had pancakes for breakfast every morning and when they went in to eat, there would be big pans of pancakes already on the table. Pa discovered that the teamsters were in a big hurry and had to get their horses on the road, so they soon gobbled up all the cold pancakes. If he ate slowly he would soon get hot ones right from the griddle. [2.3-2]
"He said he heard that it got 60 below zero there that winter. The men weren't supposed to wear coats while working; they were supposed to work to keep warm. He had a wool mackinaw coat and put it on under his bib overall. It looked like a heavy shirt or jacket and he got by with that. [2.3-3]
"In the spring he worked in a sawmill in LaCrosse, piling green lumber from the saw. They had to pile it as fast as it came from the saw, and most new men lasted only one day on that job; they were too stiff and sore to get out of bed the next day. Pa hardened in, though, and stayed on the job. [2.3-4]