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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Johnson, John Anders 1832 - 1901


businessman, manufacturer, philanthropist, b. Eck, Norway. He migrated to the U.S. and to Wisconsin with his family in 1844, settling on a farm near Whitewater. In 1852 the family moved to Pleasant Springs in Dane County. A Republican, Johnson was state assemblyman (1857), county clerk of Dane County (1861-1869), and state senator (1873-1874). He was president of Fuller & Johnson Co., manufacturers of farm machinery (1882-1901), and in 1889 established the Gisholt Machine Co. of Madison, which was named for one of his boyhood homes in Norway. He was president of this firm from 1889 until his death. Johnson also served as president of the National Association of Implement and Vehicle Manufacturers, and was a representative of that organization (1896) in a delegation of the National Association of Manufacturers to Brazil, Argentina, and Uraguay in the interest of greater international trade. Johnson introduced profit-sharing programs early in his business career. Noted for his philanthropic interests, he provided employee reading rooms at his plants, established a scholarship fund for Scandinavian students at the Univ. of Wisconsin (1875), and established Gisholt Home for the Aged in Dane County. His son, HOBART STANLEY JOHNSON, b. Madison, attended the Univ. of Wisconsin (1890-1893), and in 1897 became shop superintendent of the Gisholt Machine Co. During World War I, he supervised construction and operation of the Northwest Ordnance plant in Madison, which produced field guns for the U.S. army. He was president of Gisholt Machine Co. (1931-1940) and chairman of its board of directors from 1940 until his death. F. L. Holmes, et al., eds., Wis. (5 vols., Chicago, 1946); Madison Wis. State Journal, Nov. 26, 1901, May 28, 1942; Madison Capital Times, May 28, 1942.

View related newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
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