John A. Johnson
Mayor from 1885-1886, 1896-1902, and 1906-1907
John Augustus Johnson was born April 24, 1842 in Växjö, Sweden. He came to America with his family in 1854, his mother and two sisters dying of cholera shortly after arrival. This early tragedy forced the young boy into adulthood. Once he settled in Stillwater, Minnesota with his surviving family he was forced into the work force, securing a job at a hotel. He attended school in Stillwater, and then the Epworth Seminary, in Epworth, Iowa.
In 1860 he went to Texas, with the intention of working in the cattle industry. However, this adventure was thwarted by the breakout of the Civil War. At this point he moved north to Indiana to work for the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad, as a locomotive engineer. The U.S. Government contracted him during the later part of the war to do runs down to the southern states.
After the war he returned north, and married Agnes A. Coller on August 27, 1865 in St. Louis, Missouri. Together they had five children. He returned to Stillwater, where he engaged in farming and lumbering. In 1873 he was elected Sheriff of Washington County, Minnesota. He devoted much of his time studying law and was admitted to the bar.
In 1880 he moved his family to Fargo, and was the manager of Seymour, Sabin & Co. In Fargo he operated an agricultural implement business and also opened a grocery business. The wealth he accumulated through his business enterprises allowed him to do extensive traveling though, Europe, South and Central America and most of the United States.
Mr. Johnson was elected to the Fargo City Council in 1882, and in 1885 as mayor. He was re-elected to the position again in 1896, 1898, 1900 and 1906. He was a member of the Oddfellows and the Masons. He died of Bright's Disease on June 14, 1907, the first Fargo Mayor to die in office.