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Harry Gilbert Johnson. As a strong, energetic and capable business man, Harry Gilbert Johnson has proven a distinct addition to the realty interests of Oklahoma City since his arrival here in 1914. During his active career he has been identified with journalism, politics and various business enterprises, and in each field in which he has been engaged has displayed the possession of qualities which have at all times given him standing and influence with men who are accomplishing things.
Mr. Johnson was born at Marion, Marion County, Ohio, in October, 1876, and is a son of Newton Messenger and Ellen (Casey) Johnson, the former born at Marion, Ohio, and the latter at Stalybridge, County Cheshire, England. The Johnson family on coming to America during colonial days, settled first in Rhode Island, from which state the grandfather of Mr. Johnson removed to Ohio about the year 1820. The early members of the family participated in the various early wars of American history, and Newton Messenger Johnson fought for three years in the Union army during the Civil war, being a member of the Sixty-fourth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was wounded at Story (Murfreesboro) River and sent to the hospital for some time, but upon recovery rejoined his regiment and served until stricken with sickness, when he was honorably discharged because of disability. He was a brave and faithful soldier and his war record was an excellent one.
When Harry Gilbert Johnson was seven years of age, his parents removed to Winchester, Tennessee, where, in Franklin County, the father engaged in farming. There the youth had the advantages to be pained at the public schools, and subsequently attended Winchester Academy until the family moved to Oklahoma, in 1891, and located at El Reno. His education was completed at Kingfisher College, and during the period of his course there he served in the capacity of editor of the college paper. Having shown an inclination for journalistic work, when he left college Mr. Johnson entered the office of the Kingfisher Free Press, which at that time was edited and published by the late Jake Admire, Mr. Johnson continuing there for four years and learning the printer’s trade. He then returned to El Reno and entered the post office as assistant, continuing in the Government service for six years, and in 1907 established and became editor of the El Reno Republic, a republican paper. After three years of hard work he sold this newspaper, in 1910, and it was removed to Weatherford, Oklahoma. For two years after retiring from the newspaper business, Mr. Johnson served as undersheriff of Canadian County. he had always been an active republican worker in Oklahoma and a groat admirer of Theodore Roosevelt, and in 1912, after doing faithful work to secure the support of the state for the Colonel for the presidency, he went to the convention at Chicago to “boost” for his ideal American. When the revolt came after that convention, Mr. Johnson joined the progressive movement, returned to Oklahoma and worked with the progressive state committee in the capacity of assistant secretary, having complete control of the speakers for the party throughout the state.
In the early part of 1914 Mr. Johnson financed and established the Oklahoma Oil and Gas News, at Oklahoma City, and published this organ until it was purchased by parties at Tulsa and its headquarters removed to that city. This journal is today broadly recognized as one of the leading oil and gas journals of the country. In November, 1914, Mr. Johnson joined E. M. Butler, of Oklahoma City, in organizing the Arkansas Land Company, which concern has obtained at a low figure a large amount of Arkansas property, which will be converted into fertile and productive land, and has since given his entire attention to the colonization plans of this enterprise, seeking to develop the holdings of the company. The offices are maintained at 810-14 Insurance Building, Oklahoma City. Mr. Johnson is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, being identified with El Reno Lodge No. 743.
At Cherryvale, Kansas, December 31, 1901, Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Mary Elizabeth Fair, daughter of Elijah W. and Mary (Shunk) Fair, natives of Ohio. Mrs. Johnson is a member of the Congregational Church, and is well known in social circles of Oklahoma City, as well as at El Reno, where the pleasant family home is maintained.