The Johnson Brothers
David and John Johnson were the founders of the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum. Born in the mid- 1800s in Coshocton County, they grew up on a farm near Keene, northeast of the city of Coshocton. Their story is briefly told here, from their childhood years through adulthood to their deaths and subsequent legacy in the early 20th century.
Their childhood penchant for collecting filled their parents' home until their father constructed a 3-room stone building to house the collections, including among others, Indian artifacts they had discovered on their property.
John served as a sergeant in the Civil War and was part of Sherman's March to the sea. The post- Civil War era found both brothers prospering in the family business of banking and real estate. The Johnsons relocated to New York City, investing heavily in bonds.
When the market crashed in 1873, they borrowed enough to purchase a small parcel of land in nearby Pelham Manor, a village outside New York City. The passes include two passed issued to D.M. Johnson; one to New York for the Hartford Railroad Company and one for Morrisama Steamboat Company (1874).
While trying to recoup their losses, they met and joined foreces with a French dressmaker. Employing David's knowledge of business and John's knack for sewing, this prosperous new venture took them abroad. Their travels gave them the opportunity to add to their collections, crowding them into their tiny home.
As luck would have it, the property investment in Pelham Manor was situated on Long Island. When the value on this property rose drastically, the Johnson Brothers invested in another real estate phenomenon, Tacoma, Washington. Due to its location at the terminus of a railway line, it had burgeoned, growing from a population of 4,400 to 36,000 in 6 years.
For the remainder of their lives, David and John traveled and collected extensively- Mexico, the Orient, Europe, and western U.S. and Canada (with particular emphasis on the American Indian). The Ferry Museum in Tacoma was persuaded to store some of their treasures as once again their collections outgrew their home.
The Johnsons never forgot their ties to Coshocton County. In 1931, a few years after their deaths, more than 15,000 items were shipped by rail across the continent to begin a museum named after their mother (Mary Humrickhouse Johnson) and father (Joseph Kerr Johnson).