She Sleeps: Meet Julia K. Johnson!

Those of you who read my blog know that I research and write about dead people. It’s my passion and it’s my way of honoring their memory (whether deserved or not) and to perhaps–hopefully–connect these sleeping dead with descendants that are living today.

I long to discover old photographic evidence of my own ancestors and have yet to do so. For now, I am satisfied in making other families happy with the discovery of precious relics they can add to their ancestry puzzle.

So, here I am, pleased to introduce Julia K. Johnson (Mrs. Oskar Johnson). The lovely photograph (below) is a digital reproduction taken from the original glass negative plate. The photographer, John A. Swanson, was an accomplished, but obscure, commercial photographer in Manchester, Connecticut. He may have been designated a “commercial”  photographer, but his artistic capability and compositions suggest he was much  more.


Julie K. Johnson, (Mrs. Oskar Johnson) with children Bror R. Johnson & Doris C. Johnson–Copyright 2017 Rachel Knight

Isn’t she pretty in her hand-colored, period Cloche Hat? The children are bundled up in the most precious winter duds. Clearly, it was winter in Connecticut.

In 1920 when this photograph was taken, Julia was 25 years old, in the prime of her life.

Standing before her are her children (left), Bror R. Johnson (2 1/2 years) and Doris C. Johnson (4 years).

Julia’s husband, Oskar (Oscar), was born in 1890. He was listed as a Resident Alien in 1920 U.S. Census Records, having emigrated from Sweden to the U.S. in 1909. His bride, Julia was born on March 11, 1894, and was also a Resident Alien, who emigrated to the U.S. three years later in 1912. Both lived, worked, died and were buried in Manchester, Hartford County, Connecticut. In 1920, they rented a modest home located at 233 Center Street.

Oskar worked as a carpenter building homes.

Julia had only an 8th grade education.

Oskar passed away in 1958 at the age of 68. Julia survived her husband by nearly a decade and was laid to rest next to her husband in East Cemetery, Manchester, Connecticut, in October 1973. She was 79.



Johnson Grave Marker — Julia K and Oscar Johnson–East Cemetery, Manchester, Connecticut

Julia’s children went on to lead long and productive lives. 1940 U.S. Census Records reference Doris Caroline Johnson (born 9/4/1915) and Bror Oskar Reginald Johnson (born 3/21/17) (now both in their mid-20s) still living at home with Julia and Oskar at 34 West Middle Turnpike, Manchester, CT. Doris was working as a Secretary and Bror had an occupation as a machinist at Pratt & Whitney Motors (a prominent aerospace manufacturer) in East Hartford. Doris married a man with the last name of Marsh.

Bror died January 31, 1995 at the age of 77, then a resident of St. Cloud, Osceola, Florida. Doris died in Manchester, Connecticut on July 4, 2004. She was 88 years old.

I am sure Julia and Oskar’s great, great grand children and other family members are out there somewhere. Where are they?

Julia’s photograph can be ordered here.



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