Early Bronaugh Residents

James Christian Johnson Family

The James Christian Johnson family moved to the Bronaugh area sometime between 1900 and 1908. They were native to Denmark. The family was involved in one of Bronaugh's major tragedies.


The family first appears in the 1900 census living in Buchanan County MO:

  • James Johnson, born February 1855 in Denmark
  • Caroline Johnson, born May 1861 in Denmark
  • John E. Johnson, born June 1882 in Denmark
  • Antone M. Johnson, born April 1885 in Denmark
  • James C. Johnson, born June 1890 in Missouri
  • Carl Johnson, born July 1891 in Missouri
  • Hanna C. Johnson, born June 1892 in Missouri
  • Julie P. Johnson, born July 1893 in Missouri
  • Mary C. Johnson, born October 1894 in Missouri
  • Willie P. Johnson, born February 1896 in Missouri
  • Elvina Johnson, born November 1898 in Missouri

In July 1908, Bronaugh experienced its first strip pit tragedy - drownings. The J. C. Johnson family lived near Bronaugh. At the end of a long day of work on a hot day in July, the four sons of Mr. Johnson went to the coal pit one mile west of town to bathe. They had not been in the water long, when Willie (William P.) Johnson, age twelve, slipped off a ledge of rock into water about eight feet deep. Willie's brother, Lars Christian Johnson, was about 24 and he went into the water to help his little brother, and so did the other two brothers. None of them could swim and as Willie struggled, he pulled Christian under with him. The other two brothers tried as best they could but they soon ran for assistance. A group of neighbors hurried to the strip pit, but it was quickly realized that all they could do was try to find the bodies. After two hours, they resorted to lowering a riding hay rake into the pit to see if they could drag the bodies out, and that is how they recovered the bodies. Funeral services were held on Sunday afternoon with Rev. Funderburk officiating. Burial was at Worsley Cemetery.

C. P. Dauwaulder, of Turpin and Ingram Undertakers, was called to Bronaugh to embalm the bodies. He was interviewed by the Southwest Mail and told that the Johnson family had moved to their Bronaugh farm not long ago and had come from Denmark. The boys had come in for supper and then went to the strip pit to bathe. The pit contained eight feet of water. As soon as the two surviving brothers had gone for help, a number of people from the neighborhood came to help. Eventually, a sulky rake had to be used to drag the pit. It took two hours of work before the bodies were retrieved. The deaths had occurred on Friday evening. Rev. W. H. Funderburk preached the funeral on Monday afternoon.

Left: Grave marker for Willie and Lars in Worsley Cemetery

The Johnson's had been very active in the Bronaugh Methodist Church. Sometime after the 1920 census, James C. Johnson (senior) left Bronaugh for Oregon. The 1930 census lists the family in Maplewood, Multnomah County, Oregon:

  • James C. Johnson, age 75
  • Caroline Johnson, age 68
  • Elvenia Johnson, age 30

When Elvenia died in 1975, she was brought back to Worsley Cemetery for burial beside her brothers.

Below: Johnson Grave Marker in Worsley Cemetery (beside the two above)


James Christian Johnson Jr. and Nola Brubaker were married February 3, 1915. Nola was the eldest daughter of banker Charles Brubaker and his wife, Rena Cohenour Brubaker.

Nola Brubaker died May 3, 1917, following complications of childbirth.

Worsley Cemetery records tell that two infants are also buried there:

Infant son Johnson - born and died November 24, 1915 and Una Ester Johnson born April 22, 1917 to May 12, 1917.

The clipping above is from the Bronaugh Journal of February 2, 1927 and tells about the tragic death of Chris Johnson.

Contact us if you know more about this family or have any photo scans that we can add.

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This page is designed and maintained by Lyndon Irwin.