First Fifty Years of
Sketches of Students of First
HON. WILLARD JOHNSON was a student at the Seminary during the latter part of Professor Larrabee's principalship. He had previously enjoyed common school advantages, and had attended Mexico Academy. In 1852 he engaged in lake and canal transportation in Fulton, in his native (Oswego) county. Afterward he became a contractor, and completed several important works for the State and National governments, among which may be mentioned the improvement of the Mississippi, at Rock Island, and the construction of a lock in the Illinois River, probably the largest in the world. His completed contracts amounted in the aggregate to fully five millions of dollars.
Mr. Johnson is a Democrat of the old school, and for many years has been prominent in the councils of the party. During the Rebellion he was classed as a war Democrat, and gave his influence and means freely to the cause of the Union. He was elected to the Assembly in 1862 without opposition. He was on the war committee of Oswego County; a member of the board of supervisors; a delegate to the memorable Charleston Convention; a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 1864, and also of 1868 and 1872; member of the State committee; again elected to the Assembly. He is modest and unassuming; possesses large experience, ripe judgment, and an active mind; is faithful to his trusts, and has accumulated a large fortune.
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