PEARSON MADISON JOHNSON
Born April 18, 1890 and was the 7th child of William Harrison Johnson and Nancy Wood
Pearson (or Pierson) loved reading and was an excellent student. There were only eight grades in Texas at that time. When he finished school at age fourteen, Pearson was offered the job of teacher. He took the job but had trouble with discipline because some of the students were older and larger than him and the parents would not back him up. When he learned he could make more money working at the cotton gin, he went to work at the gin. He worked at the cotton gin business a large portion of the rest of his life, but always placed a great deal of importance on education. Pearson, at Claud's urging, joined Masons and reached the 32nd Degree, serving in all of the offices. He loved reading, especially mysteries, police stories, and westerns. His favorite sport was baseball.
Pearson was born left-handed. At that time, people thought it was bad to be left-handed. When he started school, the teacher tied his left hand behind him each day to force him to learn to write with his right hand. As a result, he was ambidextrous and had beautiful penmanship with either hand. It must also have trained his brain to use left and right sides at once, as he could listen to a ball game on the radio while watching one on television and keep up with both games. He could also read while listening to radio or watching television and still keep up with whatever was being broadcast while he read.
He worked out of doors so much that he became acclimated to outside weather. Air-conditioning caused a sinus headache. He suffered from sinus problems and head aches, but never let either slow him down much. In later years, he had emphysema from a lifetime of heavy tobacco smoking. Pearson said he began smoking at age fourteen when he went to work at the cotton gin. Apparently working at the gin caused breathing and sinus problems for him. People told him smoking would help these sinus and breathing problems, and at first he added some menthol-like plant leaves to the tobacco. He rolled his own cigarettes and preferred Prince Albert tobacco in a can and C-B cigarette papers. When he was in a situation where he could not roll his own cigarettes, he smoked Camels.
Pearson spent about twenty years as manager of the Davis Gin at Dodson, Texas. In the spring, when the ginning was finished but before repairs began on the gin machinery, he would work at seasonal or other jobs. He also was a carpenter, home builder, and was good with building materials. Some of the various jobs he held included two weeks in a gypsum mine. Hequit and said he would starve before he would work in a place like that again‑‑he couldn't breathe. Another job he said he would never try again was on a floating oil rig after the oil rig on which he worked in the Gulf of Mexico near Corpus Christi had to be evacuated because of a hurricane. He said the men were left too long on the rig and it was a terrible hurricane which severely damaged Corpus Christi.
When young, Pearson and several of his brothers had a sort of loosely-formed band and sometimes played for dances. Although with no formal training, Pearson played the banjo and harmonica. His favorite music was country and western swing, such as Bob Wills and Kitty Wells. He also liked to dance. At some time in his life he learned to do the old-style western "clog" dancing as well as ballroom-style dancing. He also liked ragtime music. When he attended ginners' conventions in Dallas, Pearson would go down on Elm Street into "Deep Ellum" to hear ragtime music played at the clubs there. He liked Louis Armstrong's music and said he had heard Louis Armstrong play at a club in Dallas.
While a manager of the Davis Gin at Dodson, Texas, Pearson attended many Ginner's Conventions in Dallas. At one of the conventions, Pearson announced his idea for an invention to simplify the ginning process, although Pearson had not yet applied for a patent or put the invention into production other than installing it in the Davis Gin. One of the men at the convention did, however, after hearing Pearson explain it before Pearson could follow through on his idea. Pearson said the man who stole his idea got rich because the mechanism was then used in all cotton gins to separate the seeds from the cotton more efficiently.
Pearson and First Wife Eliza "Jane" McGee
Pearson married Eliza "Jane" Kilbert McGee between January and March of 1910. Pearson and Jane lived several years in Oklahoma before moving to Dodson, Texas.
Jane was born 19 December 1892, the daughter of Robert Blair McGee and Mary Beaty. According to information from Jane's nephew Cato Russell McGee, Robert McGee was the son of Robert "Robin" Stanley McGee and Harriett Capps. Robin McGee, born 5 February 1809, was one of nine children of Thomas McGee and Amy Williams. Major Thomas McGee, Revolutionary War soldier and patriot, was born in 1760 and died at his plantation in Lucia, North Carolina, on 8 January 1822. He was married on 11 August 1789 in Lincoln County, North Carolina, to Amy Williams, who was born in 1771 and died in 1843.
Jane had a beautiful singing voice and was an excellent seamstress and loved putting ruffles on dresses for herself and her girls. Elsie says she wore them because her mother had made them for her, even though she preferred dresses without ruffles. Jane made certain her children attended the Baptist church each Sunday.
Because of the severity of Jane's illness, Elsie moved Jane, Elsie's daughters Joyce and baby Gay, and Jane's younger daughter Clarice to a place near the hospital in Hollis so that Jane could receive the best medical care available. In spite of all the nursing and care Elsie supplied and the medical care of Dr. Husband, Jane died 22 September 1935 of tuberculosis and an abscessed lung. Elsie had married by this time and Clarice went to live with Elsie while Ellis and Herschel remained with Pearson. Because Elsie had made a death bed promise to her mother to take care of Clarice, Clarice continued to live with Elsie and Buster even after Pearson and Lena Mae married.
The children of Pearson and Eliza "Jane" Johnson were: Ellis Sterling, born June 27, 1911; Elsie Loraine, born November 28, 1914; Herschel Randolph, born August 21, 1917; and Clarice Alberta, born February 13, 1921.
Ellis Sterling Johnson
Ellis Johnson married Flonnie Florene Bowman (who uses her middle name, Florene) on January 11, 1942, at Las Vegas, Nevada. Florene was born June 20, 1914, and her parents were Samuel Houston and Maggie Fortenberry Bowman of Hollis, Oklahoma. Ellis worked most of his adult life at McDonnell‑Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, California, having left Dodson, Texas, just after the outbreak of World War II to find work in California. He enjoyed golf before bursitis forced him to quit, liked reading, television movies, and walked several miles each day. Florene and Ellis both enjoyed watching sports on television. Florene worked briefly before her marriage to Ellis and for a few months during 1946 at Sears, but prefers being a housewife.
Ellis always had a way with children, and the children of the family used to love to have him entertain them. He would juggle, stand on his head, and keep the children entertained at every family gathering. He also spent all year picking out Christmas gifts for the children in the family, and always gave a unique and perfect gift to each child on his list.
Their only child Daniel Reed Johnson was born on December 18, 1955, at Long Beach, California. On July 19, 1986, Dan married Cheryl Sue Sigler. Dan and Cheryl live in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. They have two children, Amanda LeeAnn born 7 September 1987 and Matthew Allen born 11 Mar 1990, and Dan works as senior computer analyst for South Orange County Community College.
Elsie Loraine Johnson
Elsie Johnson married Charles Arthur "Buster" Reed on April 26, 1931, in Mangum, Oklahoma. Buster was born April 7, 1913, and was the son of Boss O. and Maud Ellen Hall Reed. They were married just six weeks before Elsie's high school graduation. At that time, school rules prevented married students from attending school, so they kept the marriage a secret until after graduation. Buster was an excellent water skier, and could perform difficult jumps and turns. Elsie was very active in PTA while her children were in school and received many awards for her dedication in furthering education. For several years while her children were in college, Elsie worked as a secretary at the high school in Oildale, California. In later life, Elsie has been a Counselor and Lay Minister at the First Baptist Church in Bakersfield, and counseled clients from around the world. She also taught seminars on counseling, intercession, and prayer. Elsie has discontinued these activities due to poor health after an accident at Lake Shasta in which she almost drowned. She has Parkinson's Disease, and has had a stroke.
Buster ran a gas station in Texas, but went west to find a better life in California. He spent most of his life as the Service Department Manager for the Ford dealer in Bakersfield, California, and was a gifted and brilliant man who could design and manufacture intricate specialized machinery. In 1995, Elsie moved from her home of many years into a retirement home. Elsie and Buster had three children: Joyce LaNell, born April 22, 1932; Evelyn Gay, born December 21, 1933; and Robert Leon "Bob", born February 15, 1937. When they were very young, Gay sometimes spoke a sort of gibberish which only Joyce could understand and for which Joyce had to act as translator. When in their teens, Joyce and Gay sounded identical over the phone. Gay would sometimes pretend to be Joyce when a boyfriend called, but would soon give herself away by giggling.
Joyce married Kenneth Lifquist, son of Edward and Elizabeth Lifquist, on April 11, 1954. Ken and Joyce were both teachers, and Ken managed a swimming pool in the summer months. Joyce began teaching at Beardsley School in Oildale, where she had attended as a child. After several years, Ken tried real estate in the summer instead of the swimming pool. He liked it so much and did so well, that he quit teaching and became a realtor. By shrewd purchases and investments, he made a fortune in real estate. Ken and Joyce both love swimming and were the first people in their neighborhood to own a swimming pool. Joyce swam in water ballet as a young woman and Ken almost qualified for the U. S. Olympic team in swimming. When Michael was born, they were afraid he might fall into the swimming pool and drown, so they taught him to swim when he was only nine months old. Ken and Joyce also enjoy sailing on their 45 foot yacht, based at Los Angeles, and have sailed as far as Australia and Tahiti. They have four children: Elizabeth Ann, Jonathan Reed, Alan Andrew, and Michael Edward.
Gay married LaVon Mayne "Buster" Norton, son of LaVance Elmo and Ruth Gladys Burton Norton, in a double ceremony with her sister. Gay and Buster started a food store in Medford, Oregon. Later they moved to Mammoth Lakes, California, where they built another food store before branching out with car repair, florist, and other holdings. Mammoth Lakes is a ski resort area. Gay loves living in the mountains, but she also swam in water ballet as a young woman. Each July their family spends a month on their houseboat at Lake Shasta. Gay and Buster have four sons: Russ Mayne, Wesley Reed, Jeffrey Vance, and Lee Vincent. Back when actor Vince Edwards was star of the television show "Ben Casey, M.D." Buster and Gay were dining out when Gay thought she saw Vince Edwards at another table in the restaurant. Buster disagreed. Gay said she would bet him a snowmobile, something she wanted which but which Buster thought would be too dangerous for her, that it was the actor. Buster agreed, and Gay approached the man and learned that he was indeed Vince Edwards. That's how Gay got their first snowmobile.
Bob married Sharon LaVoynes Harrison, daughter of Harold Lamb and Mary Margaret Reeves Harrison, on July 11, 1959. Bob is a gifted mechanic who followed his father's footsteps and works for Habersham Ford in Bakersfield, as did Buster. He has also taught mechanics at the junior college. Sharon has lupus, but worked as secretary at a church for many years. Their children are Timothy Charles and Cynthia "Cindy" Sue.
Herschel Randolph Johnson
Herschel married Bertha Doris Hickman (who uses her middle name Doris) on July 7, 1941, at Las Vegas, Nevada. Doris was born July 21, 1921, at Kiowa, Oklahoma, and her parents were William A. and Bertha Ellen Hickman. Herschel served in the Coast Guard from 1942-45. For most of his adult life he worked for Shell Oil Company, first as a truck driver and later as Plant Superintendent. After their children were in school, Doris worked for twenty years as a secretary for the Standard Elementary School near their home. Doris' maternal grandmother, Kitty Winning, came to the United States from England with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Winning. For many years, Doris and Herschel lived in Oildale on Glade Street in a home built by Pearson Johnson during the time he was a home builder, but then bought a home in the Kern City area of Bakersfield where Doris still lives. Doris has heart problems and Herschel died December 9, 1996, after a long battle with cancer.
Herschel had a wonderful sense of humor and joy for life, as does Doris, and he was a wonderful host. When Herschel was a child, he was very thin, and was nicknamed "Fat." He was called "Fat" so long that, when he began to use his legal name, many people did not know "Herschel" was his name. He was active in and served as President for the Horseless Carriage Club and Kern City Social Club. He served on the Board of Deacons for many years at the First Baptist Church of Bakersfield and was a member of the Finance Committee. In that capacity, he went each Monday to help count the money and make up the bank deposit from Sunday's offering. Doris has had a heart pacemaker implanted but continues to be active. Herschel's and Doris' children are Randy Lee, born on December 11, 1944, at Long Beach, California; and Ross William, born November 29, 1946, in Bakersfield, California.
When Ross and Randy were young they were real powerhouses of energy who required constant supervision. Carolyn remembers the two boys would get into everything. However, they were intelligent and inquisitive, not intentionally destructive or disobedient. If told not to bother something, they did not touch it again, but soon found something else to claim their attention.
Randy married Sharon Kay Copeland and they have two sons, Brian Lee who was born 27 November 1971 and Brett William who was born 6 August 1975. Brett has a son Joseph. Brian married Charm Elizabeth Baker on 5 June 1999 in Clovis, California.
Ross and his third wife, the former Jane Sorensen, have two children. Jill Elizabeth Johnson was born 25 August 1987 and Ross William "Rossie" Johnson, Jr., was born 24 April 1989.
Clarice Alberta Johnson
Clarice married Frederico "Fred" William Camille on June 28, 1939, at Las Vegas, Nevada. Fred is the son of Pete and Concetta DiGregorio Camillo and was born September 29, 1911, at Navaho, New Mexico. Fred's father came over from Italy to work on the railroad and settled near Gallup, New Mexico, when work on the railroad was finished. Fred worked most of his adult life as a driver for Greyhound Bus Lines and never had an accident nor got a traffic ticket--a record for Greyhound. Clarice is a housewife, loves working in her flower garden, and is an exceptional seamstress. Clarice had ovarian cancer and has some intestinal damage she received from some incorrectly administered radiation for the cancer. She stays busy helping Jane with her twins, and checking on Fred's sister, who is an alzheimer's patient. Fred and Clarice had one child, Linda Jane, born March 11, 1943.
Linda married Anthony Paul Miller. Linda and Tony have a daughter, Jane Camille, and a son, Shawn Anthony. Jane Miller married a Pentecostal minister, Marce Ahrenburg, and they have four children: Amanda, Andrew, and twins Aubrey Lauren and Ashley Breighanne born in 1994. Marce has left the ministry and now works for a computer company and Jane works from her home with her computer. Shawn married Cheryl Grooms but are now divorced. They have one daughter, Billie Camille, born in 1992.
Pearson Madison Johnson and Second Wife Lena Mae Phifer
Pearson married Lena Mae Phifer on February 6, 1937, at Childress, Texas. They lived in Dodson, Texas, for several years before moving to California.
Lena Mae was born 16 January 1913 at McMinnville, Tennessee, and is the daughter of John Phifer and Frances Josephine Gamble. John Phifer was born in May of 1870 and was the son of John William Phifer and Mary Elizabeth Sparkman of White County, Tennessee. John W. Phifer was the son of Joseph Phifer, Jr., and Lucinda Witt, who were married 25 July 1808 in Virginia. Joseph Phifer, Sr., was married to Judith Meredith. Francis Josephine Gamble was born 1 September 1877 and was the daughter of Robert Gamble, Jr., and Elizabeth Jane Miller of Van Buren County, Tennessee. Robert Gamble, Sr., married Margarett Gillentine in Amelia County, Virginia, and was the son of Isaiah Gamble. Elizabeth Miller was the daughter of Samuel Miller, Jr., and Frankie Fannie Fraser.
Pearson and Lena Mae first lived at Dodson, Texas, where Pearson continued to manage the Davis Cotton Gin while Mr. Davis ran a second gin. When Mr. Davis died, his two sons decided to operate the cotton gin, so Pearson no longer had a job. Pearson and Lena Mae moved from Dodson to California in 1942, living briefly in Wasco and Corona before settling in Oildale, a suburb of Bakersfield, where Pearson worked as a carpenter and home builder. Their daughter Carolyn developed asthma and San Joaquin ("valley") fever, or coccidioidomycosis, and they were advised to leave that valley. In 1948, they moved to West Texas, where Pearson once again managed cotton gins in Anton, Lehman (near Morton), and Welch. In 1951, they moved to Lubbock where Pearson bought and sold cotton. Pearson was blind the last fifteen years of his life, and died from heart failure as a complication of emphysema and a stroke on 26 May 1972, in Lubbock. He is buried at Resthaven Cemetery in Lubbock. In March of 1989, Lena Mae moved to Weatherford, Texas, to be near Carolyn.
Pearson and Lena Mae Johnson had two children: Carolyn DeeAnn, born September 16, 1940, at Hollis, Harmon County, Oklahoma; and Donald Ray, born on February 25, 1951, at LaMesa, Dawson County, Texas.
Carolyn DeeAnn Johnson
After a brief marriage which ended in divorce, Carolyn married Lilburn Ray Smith on January 28, 1964, in Dallas, Texas. Lilburn is the son of Loyd Lilburn and Thelma Victoria Pendleton Smith, of Lubbock, Texas. Lilburn and Carolyn have two daughters: Stephanie Suesan, born November 13, 1965; and Stacy Barbara, born July 23, 1968. Lilburn worked as a newspaper and free lance photographer and as a radio engineer and disc jockey while attending Texas Technological University, and has worked as an aerospace engineer and manager for the rest of his adult life. He also has run a small consulting engineering business from their home in which he was very successful in developing equipment for animal research for the Department of Agriculture. His career has been in the aerospace industry in which he has been instrumental in the development of laser guided rockets. He retired 1 February 2000. Carolyn was a housewife while their children were small, but worked as a newspaper reporter in Florida for what is now The West Orange Times; as the business/circulation manager for the psychology journal Multivariate Behavioral Research and assistant to the managing editor of that journal at Texas Christian University; and as the bookkeeper for the Parker County Tax Assessor‑Collector. She retired in June of 1994 in order to concentrate on writing novels. Her first published novel, Be My Guest, was published in December 1998 by Kensington Zebra. Lilburn and Carolyn also have a peach orchard and truck farm at their home west of Weatherford, Texas.
Donald Ray Johnson
Don married Linnett Greentree in 1970 in Juarez, Mexico. Linnett was born May 4, 1950, and is the daughter of Ray and Dorothy Elizabeth Greentree. Their children are Dorothea Elizabeth, born August 22, 1971; and Melissa Lynnette, who was born August 31, 1976. That marriage ended in divorce. Don then married Carlyn "Carol" Robertson Barnes Anderson on October 31, 1980, and that marriage ended in divorce after ten years. On December 23, 1993, Don married the former Christina Gellert Perkins, from whom he is now divorced. He is now engaged to Kay Behrens. Don served in the Navy briefly at Annapolis Naval Academy before returning to Lubbock. He now lives in Bellville, Austin County, Texas, has worked as a marketing representative most of his adult life. Currently employed by Wayport, Don has a good sense of humor and enjoys computers, sailing, golf, fishing, crosswords and being outdoors.