Tricounty News

Pneumonia is fatal to Magnus Johnson

Ex-Senator was laid to rest in Dassel Cemetery yesterday afternoon

Reprinted from the Tri-County News Sept. 19, 2002. Text and photo originally published in the Tri-County Messenger Sept. 17, 1936. Thanks to Ruth Brower for loaning the history treasure for this week’s Historical Society column.

After staging a game fight for his life for over three weeks, Magnus Johnson succumbed to pneumonia at 3:27 a.m. Sunday, 
Sept. 13, [1936]. His death had been expected for several days, and all the members of his family were at his bedside when he died at the Litchfield Hospital.

The fatal attack of pneumonia was the second he had suffered in the past year. Last January he developed an attack in a St. Paul hospital where he was recovering from being struck by a car on the streets of that city.
W-Magnus-Johnson292

The former United States Senator was born in Varmland, Sweden, on Sept. 19, 1871, and would have been 65 years old today had he lived. As a boy he worked as a sailor and then as a glass blower. Coming to this country in 1891, he lived in New York for awhile and then moved to Wisconsin where he was employed as a lumberjack.

He homesteaded his farm west of Kingston in 1894, and has made his home there ever since.
Mr. Johnson married Harriet Dorman in 1897, and she together with three sons and three daughters are left to mourn his passing. The sons are Victor, Francis and Magnus, Jr., of Kingston and the daughters are Mrs. James Pancake of Minneapolis, Mrs. Archie Meline of Minneapolis, and Mrs. Delmar Erickson of Dassel.

Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon at the home and at the Litchfield Community Auditorium. The body had lain in state Tuesday afternoon and evening with a guard of honor by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. State Senator Victor E. Lawson and Dr. C.A. McQuiggan delivered eulogies, and the services were conducted by reverends H.M. Olson of Kingston, A.H. Franzen and W.E. Harmann of Litchfield. Interment was made in the Dassel Cemetery.

The political career of Magnus Johnson was a spectacular one, starting as Justice of the Peace, clerk of the school board and township supervisor. Then he was elected to the state legislature from this county serving in both houses, and in 1923, was elected U.S. Senator to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Knute Nelson. Defeated for re-election and also for the governorship in 1926, Johnson led the field of 27 candidates in the 1932 statewide election of representatives in Congress, polling 388,000 [sic] votes. He was defeated by Harold Knutson in 1934, and soon after was employed by the Railroad and Warehouse Commission as supervisor of public stockyards. He held this position until his death.

The death of Magnus Johnson marks the passing of one of Meeker County’s most famous citizens – a good neighbor, a warm friend, and a man who played the political game with a code of honesty that was unquestioned by friend and foe alike.

Magnus Johnson, 1871-1936.

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