Johnson, Florence Mary Turner; Day County - 1885

Florence Mary Turner Johnson

Miss Florence Turner, hearing of Free land in Dakota territory, joined the throng that was moving westward in 1885. She was then twenty-four and she was accompanied by her younger sister, who was not much impressed by the bare open plains and so returned to Indiana. Florence stayed on and acquired a quarter section of land in Union township, Day county which was to be hers free after five years, on condition the she brought a certain amount of the acreage under cultivation each year. During part of the time she shared a shanty with Eliza Johnson, her neighbor on the east, who later became her sister in law. She lived on the land three years, having the required amount ploughed each year, and then she decided to get married before the five years was up, so she paid $5.00 an acre to clear the title to her quarter section of land.

During the winter months, Florence Turner taught school in the neighboring districts. She boarded with Mrs. Sherwood her first winter, and with Mrs. Dan Baillie her next two winters. Among her pupils were the Sherwood children, the older Baillie boys which included John who was in the primary class, Sadie Roberts Folsom, and perhaps a few other citizens of Pierpont. Her salary was $25.00 per month the first two years and $35.00 the third year. One of her school buildings now forms a part of Mrs. Will Parrott’s residence in Pierpont. In 1889 Florence Turner decided to marry Marcus Johnson who had proved up on a claim in Marshall county, and so she returned to her home in Indiana, in order to get her trousseau ready. In October of that year she returned to the new State of South Dakota to the town of Britton where she was met by Marcus Johnson and they were united in marriage by a young Presbyterian minister by the name of Rev. D.M. Butt on Oct. 19, 1889. After the ceremony, the young couple drove the 14 miles out to his farm in a buckboard buggy, which he had borrowed for the occasion, and they moved into a new house which the groom had helped to build.

Then in 1904 Mr. & Mrs. M.D. Johnson moved to Pierpont along with their three children to establish a home on Mrs. Johnson’s land. They lived in her shanty during the summer while their residence was being built. One day a neighbor said to her, "You must find it difficult living cramped up in this little shanty. She replied, "No, I am enjoying every minute of it, for I am reminded of my early happy days in this shanty, and I am interested in seeing every board go into place in our new home." The shanty eventually became a chicken house. Mrs. Florence Turner Johnson lived on her farm until 1929, when her youngest son was married and occupied the home place, and then she and Marcus moved to town.

Mrs. Johnson was very civic minded, she was an ardent church member, charter member of the Legion Auxiliary and for many years worked in the Woman’s Study Club of Pierpont. Her children are Sadie E. a missionary and teacher in the Isabella Thoburn College of Lucknow, India, M.D. who died at the age of 42. and Kenneth W. who still lives on the old homestead. Her influence was always for the better things of life. She was loved and respected by all who knew her when she died. Feb. 13, 1949 at the age of 87. A true Pioneer Daughter of So. Dakota was Florence Turner Johnson.

Written by Sadie E. Johnson Lucknow, India