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Sarah Elizabeth Johnson (1865–1933)

The Reaper, Death, entered the home of Mr. Fred Johnson, Ryan Street, at midnight last Friday, and gathered to his sheaf his beloved wife and the mother of his family. For forty-eight years, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson travelled life's journey together, and lived in, the expectancy of celebrating their Golden Wedding; but God willed it otherwise. Mrs Johnson was in indifferent health for some time. Six years ago she had a severe heart attack, and the attacks latterly became more frequent, until death intervened. She died surrounded by her husband and family. She was one of Charters Towers most honored and respected townswomen, and to mark the respect in which she was held, the flag at the Town Hall was flown half-mast. She was a daughter of the late Mr. Hugh Ross, and was one of a family of four, three daughters and one son. Two sisters, Mrs. Gardiner, wife of Mr. Gardiner, one time manager of the E. S. and A. Bank here, now retired and living in Sydney; Mrs. E. A. Hughes, also of Sydney, and Mr. Willie Ross, who manages his father's large estate, also resident in Sydney. Mrs. Johnson was born at Bowen, where her father was engaged in the pilot service. He left there, and with his family went to Townsville, but the lure of gold attracted them to the Cape Diggings. He left there and went to Ravenswood, and eventually came to Charters Towers about the year 1875. He engaged in house contracting, and Mrs. Johnson's first home was a small four roomed house and kitchen, where the police barracks now stand. Her father crossed the road and built the first two storeyed residence here, the underneath part was his iron- monger's shop, and the upper storey his dwelling. He had a timber yard at the rear. This was the beginning of a large fortune made by him. He was Mayor of Charters Towers in 1880, and his son-in-law and grandson, Mr. Rick Johnson, had the honor of being elected aldermen. Mr. Johnson was Mayor for five years, three years in succession. As Mayoress Mrs. Johnson had no equal. She received and entertained many notable people, among them the first Governor's wife to visit here, Lady Chermside. During the Great War she was particularly active, her duties as President of the Red Cross Society making great demands on her time. Afterwards she established the Soldiers' Comfort Fund, which was carried on until after the war. Her education ably fitted her for the positions she held. During her girlhood she attended Miss Leyshon's (now Mrs. S. Manly) private school, and afterwards went to a ladies boarding school at Warwick. She was noted for her charity, and it is said that no needy person left her gate without assistance. Her industrious habits are well known; she could not sit with idle hands. Not only was she an art exhibitor at our local shows, but her gifts of beautiful art needlework to different church charities were not only in quantity but quality. The President (Mrs. C. Peak) of the St. Paul's Sewing Guild, in a letter of condolence, expressed sorrow at losing her valuable aid. Her generosity and gifts were given without ostentation. Mrs. Johnson lived more or less a retired life during the latter part of her life. She had travelled much in the different States, but her longest travel was with her son, Rick when she visited the home town. Ballymena Co. Antrim, Ireland, of her father's people, the Crawfords. She then visited the Continent and returned via the United States. She had six children, five of whom are alive. Her sons are Mr. Rick Johnson (Rooney's, Townsville), Mr. Frank Johnson, manager of the Bank of New South Wales, Stone's Corner, Brisbane, who saw service in France with the A.I.F. in the Great War and gained a lieutenancy; Mr. Wally Johnson, who is associated with his father in his business. Her daughters are Mrs. Barker-Myles and Mrs. Sydney D. Clarke, of Charters Towers. She also leaves five grandchildren. The funeral was largely attended and was representative of the townspeople, and the high esteem in which Mrs. Martha Elizabeth Johnson was held. She was buried in the Church of England portion of the cemetery. An impressive ceremony was conducted by the Rev Canon Dale, when he consigned the remains to their last resting place.

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Citation details

'Johnson, Sarah Elizabeth (1865–1933)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Ross, Sarah Elizabeth

20 April, 1865
Bowen, Queensland, Australia


2 July, 1933 (aged 68)
Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia

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