R. Osburn Johnson

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
September 26, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 273-274
Hancock County

R. OSBURN JOHNSON while a young man learned and
worked at the plumbing and heating trade in all branches.
That is a business he knows from every standpoint. Some
years ago he became a traveling representative for one of
the largest and most exclusive houses manufacturing and
distributing plumbing goods and supplies, the Standard
Sanitary Manufacturing Company of Pittsburgh, and for
this company he established a branch jobbing house at
Huntington, of which he is the manager.

Mr. Johnson is a native of the famous Blue Grass District
of old Kentucky, born in Woodford County, January 29,
1889. He is of Scotch-Irish ancestry. His grandfather,
Van Johnson, was born in Kentucky in 1838, and spent
nearly all his life in Woodford County. He was a distiller
by trade, and in that capacity he was in the service of the
Old Crow Distillery in Woodford County for a half century,
until finally pensioned by the company. He died in Wood-
ford County in 1912. His wife was a Miss Jennings, who
was born in Kentucky in 1840 and died in Woodford County
in 1910. William P. Johnson, father of the Huntington
business man, was born in Woodford County, was reared
and married there, and was a merchant in the county until
1903, when he removed to Lexington and continued in busi-
ness in that city until his death in 1907. He was a demo-
crat, a member of the Baptist Church and the Independent
Order of Odd Fellows. William P. Johnson married Clara
Williams, who was born in Woodford County in 1863 and is
now living at Lexington. She was the mother of three
children. Ola is the wife of George Compton, a bookkeeper
for the Second National Bank of Lexington. R. Osburn is
the second in age. Sampey is .the youngest, and is asso-
ciated with his brother at Huntington as warehouse superin-
tendent. He enlisted at Lexington as a mechanic in the
navy, was stationed at the Great Lakes Training Station
and then at Hampton Roads, became a second-class seaman
and was in the service two years before his honorable

R. Osburn Johnson attended rural schools in Woodford
County, but left school at the age of sixteen and for three
years was clerk in a dry goods store at Lexington. For
two years he was bookkeeper for Buford A. Graves, cement
contractor at Lexington, and then took up the business in
which he has made his real success. For seven years he was
in the employ of J. J. Fitzgerald, a plumbing and heating
contractor at Lexington, and while with him he acquired
every detail in the practical and technical knowledge of
heating and plumbing as a business.

Mr. Johnson went on the road as a traveling representa-
tive for the Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company on
February 15, 1915. His territory was West Virginia and
portions of Virginia and Kentucky, with headquarters at
Huntington. His success in building up business for the
company led to the opening of a branch jobbing house at
Huntington in 1918, with Mr. Johnson in charge as man-
ager. The offices and jobbing house are located at tlie
corner of Second Avenue and Tenth Street. Through this
house an extensive business over the adjacent territory is
transacted in plumbing, heating, mill, mining and factory
goods, supplies and machinery.

Mr. Johnson regards himself as a permanent factor in
Huntington’s business affairs. He has acquired a home
here at 525 Seventh Avenue and the business building at
612 Third Avenue. He is a democrat, a member of the
Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, the Guyan Country Club, the
Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce and the Credit Men’s

In March, 1911, at Georgetown, Kentucky, Mr. Johnson
married Miss Grace Bice, a native of Fleming County,
Kentucky, and a graduate of Hamilton College, Lexington.