Let’s Talk Clovis: Herbert G. and Anna Johnson, 1902 Clovis pioneers

Herbert G. Johnson, 1920 and 1922 Clovis Rodeo Grand Marshal. (Photo courtesy of Clovis Museum)

Herbert’s parents Samuel Johnson (1831-1893) and Hannah Hall Johnson (1842-1877) lived in New York state when he was born in 1866. He died at age 61 in Clovis on Feb. 11, 1927.

He lived in Northfield, Minnesota in 1893. His two brothers Dr. Asa Miller Johnson was born in Northfield (1870-1950) and Hartland C. John was born in St. Paul.

Herbert married Anna Johnson (born 1883, Indiana). They arrived in Clovis area in 1902. The 1910 census listed their home at 3102 East Tulare Street (southeast corner of north First Street), Fresno.

His employment was listed as secretary to a Farmer’s Union and as a farmer. The Johnsons purchased farm property in Clovis bounded by Herndon, Clovis, Sunnyside and Sierra. Later they built a home in Clovis at 867 Palo Alto.

We are quoting portions from Clovis’ Living Legend Yoshito Takahashi’s presentation at “Let’s Talk Clovis” on June 11, 2002 of the Johnson’s friendship with his parents Yoshibei and Shizuyo:

“My father arrived in Tacoma, Washington on June 18, 1900. My father liked orchards, so in 1904 he headed down the Central Valley and settled in Clovis where he was fortunate to find work with Mr. Herbert and Mrs. Anna Johnson.

Their ranch included orchards, vineyards and olive trees, some of which are still visible today. As an early pioneer of the town and a prominent member of the community, Mr. Johnson was selected as the Grand Marshall of the Clovis Parade in 1920 and again in 1922.

The Johnson’s liked my father and made him the foreman of their ranch, which included oversight of about 20 seasonal workers, many of whom were also of Japanese descent. With a steady job and good prospects for the future, my father sent for my mother in Japan and they got married in 1910.

In 1947, I married Yoshiye Takata of Clovis. Mrs. Johnson gave us an acre of land as a wedding gift (6894 N. Clovis Ave.).”

Herbert was a charter member of the Clovis Masonic Lodge No. 417 that was chartered on Oct. 3, 1910. The lodge first met on the second floor of the John Good Hall ( northeast corner of Fifth and Clovis Ave, now Goode Ol’ Days antique store). They moved to Freitas Hall on the southwest corner of Fifth and Clovis avenues (now 500 Club restaurant). They paid $13 per month rent.

Herbert was active in the Lodge. In 1920, the Lodge bought lots on the northeast corner of Fourth and Pollasky ($5,750). They planned to build a two story building with commercial rental on the first floor and the Lodge would occupy the top. Financial problems occurred and they were forced to sell the property for $2,000.

Herbert and Anna established the Johnson Insurance Agency in 1920. It was located at 647 Fifth Street. Herbert died in 1927 and Anna continued the business.

Anna hired Edna Rogers (my mother) in 1946, who remained with her until Anna’s death in 1955. Edna purchased the business at that time.

In 1961 Johnson Insurance Agency merged with the Clovis Insurance Agency. The Clovis Insurance Agency had been formed in 1936 by Harold and Juanita Fine. Carl McDonald (Clovis Mayor 1962-1965) and his wife Cleo had joined them in 1957.

The Johnsons are part of our rich heritage.

Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.