Edward C. A. Johnson, former mayor of Virginia and for many years practically engaged in many phases of civic development, of which the citizens feel justly proud, is a native of the kingdom of Norway, born there February 1, 1880, but has been a resident of this part of Minnesota for more than thirty years.
Mr. Johnson is a son of Johan O. and Christina M. (Sather) Johnson, who immigrated to this country in 1891, among other reasons to give their children better opportunities than were available in the old country. Some few years prior to 1891 the father came on a tour of inspection to the United States, to look over the situation generally before bringing his family. Johan O. Johnson had been operating a bakery and confectionery store in Norway. He returned to that country in 1891, and on again coming to the United States, brought the entire family back with him to the United States, on arrival here going on out to Minnesota and locating at Duluth. He was employed for a time at the Scandinavian Bakery in the West End, but in 1892 moved to West Superior.
Later on he lived and proved up on a homestead at Iron Junction, but eventually moved to Virginia, where he now resides. The elder Mr. Johnson has never had any reason to look backward, having been successful in his undertakings from the very beginning.
Edward C. A. Johnson, when twelve years old, accompanied his parents from Norway. He learned the baker’s trade while working with his father and continued thus engaged until the premises were burned out in the great fire of 1900. After that disaster had been overcome he started a bakery on his own account in Virginia, and has continued in the bakery business ever since, extending the scope of his trade with the passing years and now enjoying a large connection.
When a young man Mr. Johnson became interested in the work of the Virginia volunteer fire department and served as a volunteer throughout the disastrous fire of 1900, and at the age of twenty-two had become the chief of the Virginia fire department. He realized that after the serious losses involved by the general fires of 1900 Virginia was sorely in need of fire protection. This view created two factions. Mr. Johnson, in view of his public worth as a citizen, was induced to run for the office of alderman in 1912. He had the singular experience of being nominated by one faction, endorsed by the opposing faction, and elected without opposition. He was subsequently re-elected to the same office for two succeeding terms. During his first term he was an earnest advocate of public paving, and he has never ceased being keenly interested in and an active supporter of all civic improvements. He was appointed on the commission that adopted the first charter, and upon its adoption was appointed a member of the first police and fire commission.
In 1918 the citizens of Virginia further honored Mr. Johnson by electing him mayor of the city, and he served the public in this representative capacity for two years—the period covered by the participation of the United States in the World war. During his administration the maintenance of order in a community largely composed of cosmopolitans occupied much of his time. A market place, which had been under consideration for many years, was established, enabling the producers and consumers to come into direct contact. Mayor Johnson took a very active and patriotic part in supporting all movements promoting war activities, and he was vice president of the Virginia Defense League.
On January 15, 1904, Mr. Johnson was married to Cora Johnson, and they have five living children: Charles Edward, Janice Christina, Olivia Josephine, John Albert and George William. Two children died: Edward Robert and one unnamed. Mr. Johnson is an earnest member of the Lutheran Church and of the Masonic Order, the Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. As an Odd Fellow he has achieved distinction and served in 1913-14 as grand patriarch of the Grand Encampment of the state of Minnesota. In 1915 he was elected a representative to the Sovereign Grand Lodge at San Francisco. Mr. Johnson enjoys the confidence of all classes of his fellow citizens, and he and his wife give of their time and abilities to the furtherance of all projects intended to advance the community welfare.