| This biography appears on pages 1119-1120 in "History of South Dakota" by Doane Robinson, Vol. II (1904) |
WILLIAM H. JOHNSTON was born in Blue Earth county, Minnesota,
November 7, 1860, and is one of a family of six children, four sons and two daughters, whose parents were John and Elizabeth (Sharp) Johnston,
both natives of Scotland. John Johnston, a blacksmith by trade, came to the United States in 1855 and the following year settled in Blue Earth
county, Minnesota, where he worked at his chosen calling for a number of
years, a part of the time being in the employ of the government. Of his children all are living but the youngest, George, who was killed in a
railroad wreck on the Northern Pacific Railroad while making his last run as express messenger, prior to entering upon his duties as auditor,
to which position he had been promoted a short time before.
William H. Johnston was reared in his native county and state, and
after receiving a public school education prepared himself for active life by taking a commercial course in the Curtis Business College at
Minneapolis, from which institution he was graduated with the class of 1888. Shortly after receiving his diploma he came to South Dakota and
located at the newly settled town of South Shore, Codington county, where he engaged in the hardware business, opening the first store in
the place with that line of goods as a specialty. After building up a successful trade and continuing the same for a few months, he disposed
of his stock and began the manufacture of flour, the mill which he ran during the ensuing three years being also the first enterprise of the
kind in the village of South Shore. Selling his mill at the expiration of the above time, Mr. Johnston turned his attention to real estate and
he has since been dealing in the same, doing a large and lucrative business in Codington and adjacent counties, and he has also extended
his operations in man, other parts of the state, meeting with the most encouraging success in all of his transactions. In addition to his
private concerns, Mr. Johnston has been an active participant in the public affairs of his town and county, having served as school trustee
of the former ever since its incorporation, and for the last fifteen years he has acted as justice of the peace. He is also chairman of the
local school board and his activity in behalf of the cause of education has resulted in great and permanent benefit to the school system of
On April 25, 1899, Mr. Johnston was appointed by President
McKinley postmaster of South Shore, and since that time he has filled the office with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of the people,
proving a most courteous and efficient public servant. In addition to his business affairs and official duties he is now largely interested in
live stock, owning a fine tract of land near South Shore, which is well stocked with a fine herd of graded shorthorn cattle.
In politics Mr. Johnston is one of the leading Republicans of his
part of the county, and it was in recognition of his valuable services to the party as well as on account of his peculiar fitness that he was
honored with the various official positions referred to in preceding paragraphs. Fraternally he is identified with the Ancient Order of
United Workmen and Modern Woodmen of America, being foreman of the former society at the present time. He was married December 12, 1888, to
Miss Mary Benedict, of Wisconsin, daughter of Thomas and Harriet Benedict, and has a family of four children, Dean, Lyle, Rex and Elsie.
Mr. Johnston is prominent in the religious affairs of South Shore and, with his wife, belongs to the Congregational church.