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H. Russell Johnson, Business Leader and City Councilman

Charlton County Herald

by R. Ward Harrison, Editor

August 25, 1950

A member of one of Charlton’s most prominent and useful early families, H. Russell Johnson is a native and practically a life long resident of this community. He was born on March 17 of 1904 at the old Johnson family homestead about five miles west of Folkston where his forebears settled in the early days of this area.

Growing up to manhood on his father’s farm near Bethel Church, Russell attended the common schools of the community in which he obtained his education. The story of his early forebears who settled here about 1825, coming from Tattnall County, has been told in previous sketches of this series.

The Johnson family has been prominent in the affairs of Charlton County since that early date when this territory was a wilderness, having served in many offices of trust and responsibility and maintained high standards of citizenship.

The subject of this sketch is a son of the late Judge J.H. Johnson and Mrs. Annie Gay Johnson, the latter now being a resident of this city. He is a member of a large family of brothers and sisters, most of whom now reside in this community.

The late Honorable J.H. Johnson, his father, served the county as Tax Collector and later as Judge of the County Court. He was a successful sawmill operator and farmer, being widely regarded as one of the county’s best citizens.

Russell continued to live on his father’s farm near this city until about twenty years old when he went to Sebring, Fla. He remained there for about one year, during which he held a position with the city government in the electrical department.

Returning to Folkston he entered the sawmill and lumber business about 1925 in association with his father and brother, E.H. Johnson, under the firm name of J. H. Johnson and Sons. He continued with this enterprise with sawmill operations centered first in Folkston, then near the Walter Davis place and later at Racepond until the business was discontinued in 1942. This concern carried on extensive sawmill and lumbering operations, being one of the largest enterprises of its kind in operation here at that time.

After the sawmill business was discontinued, Mr. Johnson established a cross tie business of his own and continued to carry on extensive operations of this line for a period of two years, having secured timber leases for cross tie purposes on a large tract of land.

After retiring from the cross tie business, Mr. Johnson, in association with Vandell Bennett and Dan Dinkins, established a garage business in the old City Service Station location in 1944 where he continued to operate a Sinclair Service Station and general auto repair business until this year.

Early this year he began construction of a modern motel and cafe located at the intersection of U.S. Highways 1 and 301 north of the city. The cafe building was the first unit of this enterprise known as the Georgian Motel-Cafe, to be completed and has been in operation for several months. The modern 25-unit motel structure, now under construction, will be completed in the next few weeks, in time for the fall tourist business. In this enterprise he has a capable associate, Colquitt Hopkins, being a co-partner in the business.

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Mr. Johnson also owns valuable real estate holdings along the highway in that vicinity as well as other extensive real estate investments in the county. He has sold several valuable business sites along the highway, some of which have been developed and others planned for early use. This development has contributed greatly to the city’s progress in recent months.

Friendly and genial in personality, he has been active in civic affairs, meeting in full his obligations and responsibilities as a progressive public-spirited citizen. He has served for a number of years on the Folkston city council, being a member of that body at the present time. He is a member of the Methodist Church and also of the Masonic Lodge and the W.O.W.

In 1936 Mr. Johnson was united in marriage to Miss Betty Edge of this city. They have no children, but he has a son, Russell, Jr., by a previous marriage.

Charlton  County Archives