Wednesday, September 29, 2010

W. J. Johnson's - Shoe Maker.

This image was sent to us by Ed Miller - a fan of our site.  The shoe shop was located on 18th Street. It is hard to determine the date - but had to be taken before 1922, the year the man on the left (William John Johnson) died. Ed dates the photo circa 1910 and that seems about right. Here's how Ed describes the photograph:
"My great-great-grandfather, Jacob Johnson came to Virginia from Bavaria before the Civil War. St. Mary's German Catholic Church in Richmond recorded his name as "Janson" on his children's baptismal records, which may have been the original spelling of his name.  The 1860 Census lists Jacob (and wife Wilhelmina) as a lock keeper on the Kanawha Canal in Goochland. Sometime after the war he settled in Richmond and made his living as a boot and shoe maker. His sons assisted in that trade and carried on the business after his death in 1877.
The 1880 Richmond City Directory continued to list Jacob Johnson as a shoemaker living at 23 North 18th Street. My great-grandfather, Charles Lawrence Johnson, worked for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad for over fifty years, but his brother, William John Johnson, continued as a shoe maker. The 1883-84 Richmond City Directory lists William J. Johnson, shoemaker, living at 21 North 18th Street. The 1900 City Directory lists William J. Johnson, shoemaker at 4 18th Street living at 382 Thirty Fourth Street, Port Mayo.
This undated image shows William John Johnson [Ed's great -grandfather's elder brother] on the left, an unnamed employee and a man in a dark suit. The interior of the shoe display case has "W. J. Johnson's" painted in the back. 
It would be interesting to know who the gentleman in the suit might be. He seems to be the reason for the picture-taking. I thought he might be a local politician going through the business area making contacts. The shoemakers appear to have momentarily stopped work in shirtsleeves and aprons just for the photo. The original photo had pencil marks that may have indicated crop marks for newspaper publication."
                       --  Ed Miller.