Johnson, Ransom

Pioneer, Physician, Farmer, War of 1812 Veteran

Birth: February 25, 1790, Woodbridge, New Haven County, Connecticut

Death: June 25, 1870, Hartford, Trumbull County, Ohio
Burial: Dunlap Cemetery

Military Service: Ransom Johnson served from August 24 to November 11, 1812, in Captain Asa Hutchins' Company, 3rd (Hayes') Regiment, Oh
io Militia, in the War of 1812. Capt. Hutchins' company contained many men from Vienna Township.[1]

Ransom Johnson was a physician in Vienna, having settled in the township in 1812. Johnson's brick house, which likely doubled as his medical office, stands (2014) on Lot #10, on the west side of Scoville-North Road. Land he owned included the parcel now known as Dunlap Cemetery. Interestingly, his occupation was listed as "farmer" on the federal censuses of 1850 and 1860. His death notice (above right) appeared in the Western Reserve Chronicle on July 6, 1870.

Medical Practice
Johnson's life spanned many changes in American medical practice in the nineteenth century, including the institution of training through medical schools and regulation through state licensing laws. Against this movement toward professionalization were medical practitioners who engaged in what today would be called "alternative medicine" but was simply a continuation of traditional practices. Particularly popular in Ohio was the medical system of Vermonter Samuel Thomson (1769-1843) who, in 1822, published New Guide to Health, or Botanic Family Physician. Thomson believed in the use of natural herbs in "curing disease with vegetable medicine"; his motto was "every man his own physician."

Johnson likely practiced the Thomsonian System, for his name appears in 1834 as an agent for for the first issues of Thomson's monthly magazine entitled the Thomsonian Botanic Watchman.[2] He served as agent for The Thomsonian Recorder in 1834.[3] The journal published at least one letter from a Vienna resident, one W. C. Wells, in that volume (page 303).

Around 1835, Johnson's brother-in-law, sixteen-year-old Abner Banning, joined the household. He assisted in the preparation of medicines, and, according to a late-nineteenth-century history, "studied medicine some, and also practiced for a while."[4] This may be evidence of Johnson's Thomsonian practice. (Evidence of a botanical society in Vienna Township may be found in the first volume of The Thomsonian Recorder in 1833.[5] )

Public Service
Johnson served, in 1843, as treasurer of Vienna School Number 3.

Private Life
Johnson married three times: Elizabeth Williams (1791-1816), on February 19, 1812; Currance Hawkins (1797-1834), on January 19, 1817; and Usebe (Useba or Eusebia) Minerva Banning (1810-1897), on December 2, 1835.


This entry is adapted from Fred L. Martin and James Bradley, "A Genealogical History of Vienna," in Vienna, Ohio, "Where We Live and Let Live": Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), pp. 74-75. Additional research by Shirley T. Wajda, February 2012.

[1] Adjutant General of Ohio, Roster of Ohio Soldiers in the War of 1812 (Columbus, Ohio: Press of the Edward T. Miller Co., 1916), p. 88. Johnson is listed as "Rausen Johnson."
[2]  Ransom Johnson's names appears twice in Volume I of the Thomsonian Botanic Watchman: Volume 1, No. 1 (October 1, 1834), p. 158, and Volume 1, No. 11 (November 1, 1834), p. 175. The journal may be accessed online: http://books.google.com/books?id=ycIhAQAAMAAJ&dq.
[3]  The Thomsonian Recorder was published in Columbus, Ohio. Volume 2 is available in digital form at: http://books.google.com/books?id=_cYWAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA303&dq.
[4]  Biographical History of Northeastern Ohio Embracing the Counties of Ashtabula, Trumbull and Mahoning. … (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1893), p. 443.
[5]  "Communications," The Thomsonian Recorder, Volume 1, Number 11 (March 2, 1833), pp. 266-67. Available in digital form at: http://books.google.com/books?id=YXF7XhIydmQC.