Collection Title: George B. Johnson Esq. Letterbooks
Collection Number: 186
Dates of Collection: 1908-1918
Box Numbers: 1-7
Repository: Chester County Historical Society
Project Archivist: Shannon Steel
The collection consists of legal letters from George B. Johnson to his clients, other lawyers, and debtors.
George Brinton Johnson was born to parents Benjamin D. and Elizabeth Coale Johnson of Chester County on February 8, 1858. He is one of at least four children; his siblings consist of sisters Lydia Coale Sharpless, inventor of the Sharpless Bread Mixer, and Mrs. J. Johnson Sidwell, and brother Richard H. Johnson. He attended Chester County public schools and Westtown Friends Boarding School. On May 29, 1889, Johnson married Mary Cooke and the couple had daughter Maijorie in 1894. Maijorie had one child, Richard Standish Good.
An attorney, in 1880 Johnson was admitted to the Chester County and Philadelphia County bars. In September 1880, Johnson opened the first law office in West Grove. He practiced in State, Federal, and U.S. Supreme Courts. He worked for political reforms and establishing a non-partisan judiciary. Johnson was a member to the Society of Friends, the American Bar Association, and a lifelong Republican.
After a brief illness Johnson passed away in November 1948 at age 91. His wife had died several years before, and his daughter died on December 24, 1964 in her 70th year.
The collection consists of 13 letterbooks containing legal letters from George B. Johnson to his clients, other lawyers, and debtors. Most letters involve helping clients retrieve money from their debtors; however there are several political letters and business letters concerning the Sharpless Bread Mixer are included. Johnson deals with wills, mortgages, estates, divorces, debts, deeds, and leases. Many letters concern Shriver, Bartlett, and Co., Strawbridge & Clothier, International Harvester Co. of America, the Sharpless Bread Co., and the Darlington estate. The dates of the letters range from October 24, 1908 through January 12, 1918.
Folder 1: October 24, 1908- July 7, 1909
Volume has an index. Several letters concern the fight against the annexation of Valley View by the Coatesville borough. Several letters concern the patent of the Sharpless Bread Mixer.
Folder 2: July 7, 1909- May 6, 1910
Volume has an index. Several letters, many to Wm. Meade Fletcher, Esq., concern the Pennsylvania Railroad and its “railroad grab.”
Folder 3: May 7, 1910- March 25, 1911
Volume has an index. A letter reveals that Johnson could be hired annually at a $10 fee. Several political letters are included concerning the Keystone Party and Judge Lindsay’s book The Beast.
Folder 4: March 25, 1911- January 23, 1912
Volume has an index. Contains letters concerning the history of saloon and eating house licenses in the county.
Folder 5: January 23, 1912- November 15, 1912
Volume has an index. Volume contains letters concerning a lease and land conflict between Guthrie and the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Folder 6: November 15, 1912- August 4, 1913
Volume has an index. Contains letters concerning the bread mixer patents of Sharpless Bread, Co. Also contains letters about the liquor law and the Octoraro Hotel’s violations of the law.
Folder 7: August 6, 1913- May 9, 1914
Volume has an index. Contains several letters about the embezzlement from the Darlington estate.
Folder 8: May 11, 1914- December 14, 1914
Volume has an index. Includes a letter outlining the restrictions placed upon minors working, especially in quarries. Includes several letters concerning the Sharpless Bread Co. and the bread mixer.
Folder 9: December 14, 1914- July 11, 1915
Volume does not include an index. Includes several letters concerning a young mail clerk with the railroad who was arrested while believing that he was able to travel for free.
Folder 10: July 10, 1915- February 16, 1916
Volume has an index. Several letters concern the Brandywine Celebration. Mentions in a letter that President Poincaire of France wanted a tree from the Brandywine Battlefield where Lafayette was wounded and the tree was sent to him.
Folder 11: February 17, 1916- September 13, 1916
Volume has an index. A letter concerns Mrs. John T. Chambers’ moving picture royalties.
Folder 12: September 14, 1916- April 21, 1917
Volume has an index. Johnson has a case that falls under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. Several letters are written to Johnson’s family members about their parent’s estate and money distribution.
Folder 13: April 21, 1917- January 12, 1918
Volume has an index. Johnson writes a letter to A. Bruce Bielaski, Esq. of Chief Bureau oflnvestigations, Depaiiment of Justice about a book in the West Chester Public Library entitled The Vampire of the Continent by Count E. Reventlow and translated by Chatte1ion-Hill (German spy). Johnson writes that the book raises support for the German war effort and if investigators follow the books trail back to New York they will uncover enemies of the United States.