The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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January 3, 2007

LIFE STORIES: Jerry Johnson sees life, history as a cycle

Civic leader’s own roots go deep in Mercer’s heritage

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another installment in our twice-monthly series “Life Stories,” profiles of everyday people who lend us insight into life and times in Mercer County.

JOHN G. “Jerry” Johnson of Mercer has been involved in the Mercer County Historical Society since its very beginning. His interest in history isn’t merely academic. It’s a passionate, personal, lifelong quest to learn and appreciate what has happened in the past so we can understand the present and shape the future.

“I think from history comes what is and what is to be,” he says. “It’s cyclical. Historian Arnold Toynbee wrote about Rota Fortuna, the Wheel of Fortune. You start out in slavery, then you have freedom, you have prosperity, then finally you get into apathy, and then back into slavery.”

Jerry’s family history, as well as his own life, has given him a unique perspective of many aspects of Mercer County history and its cycles. His grandparents came from England and Sweden in the fourth quarter of the 19th century. They settled in Pardoe, six miles east of Mercer.

“Pardoe was very prominent back then,” Jerry said. “The railroad went through there, and they shipped many, many railroad cars of coal out of that area. My father, John Adolf Johnson, ran all the water pumps at No. Five Mine in the early 1900s. During World War I, he owned a coal mine at Five Points, in Findley Township. He told me how they used to haul coal out to the county home in dray wagons.

“He also told me when they were building the courthouse, the big pillars that are on the east and west sides of the courthouse came from a stone quarry that was a little east of town, which is still there. They were turned on a huge lathe at the bottom of East Market Street and hauled by dray wagons to the courthouse.”

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