Museum Founder, Martin E. Johnson, Dies at 95
gathering of preservationists, friends and family
will be held at Garfield Farm Museum on Sunday,
October 21, from 1:00 – 4:00 pm.
Eugene Johnson, 95, retired Vice President of Finance at
Furnas Electric and founder of Garfield Farm Museum died
September 11, 2018 at his home in Campton Hills, IL.
late wife Eve, a volunteer historic preservationist for
over 30 years, coaxed him to help with many of her
preservation activities. His greatest community contribution
was the establishment of Garfield Farm Museum. Martin
was the initial significant financial source of support for
Eve’s efforts to establish and preserve Illinois’ only
historically intact 366 acre former 1840s prairie farmstead
and inn as an 1840s living history museum.
retirement, he continued as treasurer and board member of
the museum’s land preservation agency, Campton Historic
Agricultural Lands helping expand the museum from 163 to 375
acres. In 2007, he sold a conservation easement on his
acreage to Campton Township’s Open Space Program, making it
possible for the township to reach their minimum 50-acre
requirement to establish Harley Woods Open Space, protecting
the CHAL's Garfield Harley Pond & Woods. One of his
greatest pleasures in later years was walking into the woods
with his German shepherds, Tucky and Lucy Belle.
was born on November 3, 1922 to A. Martin and Anna E.
Peterson Johnson. His grandfather, Nels Peterson, a dairy
farmer, owned the adjacent 200 acres to his parents’ 30-acre
farmstead in Campton Township. Though surrounded by farms,
Martin's father, a 1913 Swedish emigre, chose to be a
tractor mechanic in Elburn, IL. Combined with his mother’s
love of farming and living all but 6 years of his life in
Campton, Martin developed a love of the land and a great
knowledge of local history that amazed local residents
Attending Wasco School through the 10th grade he graduated
from Elburn High School in 1940. Encouraged by his father to
attend college, he enrolled in the University of Illinois
where he received a degree in electrical engineering. He
completed his degree in February 1944 but having enlisted in
1942, he was called to active duty in January of 1944. He
served in the Signal Corps and worked on the development of
radar. Headed to the west coast for Pacific theatre
deployment, the dropping of the atomic bomb spared him from
combat and he was discharged in May of 1946.
In June of 1946, he married Evelyn Choice
Steinbeck of Kentucky and began a lifelong career at Furnas
Electric in Batavia, IL. They built their home on wooded
acreage next to his parent’s farm. The couple began married
life and raised a family in the post war years. In 1962,
Martin received his MBA from the University of Chicago’s
Executive Program. Having worn many hats working at Furnas
Electric, he joined the financial department advancing to
Vice President of Finance, retiring in 1988.
in the local community first began volunteering where his
grandfather had been a chartered member of Grace Lutheran
Church of Lily Lake. He and Eve helped establish the first
Cub Scout Pack 150 in Wasco, IL.
him in death were his wife Eve, his parents, in-laws Jerry
M. and Annye Moyers Steinbeck, brother-in-laws Stanford
Steinbeck and his wife, Eloise Bragg Steinbeck and Julyn G.
Steinbeck and Therese Pobutsky Steinbeck. He is survived by
daughter Ceil “Chris” Choice Johnson, son Jerome Martin
Johnson and daughter-in-law Ann Brack Johnson, his
niece Wanda Marie Steinbeck, and cousin Marvin Oquist of New
gathering of preservationists, friends and family will be
held at Garfield Farm Museum on Sunday, October 21 from 1:00
– 4:00 PM. A fund in Martin’s name is being established
for Garfield Farm Museum Box 403 LaFox, IL 60147. For
information, call the museum at 630 584-8485 or email firstname.lastname@example.org