The late Orange Johnson, farmer and banker, was born in Mansfield, Connecticut, February 7, 1790. Until the year 1807 he resided with his parents, assisting his father in the cultivation of the farm, and attending school in the winter seasons. In that year he was apprenticed to a comb maker, to learn the trade, and continued in this business in Mansfield, Southington, Berlin, and Utica, New York, until 1814, when he started for Ohio, making his journey upon horseback, and paying his way by the sale of combs. On August 11, 1814, he arrived at Worthington, Ohio, and established the comb business in that place, on a capital of sixteen dollars and fifty cents, the aggregate of all the money he possessed. His first customer, Robert Neil, of the firm of William & Robert Neil, merchants of Urbana, made a wholesale purchase amounting to ten dollars and fifty cents. In order to pack his goods in a merchantable manner, and to show them off to the best advantage, he needed paper and twine, but a through search of the town failed in finding those articles. He secured the services of "Mother Fairfield" to spin the twine, and, in the morning, with this and with the paper, which, during the night, he had accidentally discovered, he was enabled to present Mr. Neil with his wholesale purchases in pro forma condition. The business, this commenced, grew rapidly and prosperously.
In 1827, he was appointed a commissioner to open a turnpike to Sandusky, and he was occupied in this labor about ten years. During this period he was engaged in farming and in dealing in real estate, his ventures being judiciously made. He was also appointed, with two other gentlemen, to make the first survey for a railroad to Xenia, and in all the public services to which he was called, he distinguished his labors by intelligence and by energy. For many years he was a director of the old Clinton bank, serving with his firm friend, D. W. Deshler. He was also a director in the Franklin National and State bank, and exhibited excellent qualities as a financier and a manager of responsible monetary institutions.
When Mr. Johnson first reached that section of the State which, for so long a time, was the scene of his active labors, he found it but sparsely settled, its many resources but partially developed, and most of its people comparatively poor. Only a small amount of money was in circulation, and this raised serious obstacles in the path of his business career, which could have discouraged men of less nerve and perseverance. In the face of adverse circumstances he carried on his business interests resolutely, and was able to gradually accumulate a large amount of property. He became a resident of Columbus in 1862, but before that time was prominently engaged in labor, which beneficially affected its permanent prosperity, and, since he became one of its citizens, aided largely in the support of public improvements. He erected the Johnson block and Sessions block and, in many ways, contributed to increase the vital business interests of the city. His foresight, good judgment and energy rendered him remarkably successful as a mechanic, farmer, manufacturer, contractor, and banker, and, while he acquired a large fortune, it was honorably earned. No man ever questioned his fair dealing and integrity of action, and no man deserved more than he the respect which the public accorded him. He retained his place as a partner in the Commercial bank after he was over fourscore years of age. He had the affection of his family, the warm friendship of associates, the comforts and luxuries of a home of ease, and with advancing years he found increasing, instead of decreasing contentment. He was married, in August, 1815 to Achsa Maynard. He died November 27, 1876.
His only daughter, Mary Johnson, married F. C. Sessions, banker of Columbus, Ohio, August 18, 1847.