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Johnson, Margaret, 1915-



  • Existence: 1915-


Margaret Maurine Barkley was born on June 9, 1915 in Appanoose County, Iowa to Samuel E. and Mary Moore Barkley. Barkley graduated from Moulton High School in 1932 with a normal training certificate. Ineligible to teach until she reached her eighteenth birthday, Barkley worked in her uncle's law office. Barkley then taught in a one-room school in 1933 and 1934. During that time she managed to send money to her parents and set aside enough funds so that when she married Kenneth Paul Johnson in 1935 she was able to purchase four heifers. The Johnsons farmed in Davis County, Iowa. Johnson became a farmwife and homemaker, giving birth to four children: Carolyn May (born 1936), David Paul (deceased), Richard Gale (born 1945) and Roberta Diane (born 1952).

During the World War II teacher shortage, Johnson was asked to return to the classroom. For two years she taught at a rural school near her home. Her pupils included her eldest child, Carolyn. After the war Johnson's husband did custom work, having two of the earliest self-propelled combines and a bulldozer. At one time he followed the Kansas wheat harvest while Margaret Johnson and their children kept the Grade A Dairy and farm going. On March 13, 1964 Kenneth Johnson was killed in a bulldozer accident on the Johnson farm. His son Gale left his job with the Maytag Corporation in Newton, Iowa to return to the family farm where he did the heavy work while his mother Margaret Johnson did the milking chores. Realizing that she needed an easier way to make a living, Johnson enrolled at Centerville Community College, attending night classes at first. After earning her associate degree in 1968, Johnson enrolled at Northeast Missouri State Teacher's College (now Truman State University) in Kirksville, Missouri, receiving her B.A. in education in 1970. Johnson continued operating the dairy throughout her college career. In 1970 Johnson was honored for her outstanding achievements by being awarded the Iowa Master Farm Homemaker Award.

Johnson was hired as a first grade teacher in the Davis County Community School District in 1970. She taught for twelve years before retiring at age sixty-seven. Before retirement Johnson completed both the regular program and the master's program in writing for children offered by the Institute of Children's Literature, Redding Ridge, Connecticut. An avid writer of poetry, Johnson wrote and published numerous children's stories, poems, and various types of articles. Johnson sang at weddings, funerals, church events and other special occasions, both as a soloist and in duets, and won numerous ribbons for her quilting.

In her mid-eighties, Johnson wrote that her faith in God was the most important influence in her life. She raised her family in a small country church: Monterey Christian, Disciples of Christ. Johnson served as the church treasurer for many years, taught Sunday school for sixty years, sponsored youth groups, and hosted student ministers. In addition to her lifelong church membership, Johnson was active in the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Christian Women's Fellowship, Davis County Hospital Auxiliary, Welcome Neighbor Club, Iowa Poetry Association, Delta Kappa Gamma Society, Society of Children's Book Writers, Davis County Farm Bureau Women and in 4H as a leader.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Margaret Johnson papers

Identifier: IWA0369

Farm woman, teacher, and recipient of the Master Farm Homemaker award in 1970.

Dates: 1929-2001