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Mose Johnson. Sarah Patrick and Timothy Lindenborn Saint Jo High School Shelly McAninch Saint Jo, TX Montague County. The Early Life of Mose Johnson. Mose Johnson was born on January 2 nd , 1881, in Montague County to Mose H. and Sarah Johnson. He was the youngest of five children.

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mose johnson

Mose Johnson

Sarah Patrick and Timothy Lindenborn

Saint Jo High School

Shelly McAninch

Saint Jo, TX

Montague County

the early life of mose johnson
The Early Life of Mose Johnson
  • Mose Johnson was born on January 2nd, 1881, in Montague County to Mose H. and Sarah Johnson. He was the youngest of five children.
  • In 1884, Johnson’s father died when he was three years old. Shortly after his father’s death, his mother gave him a baby chick to teach him responsibility, thus creating a lifelong interest in poultry.
the chicken and bread boys
The Chicken and Bread Boys

Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

The Johnsons celebrated their 50th anniversary with the Carter family.

Johnson, along with Amon G. Carter, convinced the owner of the Jarrett Hotel to cook fried chicken and biscuits to sell to passengers on The Fort Worth and Denver Railway due to the lack of dining cars on both trains. Neither trains had a dining car, so each day the trains would stop in Bowie for their passengers to have a light meal. This proved to be a very profitable business for the two men.

m johnson poultry ranch
M. Johnson Poultry Ranch

Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

The original white leghorn rooster.

  • With his wife, Johnson founded the M. Johnson Poultry Ranch in 1904 on the outskirts of Bowie in Montague County. At one point, the M. Johnson Poultry Ranch was the largest in the world. His initial investment was fifteen dollars for five superior single comb white leghorns hens and one rooster.
  • The chickens were bred to produce an abundance of large quality eggs.
m johnson poultry ranch1
M. Johnson Poultry Ranch

Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

This particular incubator could hold 10,000 eggs; one of the largest at the time.

In 1909 a severe storm destroyed a large portion of the M. Johnson Poultry Ranch. After the storm Johnson built an incubator known as “Johnson’s Big Hen.”

The news of this incubator, plus the growing size of the ranch, attracted 20,000 people annually.

m johnson poultry ranch2
M. Johnson Poultry Ranch
  • Johnson shipped out day old chicks by American Railway Express wagons. These chicks were shipped to every state in the union. They were also shipped to Mexico, Central and South America, Canada, and China.

Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

Wagons were loaded with custom boxes

full of day-old chicks.

m johnson poultry ranch3
M. Johnson Poultry Ranch
  • Johnson used a record keeping system that kept track of the quantity and quality of eggs being produced.
  • Part of this system included identifying the hens and roosters and then numbering the eggs. Only the best eggs produced were sold.

Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

At the ranch’s peak, the incubators held 250,000 eggs every three weeks.

mose johnson s house
Mose Johnson’s House

Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

“The House that White Leghorns Built”

  • The family house was completed in 1924. It took one year’s worth of profits from the ranch to build the home. The house was used as an advertisement claiming if Johnson could build a house on profits from a poultry business, anything was possible for customers who bought his chicks.
mose johnson s house1
Mose Johnson’s House
  • Johnson built an above-ground cement pool in the early 1910s. He opened the pool to the public, attracting cotton buyers wishing to escape the Texas heat. They also gave lessons to local children.

Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

Johnson giving formal swimming lessons.

final days
Final Days
  • After Johnson’s death in 1960, his wife continued to expand the business in Bowie and Wichita Falls. The M. Johnson poultry ranch closed after Mabel’s death in 1974.

Photo courtesy of Vicki Jones.

Mose Johnson with his wife, Mabel.

sources
Sources

Gillette, Shannon Castle. Bowie and Montague County. Arcadia Publishing, 2013.

All photos courtesy of Vicki Jones.