Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Johnson, Rossiter

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JOHNSON, Rossiter, author, b. in Rochester, N. Y., 27 Jan., 1840. His father, Reuben Johnson (1791-1876), was one of the small company that, with three old guns, drove off the British fleet that bombarded Stonington, Conn., in 1814. He was educated at Williams, and was for many years a teacher in Rochester. The son was graduated at the University of Rochester in 1863, delivering the poem on class-day. In 1864-'8 he was connected with Robert Carter (q. v.) in editing the Rochester “Democrat,” a Republican newspaper, and in 1869-72 was editor of the Concord, N. H., “Statesman.” In 1873-'7 he was associated with Messrs. Ripley and Dana in editing the “American Cyclopædia,” and in 1879-'80 with Sydney Howard Gay in the preparation of the last two volumes of his “History of the United States.” In 1883 he became editor of the “Annual Cyclopaedia.” He devised and edited the series of “Little Classics” (16 vols., Boston, 1874-'5; two additional vols., 1880; 25th ed., 1887), and has also edited “Works of the British Poets, with Biographical Sketches” (3 vols., New York, 1876); “Famous Single and Fugitive Poems” (1877); “Play-Day Poems” (1878); and, with Charles A. Dana, “Fifty Perfect Poems” (1882). In 1876 he tried the experiment of making an abbreviated edition of some of the greater novels of the English language (4 vols., 16 mo., New York). Mr. Johnson has written, besides numerous contributions to periodicals, “Phaeton Rogers, a Novel of Boy Life,” first published as a serial in “St. Nicholas” (New York, 1881); “A History of the War between the United States and Great Britain in 1812-'15” (1882); “A History of the French War, ending in the Conquest of Canada” (1882); “Idler and Poet,” a small volume of verses, of which the most popular is the hot-weather poem “Ninety-nine in the Shade” (Boston, 1883); and “A Short History of the War of Secession,” first published serially in the New York “Examiner,” (1888). — His wife, Helen Kendrick, author, a daughter of Asahel C. Kendrick (q. v.), was educated at the Oread institute, Worcester, Mass., and was married in 1869. In 1886 she founded in New York the Meridian, a woman's club, which meets once a month, at mid-day, for the discussion of social, economical, and literary topics. She has contributed to periodicals, is the author of “The Roddy Books” (3 vols., New York, 1874-'6) and “Raleigh Westgate” (1889), and has edited “Tears for the Little Ones, Poems and Passages inspired by the Loss of Children” (Boston, 1878); “Our Familiar Songs, and Those who made Them” (New York, 1881); “Poems and Songs for Young People” (1884); and “The Nutshell Series” (6 small vols., 1885). — His brother, Alexander Byron, educator, was graduated at Oberlin in 1853, and has since been a teacher at Avondale, Ohio. In 1875 he was president of the Ohio teachers' association, in 1881-'3 was a member of the State board of examiners, and for several years he has been a lecturer at institutes in western states. — His sister, Evangeline Maria, was graduated at Rochester free academy, and in 1877 married Joseph O'Connor, a journalist and poet. She has translated “Fire and Flame,” from the German of Levin Schücking (New York, 1876), and has prepared “An Analytical Index to the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne” (Boston, 1882), and “An Index to the Works of Shakspere” (New York and London, 1887). She has contributed numerous poems to periodicals, the best-known of which is that entitled “Daughters of Toil.”