Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 59, page(s) 600-601


Elisha Johnson, a prominent member of the Hartford County Bar, died at his residence in Hartford, February 18th, 1891, after a brief illness resulting from an attack of bronchial pneumonia. He was born in Barkhamsted in this state, May 1st, 1818, and after the customary experience of the young men of his day in the district school, on the farm, and as a teacher, he entered the law school at Yale, and after completing his course he qualified for practice in the office of Gideon Hall at Winsted. He located at Plymouth, where he built up an excellent practice, and was for many years elected judge of probate, and was sent to the state Senate from the sixteenth district, in 1849, 1850, and 1852. In 1855 he removed to Hartford, where he continued in the active practice of his profession until his death. He was for two years recorder of the Hartford City Court and judge of the Police Court for three years, and was a member of the original board of police commissioners, which organized the police force in 1860. He was elected to the state Senate from the first district in 1860, 1861, 1870 and 1871, and to the House of Representatives in 1869, 1875 and 1876. He was for many years chairman of the school committee in the West Middle District of Hartford, and served for eleven years as chairman of the high school committee. He was appointed a member of the state board of health in 1886, and continued in that office until his death. He was one of the original members of Trinity Church Parish, and was an active officer and liberal supporter of his church during his whole life. For nearly twenty-five years, and until a short time before his death, he was the superintendent of its Sabbath school.

While residing in Plymouth he married Miss Catharine Tallmadge. Her death in August, 1889, was a shock from which he never rallied, and his rapid decline in health from that time was painfully evident to his friends. Three children - two daughters and one son, survive them.

Mr. Johnson's life - private, public and professional - was eminently of the useful type. He was an affectionate husband, a model parent, a good neighbor, a public spirited citizen. He was honest, capable, and industrious. He was well equipped mentally and physically for success as a legislator. His frame was large, erect, and well proportioned. His voice was distinct and his temper and feelings were always under control. In debate he never lost his head or rashly ventured into the discussion of subjects that he did not thoroughly understand, and so the leadership came to him by the cheerful consent of his colleagues. Outside of purely partisan questions (in which numbers, not reason, prevail) the majority was almost invariably with him. His associates had the fullest confidence in his integrity and never feared a hidden trick behind his advocacy.

In his legal practice he excelled as counselor, and preferred to secure an adjustment of differences between parties if possible outside the courtroom. No one could justly accuse him of looking to his own prospective profits in preference to the best interests of his client. Every cause that he tried before court, jury or committee, was tried honestly, intelligently and thoroughly. He lost no cases by neglect, neither did he seek to win by unworthy procedure. He advised his clients wisely, served them faithfully, and charged them reasonably. He was a safe model for the young practitioner's imitation. Every dollar that he collected was honestly accounted for to his principals. Every possibility of failure was frankly explained to the expectant litigant. During his professional life there were many young men who studied in his office and under his direction, but no one of them ever deflected from the straight line of professional or personal integrity by reason of his advice or example, in things great or small.