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Mrs. Johnson did not commit suicide

To the Editor:

First, let me say that I try to read the Review every week and enjoy doing so. It is extremely informative and gives me a good idea of what goes on at the campus each week.

I found most interesting the article in the May 9 edition entitled "Movie Tells of Oberlin Ghosts," especially so since I am especially interested in Johnson House and its history, in part because I also live in a Queen Anne House.

There is one glaring piece of misinformation in the article that I would like to bring to your attention. It is the reference to Mrs. Johnson going on a rampage when she learned of her husband's death, and then committing suicide. Where that idea ever came from and having come ever got into print puzzles me. Obviously, no one checked that fictional story out with staff at the College archives or anywhere else with accurate information.

Mrs. Johnson continued to live in the house following her husband's tragic death until 1911 or 1912 when the property was purchased by the College. (Initially the College used it to house the then Oberlin Academy and following its demise it became a dorm for women.) Mrs. Johnson purchased the house at 190 Elm and lived in it until her death in 1915, her death being caused by cancer. Her funeral, according to news accounts, was held at the residence at 190 Elm. (I might add that people from that era told me long ago that there was surprise that Mrs. Johnson would move to a second house that was also very large although not as large as Johnson House. Apparently, she liked to live in large houses, could afford to do so, and did.)

I might add that the Johnson family is buried in an impressive mausoleum in Westwood Cemetery. I am told that the inside is lined with Italian marble and that craftsmen from Italy came to install it and do the engravings on it.

I hope all the staff will have restful and fun summer vacations.

-Richard Lothrop (Oberlin resident)

Editorials in this box are the responsibility of the editor-in-chief, managing editor and commentary editor, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the Review.

Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 25, May 23, 1997

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