Friday, March 20, 2015

The indenture of John (Lindquist) Johnston

The Lindquist/Johnston indenture has been laminated at some point, not a good idea when dealing with vintage documents. We don't know how or when the damage to it occurred.

Peter John Lindquist (1842-1926) arrived in Lucas County from his native Sweden during 1868, according to his obituary, with a wife and a son named John, also born in Sweden. Daughter Alma (or Elma) may have been born in either Sweden or the United States.

It appears that the wife and mother --- whose name is unknown --- died soon thereafter, ca. 1870, leaving Peter with two young children he felt incapable of raising on his own. 

So during September of 1870, Peter bound John, at age 6, to Matthew Johnston, a prominent farmer in the Oxford neighborhood just northeast of Chariton, and his wife, Eliza --- who had no children of their own. The arrangement, which seems harsh by 21st century terms, was expected to last until the little boy turned 21. Alma/Elma apparently was placed with another family, too, although no clear record of that has survived.

That arrangement binding John to the Johnstons was formalized with a document that somehow has managed to survive more than 140 years and some years ago, was added to the Lucas County Historical Society collection. It's a fascinating survivial, which reads as follows:


Chariton, Lucas Co., Iowa, Sept. 12th, 1870

This indenture made this 12th day of September A.D. 1870 between John Linquist of the age of six years on the (blank) day of March A.D. 1870, son of Peter Linquist of Lucas County, Iowa, of the one part, and Matthew Johnston of Lucas Co., Iowa, of the other part. Witnesseth:

That the said John Linquist by and with the consent of the said Peter Linquist his father, signified by the signature of the said Peter Linquist affixed to this indenture and by the free will and consent of the said John Linquist, hath placed and bound himself to service and to the service of the said Matthew Johnston to stay with and serve the said Matthew Johnston upon the farm to learn the work and business of a farmer or such other work or kind of work as the said Johnston may deem best to teach him and with him the said Matthew Johnson to dwell, continue and serve until the said John Linquist shall be twenty one years old, which will be on the (blank) day of March A.D. 1885, during all which time the said John Linquist shall well and faithfully serve his said master the said Matthew Johnston, keep his secrets and obey his lawful commands.

He shall do no damage to his said master nor willfully suffer any to be done by others and if any to his knowledge be intended he shall give his master reasonable notice thereof. He shall not waste the goods of his said master nor lend them unlawfully to any. He shall not play at cards, dice nor any unlawful games. He shall not contract matrimony during said term; he shall not haunt or frequent taverns, tippling houses or places of gaming. He shall not absent himself from the service of his said master but in all things and at all times shall demean and behave himself faithfully and properly toward said Johnston during the term aforesaid.

And the said Johnson agrees that he will teach and instruct said John Linquist in the business of farming and cause him to be taught or in whatsoever other business he may deem good and most proper for said Linquist and that he will find and allow to the said Linquist meat and drink, boarding, washing, lodging, suitable apparel for working and holidays and all other things fit and convenient for him under the circumstances during the term. And also he agrees to send said John Linquist to school at least four months in each year if there be a school kept that long within the district and to clothe him in a comfortable manner.

In witness whereof the said Peter Linquist and said Matthew Johnston have hereunto and to duplicates hereof set their hands the day and year first above written. 

(signed) Peter Linquist, Matthew Johnston

I hereby bind John Linquist to M. Johnston in accordance with the written indenture and consent that he be so bound & in consideration of the covenants in said indenture I bind myself for the faithful performance of said covenants by John Linquist & agree that he will perform them and that if he does not I will pay to M. Johnston what damage he, Johnston, thereby sustains.

(signed) Peter Linquist.


Although the terms of this indenture read harshly, it seems to have worked well for little John Lindquist. He took the surname Johnston and remained with Matthew and Eliza until their deaths, then (I'm guessing) inherited their property. He married Louise Webb during 1894 --- when he was 30 --- and they had five children, a daughter who died young and four sons. One of those sons was named John Lindquist Johnston.

It's possible that Matthew Johnston may have been a harsh man --- he was described in his 1913 obituary as "strong willed and uncompromising in his tolerance." But the obituary also lists John (Lindquist) Johnston, Louise and their four sons as survivors "whose residence in the home of the deceased constituted a mutual endearment." When Eliza died two years later, her obituary noted that John had been a "devoted son."

John Johnston's birth father, Peter Lindquist, remained in Lucas County until his death during 1926, age 84. He married as his second wife, Albertina Wilhelmina Olson, during 1875 and they had six children, two of whom died as infants.

His obituary also lists among the survivors the two children by his first wife, John Johnston and Mrs. Elma Bonar, then living in McMinnville, Oregon.


Jacob Johnston said...

Where did this come from? John Alfred (Lindquist) Johnston is my great great grandfather. I've never seen this actual document. Is it part of the county's collection some where?

Frank D. Myers said...

Jacob --- The document is in the Lucas County Historical Society collection. It was donated during 1987 by a Lindquist descendant whose name I can't recall off the top of my head, although he lived in Corydon. I'm guessing it was found among Peter John Lindquist's papers (a photocopy of P.J.L.'s certificate of naturalization accompanied the document). As you can tell from the photo, it's not in the best of shape, but entirely legible. You're welcome to take a look at the museum at any time. We're open 8-4 Tuesdays during the offseason, afternoons daily Tuesday-Saturday from June through September.

Jacob Johnston said...

Is his certificate of naturalization at the library as well?

It would have come from Paul Lindquist, a grandson of Peter Lindquist from his second marriage.

Frank D. Myers said...

Yes, Paul Lindquist is name I was reaching for. What we have at the museum is a photocopy of the certificate of naturalization rather than the original.