(A work in progress .. Copyright 2002, 2003,2004, all rights reserved, may not be reprinted or copied without written permission of the author. Any links must be to the entire page as it is here presented.) Updated 01/22/05
Milbank Johnson was born in Columbus, Texas on Friday, October 13, 1871. His parents were Jehu Warner Johnson and Philadelphia Wheeler Borden Johnson. As a youngster, he attended a military academy, and later went to college at USC (University of Southern California) and graduated in 1890. It is likely that he may have lived with his older brother, Gail Borden Johnson, during his years at USC. He then went to Northwestern University, where he founded the Phi Rho Sigma fraternity, and, in 1893, received a Doctor of Medicine degree. In 1892, he married Louiez Lothrop, of Galveston, Texas (parents were Frank B. Lothrop and Cornelia L Norris), and together had three children, Milbank Jr. who died as a baby in 1893, and two daughters, Louiez (b. 1894) and Evelyn (b. 1897). His wife's grandfather is thought to have been John Lothrop, captain of the 4 cannon steam warship Zavala for the Texas Navy, and later the 15 or 18 cannon Wharton, which was the only Texas Navy steam warship involved in a major battle at sea (The Wharton won.) In 1898 Dr. Johnson did additional post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins, and later in Europe.
Dr. Johnson is one of the founding members of Alhambra Lodge (Masonic order) No. 322 formed on October 30, 1894. He later was a charter member of Temple Lodge of Perfection #7, AF&AM, of Pasadena, CA, and was advanced in both the York Rite and the Scottish Rite.
The history of Alhambra, California, shows that Dr. Milbank Johnson and Dr. Orville O. Witherbee moved to the Southern California area from Chicago in 1893 to start a hospital in a small bungalow at the corner of Second and Boabdil (Main) Streets. That hospital consisted of an operating room and six beds, unfortunately, it closed the following year, and Alhambra would not have a hospital of its own until 1914. It is mentioned that, in the 1890's, tennis was a popular sport, and Dr. Johnson built a tennis court on his property on South First street, where he lived in a stone block home shown on the right. Also in 1983, Johnson and his older brother Gail Borden Johnson, together with other local businessmen, incorporated the Alhambra Shoe Manufacturing Company.
In 1896 Johnson and his wife travelled to Europe for Johnson to do several months of post-graduate work, following which they visited Paris and other cities. Johnson's estate following his death indicates that they had a number of items of Louis XIV and XV furniture, together with an extensive collection of original paintings from major artists. Also in 1896, it is noted that Johnson had his office in Los Angeles at 745 S. Main St, Suite 326 of the Wilcox building, and with office hours of 10 to 12, and 1 to 2 pm.
In 1897 Dr. Johnson was appointed Librarian of the fledgling Medical Library at the University of Southern California. In 1899 Dr. Wilbur Hendryx presented the College of Medicine with a two-story building for USC's Department of Pathology, including a room for a Library.
From 1897 to 1901 he is shown as Professor of Physiology and Clinical Medicine at the University of Southern California. In 1901, he was named Chief Surgeon of the Southern California Edison company, continuing that position until 1913. From1902 to 1904 Johnson was a member of the Los Angeles Board of Health. Johnson's brother-in-law, John Barnes Miller, was the President of the Edison Electric Company of Los Angeles, which became Southern California Edison in 1902.
On April 15, 1898, the US declared war on the Philippines (the Spanish-American War), and Dr. Johnson, a member of the California National Guard, was called to duty as a Captain of the Seventh Infantry, First Brigade, and sent to San Francisco in May of 1898. Johnson was later promoted to Major, and acted as Chief of the Examining Board of the Philippine expeditionary forces at some later time. The initial peace treaty was signed with Spain on August 12th 1898, however it wasn't until July of 1902 that the war was finally over.
In 1898, Gail Borden, together with Milbank Johnson and others from the community, raised funds to contract with the Terminal Railway Company to bring the electric railroad, the "Alhambra Electric Road" into Alhambra. Borden and Johnson each pledged $1000 for this project. The Johnson and Borden families are closely related, and Gail Borden and Milbank Johnson teamed up on community-worthy events such as this more than once. The group raising funds had a document from Dr. Johnson giving his authority to increase his funding of the "Electric Road" to match that of Gail Borden - presumably Johnson was still involved with the war.
In 1899 Johnson was Professor of Physiology at the University of Southern California, and together with gifts from another major donor, Mrs. Mary Munsill, provided the funding to equip the new Hendryx Pathological Laboratory.
In 1902, Johnson sold his home in Alhambra, "a two-story brick family mansion" with grounds and gardens of 280 feet by 300 feet. He had moved to nearby Los Angeles a year or more before. Johnson also called the first meeting of the University Ethical Club in 1902; he was President of the organization.
In May of 1903, Johnson, was elected a Director of, and became the second President of, the Automobile Club of Southern California, which is shown at the time as having 56 members. On February 12, 1903, the Governors of the Auto Club affiliated with the national American Automobile Association, and Dr. Johnson also became the Third Vice-President of the AAA. In August of 1903, Dr. Johnson was reported by the Associated Press as having arrived by motorcar in Portland, Oregon, the first person to have ever motored from Los Angeles to Portland. An unresolved matter is that Johnson is widely reported to have been the first president of the Auto Club, however the Auto Club's records do not show Dr. Johnson as one of the original group who founded the Club. He may have been the first elected President.
On May 24 of 1904, the Auto Club of Southern California held a "grand parade" of 210 vehicles in five separate divisions, the parade extending for several blocks through Los Angeles. Dr. Johnson, President of the Club, was the Captain of Touring Cars for this parade. The Mayor and Chief of Police of Los Angeles, along with a number of other dignitaries, had been invited to participate. The Auto Club book indicated that the parade was instrumental in convincing the city officials that speed limits ranging from 4 to 12 miles per hour were indeed reasonable - and that the city streets were in horrible shape. Records from the Auto Club indicate that there was a schedule of fourteen racing events on October 21st and 22nd (its unclear what year this was held). The judges for the meet were Dr. Milbank Johnson, Henry E. Huntington, and Walter Newhall. The races were in heats of five miles each, and included specially designated races designated the Huntington Cup, won by Frank Garbutt, and the L. P. Lowe Perpetual Challenge Cup, which was won by a George Fuller. Los Angeles is shown as having approximately 1600 automobiles in 1904. A similar parade, without the contests, was held on September 7th, 1904, when U.S. Treasury Secretary Shaw visited Los Angeles, and Dr. Johnson arranged a parade of red automobiles to tour the city. In June of 1905 Johnson was re-elected as President of the Auto Club, a position he held until November 7, 1905, resigning early due to the needs of his personal and professional life. A. P. Fleming became the next President of the Auto Club.
In his reminiscences, Harris Newmark remembers Dr. Johnson as one of the benefactors who managed to see to the rebuilding of El Camino Real (The Kings Highway) which connected all the California Missions, and eventually saw it incorporated into the state's growing highway system.
On April 23 1904, Johnson joined Gail Borden, Howard Huntington, Harry Rose (founder of the city of Rosemead, CA), Los Angeles County Supervisor O. W. Longden, A. P. Fleming, F. Q. Story, J. F. Hall and Gervaise M. Purcell in the founding of the San Gabriel Valley Country Club, which recently celebrated its centennial.
In 1906, Dr. Johnson was elected a Director of Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company, which had merged with Conservative Life Insurance Company of Los Angeles, and moved its headquarters to Los Angeles following the devastating 1906 San Franscisco earthquake. This was a position Dr. Johnson maintained until 1936, although the company indicates he had a two-year break in that service from 1931 to 1933. Named a vice-president of the company in 1913, he was the Assistant Medical Director of the firm from 1916 to 1921, and was Chairman of the company's Claims Committee from April 23, 1920 until sometime in 1928. He retired from Pacific Mutual in 1936. (His brother-in-law, John Barnes Miller, was also a director of the insurance company from 1906 on, and had become President of the Southern California Edison company in 1901.) Dr. Johnson's older brother Gail Borden Johnson was the First Vice-President of Pacific Mutual, as well as a Trustee of the University of Southern California. Also in 1906, a Library Building had been built by Dr. Walter Jarvis Barlow and deeded to the Los Angeles College Clinical Association, of which Dr. Johnson was the President of the Board of Trustees; this was noted as a non-profit holding corporation of the USC College of Medicine.
Dr. Johnson was a member of the Los Angeles Municipal Charities Commission from 1911-1917, and was the President of that organization from 1913 to 1917. In 1915, as head of the Municipal Charities Commission, Johnson used stereoptican slides in a talk showing the various work projects around Los Angeles the Charities were involved in - building roads, sewing clothes, animal cages for the zoo, etc. Also in 1915 Johnson was elected to the Board of Freeholders of Los Angeles, which revised the proposed new Charter for the City of Los Angeles, that document completed in 1916. On June 8th, 1916, Johnson received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from USC "In recognition of his distinct service to mankind." In 1917 he was elected a Director of the American Insurance Federation. Johnson also received a Doctor of Law degree in1920 from Northwestern University. At some point, USC also awarded him a Doctor of Science degree. Dr. Johnson's older brother Gail B. Johnson died late in 1918 in New York City of indigestion; he was noted as having been a twenty-year Trustee of the University of Southern California, Vice-President of Guarantee Trust and Savings Bank, as well as the First Vice-President of the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company.
The records indicate that Johnson was asked to take office and assist with the Southwest Museum, located Northeast of Los Angeles, not far from Pasadena, and on March 22, 1919 he was made a Trustee and Vice President of the Museum, and in 1920, Johnson became the President of the Southwest Museum, a position he maintained until 1926. In April of 1923 he organized a series of "Salon Lectures for Women" at the museum, and in November of 1925, directed plans for the restoration and preservation of the "Casa Adobe" home nearby on behalf of the Museum. His wife, Isabel Simeral Johnson, wrote of a special event at the Museum in the Los Angeles Times.
Early in 1920, Dr. Johnson's wife Louiez had been hospitalized, and passed away on March 27th 1920, and later that year, on September 8, 1920, Johnson married Dr. Isabel Simeral (parents were George and Margaret (Kidd) Simeral of Bloomington, IL), who some years before received a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and lectured on the political and historical background of the First World War. The wedding was held at a private estate in nearby Altadena, Ca. (Mrs. Johnson, President of the Pasadena Playhouse Association from 1925 to 1928, was also one of the supporters which brought a new Pasadena Playhouse theatre to the city, and expanded it to include an acting school, the first such facility west of Chicago. In her short biography, she indicates that she also wrote for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and a number of eastern magazines.) Isabel was born on December 10, 1878. She and Dr. Johnson had met years earlier when he was President of the Los Angeles Municipal Charities Commission, and she was Superintendent of the Charities Sewing Bureau. They met each other again in 1920 at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, where Isabel was a Ohio delegate supporting Herbert Hoover, and had worked on Hoover's campaign in Ohio.
In the early 1920's, Johnson was a Director of the Pasadena General Hospital, which became the Huntington Memorial Hospital in 1936. Of note is that Johnson apparently devoted much energy to his "outside" activities, but when he finished with one project and moved on, he had little or nothing to do with the earlier project from that point on. Dr. Johnson had moved to Los Angeles late in the 1890's, and lived there until 1924, including part of a year living in the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel, when he built the Belbank estate at 600 Burleigh Drive in Pasadena. The designer was the renowned architect Wallace Neff, and the property has been described as a 7500' Spanish Mediterranean Belkan villa. The home was a Pasadena Showcase Home in 1969. Is is probable that Dr. Johnson named the estate "Belbank" after his second wife's name "Isabel" and the end of his own name "Milbank". The other, but lesser possibility, was that it was named after the "Belkan" architectural style and the last letters of his first name.
In 1926 Johnson became President of the Western States Taxpayers Conference and the Chairman of the California Taxpayers Association, a position he held until his death in 1944. Other directors of this organization included Dr. William Munro, who was also a Trustee of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (Caltech). Johnson was an honorary pallbearer at the 1926 funeral of Mae Manford Bridge, wife of the late Dr. Norman Bridge, MD, who came to California from Chicago, and who had been a Trustee of Caltech. In their will, Dr. and Mrs.Bridge donated funds for a building at Caltech (Bridge Laboratory of Physics), as well as a donation to the Southwest Museum (where Dr. Johnson was President) and to the University of Southern California.
In 1929 Johnson was a Director of the Pasadena Hospital (which became the Huntington Memorial Hospital in 1936) along with Robert Pitcairn, J. H. Poole, Albert Ruddick, Dr. Carl C. Thomas and Charles Wright (Dr. Thomas was named President of Pasadena Hospital later in 1929.) Johnson was Chairman of the California Taxpayers' Association, and also Chairman of the National Tax Association. He belonged to the American Medical Association, the California Medical Association, the Southern California Medical Association, and the Los Angeles County Medical Association. He was Vice-Chairman of the California Educational Aid Foundation, which provided scholarships for adolescents to secondary school.
In his 1930 volume I of the History of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley (California), author Harold D. Carews specifically thanks Dr. Johnson and the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company for the use of the halftones from the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery, which were used in his history books - another indication that Dr. Johnson was a close friend to Henry E. Huntington. In April of 1930, Johnson gave a talk in Glendale, CA, calling for a limitation on the open-ended taxation by the state of California, yet it wasn't until 1978 when the people of California passed "Proposition 13" which limited the ability of the state and county governments to raise taxes on real property.
In 1931, Johnson was contacted by a friend, Dr. Arthur Kendall (far right), from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, asking about a researcher in San Diego named Royal Rife, (right) who had invented a microscope which could magnify objects as small as live virus cells. Dr. Johnson drove to San Diego, along with Dr. Alvin Foord and two other doctors, met with Rife, and following that meeting contacted Dr. Kendall, who left that weekend for Pasadena, where he stayed with the Johnson family at their Belbank mansion, and visited the Pasadena General Hospital, where Johnson was a Director.
On Friday, November 20th of 1931, Dr. Johnson held a banquet at Belbank, his home in Pasadena, honoring Dr. Kendall and Royal Rife. More than 30 medical doctors and researchers attended this banquet, which was held to announce the discovery of a culture medium which could be used to grow and study the cancer virus, as well as Rife's microscope, which used monochromatic frequencies of light to image the virus cells so they could be seen (somewhat similar to today's laser confocal microscopes). Johnson was 54 at this time, and in the photo of the banquet (seen in several of the books about Rife), Johnson is the fellow in a white suit standing at the back of the room; Dr. Arthur Kendall is on his right, and Royal Rife is on his left. (Thanks to Stan Truman for the photo.) At the Pasadena General Hospital, Kendall and Rife worked with the first of the Rife microscopes, and an LA Times newspaper article published on December 27th discussed the microscope and published a photo of Kendall and Rife with the #1 Microscope. A year or two later, Rife's further invention was a device called the Rife Ray machine, which claimed to be able to devitalize disease organisms from a short distance.
In August of 1932, Dr. Johnson was an honorary pallbearer for Dr. Russell H. Ballard, President of Southern California Edison from 1928 - 1932, and Trustee at Caltech - other honorary pallbearers included Dr. Arthur Fleming and Nobel Laureate Robert Millikan (both Trustees of Caltech), as well as W. R. Miller (probably also Edison). In February of 1933, Dr. Johnson and Dr William Munro, a Trustee at Caltech, wrote an article critical of the new Sales Tax in California. Dr. Johnson was re-elected as Chairman of the Taxpayers' Association. In March of 1934, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Ray Untereiner (Caltech) spoke at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles about "Advocating Simpler Government". There are a great many Los Angeles Times articles where Dr. Johnson is speaking at various meetings and activities regarding taxation issues - he was a conservative, and very much opposed to greater taxes in both California and in the US.
The 1934 "Cancer Clinic" .. In April of 1934 Johnson wrote to Arthur Kendall about the clinic proposed in La Jolla, Ca., starting the middle of June, and indicates that he has rented a house near there for three months - so as to be close to the clinic which was held from June to August/September at the "Annex" on the Scripps Ranch. He further states that "I hope by then we will have human cases to work on." There were a number of patients at the clinic, including some cancer patients. Johnson later wrote that he "had no help whatsoever, no nurses or assistants". In another letter, he says that the results were "not conclusive" - it is thought that some patients responded to the treatments from the Rife Ray machine, but that Johnson was not convinced that such a speedy recovery was necessarily the same thing as a "cure" - although apparently Royal Rife considered them "cured." Dr. Johnson also wrote later that he had run the clinic by himself, to prove what the Rife Ray machine could do in vivo - in the body. Mr. Rife was almost certainly not present for most of this clinic, but may have come around occasionally to help or to observe - Rife later testified in court that he had never treated a human patient. One patient from that 1934 clinic, who was one of the few with a visible tumor on his cheek, contacted Dr. Johnson in early 1935 about now having a tumor in his eye, and Johnson sent him to a surgeon for removal of the eye. It is worthy of note that Dr. Johnson, who was an avid writer, apparently did not write to his many friends about the 1934 clinic in La Jolla - and had the results been remarkably good, he would have been writing to everybody about the results of the clinic. Those letter appear to be missing from the collections, which I find very odd.
On September 20, 1934, Arthur Kendall writes to Mrs Bridges (Rife's Lab was on the Bridges property at this time) and mentions of the clinic: "the one case I was able to speak intelligently about:... because his tumor was on the cheek where it could be seen, watched and measured from the start to the finish." In a letter in 1935, Johnson discusses a cancer patent with an eye problem who was treated "last summer" at the Clinic - this was the same patient as noted above. I have located no records as yet of the clinic itself, the number of patients or what their conditions were, although I have seen a partial list of the patients and their conditions (not all were cancer), but was not allowed to get a copy. I found that in late 1934, Dr. George Dock, who was the President of the Las Encinas Sanitarium in Pasadena, was also the President of the Los Angeles County Medical Association. Dr. Dock is mentioned as one of the physicians "attending" or advising in several of the letters of the period. It is almost certain that none of these other MDs actually participated in the Clinic, and in one case, Dr. Foord later testified that he only did tests on samples sent him by Dr. Johnson, although Dr. Foord had traveled to Rife's Laboratory with Johnson in 1931.
In 1935, Johnson formed the "Special Medical Research Committee" which is believed to have been loosely associated with the University of Southern California. There are numerous documents from Johnson and others referring to the Committee, and several researchers at USC, including USC President Dr. Rufus B. von KleinSmid, (note that this is the correct spelling of Dr. KleinSmid's name) are named over the years - there is no question that this group existed, although it is very possible that the group was an informal organization operating under the USC umbrella with KleinSmid's approval, and note that the committee is mentioned in the AMA obituary on Johnson, below. Since Johnson had been on the faculty of USC from 1897 to 1901 and was later the official Librarian for the medical school, he certainly maintained a good relationship with the institution - and his older brother had been a Trustee of the Board of Directors of USC.
In June of 1935 Johnson wrote to Rife indicating that the first general meeting of the Special Medical Research Committee of the University of Southern California would be held on Thursday, June 28th, 1935 at noon at the California Club in Los Angeles. Philip Hoyland, listed in court documents as the Co-Inventor of the Rife Ray Machine, had finished building another Ray Machine, and had taken it to San Diego, bringing back Ray Machine #4. There is some reason to believe that Phil Hoyland moved to the Pasadena area from Galveston, TX in the late 1920's, which is where Dr. Johnson's first wife was from.
In July of 1935 Johnson wrote to Rife and indicates that he was at Phil Hoyland's shop (in nearby Altadena) and observed a new Ray Machine nearing completion, and that it was a larger device with casters for easy movement. This was probably the #4 machine, which had been at Rife's lab in San Diego for testing and calibration, and was returned to the Pasadena area on Saturday October 19th. Dr. Johnson indicates later in October that he began using the #4 Ray Machine, the year after the clinics in La Jolla, installing the device at the Santa Fe Hospital in Los Angeles. Treatments were offered twice a week, typically for five minutes each, and apparently focussed on individual diseases.He ran clinics there for several months. We have not yet located any of those lab records, although Johnson's personal papers talk of his work. It is certain that Dr. Johnson, who is known to have attended the annual meeting of the American Medical Association in Philadelphia in 1931, knew of the stance of the AMA's General Secretary, Dr. Morris Fishbein, against unproven technologies, and may have intentionally kept his work quiet. In December of 1935, Johnson writes that another meeting of the Special Medical Research Committee of the University of Southern California would be held on December 26th at the California Club. It is apparent that there were only two or three meetings of this Committee.
In late 1935, Johnson wrote to Dr. Mildred Schram, of the International Cancer Research Institute in Phidelphia, on several different matters, but included the note that Johnson was going to send Dr. Schram a brief of the cases he treated in La Jolla, and that there had been "nothing done at that time of a conclusive nature" - which is rather at odds with the widely expounded claims that 16 out of 16 terminal cancer patients were cured and pronounced free of cancer. Indeed, Johnson clearly indicates that he held this clinic on his own to prove to his satisfaction that the results in vivo (in the body) were the same as those in vitro - in the test tube. He was clearly convinced that the Rife Ray killed pathogenic cells in culture, but how about in the body? Johnson also clearly stated that he had no help at the Clinic - no nurses, and no secretaries, and that his notes were accurate but not such that one would go to the scientific community with them. This does not appear to colloborate with the claims that have been made about this clinic, including those that Rife himself made over twenty years later on audiotape, and Rife's testimony at trial was that he had never treated human subjects - Rife was not an MD, and would have been careful about "practicing medicine". Dr. Schram had visited Rife's facility in mid-1935, and Johnson was working on a grant application for funding from her organization, based on the work at the 1934 La Jolla clinic which Johnson ran. That grant was turned down.
Dr. Milbank Johnson, in 1936, writes to Rife that he is happy that Phil (Hoyland) was able to tell what the matter was with one of Rife's Ray Machines, and that it would be no problem to fix. Other documents of the period indicate that Rife usually had at least one of the machines that Phil Hoyland built, and that the two men sometimes traded machines while one was being worked on. In April of that year, a Dr. Goodman writes to Johnson about a patient of his whose vision had improved following treatments. A later letter to Rife from Johnson indicated that this patient had seven three-minute treatments with the Ray Machine.)
Over the next year, Dr. Johnson continued a close business association with Rife, even making several recommendations in 1936 on the plans for the new laboratory that Rife built in San Diego to further his work with the microscope and the Ray machine.
In November of 1936, Johnson started using a Ray Machine in a clinic at the Pasadena Home for the Aged (a Scripp's Home), and reported having excellent results doing exposures three times a week. In that letter, he also tells of finding a "new" band of frequencies using a modified machine, and that band not only broke all the glass in his laboratory, but it also killed every culture sample - including molds - that were in the lab. Johnson was quite excited about this in his letter to Rife. A later letter tells of treating twenty to twenty-two people per session at his Clinic in Pasadena, and having excellent results. In June of 1937, Johnson writes that after eight months of operation, he closed his Pasadena Clinic, which worked primarily on cataracts in the elderly. In cooperation with an oculist, it was determined that in thirty cases the patient's cataracts either cleared up, or his or her vision improved to the point no further treatments were needed - in only one case was the treatment unsuccessful. In addition to Dr. J. Ross Reed, an Oculist, examining every patient, Johnson's nephew, Richard Winter, had taken photographs of the patient's eyes before and after the treatments. Johnson indicated that he was going to publish his findings of this lab's results. We have not located any such publication as yet. It is noted that in 1937, Philip Hoyland was living in the San Diego area, and working with Royal Rife, and with the new Beam Ray Corporation working on Ray Machines. A letter from Johnson to Rife in late 1937 indicates some form of major misunderstanding between the two men, and Johnson's correspondence to Rife lessens dramatically from that date. After late 1937, Johnson has virtually nothing to do with the Rife project.
Dr. Johnson retired in late1936 at the age of 65, and he and Mrs. Johnson moved from Belbank to a rental home at 710 Pinehurst Drive. In 1938 the Johnson's moved to 789 S. Hudson Avenue, and in 1939 moved to 344 S. Hill (next to Caltech), staying at that location until 1942 - Johnson was shown as the owner of the property. In late 1942 or early 1943 they moved to 411 California Terrace, all homes in Pasadena. Several of these homes were rentals, and the Belbank estate remained vacant until about 1938, when it was sold, providing funds for the purchase of a new home for Dr. and Mrs. Johnson. After retirement, Johnson remained active with the California Taxpayer's Association, and with the National Taxpayer's Association as well.
Dr. Milbank Johnson had a heart attack on Saturday, September 30th, 1944, and was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital (originally Pasadena General Hospital) where he died of a ruptured ventrical early Tuesday morning, Oct. 3rd, just ten days before his 73rd birthday. Dr. Johnson's remains were cremated and interred in the family plot in San Gabriel. The announcement of his passing reports him as a "Social Economist and Tax Authority", and it is mentioned that "he was always looking ahead, and never was content to live in the past." Indeed, a visionary, and a great man!
Isabel Simeral Johnson later sold the house on California Terrace, and moved to the Huntington Hotel, one of the finest hotels in the region. She died on February 26, 1948 at 69 years of age. Dr. Johnson's daughters by his first marriage had married in years past, and were Louiez Johnson Webb (married Leslie Webb on July 5, 1917; Louiez died in 1952) and Evelyn Johnson Bruner (Married J. Brandon Bruner; Evelyn died in 1986). Johnson's daughters lived in California most of their lives. We are attempting to obtain photos of the family. Of note is that the gravesite of Dr. Johnson has his first wife Louiez on his right, and his second wife Isabel on his left.
Although Dr. Johnson never served as an officer of the various medical associations, he certainly was a man of influence, particularly in his younger years, and was often called on to manage or run various volunteer operations in Southern California, particularly those dealing with Charities, scholarships, and certain welfare organizations; indeed, a great humanitarian.
The following is the obituary printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 126, No. 11, November 11, 1944, page 720: (Thanks to the AMA for this.)(Note: we apologize for any typos or errors.)
Milbank Johnson, Pasadena, Calif.; Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, 1893; member of the California Medical Association and the Southern California Medical Association; chairman of the special medical research committee at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; professor of physiology and clinical medicine from 1897 to 1901; for twelve years, from 1901 to 1913, chief surgeon for the Southern California Edison Company; president of the Municipal Charities Commission, Los Angeles, from 1913 to 1917; vice president and director of the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company from 1917 to 1936; director of the American Insurance Federation since 1917; president of the Western States Taxpayers Conference and the California Taxation Improvement Association, 1925-1926; since 1926 chairman of the board of directors of the California Taxpayers Association; director and member of the executive committee of the National Tax Association; member of the board of directors of the Pasadena Hospital Association; served as a member of the board of health of Los Angeles from 1900 to 1904 and as a member of the board of freeholders which revised the Los Angeles city charter in 1916; member of the executive committee of the California Military Welfare Commission during World War 1; member and past president of the California Conference of Social Agencies; vice chairman of the California Educational Aid Foundation; president of the Southwest Museum from 1920 to 1926; received the LL.D. from the University of Southern California in 1917 and Northwestern University in 1920; since 1942 member of the city defense council and the Red Cross Emergency; died in the Huntington Memorial Hospital October 3, aged 72.
Other photos of Dr. Milbank Johnson: Estimated 1880 1905 1937 (click on the year to see photos)
Photos of the family gravesites may be viewed HERE.
Note: We are in search of further documentation about Dr. Johnson and his career. Anybody having information may contact the author at Dave at dfe.net
Very Special thanks to:
The family of Dr. Johnson
Alhambra Historic and Cultural Resources Survey, Final Report, by Johnson Heumann Research Associates
Archives, American Medical Association
Archives, California Institute of Technology
Archives, Los Angeles Times
Archives, Pasadena Star News
Archives, San Gabriel Country Club (Johnson was a founder of the club)
Archives, Southern California Edison
Archives, University of Southern California
Automobile Club of Southern California
"The Friend to all Motorists; - The story of the Automobile Club of Southern California through 65 years, 1900 - 1965" by J. Allen Davis
History of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley, California, Volumes I and II, 1930, by Harold D. Carew
The Historical Reference and Reference Volumes, Volume I, 1962, edited by Robert P. Studer
Northwestern University Archives
Pacific Life Insurance Company-Corporate Archives
"The Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company of California (A History of the Company and the Development of its Organization)" by C.I.D. Moore, published in 1928
Pasadena Historical Museum and Archives
Public Library of Alhambra, California
Public Libary of Los Angeles
Public Library of Pasadena, California
Southwest Museum, Los Angeles
Sixty Years in Southern California 1853-1913 (Reminisiscences of Harris Newmark), Edited by Maurice H. and Marco R. Newmark, 1930.
And volumes of letters from the 1930's.
Email the author, Dave at dfe.net: EMAIL