Dr. Enos Johnson, a Union soldier during the Civil War, moved to Manatee in 1883 with his wife, Mary (née Wood), and their eleven children (including James). He was a druggist from Bedford, Indiana, who liked the area and decided to buy a drugstore. Both contemporary theories for the start of the 1887 Manatee Yellow Fever outbreak include Enos Johnson’s store. The first theory involves the Tubbs family who moved from Tampa to Manatee right before the outbreak and occupied the apartment over Enos’s store. Those in contact with the family’s six-year-old, Vera, became the first in Manatee to get sick. The second theory involves the church.
It was rumored that during the construction of the Manatee Methodist Church (now at Manatee Village Historical Park), the church elders pressured the builder to break Tampa’s quarantine to bring back supplies. It just so happened that this is the same time when Enos and the church’s minister, Reverend J. R. Crowder, were writing religious material together for publication. Enos was one of the first in the area to pass from the disease, followed closely by Rev. Crowder.
After his death, the pharmacy was taken over by Enos’ sons, Elwood (“E. B.”) and Ralph (“Rollo”). They moved the drugstore into a larger building by the end of 1888 and provided a place to purchase Christmas ornaments and presents for the first time in the area. They eventually sold the pharmacy to J. F. Stebbins and John J. Pelot. John J. was the son of Dr. John C. Pelot and would also go on to marry Enos’ daughter, Mary. This pharmacy provided the “bones” for what became Pelot’s Pharmacy which is still in operation today off of Manatee Avenue.
One of the most wonderful assets that exists of Manatee County’s history is the immense detail kept within the Johnson journal. The journal was started in the early 1880s by Enos and continued after his death by his son, E. B. Johnson. Copies have been transcribed and are kept online at the Manatee County Public Library’s Historic Digital Collection. CLICK HERE to view it.
E. B. is buried with his wife Cornelia Curry (daughter of Ben and Julia Curry) in Manasota Memorial Park.
James Albert Johnson - Grave #65
Dr. Enos E Johnson - Grave #66
Mary A Wood - Grave #67
All images taken by MVHP staff in 2022 unless otherwise noted.