Know Your History
(From our resident church historian, Dave Eyer.)
Emeline “Lena” Eliza Johnson
was born in Key West December 11, 1870 and died in Key West March 24, 1932. She was a daughter of Charles Samuel Johnson (1844-1887) and Mary Amanda Watlington (1846-1936).
Lena was a big sister to May Johnson (1876-1951) whose diary is currently being published in the
Key West Citizen
. Both are daughters of St Paul’s Episcopal Church. Unlike May, Lena never married. She lived with her mother at her home on Division St (now Truman Avenue) all of her life. This can be deduced from the censuses that cover her life span- 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930.
Lena's mother outlived her. One can assume that around the time Lena died in 1932, May and May’s retired US Navy Pharmacist husband Stephen (Steve) Douglass moved from Washington, DC to care for May’s aged mother. Lena had an interesting and non-conventional life. She supported herself with her baking and candy making skills. She was listed as a confectioner in the 1920 census with her place of business at home.
Lena had a strong interest in the welfare of the young men and women of the Key West community. She provided a meeting place for the first Boy Scout troop for which she also provided cake and candy. Lena also organized a “Girl’s Friendly Society” where she taught domestic skills, especially cake baking and candy making and the socializing skills her sister May had in abundance.
With the passage of the XIX Amendment in 1920, women gained the right to vote AND seek and hold elected office. In 1927 Lena became the first woman elected to office in Monroe County as a City Commissioner. Politics seemed not to her liking and she did not seek re-election. She appears wearing hats in the few photos of her that we have found. At her funeral, the Boy Scouts served as her honorary pallbearers.