Portrait from the Biennial Report of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, 1911-12.
This interestingly named man is one Jacobus Johannes Bennink-Johnsonius, a native of Holland who found his business and political fortunes in his adopted state of Tennessee. Little could be found online in regards to this oddly named man other than the following information, which came to light via the discovery of the 1923 work Tennessee, the Volunteer State, Volume 4.
J.J.B. Johnsonius was born at the Hague, Holland on March 29, 1859, and immigrated to the United States in 1878. His early years in America were spent prospecting out west, and he eventually settled in the New Era, Michigan area. He married Ms. Cornelia Veltman (1864-1927) in July 1881, with whom he had seven children: Minnie (1882-1953), Ralph Alexander (1884-1962), Fannie (1886-1953), Louisa Dora (1888-?), Charles Stuart (1892-1955), Alexander L. (1894-1959) and Hobson Merrimac Johnsonius (1898-1968).
In 1885 J.J.B. Johnsonius migrated south, eventually settling in the town of Paris, Tennessee. Within a few years, he had firmly established his name in his new home state, operating a general insurance business, with which he "won a notable measure of success in the insurance field and has long been numbered among the prosperous and influential citizens of Paris."
Johnsonius first became active in politics in 1900, when he won election to the Tennessee State House of Representatives. Here he ably represented Henry County for two years and in 1910 won re-election to this body. In 1913 Johnsonius continued his political ascent when he was named to the position of Immigration Commissioner of Tennessee. His three-year term in the office was marked by Tennessee, the Volunteer State as one of distinction, with Johnsonius helping to "bring in the first Belgian immigrants, numbering thirty-seven, from Ellis Island."
At the outset of American involvement in WWI, Johnsonius became Henry County's Red Cross chairman, serving throughout the duration of that war. In addition to his civic and political pursuits, Johnsonius was also a prominent member of several fraternal organizations in Tennessee, including service as the Grand Commander of the Golden Cross from 1917-1920 and was also a Knight Templar Mason, serving as a Right Eminent Past Grand Commander in 1928.
J.J.B. Johnsonius died at age seventy on April 3, 1930, and was subsequently interred next to his wife at the Maplewood Cemetery in his hometown of Paris, Tennessee. The rare portrait of him shown below was found on a Tennessee Legislative composite portrait published during his second term in the House of Representatives in 1911.