The Reel LM Johnson and Philippine Independence Part Eight: After The Ball

Manila Fire Department, 22 January 1909

After The Ball

Like tantalising glimpses of spoor through the foliage, documentary reports of Johnson appear and disappear over the next ten years, from late 1899 to 1909. He never returned to Hawaii. At some stage, his wife and daughter seem to have rejoined him from Shanghai, returning to the US after his death.

By 1901 he had a stake in the Alhambra saloon and theatre on the Escolta, and travelled as far away as Australia to look for acts to fill its stage, something similar to what he had done at the Astor House Hotel in Shanghai. At one stage the Alhambra was earning as much as $700 a night, a hefty sum for the times.

He did return to Canada with his wife to celebrate his parents Golden Wedding anniversary in 1908 at Lake Annis, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, still using his Philippine rank of Colonel.

Johnson was deputy fire-chief in the Manila Fire Department and his photograph appears in a 1909 souvenir program for a firemens’ relief brochure.

. We don’t yet know when he died, sometime between 1908 and 1917, but if what his descendants say is true, it was a may in which he, perhaps, wanted to go, a demise full of adventure.

Spotting an opportunity, Johnson went to Japan to learn about pearl fishing. He returned to the Philippines and set up a pearl fishery, possibly in the Visayas. He died as the result of a typhoon while trying to get his pearl diving boats back to port. He was adrift for a couple of weeks and after he was rescued he died in Manila.

Marcella Johnson then returned to the US to her family home in Washington State. Mrs Johnson died of tuberculosis and the young Marcella then went to live with the Johnson or Killian family. She became a nurse and served in France during WW 1 where she met and eventually married Lt. Harold Carlton Auringer of Massachusetts. They spent most of their married life in Madison NJ and raised four children: three girls and a boy, David. She died in 1984. Some of what she told David has been used in this series.

David Auringer died in September 2017.

Don’t forget to share or leave a comment below!

1: Getting It Wrong

2 Johnson, The Artilleryman

3. The Movie Mogul

4. Watching the Ships Burn

5. Fighting for Aguinaldo

6. The Bloody ‘Mock’ Battle of Manila

8. After The Ball


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