Lois Crabtree Johnson, keeper of Hancock’s history, dies at 86



Lois Crabtree Johnson
COURTESY CHARLENE CLEMONS

HANCOCK — To say that the Crabtree family is an institution in Hancock is an understatement.

It began with Agreen Crabtree, a Mainer since 1760, who helped found Hancock and was later a privateer during the Revolutionary War.

Six generations later, there was Lois Crabtree Johnson, who passed away on Sept. 9 at her home in Hancock at the age of 86.

“She was a wonderful woman,” said Margaret Bronson, a friend of Johnson’s for more than 20 years who comes to Ellsworth for genealogical research. “There will be no replacing Lois.”

Fitting for someone from a family with such deep roots in Maine, Johnson had great love and appreciation for genealogy and history.

She was an active member of the Hancock Historical Society and helped found the Hancock County Genealogical Society. She compiled genealogical records for more than 25 Hancock families, and last year donated 76 notebooks filled with research to the Genealogical Society.

“We would go to cemeteries and she would write down every name, every date,” Bronson said. “You can still see notes in her handwriting in all of the cemetery records.”

Charlene Clemons, a friend of Johnson’s for 25 years, called her “a treasure to genealogists and historians in Hancock County,” and recalled how she would always help people calling the Hancock Historical Society asking about old relatives.

“She knew more about families in this area than anyone else,” Clemons said. “And she is responsible for so much of genealogical research done here.”

That research led the New England Historical Genealogical Register to name the Hancock County Genealogical Society one of the six most important collections in the state of Maine. Johnson was given the Society’s Award for Genealogical Research in 2008.

Johnson was born in Hancock in 1932. She graduated from Ellsworth High School, then moved to Portland, where she met her husband, Justin Oley Johnson Jr. They lived in Pennsylvania until retiring back to Hancock in 1982, where they lived in the same house she had grown up in.

Clemons said Johnson was able to make a final visit to the Historical Society, which was named in her honor upon her retirement in 2013, earlier this year. There will also be a memorial placed there in her honor.

“She didn’t call herself a genealogist,” Clemons said. “Lois said she collected families.”

Maxwell Hauptman

Maxwell Hauptman

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Maxwell Hauptman has been reporting for The Ellsworth American since 2018. He covers eastern Hancock and western Washington counties and welcomes story tips and ideas. He can be reached at [email protected]
Maxwell Hauptman

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