Jacob Jansen (1848-1928), who later changed his name to Jacob Johnson, was born in Groningen and immigrated to Australia in the 1860s.. He became a Dutch-Australian businessman who owned and operated several cafes in Melbourne during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Jacob Johnson’s cafes were popular gathering places for Melbourne’s Dutch community, and he was known for his hospitality and generosity.
Several of Jacob Johnson’s sons were accomplished Australian Rules football players, and played in the Victorian Football League (VFL) during the early 20th century. His son, Harold “Lal” Johnson, played for Carlton and represented Victoria in interstate matches. Another son, Roy Johnson, played for Melbourne and represented Victoria as well.
Jacob Johnson passed away in 1928 at the age of 80. He is remembered as a successful businessman and a prominent member of Melbourne’s Dutch community.
His grandson Tasman (Tassie) Johnson (22 September 1916 – 24 April 1981) was a famous Australian cyclist. Tasman was the son of Jacob’s son Harold “Lal” Johnson. He competed in the individual road race and the time trial events at the 1936 Summer Olympics and won a silver medal in the Time Trial at the 1938 British Empire Games in Sydney.
Following his retirement from cycling, Johnson refereed 27 of the 29 Sun cycling tours of Victoria, Australian championships and the Bendigo Madison.[ Johnson died of a heart attack aged 65 in Melbourne on 24 April 1981.
Tassie’s son Gordon Johnson (born 1 August 1946) shook the European cycling hierarchy in August 1970 by winning the world professional sprint cycling championship in his first appearance as a pro. This came barely a week after Johnson had won gold in the tandem event at the Edinburgh British Commonwealth Games. Johnson also won silver in the sprint.
He represented Australia in the 1964 Tokyo and the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. In 1962 he was triple national junior track champion, won two more junior titles in 1963, won his first senior national title (the 1000m sprint) in 1964, retained that title in 1965, 1967, 1968, and 1969, and won other national amateur titles up to 16 km.
He won his first national professional sprint title in 1972. Johnson lost his world pro sprint title in 1971 when he was disqualified for alleged rough riding by Italian officials at Varese, but continued as one of the greatest sprinters in the world for a number of years.