In the 1890’s, Norman Johnson was working on the Chicago and Northwest Railway railroad and settled in the area that is now Laona with his wife Minnie. In 1896, Norman and Minnie had a daughter Laona, who was the first child born to a settler in the area. About that same time, the railroad was completed and Barney McGinley was chosen to name the new site. He named it after the newly born Laona Johnson. There were only about 12-15 families living in the area before the turn of the century, but the Johnson family decided to stay and make Laona their home. Laona Johnson grew up in Laona and moved to Chicago where she became a model. She modeled for Sears, Evinrude, and a Hat company.