JOHN A JOHNSON
Besides the experiences of the pioneer, John Adams Johnson, an early settler, worthy citizen and retired farmer of Brown county, Kansas, living quietly at Everest, Washington township, in the closing years of his life, has had the exciting and various experiences of the California gold-seeker and those of a prospector for a home in Texas when Texas was popularly supposed to be just a little beyond the limits of civilization. Following is a brief account of his career, which has been both busy and useful, and has not been without material rewards of honesty and persistent endeavor.
John Adams Johnson was born in Shelby county, Kentucky, February 19, 1825, a son of Henry Johnson, who was born at Baltimore, Maryland, in 1777, and died in Daviess county, Kentucky, in 1840, aged sixty-three years, and his wife, Elizabeth White, who died in Kentucky in 1872, aged seventy-seven. Besides the subject of this sketch. who was the youngest child, their children were William, who is dead; Elizabeth, who was the wife of Nathaniel Kimberlin and died in 1865; and Joel and Thomas, both of whom also are dead. Henry Johnson was a shoemaker and had a brother who was a sea captain.
In 1827, when he was two years old, John Adams Johnson was taken to Daviess county, Kentucky, where he grew up and received a limited schoolbook education. At that time Daviess county was about as wild as Brown county, Kansas, was thirty-three years later, and Mr. Johnson was consequently experienced somewhat in frontier life before be reached Kansas. He left Kentucky in 1843, in company with Rev. George Pickel, a Baptist preacher, and went to Texas. They traveled over that state, stopped at Dallas, containing then only one house, tried farming and remained in that state two years. He returned to his native state and remained until 1849, when he went to Buchanan county, Missouri.
Mr. Johnson volunteered his service in the Mexican war, but his company was not accepted by the government and he spent the year 1849 farming in Missouri. In the spring of 1850 he joined an overland expedition for California. His party of twenty-three men left the Missouri river at Atchison and after traveling with a train a few days found it too slow and struck out boldly for the land of the setting sun alone. Ninety-seven days after leaving Atchison, without interruption from any source, their little train of five wagons reached Placerville, California, then known by the somewhat ominous name of "Hangtown." Their first winter was spent in the mines at Dry Creek, but the following spring they went to the Merced river country and there Mr. Johnson remained until the fall of 1851. He then went north to Downieville on the Yuba river and spent the winter in the mines, and in the spring fumed the river at Wambold's Bar. He next went into Santa Rosa valley and farmed there two years. He raised small grain and was fairly rewarded for his labors. The attraction of the mines was too strong for him, however, and so he went into the placer diggings at Evansville and washed out a good profit. His gold-digging career ended.
To return to the east Mr. Johnson embarked at San Francisco for the isthmus of Panama; and he crossed the isthmus, embarked again and was in New Orleans three weeks after he left California. He then came to Kansas and then went to his old home in Daviess county, Kentucky, and after remaining some time with his relatives returned to Kansas. He bought a pre-emption in Washington township, Brown county, in 1858, and was identified with the agricultural interests of this section until his retirement to Everest in 1891. He passed through the bushwhacking and jayhawking days without serious loss and with only one encounter with the marauders. Upon one occasion he and his neighbor, "Nat." Kimberlin, his brother-in-law, the only one of the old-timers left, were notified that they were to be investigated to determine whether or not they had property on their premises with which they could part for the benefit of the visitors. The two pioneers knew well what this meant and got their fuses in order for the meeting. The robbers came, the fuses barked and the meeting was over. The next morning there were strange horses tied to the fence and there was gore on the ground, but nobody cared to claim either the horses or the blood.
Mr. Johnson was married in Atchison county, Kansas, in 1868, to Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas, the widow of John Thomas. Mrs. Johnson was a daughter of William Ruddick, a farmer, and was the mother of three children by her first husband, a New York gentleman: Delia, the wife of Thomas Blackety, of Brown county, Kansas; Maggie, the wife of W. W. Price, of Huron, Kansas; and Georgie, who married Robert Bastian. There are two surviving Bastian children: Charles Bastian, of Everest, Brown county, Kansas; and John Bastian, of Arkansas. Mrs. Johnson was born in Sullivan county, New York, in June, 1826.