Richard Johnson is one of the leading citizens and prominent farmers of Richmond township, Nemaha county, Kansas, and his well directed efforts have brought to him success which is both creditable and enviable. He has been connected with many of the pioneer localities of the west and has seen the wonderful development of this section of the country, which but a few years ago was the haunt of the red race, -- the homes of the white settlers being indeed few and far between. In the county which is now his home Mr. Johnson has taken an active part in promoting the progress and advancement which has led to the prosperity of to-day, and is one of the honored early settlers who certainly is deserving of mention in this volume.
A native of Montgomery county, Indiana, he was born on the 29th of April, 1833, and is a son of Ebenezer Johnson, whose birth occurred in Maryland. When a young man the father removed to Kentucky. He was left an orphan when about fourteen years of age and from that time on he depended entirely upon his own resources. In the Blue Grass state he married Lucy Tandy, whose birth occurred in Kentucky. About 1832 they removed to Montgomery county, Indiana, and thence to Illinois, where they remained until 1840, the year of their emigration to Iowa. Locating in Keokuk county, of the last named state, Mr. Johnson secured a quarter-section of government land, which he transformed into a good farm, continuing its cultivation until 1847, when he removed to Missouri. Subsequently, however, he returned to Iowa, establishing a home in Mahaska county, where he remained until his children were grown. They then removed to Colorado, where he died in 1877, at the age of seventy-six years, his birth having occurred in 1801. His wife died in the winter of 1847. They were the parents of eight children, and seven of the number reached years of maturity, but only three are now living.
Richard Johnson, the fourth child and second son, accompanied his parents on their various removals, but spent the greater part of his youth in Mahaska county, Iowa. In early life he attended the subscription schools, but after the family established a home in Iowa he pursued his studies in the public schools. He remained with his father until nineteen years of age and was early trained to habits of industry and economy, which have proved of important use to him in the active affairs of life. On leaving home he married Eliza Nettler, a native of Vermont, who was reared, however, in Ohio. In 1849 she came with her parents to Iowa, where she formed the acquaintance of Mr. Johnson.
In 1854 our subject crossed the plains, making his way over the Missouri river at the present site of Omaha, although at that time there was not a single house at the place. The journey was made with ox teams, and after four months and twelve days spent upon the way the party arrived at Grizzly Flats, Eldorado county, California, where Mr. Johnson engaged in mining for three years. He then removed to the seashore, establishing a home in Sonoma county, where he engaged in farming and dairying. He followed that business for two years and on the expiration of that period went to San Francisco, where he boarded a steamer bound for Havana, Cuba. From the latter place he made his way to New Orleans, thence up the river to Keokuk, Iowa, and on to Mahaska county, where he secured an outfit with which he came to Kansas. His first home was in the southern part of the state, and from that point he returned to Missouri to spend the winter. In the spring of 1860 he Went to Colorado, visiting Denver when it contained only about five houses After a short time, however, he returned to Kansas, and on the 19th of July, 1860, purchased a farm in Nemaha township, Nemaha county. It was then a tract of unimproved land, but with characteristic energy he began its development and continued its cultivation for eleven years. He then sold that property and purchased his present farm, which is one of the oldest developed farms in this section of the state. He has made here a very pleasant home and has continuously resided in Nemaha county, with the exception of one year which the family passed in California on account of his health. He is to-day the owner of eight hundred acres of valuable land, and, in connection with the cultivation of cereals best adapted to this climate, he feeds from two to three car-loads of cattle annually, which he himself markets in the city.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have been born four children, two sons and two daughters: Pierce, who was born in Iowa and is now living in Nemaha county; Irvin, who was born in California and now assists his father in the operation of the home farm; Lydia M., the wife of Howard Thomson, of Nemaha; and Ella, wife of Frank Zimmerman. In the affairs of the county Mr. Johnson has taken an active interest, and his worth and ability have frequently occasioned his selection for public office. In 1869 he was elected to the state legislature, for two years served as county commissioner, for two years as sheriff and for twenty years as school director. In all these offices he has discharged his duties with marked ability and fidelity, laboring earnestly to promote the welfare of the community. His political support is given the Democracy, and he keeps well informed on the issues of the day. Since 1864 he has been connected with the Masonic fraternity, and became a charter member of the first lodge in Nemaha county. He was also at one time connected with the Royal Arch chapter. His sterling characteristics have been such as to enable him to make the most of opportunities, to conquer obstacles and to work his way steadily upward to the plane of affluence. He is one of the most substantial citizens of Nemaha county, and his possessions are a monument to his thrift and enterprise.