James Wesley Johnson, president of the Hamilton State Bank of Hamilton, Kan., is one of the veteran cattle men of Kansas. He is a native of Ohio, born on a farm in Madison county, December 25, 1840, a son of Sanford and Mary A. (Washburn) Johnson, both natives of the Buckeye State, where the father was a farmer throughout his life. He died in 1849, and his wife in 1885. They were the parents of four children: James Wesley, the subject of this sketch; Margaret M., born in August, 1843, and twice married, first to Jefferson Adams, by whom she had two children, Eva and Annabelle. After the death of her first husband she married Jacob Rhodes, who died in 1892, and was followed by his wife in 1902. Harriet V., the third child of the family, was born in 1846 and married John Niswanger and became the mother of three children: Eric. W., Ray and Galena. Mary, the youngest, was born in 1849, and died in 1865.
James Wesley Johnson is a notable example of the successful, self-educated man. He was reared on a farm, and in 1866 came to Kansas with Samuel B. Evans, who bought 327 head of range cattle in Northern Kansas, and Mr. Johnson worked for him in the capacity of a cowboy, and drove this herd of cattle the entire distance to Logan county, Illinois. In the spring of 1867 Mr. Johnson and Mr. Evans formed a partnership and engaged in the cattle business in Riley county, Kansas. They operated here until 1870, when they came to Greenwood county, where grazing conditions were more favorable, on account of better water and free range, which were important considerations when handling cattle on an extensive scale. In 1871 Mr. Johnson engaged in the cattle business on his own account, and successfully operated until 1896, when he closed out that branch of his business. He has prospered in all his undertakings and invested extensively in lands, and is now one of the largest land owners in Greenwood county. He has been a lifelong Republican, and has taken an active part in his party organization. He represented Greenwood county in the State legislature during the sessions of 1874 and 1877, and was a member of the ways and means committee, as well as of other important committees in that body. He was a member of the board of county commissioners of Greenwood county in 1875-76. He organized the Hamilton State Bank of Hamilton in 1910, and has been president of that institution since its organization. Mr. Johnson was married February 28, 1884, to Miss Rebecca Lewis, a daughter of Calvin and Margaret (Stout) Lewis, of Greenwood county. Three children have been born to this union: Anna L., born June 11, 1885, a graduate of Bethany College, Topeka, and also of Columbia College, New York City, now a teacher in the College of Emporia; Esther M., born May 25, 1897, now a member of the class of 1915 of Bethany College of Topeka, and James Wesley, Jr., died in infancy. Mr. Johnson is a Knight Templar Mason.Pages 501-502 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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