Richard Johnson of Seneca, Kan., an early pioneer of Nemaha county and one of its best known and substantial citizens, is a native of Montgomery county, Indiana, where he was born April 29, 1833. When he was about four years old his parents, Ebenezer and Lucy (Tandy) Johnson, removed to Illinois and resided there until 1840, when they removed to a tract of land near Keokuk, Iowa, where the father took a homestead. There Richard Johnson grew to manhood on the farm and secured but a limited education, owing to the lack of schools in that early day. At the age of twenty he chose for a life companion Miss Eliza Mettler, a native of Ohio. In 1854 Mr. Johnson caught the California gold fever and decided to seek his fortune in the great Eldorado on the Pacific coast. He accordingly fitted out two ox teams, placed his wife and infant son, Isaiah P., aboard and started overland for California. On May 1, 1854, they crossed the Missouri river on a ferry at a point where the city of Omaha has since been built, there being nothing in evidence then but Indians and buffaloes, where today is located one of the West's most prosperous cities. After crossing the Missouri he directed his course across the plains via the river Platte route to the Rocky mountains and in four months and twelve days the whole outfit landed safe and sound in a California mining camp, known in that day as "Grizzly Flat," about seventy-five miles east of Sacramento. There Mr. Johnson "pitched his tent" and for the next three years he was engaged in placer mining with varied success. He then decided to remove to the Pacific coast and located at Pattuma, Sonoma county, sixty miles north of San Francisco, where he was engaged in farming and dairying for the following two years. He had then spent five years in the state and having accumulated a snug sum he resolved to return to his old home in Iowa via ocean vessel from San Francisco to the Isthmus of Panama, across it by rail to Aspenwall, and then by water for New Orleans via Havana, Cuba. On his arrival at New Orleans he placed his family aboard a Mississippi river steamer bound for St. Louis, where he transferred to a boat for Keokuk, Iowa, and on his arrival there he transferred to a Des Moines river packet, which carried him and his family to Eddyville, Iowa, a point just ten miles from the home he left in 1854. Not being content to remain in Iowa, he fitted up two two-horse teams and with his family started on a prospecting trip westward. He wended his way to Denver, Col., thence eastward until he reached a point seven miles north of Seneca, Nemaha county, Kansas, which location suited his ideas for a homestead, and there in July, 1860, he became one of Nemaha county's pioneers. He developed a fine farm and dealt largely in stock until 1871, when he sold out but purchased another farm nearer Seneca. There he resided until 1907, when he leased his homestead and removed to Seneca to make that city his future home.
He and his wife have been blessed with two sons and two daughters: Isaiah P., Irvin, Lydia and Ella, all of whom are married and are living in Nemaha county. Mr. Johnson has been a Democrat all of his life and has filled a number of official positions in Nemaha county. He was elected a representative in the Kansas state legislature in 1871; he has filled the office of sheriff one term, the office of county commissioner one term, and was for twenty-one years a member of the school board. Fraternally he is a Royal Arch Mason, and he is one of the directors of the National Bank of Seneca. His long and successful career in Nemaha county is well worth emulating and his children's richest inheritance will be the honorable record of their beloved parents.Pages 1529-1530 from volume III, part 2 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 December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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