William Lee Andrew Johnson.In the great commonwealth of Kansas, as much as in any other state in the Union, are to be found worthy men whose inherent devotion to public interests and the general good of the community takes precedence over their own private affairs. Of this type is W. L. A. Johnson, who is serving most faithfully both the Southwest Inter-State Coal Operators' Association and the United Mine Workers of America as their arbitrator in all disputes and differences that may arise between the Operators' Association and the miners. Mr. Johnson has the proud distinction of being a native-born Kansan, and of having Leavenworth county as the place of his birth, which occurred Jan. 19, 1863. William and Elizabeth (Yingling) Johnson, his parents, were pioneer settlers of Leavenworth county, both having been born and reared in Indiana. William Johnson was an active supporter of the free-state movement prior to the Civil war, being a member of the Leavenworth Home Guards, a military company organized to preserve order during those troublesome times. His support and sympathy were with the "boys in blue" while fighting to maintain the Union, but death overtook him ere he could enjoy the fruits of victory, for he passed to his eternal reward in 1865. His wife and two sons, William L. A. and Alonzo E., were left to mourn the loss.
W. L. A. Johnson was but two years of age at the time of his father's death and his boyhood and youth were spent on the farm, receiving early education in the district schools. Later he attended a business college at Kansas City, Mo., thus better fitting himself for life's work. As the family had been left in poor circumstances financially at the time of the father's death, it became necessary for William to aid his mother as a wage-earner as soon as he was old enough to work. Therefore, during his vacations from school, he secured work in the North Leavenworth coal mines and thus continued until the age of thirteen, when his mother died and he was left to hustle for himself. From the death of his mother until he was seventeen years old Mr. Johnson worked on a farm in southern Kansas. He then became apprenticed to learn the boiler maker's trade in the Mid-Continent Boiler Works at Kansas City, Mo., where he remained until he had mastered the trade. He then worked at his trade for various companies until 1893, and during four years of that time he did field work, which included the setting up of steam boilers and their installation, whether singly, in pairs or in batteries. During all of these years he had been actively identified with the National Brotherhood of Boiler Makers, and in 1892 was elected vice-president of that great organization. At that time he was employed in the Santa Fe railway shops at Topeka and was the leader in organizing the first metal trade conference on the Santa Fe system, and as chairman of that conference he secured the first trade agreement between the Santa Fe and its shop employees. In 1893 he was elected national president of the National Brotherhood of Boiler Makers, with headquarters at Kansas City, Mo. He served in that capacity until March, 1897, when he resigned to accept the position of state labor commissioner of Kansas, which was tendered him by Governor Leedy. At the special session of the Kansas legislature in 1898 he was the author of the law reorganizing the Kansas Bureau of Labor and creating the State Society of Labor, which governs the labor department. The law provided for a state labor commissioner and an assistant to be elected from the various labor societies in the state, who were to meet in bi-ennial conventions for that purpose. At the expiration of his first term as state labor commissioner he was reëlected and continued to be reëlected at the expiration of each term for six successive elections, or until he declined the reëlection in February, 1911. While commissioner of labor he organized the state factory inspection department under the bureau and was the author of many of the most important labor laws written into the statutes of the state. Probably the most important of the laws he recommended is the child labor law, which secured his attention day and night until signed by the governor. Kansas has the distinction of being the only state in the Union with a state society of labor created and recognized by the laws of the state. Mr. Johnson is ever alert to the interests of organized labor, and in his last annual report of the Bureau of Labor for 1910 is to be found the following acknowledgment, signed by him as commissioner and by Owen Doyle, assistant commissioner:
"We take this occasion, in presenting this report to the public, to express our profound thanks and appreciation to all those who promptly, willingly and very courteously responded to our requests for information and data upon which this report is based. Especially do we acknowledge the services of the secretaries of trades unions, brotherhoods and other labor organizations, wage-earners, proprietors of manufacturing and industrial concerns, and our special agents, all of whom have aided us in the work of furnishing data for the compilation of this report, and in using their best efforts to make this volume a credit to the department of labor and to the State of Kansas."
On May 27, 1888, Mr. Johnson married Miss Mary E. Morrison, of Marionville, Mo., a daughter of John L. Morrison, a prominent farmer and stockman. This union has been blessed with three sonsLee W., Leonard M. and Edward A. Lee W. is taking the medical course in Washburn College; Edward A. is in the Topeka High School, and Leonard M. is farming. Politically, Mr. Johnson is a life-long Republican, but generally supports the best man, regardless of party, in local affairs. He is a Thirty-second Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, also of the Brotherhood of Boiler Makers. He and his family attend the First Baptist Church of Topeka, in which Mrs. Johnson is especially active as one of the church workers. In an official capacity Mr. Johnson is arbitrator for the Southwest Inter-State Coal Operators' Association and the United Mine Workers of America, with headquarters at Topeka.Pages 1204-1206 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.
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
J | K | L | Mc | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z
Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project