Biography of William Nelson Johnson, M. D.

William Nelson Johnson, M. D. A physician whose career has been one of devotion to his profession and the interests of his patients in Cherokee County for over twenty years, and whose ability ranks him among the leaders in medical circles in that section, Doctor Johnson is a man who throughout his career has made the best of his resources and in the best sense of the term is a self-made man.

He was born on a farm in Franklin County, Missouri, August 29, 1853, and his early youth was spent in the troubled conditions during and subsequent to the Civil war. Consequently he had little opportunity to gain an education, and his learning was largely picked up from actual contact with the world and from the study of books which were within his reach. He did not attend public school until after the war. For twenty-five years he lived on his father’s farm, and then began the study of medicine and pursued it diligently until he was permitted to practice as an under-graduate. In 1888 he began his under-graduate practice at Crestline, Kansas, and from time to time took courses of medical lectures in the Kentucky School of Medicine at Louisville, from which institution he received his degree of M. D. in 1894.

In 1895 Doctor Johnson left Crestline and moved to Columbus, where years have given him an increasing reputation and he has enjoyed a large general medical and surgical practice. His offices are in the Burke Brothers Building, and he is president of the Burke Brothers Drug Store Company. In professional circles he is a member of the County, State and Southeastern Kansas Medical societies and the American Medical Association.

Doctor Johnson is a republican in politics, has served as a member of the Columbus School Board, is active in the Commercial Club, and a number of years ago took his first degree in Masonry, but went no further in that order. He owns one of the city’s comfortable homes at 319 South Indiana Avenue.

Doctor Johnson represents an English family. His great-grandfather, emigrated from England to Virginia in the early days. His grandfather, Thomas Johnson, was born near Richmond, Virginia, was a planter, served at one time in the Virginia State Militia, and died near Richmond when about forty-five years of age. His death occurred before Doctor Johnson was born.

Payton B. Johnson, the father of Doctor Johnson, was born in 1816 near Richmond, Virginia, was reared there but when a young man went West and settled on a farm in Franklin County, Missouri. Besides farming he followed his trade of a saddle and harness-maker, and he lived an honorable and straightforward life until his death in 1895. In politics he was one of the old-line whigs, but later became affiliated with the democratic organization. During the Civil war he served as a member of the Missouri Home Guards. His church was the Presbyterian. In Franklin County, Missouri, he married Rebecca Patton, who was born in that county in 1825 and died in Columbus, Kansas, in January, 1914. Their children were: Louisa, wife of L. C. Coxie, a carpenter and contractor at Columbus; Doctor Johnson; Mary, wife of William Miller, who is engaged in mining at Galena, Kansas.

In December, 1889, at Crestline, Kansas, Doctor Johnson married Miss Mamie Patterson, daughter of John P. and Eliza (Garrison) Patterson. Both her parents are now deceased, and her father was for many years a United States commissioner in North Carolina.

Four children have been born to Doctor and Mrs. Johnson: Sadie Helen is the wife of George Kerr, who is clerk with Greenfield Brothers, a large clothing house at St. Louis; Nelson is connected with Burke Brothers Drug Store at Columbus; Margaret is in the Freshman class of the Cherokee County High School; and Robert Wayne is a student in the public schools of Columbus.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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