“ He took him [Abraham] outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
~ Genesis 15:5 ~ ~ ~
“And so from this one man, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” ~ Hebrews 11:12
Rev. Thomas Johnson (1802-1865) = Circuit Rider, Missionary. Best known for his work at the Shawnee Methodist Indian Mission Manuel Training School on the Santa Fe Trail in Fairway, KS. Johnson County, Kansas was named in his honor. He was born in Nelson County, Virginia, July 11. His brother, Rev. William Johnson (1805-1842), also served as a missionary.
Thomas married Sarah Davis (1810-1873) at Clarksville, MO. Several of their children’s names were Ann E., Alexander McAllister, Edna, Eliza, Cora, Mary Cummins, and William McKendree. Eliza later married John Bristol Wornall.
The 1808 treaty with the Osage Indians states the reservation boundary was between Missouri and Kansas territories. Congress, in 1819, passed the Civilization Fund, making $10,000 available annually for instructing Indians in agriculture, literacy, and other such pursuits. Much of the money was given to church agencies. The Delaware and Shawnee were forcibly relocated to eastern Kansas (present-day Wyandotte County). In 1830, the same year he married Sarah, Thomas moved to a village called Turner to preach the gospel. He built a log house on a hill south of the Kansas river.
In October of 1839, at the Missouri Methodist Conference at Fayette, Mo., Rev. Thomas Johnson was appointed as the superintendent of the Indian Mission district and to the Shawnee Mission (est. 1839-1862) on the Santa Fe Trail. Pioneer children attended school there also. At its height, there were sixteen buildings on 2000 acres.
During 1855, the Kansas territorial governor, Andrew H. Reeder appointed the Shawnee Indian Mission as the second capitol of the Kansas Territory (1855-1856) and the legislature met there. Hostilities were hot preceding the Civil War on the border. Johnson was shot near midnight of New Year’s Day as he answered the door to someone asking directions and died shortly after. He was quietly buried in the mission’s cemetery.
More to Read:
1. Annals of Shawnee Methodist Mission. Compiled by Martha B. Caldwell. Kansas State Historical Society. Topeka, KS. 1977.
2. Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs Relating to Kansas Indian Schools, 1837-1879. U.S. Office of Indian Affairs.
3. Civil War on the Western Border, 1854-1865. Jay Monaghan. Bonanza Books, NY; MCMLV.
10. National Historic Trails Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide: Western Missouri Through Northeastern Kansas, National Park Service, US Dept. of the Interior, Sept. 2005. 11. Findagrave #35605339 Historical Note: Thomas' mother-in-law was captured by the British and the Indians in Kentucky during the Ruddell Station raid in 1780.