Thomas Johnson (Kansas politician)

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Portrait of Thomas Johnson

Thomas Johnson (July 11, 1802 – January 2, 1865) was a Methodist missionary in Kansas who founded the Shawnee Methodist Mission. It was intended to serve and convert the Shawnee, several hundred of whom had been relocated to Kansas Indian Territory from east of the Mississippi River.[1]

Johnson was a known slave holder in Kansas and sided strongly with the pro-slavery group, at a time when it was unclear whether residents would vote to allow slavery in the territory (see Bleeding Kansas). He was elected as a member of the Kansas territorial legislature, which temporarily designated Shawnee Mission as the state capital, 1855–1856. Johnson County, Kansas is named for him.[2][3] Johnson was pro-Southern in sympathy but signed a Unionist pledge at the time of the Civil War.[1]


Johnson was murdered at his home on January 2, 1865.[3] It is unknown whether he was killed during commission of a robbery or whether it was for political purposes,[3] though one theory is that his murderers were outraged at his apparent betrayal of the Southern cause.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Shawnee Indian Mission". Kansas Historical Society. September 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  2. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 169.
  3. ^ a b c Hogan, Suzanne (February 5, 2015). "Meet The Controversial Man Who Gave Johnson County Its Name". KCUR. Retrieved May 16, 2018.