Edward B. Johnson


Edward Bryant Johnson. In the old Chickasaw Indian country of Oklahoma no family has figured more conspicuously since the removal of the Indians to the west of the Mississippi than that of Johnson, prominently represented by Edward Bryant Johnson, now a resident of Norman. Mr. Johnson in his career as a cattleman and banker has become widely known and is now vice president of the First National Bank of Chickasha and for a number of years has been president of the First National Bank of Norman. He was in the Indian Nation when its property and civil regulations were prescribed by tribal government, and though at times the laws of the nation seemed very rigorous, it can be said of him that he always lived up to and helped to enforce the rules and laws, and in business and in all other affairs his career has reflected honor upon his name and he has done much to work out the proper destiny of this section of Oklahoma.
The birth of Edward Bryant Johnson occurred October 1, 1863, near old Fort Arbuckle, on Caddo Creek, in the Chickasaw Nation. His father was Montford Thomas Johnson, who was also born in Indian Territory, at Boggy Depot, which became one of the first distributing points of the Chickasaw tribe after they came to Indian Territory. The Johnson family was founded in Oklahoma by Charles Johnson, grandfather of Edward B. He was born, reared and educated in England, became an attorney by profession, and some time after coming to America was appointed special agent to assist in settling up the affairs of the Chickasaws in the State of Mississippi. After removing to Indian Territory he was appointed the first agent for this tribe. To him was attached the name “Boggy,” and as Boggy Johnson he figured conspicuously in the early history of the Chickasaws. That name is said to have been given him because of his assistance in helping the Indians out of a bog during their removal to the West, and the old town already mentioned, Boggy Depot, was also named in his honor. By marriage he was a member of the Chickasaw tribe, and throughout his career enjoyed their complete confidence, having been selected as a delegate to Washington to care for their interests and securing rulings from the department of benefit to the Indians. He finally removed to New York City, and as a democrat was an active figure in political affairs in that city, and also had extensive interests in an importing firm. He died when nearly eighty years of age. Charles Johnson first married Rebecca Tarntubby, who was born in Mississippi, being a halt-breed Chickasaw. To this union were born two children: Montford T., father of Mr. E. B. Johnson; and Adelaide, who is the wife of Mr. J. H. Bond, of Minco, Oklahoma. About three years after the death of his first wife, Rebecca, he married Rose Blackmon, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and they both died in the same year.
A paragraph should also be devoted to Montford T. Johnson, who in his time stood among the leaders as a business man and citizen in the old Chickasaw Nation. He completed his education in the Robinson Male Academy near Tishomingo, took up the stock business, conducted a ranch on Caddo Creek until 1869, then established a ranch on Walnut Creek near what is now known as Purcell. He moved his family and located on the South Canadian River and here a village grew and was named in his honor Johnsonville, on the first old Chisolm cattle trail. In that locality he carried on a store until 1878, and then moved to the western border of the Chickasaw Nation, buying the Caddo Bill Williams residence and ranch at Old Silver City, again locating on the Second Old Chisolm Cattle Trail. His operations there included both merchandising and cattle raising. His wife died there in 1880. In 1881-82 he spent some time in New, York with his son, Ed B., and his father. In 1883 he married the second time and settled five miles west of Silver City, where he owned what was regarded as the best farm and the finest home in all Indian Territory. He was prominent in financial affairs, assisted in organizing the bank at Minco, of which he was vice president until his death. Montford T. Johnson was only fifty two years of age when he passed away in 1890. He was a Methodist, a member of the Masonic order, and during the war had served with the Chickasaw Battalion in the Confederate army, being on the staff of his brother-in-law, Maj. Michael Campbell. Montford T. Johnson’s first wife was Mary Elizabeth Campbell, who was born in Texas, daughter of Maj. Charles Campbell, a native of Ireland and of ScotchIrish descent, who gained distinction as an officer in the United States army. Major Campbell at one time had command of a frontier post in Texas, subsequently commanded at Fort Arbuckle, and also was stationed at a fort in Alabama. He died in Alabama after resigning his office in the army. Major Campbell married Miss Bryant, who was also of Scotch-Irish descent. At her death in 1880 Mary Elizabeth Johnson was survived by seven children, five sons and two daughters. The sons -were: Edward B., Henry B., Robert M., Tilford T. and Benjamin F. The daughters were Stella and Frances, but both daughters are dead. Montford T. Johnson’s second wife was Adelaide B. Campbell, daughter of C. L. Campbell and a niece of his first wife. To this union were born five children: Gettye, Ira M., James W., Charles B. and Vivian.
The early life of Edward Bryant Johnson was spent in the different localities where his father had his business and ranching interests, living at Johnsonville until 1878. He attended the local schools, an academy in Indian Territory, was a student at Cane Hill College in Arkansas, and completed the junior year at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute of New York, where he pursued a course in civil engineering. However, his life has been identified primarily with the live stock and business interests of Indian Territory and Oklahoma, In 1884 he took charge of his father’s business as a merchant and cattle raiser, bought out the store the following year, and for a time conducted his father’s cattle interests for a per cent of the increase. Having sold his store in 1890 he became interested in the bank at Minco, and his resources as a capitalist have entered into a number of the leading financial and industrial concerns in that section of the state. In 1886 Mr. Johnson established his ranch on Pond Creek, three miles from the South Canadian River, and his improvements made that one of the best stock ranches in Southwestern Oklahoma. He lived there until 1899, when he moved his family to Norman to educate his children. He still operates his ranch in the old Chickasaw Nation and has large investments in the cattle business in the Panhandle of Texas. His operations as a livestock man were so extensive as to justify his title as a cattle king. He formerly shipped as high as 4,000 steers in one season, and usually kept about 10,000 head on his ranch. He also did much to raise the standards of the general stock industry, and it is said that his father was the first to introduce fullblooded Shorthorn cattle into Indian Territory. For a number of years Mr. Johnson made a specialty of the breeding of Poland-China hogs and the Hereford and Durham cattle.
At Norman, where he has made his home for the past fifteen years, Mr. Johnson owns a beautiful home, a large amount of land, and has brought all his property under improvement and has built a number of substantial brick buildings in Norman. His other business interests include holdings in banks at Minco, at Norman, at Chickasha, and in various local industries. He was one of the prime movers to cause the treacherous Canadian River to be bridged, spending much of his time and capital to accomplish it, and which stands as a monument to the men who built it. He was married at Johnsonville in old Indian Territory, to Miss Mollie E. Graham. Mrs. Johnson was born near Chillicothe, Missouri, the fourth in a family of six children of R. M. and Marillis (Froman) Graham. Her father was a native of Illinois and of Scotch-Irish descent, conducted a mill at Chillicothe for a number of years, but in 1883 removed to the Caddo Reservation in Indian Territory, was engaged in farming and stockraising and finally took up the real estate business in Norman. Mrs. Johnson’s mother was born in Danville, Illinois. To Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were born eight children: Veta, Ina, Neil Robert, Montford T., Belton Graham, Froma, Arline and Edward B., Jr.
Mr. Johnson has shared the views of the dominant party in Oklahoma, but his public service has been mainly in behalf of the Chickasaw people. The Interior Department and the Chickasaw tribe appointed him at different times to committees for settling the affairs of the Chickasaws. He was selected by them to divide up their land and was a member of a land appraisement commission for valuing the lands of that tribe preparatory to allotment. He was also a member of a finance committee for settling differences and accounts between the Choctaws and Chickasaws. During 1887-88 he served as a member of the Chickasaw Legislature, being appointed to the finance, school and other committees in the Legislature, and at different times represented the Chickasaws before the National Congress. Mr. Johnson is a member of the Texas Cattle Raisers Association. He also belongs to the Oklahoma City Lodge of Elks and is an Odd Fellow and a W. O. W. in good standing. He took his first degrees in Masonry in New York City, and is affiliated with Norman Lodge No. 5, A. F. & A. M., and Lion Chapter No. 46, R. A. M., at Norman, and Oklahoma Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar, Oklahoma City; Guthrie Consistory of the Scottish Rite and India Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Oklahoma City. He and his wife are members of the Eastern Star chapter. He and his family are members and active workers in the First Christian Church at Norman.