Peter G. Johnson. The years 1858 and 1859 were particularly important ones in the history of Kansas. With the adoption of a constitution in the latter year, the peaceful, homeseeking settlers who had come from afar, even from other lands, to establish themselves on these wide prairies, as yet uncrowded as were older sections, found assurance of settled conditions and of the opportunity of preserving the homes they had founded. In the spring of 1858 the parents of Peter G. Johnson, one of Riley County’s most respected citizens, settled in Butler County, Kansas. They were natives of Sweden who emigrated to the United States in 1856.
Peter G. Johnson was born in Sweden, March 15, 1834. His parents were Carrie and John Peterson, the son, according to Swedish custom, taking the surname of Johnson, from his father’s Christian name. The father was twice married, two sons being born to his first union, Peter G. and August, the latter of whom is deceased. Unto his second marriage four children were born: Victor, Oscar, Christina and Tilda. August and Victor both fell victims of savage Indians, in Indian Territory, in 1862.
During early manhood Peter G. Johnson followed the sea. He was twenty-three years of age when he accompanied his father to the United States, with whom he tarried in Marshall County, Illinois, for two years before coming to Butler County, Kansas, where the father died soon afterward. This domestic calamity served to break up the family and the sons all adventured further in the West, Peter G. locating in Montana. He was variously engaged there until 1865, and in 1866 he came to Riley County and located upon a tract of land in Madison Township. It was there that Mr. Johnson settled down and lived for many years, devoting himself to farming and stock raising. He carried on his operations with vigor and industry and as the years passed prospered with them and at one time owned more than 500 acres of fine land, well improved. Some of this land he has parted with but retains 200 acres. Since retiring from active life Mr. Johnson has been residing near the Town of Riley.
In 1870 Mr. Johnson was married to Anna L. Shillerstrom, a widow and a native also of Sweden. By her first marriage she had two children, namely: Hilman and Melshior. Mrs. Johnson died February 15, 1916, leaving Mr. Johnson one son, Peter A.
Mr. Johnson has been a man of influence ever since coming to Riley County. He has studied public questions far more than has the average citizen and formerly was quite active in politics and was nominated by the greenback party for representative to the Legislature, failing of election by but one vote and many believed he had that vote. He is a student of socialism, with interest watching its effect on public affairs.