As a boy and youth, young Johnson worked on the farm and laid the foundation of his education in the public schools of Virginia. At an early age he identified himself with the Presbyterian church and became imbued with a desire to serve his people where service would count for most. This, to him at least, meant the ministry and he set about the task of preparing himself for this important work of life. The way was not easy, but the steady persevering manner he went about securing an education gives us the key to his character. He went first to Biddle University, at Charlotte, N. C., and passed from there to Lincoln University for his college course and won his A.B. degree in 1899. This was followed by the theological course leading to the S.T.B. degree in 1902. In further recognition of his work and attainments his Alma Mater, in 1921, conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. He was ordained April 15, 1902. His first pastorate was at Ridgeway, Va., where he rendered five years of faithful efficient service. The house of worship was repaired and the congregation strengthened. During two years of the time he was at Ridgeway he taught also. From there he went to Chattanooga, Tenn., and was for two years Secretary of the Y. M. C. A. at that point. In 1909 he came into the coal fields of West Virginia, and located at Kimball, where he has since resided, at the same time building up a splendid work at the nearby town of Keystone. As a preacher, teacher and Secretary of the Y. M. C. A. he has sought to deal with and lead his people intelligently. He believes that the work of the scholar should be Christian and the work of the Christian intelligent. Since going to Kimball a modern new house of worship and a parsonage have been erected. The name of the church is Ebenezer. At Keystone the Whittico Memorial Church has been erected at a cost of $15,000.00. Dr. Johnson has the principal Presbyterian work in the State.
On May 7, 1903, he was married to Miss Leonora Leona Byers, of Greensboro, N. C. Mrs. Johnson was educated at Scotia Seminary, Concord, N. C., and is herself an accomplished teacher.
In politics Dr. Johnson is a Republican. Among the secret orders he affiliates with the Masons, Pythians, Odd Fellows, St. Lukes and the Golden Rule Society. During the World War he went into "Y' work and was for ten months Religious Secretary at Camp Sherman.
Next after the Bible and his theological readings, his favorite subjects are history and biography. He has been an intelligent observer of conditions and believes that his people need to develop "race consciousness."
History of the American Negro Index
West Virginia History Center