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15.    Willard A. Johnson

W. A. Johnson (1862-1923), journalist and lieutenant governor of Texas, was born of Scots-Irish parentage in Minnesota on August 28, 1862. He married Nora Sullivan on August 3, 1888; they had a daughter and a son. Johnson studied political science and journalism at the University of Texas. He lived in Denison before moving to Memphis, Texas, in 1890. In September 1891 he purchased the Hall County Herald from the widow of its founder, Eugene de Baurenfiend, who had been killed in a quarrel with county sheriff Pat Woffarth. Johnson enjoyed great success as editor of the Herald and soon became involved in both local and state politics.

He represented the Twenty-ninth District in the Texas Senate from 1910 to 1918. As a senator he introduced a resolution to divide the state and name the new state Jefferson. He helped to impeach Gov. James E. Ferguson. In 1918 Johnson was elected lieutenant governor. He was a member of the Memphis chapter of the Knights of Pythias and a Presbyterian. He was president of the Texas Press Association, a regent of the University of Texas, and a member of the National Editorial Association and the National Geographic Society. He died at his home in Memphis on May 5, 1923. His widow and son, Earl, continued publication of the Hall County Herald until March 1928, when it was purchased by the Memphis Democrat.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Inez Baker, Yesterday in Hall County (Memphis, Texas, 1940). Virginia Browder, Hall County Heritage Trails, 1890-1980 (2 vols., Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1982, 1983).

H. Allen Anderson

Reprinted with permission from the Handbook of Texas Online, a joint project of the Texas State Historical Association and the General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin. © 2003, The Texas State Historical Association.

Texas Politics:
© 2005, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services
University of Texas at Austin
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