Samuel Wistar Johnson, MD
of Navarro County, Texas


Biography Index | Historical Marker || Biography as Mayor



Mayor Johnson, an outstanding surgeon, was the first doctor to be mayor.  He was born in 1853 and resided at 122 West Fourth Avenue.  He was a very good business man, had been cashier of the Corsicana National Bank, also secretary-treasurer of the Corsicana Land & Loan Co.  His principal accomplishment as mayor was the establishment of the Public Library in 1901, in the Hardy-Peck Building, membership dues, $1.00 per year.  After being mayor, he moved to Dallas, where he practiced medicine.  His children also moved away, but he was related to many good Corsicana families.  He died in 1922 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.  


Dr. Johnson was born in Dawsonville near Atlanta, Georgia, 11 February, 1853, the son of Samuel Callaway Johnson, a lawyer with a wide practice in Dawsonville and Atlanta and Emily Martha Swilling Johnson, a representative of an old North Carolina family and the daughter of Margaret Prince Farrar, who was the granddaughter of William Farrar of Farrar's Island, Henrico County, Virginia, who married Judith Jefferson, aunt of President Thomas Jefferson. Samuel Wistar Johnson received his preliminary education in the schools of the State of Georgia, and was a graduate of Atlantic Medical College. Following his graduation from medical school, he went to New York City and served as an intern at Bellevue Hospital in that city. Dr. Johnson decided to make the move to Texas, settling first in Ennis for a short period and then moving on to Corsicana. Here he met and married Kate Beaton on July 7, 1881, when he was 27 years old. She was the daughter of Major Alexander and Elizabeth Jane McKinney Beaton, daughter of Corsicana's first settlers, the Reverend Hampton and Mary B. Clark McKinney. Alexander Beaton and his family were responsible for much of the growth and development of Corsicana. Dr. Johnson was elected the fourteenth Mayor of Corsicana in the April election of 1900 and served in that capacity until 1902. He was the first doctor to become mayor, and was very involved in early education, serving as president of the Corsicana School Board. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas State Orphan's Home in Corsicana. One of the principal accomplishments during Johnson's term as Mayor was the establishment of a Public Library in 1901. During the prolonged agricultural depression of the early 1890's, Dr. Johnson and others found the town's water supply was inadequate for industrial purposes and growth of the town. They proposed a deep well for water and had an artesian well drilled in June of 1894. When the well was in the process of being drilled, and a depth of 1,027 feet had been reached, the drillers noticed unmistakable signs of crude oil filling the well shaft and slowly rising to the surface. This lead to six more wells looking for oil over the next three years. Dr. Johnson, Ralph Beaton and many others would become leaders in the beginnings of the oil industry in both Corsicana and Texas in general. Dr. Johnson retired from active medical practice in 1898. During his period of residence in Corsicana, Dr. Johnson, in addition to his activity in the oil industry, served on practically every board or committee of importance having to do with civic affairs, with the result that his vigorous personality and far-sighted intelligence constituted n outstandingly important factor in the growth and development of Corsicana. He moved to Dallas in 1910 and became prominent as president of the Lone Star Insurance Company. He was a life-long Democrat. He died January 7, 1922, in Dallas. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana.


Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox