The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947 Page: 350
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Jefferson City, Missouri, for several years. He taught first in
Huntsville, later in Lockhart and Webberville.8 In 1852 John-
son bought some land in Hays County, and when he was ready
to establish his school, he made a trip to Austin. While in
Austin, he was offered the present site of the University of
Texas as a location for his institution. He refused because of
his vigorous opposition to liquor and the drinking which accom-
panied city life. For this reason he chose for his school a rural
site seventeen miles southwest of Austin and about thirty miles
north of San Marcos.9 Today the trip from Austin to Johnson
Institute may be made by automobile in forty minutes, but in
the days of the horse and wagon Johnson Institute was a full
day's trip from Austin, over rough, hilly roads and across the
Colorado River, which had to be forded.10
Johnson's original intent was to provide a private school for
boys, but so many girls applied for admission that the Institute
became coeducational in 1852.11 Many of the students entered
in the first grade and continued with their work until they had
completed what is today the equivalent of a B.A. degree.12 The
curriculum stressed spelling and grammar. According to an
article in the Austin Daily Tribune in 1941, many of the stu-
dents at the Institute could spell and define every word in
Professor Johnson, nicknamed "Old Bristle Top" because of
his bristly pompadour, was a strict disciplinarian. It is said
that, when detecting boys up to mischief, he was able to see
three miles each way, up and down the road.14
Johnson's wife, Catherine, one of his sons, Ben, and his three
daughters all taught at the Institute. Lizzie started teaching at
the age of sixteen and is remembered by her former students
as being rather austere and firm.1" Lizzie's niece, Mrs. John E.
Shelton (Willie Greer), was one of the daughters of Lizzie's
sister, Emma. Mrs. Shelton remembers Aunt Lizzie as teaching
8T. U. Taylor, "Johnson Institute," Frontier Times, XVIII, 225.
9D. R. Dobie, The History of Hays County, Texas (M.A. Thesis, Uni-
versity of Texas, 1932), 53-54.
10T. U. Taylor, "Johnson Institute," Frontier Times, XVIII, 225.
"1Mrs. John E. Shelton, Statement Concerning Elizabeth E. Johnson
12"Prof. Johnson Removed Youth from Temptation," Austin Daily Trib-
ine, June 21, 1941.
14T. U. Taylor, "Johnson Institute," Frontier Times, XVIII, 226.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947, periodical, 1947; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101117/m1/425/: accessed November 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.