From A Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 718
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902


   Among the enterprising business men of Frederic is the subject of this review, who is now at the head of an extensive mercantile establishment.  His marked ability has done much to promote the commercial activity upon which the welfare of every community depends, and in trade circles he enjoys an unassailable reputation.

   Many years of his life have been passed in the Sunflower state, and he is numbered among the native sons of Ohio, his birth having occurred in Pickaway county, near Circleville, February 25, 1854.  His father, the Rev John K Johnston, was a well known and prominent minister in the United Brethren church in Ohio for a few years.  He was a man of excellent education and was an active and zealous worker in the cause of the Master.  In later life he removed to Steuben county, Indiana, where he was in the ministry for about fifteen years, and later he purchased and improved a farm, remaining there until 1878.  In that year he went to Rich Hill, Bates county, Missouri, but is now a resident of Augusta, Oklahoma, having reached the seventieth milestone on the journey of life.  His wife was in her maidenhood Miss Jane Doudt, and was a native of Seneca county, Ohio. They were the parents of seven children, three sons and four daughters, namely:  J E, the subject of this review; May Klotz, who died in Rich Hill, Missouri; Royal, a resident of Kansas; Mrs Lottie Gravely, of Salina, Kansas; Alma, the wife of Rev P W Brown, a minister of the Congregational church at Joplin, Missouri; Azalia, the wife of W A Swisher, of Eureka township, Rice county; and one who died in childhood.

   J E Johnston was reared to farm life in Indiana, and was early taught lessons of industry, honesty and economy.  He received an excellent education in Otterbein University, at Westerville, Ohio, and when seventeen years of age he engaged in teaching, following that profession in Indiana, Missouri and Kansas.  He proved a capable instructor, being able to impart clearly and concisely to the others the knowledge which he had acquired.  In 1879 he came to Rice county, Kansas, securing a tract of wild land, but by industry and close attention to business he placed his land under a fine state of cultivation.  His farm, which consisted of four hundred and eighty acres, was located four and a half miles south of Frederic and was one of the finest farms to be found in central Kansas.  In 1888 he took up his abode in Frederic, and for the past thirteen years he has been one of the leading merchants of the city.  His large and well appointed store, with its extensive and carefully selected stock, is a credit to the proprietor as well as to the city, and in its management Mr Johnston displays that executive force and able management that ranks him among the leading business men of the community.  His stock, which is valued at about twenty-five thousand dollars, consists of dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, furniture, lumber, hardware, threshing machines and all kinds of tools.  He is one of the most enterprising and successful merchants in Rice county and his reliable business methods and honorable dealing have gained him the confidence and good will of all with whom he has been brought in contact.  His first store building was a small structure, twelve by sixteen feet, but his present building covers an entire block, his implement department alone covering an area of thirty-six by one hundred and forty feet.  He now owns eight hundred and fifty acres of land, all in Rice and Lane counties.

   On the 4th of November, 1876, at Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mr Johnston was united in marriage to Emma Klotz, who was born, reared and educated in the Hoosier state, a daughter of Andrew and Catherine Caromy) Klotz, both now deceased.  Their union has been blessed with four children, namely:  Daisy, the wife of R C McCawley, a merchant of Frederic, and they have two children; Gertrude, who is attending the high school at Salina, Kansas; Homer K; and Marjorie J, who died July 7, 1901.  Mr Johnston is a stanch supporter of Republican principles, and for three years served as county commissioner of Rice county, also serving as a delegate to county and congressional conventions.  Socially he is a member of the Knights of Pythias fraternity, and both he and his wife hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal church.  His mercantile career is above reproach, and during his residence in Rice county he has worked his way upward until he now occupies a leading position among its representative citizens.