From Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, Vol. III, ed. Howard L. Conard, the Southern History Company: 1901, p. 462, a biography of Thomas Alexander Johnston (son of John Benoni Thaxton Johnston, grandson of Alexander Johnston and Rachel Thaxton, great-grandson of John Thaxton of Wilkes Co., North Carolina, and Warren Co., Tennessee):
Johnston, Thomas Alexander, educator, was born November 13, 1848, in Cooper County, Missouri, son of John Benoni Thaxton Johnston and Margaret Harris Johnston, who were descendants of pioneer families of Tennessee and North Carolina. J. B. T. Johnston’s grandfather was a boyhood friend of General Andrew Jackson and a soldier of the Revolutionary War. The Johnstons are a Scotch family and descendants of a noble who came to England with William the Conqueror and who received, in the allotment of lands, the parish of Johnstown, on the River Annan, in Annandale, Scotland. From this parish this early settler took the name de Johnstowne, which has dropped the “de” and has been evolved through the forms Johnstoune and Johnstone into Johnston. The branch of the family to which Colonel Thomas A. Johnston belongs, migrated from Scotland to northern Ireland and from Ireland came to Pennsylvania as early as the middle of the eighteenth century. Colonel Johnston obtained the education which fitted him to enter college at Kemper School, of Boonville, Missouri, and completed his scholastic training at the University of the State of Missouri, from which institution he was graduated with the degree of bachelor of arts in 1872, and which conferred upon him the degree of master of arts in 1875. He was reared on a farm in Cooper County, and in 1864, when but sixteen years of age, he joined the Confederate Army, under General Sterling Price. This was at the time of General Price’s famous invasion of Missouri from Arkansas, and young Johnston participated in all the battles, skirmishes and marches incident to the expedition, and was finally surrendered, with the remnant of General Price’s army, at Shreveport, Louisiana, in June, 1865. Returning then to Missouri he resumed his studies, and in 1868 became a teacher in Kemper School, then under the conduct and management of Professor Frederick T. Kemper, of Virginia. At the death of Professor Kemper, in 1881, Colonel Johnston succeeded him as head of the school, and has developed it into one of the most popular and prosperous institutions of its kind in the West. As a military academy and fitting school for college it ranks nigh among Western educational institutions, and its rapidly growing prestige and popularity are due to the intelligent and well directed efforts of Colonel Johnston. A law passed by the Legislature of Missouri in 1899 gives the school official recognition in the military system of the State, and in compliance with the provisions of this act, the rank of colonel has been conferred upon its distinguished superintendent. Colonel Johnston has served several terms as an officer of the city government of Boonville, and has been an earnest promoter of public enterprises and sanitary improvements. He was reared in the faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and was a member of that church until his removal to Boonville. Since then he has been a member and elder of the Boonville Presbyterian Church. His political affiliations are with the Democratic party, adhering since 1896 to that branch of the Democratic faith which indorses the maintenance of the “gold standard” in the monetary system of the United States. June 27, 1877, Colonel Johnston married Miss Carrie Rea, of Saline County, daughter of Rev. P. G. Rea, a prominent minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In the maternal line Mrs. Johnston is a great-granddaughter of Rev. Finis Ewing, who was one of the founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and a near connection of “Kit Carson,” the famous frontiersman and scout. The children of Colonel and Mrs. Johnston are two sons and two daughters.