Johnson, Andrew (1845–1925)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1995

Updated: June 23, 2016

Andrew Johnson, participant in the second battle of Adobe Walls, was born at Engelholm, Sweden, on August 15, 1845. At the age of twenty-four he immigrated to the United States and lived for a short time at the community of Sweetwine, Ohio, where he became associated with Charles Rath. In 1870 he accompanied Rath to Kansas and spent the winter at Leavenworth. For the next several years Johnson worked as Rath's trusted employee while they followed the building of the Santa Fe Railroad westward as suppliers and traders. He accompanied Rath on his buffalo hunting expeditions in 1871 and 1872 and was in charge of hauling hides to market. He helped erect the Charles Rath Mercantile Company in Dodge City, Kansas, and oversaw many of the trading post's operations.

In the spring of 1874 Johnson accompanied the Rath outfit to Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle. There he supervised the construction of the Rath and Company store and James Hanrahan's saloon. Johnson was in the Rath store on the morning of June 27, 1874, when Indians attacked the trading post. He participated in the battle, and the doors he had fitted with reinforcing crossplanks proved resistant to the attempts of Quanah Parker and other warriors to break them down. Johnson remained at Adobe Walls for a month after the fight before returning to Dodge City with his employers' hides and merchandise. He salvaged a large collection of Indian artifacts from Adobe Walls, but in 1885 most of them were lost in a fire. Some of them, however, are preserved today in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

During subsequent years "Andy the Swede," as Johnson was often called, worked mainly as a blacksmith in Dodge City. Among his later occupations he operated a restaurant and a liquor store. In 1892 he was one of several witnesses called to testify in the lawsuit filed by Rath over financial losses resulting from the Adobe Walls fight; he alone refused to stretch the truth in regard to the actual number of hides left behind at the abandoned trading post. In the early 1920s Johnson won considerable fame for his firsthand accounts of the battle of Adobe Walls, mostly published in Kansas newspapers and generally considered reliable. He was one of the last surviving Adobe Walls veterans when he revisited the site in 1922 and 1924; the latter year he was a featured speaker at the festivities celebrating the battle's fiftieth anniversary. Johnson died in June 1925 and was buried in the Maple Grove Cemetery at Dodge City. His surviving papers are housed in the Boot Hill Museum at Dodge City.

T. Lindsay Baker and Billy R. Harrison, Adobe Walls: The History and Archaeology of the 1874 Trading Post (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Ida Ellen Rath, The Rath Trail (Wichita, Kansas: McCormick-Armstrong, 1961).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Johnson, Andrew,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

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February 1, 1995
June 23, 2016