Johnson Institute

By: William S. Osborn

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: March 1, 1995

Johnson Institute, a private secondary school founded in 1852 by Professor Thomas Jefferson Johnson, was located on Bear Creek near the site of present-day Driftwood, thirty miles north of San Marcos in Hays County. The original facilities, log buildings built with the assistance of students, were replaced in 1868 by a solidly built, two-story, ten-room, limestone structure, which served as boardinghouse and school headquarters. A coeducational student body drawn from the neighboring area included several hundred day and boarding students. Johnson died in 1868, and his family kept the school open until 1872. Johnson, his wife, and various family members and slaves are buried in the institute cemetery.

Walter Prescott Webb bought the property in 1942 and leased it to Rodney Kidd, director of the University Interscholastic League in 1947 for use as a boy's camp named Friday Mountain Ranch. Roy Bedichek took a sabbatical leave from his duties at the University of Texas and spent the year 1947 at the ranch, where he wrote Adventures of a Texas Naturalist in the institute building. Webb sold the property to Kidd in 1963, and the Friday Mountain camp was operated by Kidd and his family until 1984; during Kidd's ownership the institute building and cemetery were maintained in excellent repair. The property was subsequently purchased by the International Society of Divine Love for religious purposes. The society made such extensive alterations to the institute building that the Texas Historical Commission voted in 1992 to revoke its 1964 Recorded Texas Historic Landmark designation.

Robb Burlage, "Johnson Institute-Future Unlimited," Junior Historian, January 1955. Willie Kemp, "Bear Creek and Friday Mountain," Frontier Times, March 1970. San Antonio Express-News, November 29, 1992. T. U. Taylor, "Johnson Institute," Frontier Times, February 1941. Tula Townsend Wyatt, Historical Markers in Hays County (San Marcos, Texas: Hays County Historical Commission, 1977).
  • Education
  • Defunct Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Religion
  • International Society of Divine Love

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

William S. Osborn, “Johnson Institute,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995

Johnson Institute
Currently Exists
Place Type
Town Fields
  • Has post office: No
  • Is Incorporated: No
Belongs to
  • Hays County
Associated Names

Johnson's -