Rebekah Baines Johnson, mother of Lyndon Baines Johnson and one of three children of Ruth (Huffman) and Joseph Wilson Baines, was born on June 26, 1881, at McKinney, Texas. In 1883 the family moved to Austin, where Baines served for four years as secretary of state under Governor John Ireland. In 1887 the family moved to Blanco. Between 1901 and 1905 Rebekah studied literature at Baylor University, the University of Texas, and Baylor Female College (now the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor) without taking a degree. In 1904, after suffering financial difficulty, Baines moved his legal practice to Fredericksburg. He died in November 1906, and Rebekah, who had been very close to him, moved into the family home there. She taught elocution and corresponded for several daily newspapers.
On August 20, 1907, she married Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr., a rancher and state legislator whom she had met as a reporter. They moved to his farm on the Pedernales River, where she continued as a stringer for newspapers in San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin and for a time helped publish the weekly Johnson City Record Courier. Disappointed in her husband and frustrated by the poverty and isolation of Hill Country farm life, Mrs. Johnson tried hard to instill her love of education and culture into her five children. She was especially close to the eldest, Lyndon, and relentlessly coached him to improve his indifferent schoolwork and encouraged him to be ambitious and idealistic. The strength of her influence on the future senator and thirty-sixth president is evident in his letters and reminiscences; they reveal Johnson's strong attachment to his mother and a persistent desire to fulfill her hopes for his greatness. After the death of her husband in 1937 Rebekah Johnson made her home in Austin. She died on September 12, 1958, and was buried in the family plot at Stonewall.
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Rebekah Baines Johnson, A Family Album, ed. J. S. Morsund (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965). Rebekah Baines Johnson Papers, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Austin.
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Politics and Government
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Judith N. McArthur,
“Johnson, Rebekah Baines,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
February 1, 1995
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