Former Birger Sandzen Student Turned Camp Artist- Joseph A. Johnson

While researching Company 4718 through the stories in their camp newspaper "The Gully Guardian" a number of engravings by the veteran enrollees were prominent in several issues. Some are not identified to a specific enrollee, but several images are attributed to a Joseph A. Johnson.

"The above linoleum cut by Joseph Johnson, a member of the camp, portrays the barracks skyline at the camp."

A couple of notes in the camp newspapers and a little follow-up research identifies Johnson as a former student of Birger Sandzen at Bethany College between 1924 and 1926.

"Joseph A. Johnson, war veteran enrollee of the Kingman county CCC camp toils on the soil conservation crew during the day, but that does not keep him from bringing his art to his environment. Horses, galloping across the prairie and pausing near the crew for a rest gave him inspiration for the linoleum cut presented herewith.

Johnson, formerly a student at Bethany college at Lindsborg has produced paintings which have won the admiration of students and fellow enrollees. A painting of an Indian girl has been exhibited recently in the window of the Kingman furniture store. An accomplished violinist, Johnson has provided music in local church services."

"Horses, galloping across the prairie and pausing near the crew for a rest gave him inspiration for the linoleum cut presented herewith."
Johnson's tenure as "camp artist" was relatively short as his contributions to the camp news come to an end in February 1937 when the editor notes that, "the two sketches drawn for this issue were the efforts of Joseph A. Johnson who has been our camp artist. He has checked out to try his luck in other territory. The Gully Guardian will miss his contributions, but we are sure his artistic ability and good nature will not go unrewarded on the outside."

 With that, Joseph A. Johnson fades into CCC history. There is relatively little information on him that I am able to find at this point, and even his time in the CCC may represent something new to anyone who knows of the artist.

The work of Co. 4718 continued in Kingman County until the end of July 1940 when the company moves "out of the dustbowl" and into my backyard to near Osage City in Osage County, Kansas. That's where my research was headed that day when I encountered Mr. Johnson and perhaps we'll visit these later exploits of Co. 4718 sometime down the road...

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