Woman of the Century/Laura M. Johns
JOHNS, Mrs. Laura M., woman suffragist, born near Le wist on, Pa., 18th December, 1849. She LAURA M. JOHNS. was a teacher In that State and in Illinois. Her maiden name was Mitchell. As a child she had a passion for books, was thoughtful beyond her years, and her parents encouraged in their daughter the tendencies which developed her powers to write and speak. In her marriage to J. B. Johns, which occurred in Lewiston, Pa., 14th January, 1873, she found a companion who believed in and advocated the industrial, social and political equality of women. Her first active advocacy of the suffrage question lagan in the fall of 1884. The then secretary of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association, Mrs. Bertha H. Ellsworth, of Lincoln, while circulating petitions for municipal suffrage for women, enlisted her active cooperation in the work, which culminated in the passage of the bill granting municipal suffrage to the women of Kansas, m 1887. Mrs. Johns was residing in Salina, Kans., where she still lives, when her life-work brought her into public notice in the field in which she has so ably championed the cause of woman. A strong woman suffrage organization was formed in Salina, of which Mrs. Johns was the leading spirit. Columns for the publication of suffrage matter were secured in the newspapers, and Mrs. Johns took charge of those departments. The tact and force with which she has used those and all other instrumentalities to bring out, cultivate and utilize suffrage sentiment have helped to gain great victories for woman suffrage in Kansas and in the nation. With the idea of pushing the agitation and of massing the forces to secure municipal suffrage she arranged for a long series of congressional conventions in Kansas, beginning in Leavenworth in 1886. Mrs. Johns worked in the legislative sessions of 1885, 1886 and 1S87 in the interest of the municipal woman suffrage bill, and there displayed the tact which has later marked her work and made much of its success. In her legislative work she had the support of her husband. Since the bill became a law, her constant effort has been to make it and the puhlic sentiment created serve as a stepping-stone to full enfranchisement, and to induce other States to give a wise and just recognition to the rights of their women citizens. She has spoken effectively in public on this question in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia. She took an active part in the woman suffrage amendment campaign in South Dakota. She visited the Territory of Arizona in the interest of the recognition of woman's claim to the ballot in the proposed State constitution framed in Pharnix in September, 1891. Recognition of her services has come in six elections to the presidency of the State Suffrage Association. H r last work consisted of thirty great conventions, beginning in Kansas City, in February, 1892, and held in various important cities of the State. In those conventions she had as speakers Rev. Anna H. Shaw, Mrs. Clara H. Hoffman, Miss Florence Ralgarnie and Mrs. Mary Seymour Howell. As workers and speakers from the ranks in Kansas there were Mrs. Johnston, Mrs. Belleville-Brown, Mrs. Shelby-Boyd, Mrs. Denton and Mrs. Hopkins. Mrs. Johns was enabled to lift the financial burden, of this great undertaking by the generous gift of $ 1,000 from Mrs. Rachel Foster-Avery, of Philadelphia. Although she has given time, service and money to this cause and received little in return, save the gratitude and esteem of thinking people, it is not because she prefers the care, labor, responsibility and unrest involved in this work to the quiet home-life she must often forego for its sake. Her cozv home is a marvel of good taste and comfort.