About the Johnsons 2017-05-02T15:54:12+00:00

About Martin and Osa Johnson

In the first half of the 20th century an American couple from Kansas named Martin and Osa Johnson captured the public’s imagination through their films and books of adventure in exotic, far-away lands. Photographers, explorers, naturalists and authors, Martin and Osa studied the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific Islands, and British North Borneo. They explored then unknown lands and, through their films, writings, and lectures, brought back knowledge of cultures thousands of miles away.

From 1917 to 1936, the Johnsons set up camp in some of the most remote areas of the world and provided an unmatched photographic record of the wildernesses of Kenya, the Congo, British North Borneo and the Solomon and New Hebrides Islands. Their equipment was the most advanced motion picture apparatus of the day, some of it designed by Martin Johnson himself.

When the young adventurers left their home in Kansas to explore and photograph these lands, little did they realize that they would provide the world with a photographic record of the African game of unimagined magnitude and beauty. The Johnsons gave the filmmakers and researchers of today an important source of ethnological and zoological material which would otherwise have been lost.

Their photographs represent one of the great contributions to the pictorial history of the world. Their films serve to document a wilderness that has long since vanished and tribal cultures and customs that have ceased to exist.

Through popular movies such as “Simba” (1928) and “Baboona” (1935) and best-selling books still in print such as I Married Adventure (1940), Martin and Osa popularized camera safaris and an interest in African wildlife conservation for generations of Americans. Their legacy is a record of the animals and cultures of many remote areas of the world which have undergone significant change.

The outstanding accomplishments and legacy of Martin and Osa Johnson – their films, photographs, expedition reports, correspondence and personal memorabilia – are housed at The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum in Chanute, Kansas.

1884 Oct. 9: Martin Elmer Johnson was born in Rockford, Illinois. His family arrived in Lincoln, Kansas when Martin was just nine months old. Martin’s older brother died as a toddler and is buried in Lincoln. The Johnsons moved to Independence, Kansas when Martin was around 10 years old. Martin’s parents and his sister’s families are buried in Independence, Kansas.
1894Osa Helen Leighty born on March 14 at home on Malcolm, Avenue in Chanute, Kansas.
1906Last day of April: Martin left for Liverpool on a special mission on behalf of his employers in Chicago. He visited Antwerp, England. (The Evening Star, Tues., May 1)

June: Martin returned from England after 6 weeks abroad. (The Evening Star, Mon., June 4)

December 2: It was announced that Martin Johnson of Independence, Kansas had been chosen from hundreds of applicants to accompany author Jack London on his proposed "Voyage of SNARK" sailing adventure. (The Evening Star, Sun., Dec 2)

Dec. 3: Martin left for San Francisco to join the party of 5, which included Martin, to begin a voyage around the world. (The Evening Star, Mon., Dec. 3)
1907Jan. 12: Martin’s mother received relics from Martin including scenes of the San Francisco disaster. (The Evening Star, Sat., Jan. 12)
January: Letter sent to Martin’s mother from Martin stated the SNARK began journey for the trip around the world. (The Evening Star, Mon., Jan. 21)

January: Letter to Martin’s mother said the ship was being repaired and would be 2 to 3 weeks before work complete. (The Evening Star, Mon., Jan. 21)

April 22: Martin departs aboard Jack London's SNARK with their first point of destination being Honolulu. (The Evening Star, Mon., June 3)

May 1: Message from Martin that the SNARK arrived in Honolulu. (The Evening Star, Wed., May 22)

August 22: Jack London changed his mind from sailing around the world with plans to thoroughly explore the Hawaiian Islands instead. (The Evening Star, Sun., Sept. 22)

December 21, 1907: Capt. Eames wife wrote a discouraging letter to Martin’s parents expressing fear of disaster for the SNARK as nothing had been heard from any member of the crew in months. (Independence Daily Reporter, Sat., Jan. 4).
1908Jan. 25: The SNARK and crew members were deemed safe. Martin remained in Tahiti while Jack & Charmain London headed to San Francisco. (Independence Daily Reporter, Sat., Jan. 25).

Jan 29: All of the crew except Martin, Jack & Charmain London abandoned the SNARK in the Papetee Islands. (Ottawa Daily Republic, Wed., Jan. 29)

March: Martin was seriously hurt while loading machinery into the launch. A rope broke and the cylinder head of the engine fell upon Martin, injuring him quite seriously. He was unconscious 2 days while confined to the French hospital for 10 days in Papetee, Tahiti Islands. (Parsons Daily Sun, Sat., March 7)

April 11: The London’s and Martin resumed their cruise and head toward the Island of Morea on the SNARK. (Independence Daily Reporter, Sat., April 11, 1908)

May 15: The crew of the SNARK witnessed a volcanic eruption within 6 to 7 miles from Samoa. The volcano belched fire and boiled hot lava into the ocean creating so much steam that they could not see the moon. (Independence Daily Reported, Thurs, July 9)

Nov.: Word received by J. A. Johnson that Martin and crew are safe and well in Australia. (The Evening Star, Sun., Nov 1)

Nov. 14: Jack London consented to an interview in which he stated the SNARK was laid up in Aola in the Solomon Islands. The cruise was anticipated to be postponed for 5 months. (The Evening Star, Fri., Jan. 15, 1909)

Illness (Island Fever) of the crew members began to threaten the Voyage of the SNARK. (Independence Daily Reporter, Wed., Dec. 23)
1909Jack London wrote a letter to Martin, who was in one hospital while the London’s were both in another hospital in Australia. Jack stated that he and his wife were suffering from a skin disease wherein the doctors seem quite puzzled and were unable to diagnose their condition. He added that their plans were to sell the SNARK and return to a climate similar to their home in California. Martin, after being released from the hospital, planned to continue his trip around the world through Europe before going home. (Independence Daily Reporter, Thurs., Jan. 21)

Jan. 21: Letter from Martin to his parents stated he had arrived in Sydney where he would stay on the SNARK until it sold. Martin is hired by the French Pathe Brothers and returns to Paris with them after filming throughout the South Seas. Their trek to Paris was by way of Melbourne, Adelaide, Bombay, through the Suez Canal, then to Venice, Milan, Florence and on to Paris. From Paris Martin proceeded by Antwerp to London where he sailed to New York. (Independence Daily Reporter, Thurs., April 15)

Feb. 12: Martin told of fearful experiences in storm swept seas. The day after they cleared Renell they were struck by a squall which settled into a 4-day gale. Rain, wind and seas were so high that they caused the ship to pitch and roll until everyone and everything was entirely soaked. Oilskins and rubbers were useless against such weather. The fourth day the jib was carried away and the man jib boom broke off so they were in danger of having the flying jib boom smashed. Another jib was hoisted which was torn to threads by the constant lunging into the sea. Provisions were low after 18 days (Independence Daily Reporter, Mon., April 19)

Feb. 28: Thirty-three days out to sea and their grub was nearly gone. The only thing left to eat was weevily hardtack, half spoiled beans and tea. They soaked the hardtack for 15 minutes which brought most the weevils to the top so they could be skimmed off, but the beans were hopeless. With only enough gasoline to go about five miles, the little crew was forced to save the fuel so they could make it through the bar. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., April 20)

March 5: The ship finally anchored in Sydney. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., April 20)

March 31: Martin left Australia on the Orient Royal Liner and headed through the Indian Ocean toward Ceylon where he continued by way of the Arabian Sea to Aden .The journey ventured through the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, then to Naples and on to the Mediterranean Sea. His trip was to continue to Rome where he would become a land rover traveling by railways. Martin anticipated his journey to end in Paris where he stayed until June. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., May 11)

April 23: Martin dropped anchor in Colombo, the 4th largest shipping port in the world at that time as all the ships going through the Suez Canal stopped to coal there. Martin told how he got a pair of elephant tusks and a porcupine quill box on his travels. They hired a rickshaw and bullock cart directly after getting ashore then went off to see the sights which included visiting temples, the marketplace and the country. (Independence Daily Reporter, Fri., June 4)

Sept.: Martin was unable to find any cargo ship going to New York so he talked to a sailor who told him of a cattle ship sailing for Boston. He immediately found the cattle foreman and made arrangements to cross the Atlantic as a stowaway. Martin climbed into a roll of Egyptian cotton and lay with his arms and legs jackknifed under him for 3 hours. He had to maintain that position with his extremities going numb as it was not safe for him to come out. The ship had to be safely out to sea or stowaways would have been thrown off board if found. (Independence Daily Reporter, Thurs., Sept. 23)

Sept. 24: After 3 years of traveling around the world, Martin returned home. At that time, his decision was to remain at home and forget traveling. Martin was only 24 years old. (Independence Daily Reporter, Sat., Sept. 25) Martin returned to Independence, Kansas in the late summer. He was the only member of the SNARK Crew to make it around the world.

SNARK to be name of new picture show to open 3 weeks later. Charlie Kerr, the drugstore owner, and Martin were the new proprietors who planned to convert the drugstore into a movie theatre. (Independence Daily Reporter, Sat., Oct. 9)

The Boston Transcript, one of the most noted newspapers in the East, praised Martin for bringing the SNARK into port. Martin is nicknamed “The Alfalfa Pilot from the Sunflower State.” (The Evening Star, Tues., Oct. 19)

Martin completed the program for his 40 travelogues which were delivered in the SNARK Theatre, Independence, KS, and 5 other towns. Each lecture was illustrated with hand colored slides from photographs taken while making his trip. The lectures were repeated 5 times during the day for the sum of 5 cents and the charge of 10 cents was the admission when Martin’s travelogues were a part of the entertainment. A piano solo performed by Miss Helen West and Mrs. Arthur Ellsworth singing the latest songs completed the program. (Independence Daily Reporter, Fri., Nov. 5)

November: SNARK Theatre planned to open Nov. 10 (Daily Republican, Sat., Nov. 6)

Dec. 30: Richard Hamilton & Gail Perego were married at the SNARK Theatre on Dec. 30.(Gail was Osa’s good friend). Mr. Hamilton had been in show business for years in musical comedy playing the dog, Tige, in Buster Brown, also a couple seasons in Vaudeville. Miss Perego and Mr. Hamilton had been singing at the SNARK Theatre. As is the custom with show people, the couple were married on stage. (Evening Star, Fri., Dec. 31)
1910March: Martin was compelled to give up his travelogues for a short time at the SNARK Theatre under the advice of his physician. He was suffering severe pain from lifting a heavy weight. It was anticipated he would be laid up for 2 weeks or longer before he could resume his lectures. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., March 1)

March 15: SNARK advertising the cost of admission for 2 shows at 15 cents. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., March 15)

March 23: Martin resumed his travelogues at the SNARK. (Independence Daily Reporter, Wed., March 23)

April 2: Martin Johnson, Kerr and Messrs gain control of the Cherryvale Opera House with plans for their opening to be April 6. (Daily Reporter, Sat., April 2)

April 20 & 21: The moving pictures, travelogue and song complete the SNARK theatre agenda with admission costing 7 ½ cents. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., April19)

May: Martin and Osa became acquainted while Martin was showing his Travelogues at the theatre where Osa was singing. They fell in love, eloped when Osa was 16 and were married in Independence, Kansas on May 15. Previous to their marriage Osa lived with her parents at 414 W. Sixth St. in Chanute. (The Coffeyville Daily Journal, Wed., May 18)

July: Martin announced plans that he and Osa were to leave Independence for another trip around the world. First, they would go to the Pacific coast to visit the London’s and then set sail for Japan. The travelogues would be delivered along the way including Osa singing Hawaiian songs while wearing native Hawaiian clothing. (The Daily Republican, Thurs., July 21)

July: Martin decided to take a Negro boy on his 2nd trip around the world. The little man, dressed in South Sea Island togs, would peddle bills at all the cities on their trip. (Independence Daily Reporter, Fri., July 29)

Aug.: The cost of admission for Martin’s Travelogues was 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children under 10. (Fort Scott Daily Monitor, Thurs., Aug. 4)

Aug. 12: Martin & Osa departed on the midnight Santa Fe train for Kansas City where they opened for a week at the Olympic Theatre. Large bills were printed to be distributed in every city visited. The trip would extend over the United States, across the Pacific and through the entire civilized and uncivilized world. (Independence Daily Reporter, Fri., Aug. 12)

Martin had obtained a wooden idol, the “Devil-Devil,” that was worshipped for over 100 years and greatly feared by the South Sea Islanders of Ogi, in the Solomon group. The story of the artifact is detailed in The Junction City Daily Union, Mon., Oct. 17. Today the artifact is on permanent display in the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum.

Oct.: The cost of admission to see Martin’s Travelogues and pictures increased to 15 cents for adults and children 10 cents. (The Beloit Daily Call, Sat., Oct. 22)

Nov. 10: Osa wrote home to say they were 30 miles from Logan on the Missouri Pacific railroad. They had a month of shows planned into Denver then hoped to reach the London’s in the spring. When they returned from the trip around the world they planned to invest their money in a little lot in Independence to build a home where Martin would settle down to work at his father’s jewelry store. (Independence Daily Reporter, Sat., Nov. 10)
1911Newspaper tells how Martin’s Travelogues were first introduced in England, France, Germany and Spain with rave reviews. This from the world: “This American, Martin Johnson, has introduced something new and startling - something that makes us gasp. He shows and tells about the wonders and marvels of life and lands we hardly knew existed. His pictures, true to life, are marvelous.” (The Evening Star, Thurs., Feb 9)

Feb.: Mr. and Mrs. Johnson met with success from the Montrose, Colorado newspapers that gave a glowing account writing “They have been packing the theatres.” (Evening Star, Wed., Feb. 15)

Father Johnson received a letter from Martin telling how they secured a 90-week contract on the Orpheum circuit at $150 week. Their next show would be in Peoria then they would leave for Chicago. (The Ottawa Daily, Tues., Nov. 28)

Dec.: Home again after a year and 4 months, the Johnson’s have shown in 211 towns in 27 states of the U.S. and 5 provinces in Canada. They entered vaudeville after the holidays, making the Orpheum circuit which took them to every large city in the country as well as the English speaking parts of the old world. (Chanute Daily Tribune, Tues., Dec. 12)
1912The Bill Board, a big theatrical magazine, printed this about the Johnson’s show from its Chicago correspondent: “The act is booked solid for the next 2 years. It is one of the most instructive offerings ever witnessed and pleases the audience in every detail. It is worthy of the most prestigious houses of the country. Even though Martin has been in vaudeville less than a month, it is a safe prediction that in less than a year his name will be one of the biggest in the vaudeville field.” (Evening Star, Tues., March 26)
1913Feb.: Johnson’s planned to sail for London where they would perform at the Palace Theatre then to Paris and next on to New York at the Elting Theatre. ( Evening Star, Tues., Feb. 18)

April: Newspaper stated how Martin went to London to instruct a new man in the exhibition of his moving films and returned to New York City to supervise their exhibition in the American metropolis. (Independence Daily Reporter, Wed., April 9)

April 9: Telegram from Martin to his father stated they were back from Europe and landed April 9 in New York. They were to perform at the Astor Theatre on April 21. (Evening Star, Thurs., April 10)

Nov.: “Through the South Seas With Jack London,” a book written by Martin was issued by Dodd, Mead & Co. of New York. (Independence Daily Reporter, Fri., Nov 21)

Dec.: Martin’s book, “Through the South Seas With Jack London” proved to be a great seller as it is full of outstanding pictures and exciting adventure. ( Independence Daily Reporter, Mon., Dec. 8)
1914March 17: Johnson’s arrive in Independence after traveling through the eastern states entertaining with their travelogues. (Evening Star, Mon., March 16)
1915Sept. 3: Letter written by Fred S. Pilling from England to Martin inquired into Martin’s desire to revisit some of the South Seas Islands and the neighboring islands that fell outside Martin’s itinerary before. Mr. Pilling proposed that several men would make an extended investigation of the islands by procuring data and photographs and investigate the relationship anthropologically between the various groups. (Evening Star, Mon., Sept. 20)
1916The popular book “Through the South Seas with Jack London,” was published in both Great Britain and Sweden. (Independence Daily Reporter, Mon., May 22)

Nov. 22: Jack London died at his ranch home in Glen Ellen, Calif of ureamic poisoning. Jack was found unconscious in his room by a Japanese servant who went to call him for breakfast. He had gone to bed in the best of health. A physician was called immediately who pronounced his condition serious but that he was expected to recover. Apparently his illness was due to something he had eaten. In the afternoon Jack suffered a relapse and died that evening at 7:45 after the physician issued a bulletin announcing Jack was very serious. Jack was born January 12, 1876 in San Francisco, Calif. (The Daily Republican, Thurs., Nov 23)

London burial to be very private as in accordance with Jack’s wishes. He was laid to rest in Oakland, Calif. (The Evening Star, Thurs., Nov. 23)

A dispatch from Sweden stated that the Swedish and Norwegian papers gave more space to the death of Jack London than they did to the death of their own emperor of Austria which occurred very close to the same time. Jack was well loved by the Scandinavians where his books had been sold by the thousands in Sweden and Norway. (The Evening Star, Wed., Dec. 27)

June 5: Martin and Osa sailed from San Francisco to Australia then to The New Hebrides. The crew was composed of expert cinema photographers who were to take moving pictures of life and fauna which had never been exhibited in civilization. (The Salina Daily Union, Mon., June 4)

June 16: Martin’s father received a cablegram from Martin saying they had arrived in Sydney safely. (Independence Daily Reporter, Fri., July 6)
1917June 5: Martin and Osa left from San Francisco for their first South Seas trip aboard the steamer Sonoma. Martin became president and manager of a moving picture corporation which was financed for $30,000. His plans were to take pictures of the most interesting and least known islands on the face of the earth then return home in eight months. (The Evening Star, Thurs., May 24)

July 3: Letter written by Osa to her parents from Queensland, Australia. It stated the trip would go from there to the Solomon Islands for a stay of 10 weeks. (The Chanute Daily Tribune, Fri., Aug. 3)
1918Their first movie, Among the Cannibals of the South Pacific premieres on September 11.
1919Feb. 27: “Cannibals of the South Seas” advertised to premiere for one night only at the cost of 15 cents and 25 cents. (The McPherson Daily Republican, Sat., Feb. 22)

March 10 – 11: “Cannibals of the South Seas” was shown at the Belmont along with the showing of “The Fighting Roosevelts.” (The Walnut Valley Times, Sat., March 8)

World rights to the 5-reel movie “Cannibals of the South Seas” were acquired by Robertson-Cole Company with the production being released through Exhibitors Mutual exchanges. (The Walnut Valley Times, Sat., March 8)

Announcement stated that the movie “Cannibals of the South Seas” would be shown in the city of Leavenworth. (Leavenworth Post, Sun., March 9)

Showing of the movie was announced to air in El Dorado. (El Dorado Daily Republican, Mon., Mach 10)

March: The theatres in Independence plan to have the movie “Cannibals of the South Seas” as their showing. (Independence Daily Reporter, Sat., March 22)

Martin and Osa left on their second trip to the South Pacific on April 8.

A correspondence received from Honolulu that Martin and Osa were among the passengers on the Ventura who had arrived with plans to take pictures of the South Seas. (Independence Daily Reporter, Mon., April 28)

Members of the National Geographic Society in Washington saw Martin’s film and invited him to the capital to address them. Many schools urged their teachers and students to
see the film for its educational value. (The Topeka Daily Capital, Sun., June 1)
1920Without returning home from their trip to the South Seas in 1919, Martin and Osa traveled to North Borneo in February of 1920 to film wild animals. With few roads they traveled up river in gobangs (canoes) to reach the island’s interior. At the headwaters of North Borneo’s largest river, the Kinabatangan, they visited the Tenggara people, filming and photographing their centuries old customs.

The constant rain and thick jungle canopy was a difficult challenge for Martin and Osa who had never attempted wildlife photography before. Along the coastal lowlands around the city of Sandakan they were able to film elephants, buffalo and other animals. Martin wrote letters home on and around July 9th detailing their four-month trek on the Kinabatangan River into the interior jungles of North Borneo.

May: The Beldorf Theatre featured Martin Johnsons films on the borderland of civilization with 10 different reels showing. One new film from the collection showed each week with the cost for admission at 15 and 30 cents. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., May 18)

May: The second of Martin”s new films, “The Isles of the Hebrides,” played at the theatres in Independence. (Independence Daily Reporter, Wed., May 26)

July: Independence, Kansas theatres feature Martin’s “Recruiting in the Solomons.” (Independence Daily Reporter, Wed., July 7)
1921Jan.: Story about Johnson’s orangutan, Bessie in NYC detailed in a story by the Independence Daily Reporter, Sat., Jan. 8

Jan.: While working in Singapore the Johnson’s met a physician who later went to New York. When the Dr. visited the zoo he was amazed as he passed a cage where an ape extended his paw to shake hands. His curiosity aroused, he learned the ape belonged to the Johnson’s. (Independence Daily Reporter, Jan. 10)

Jan.: “Asia,” a well known magazine which covered the continent of Asia, published an illustrated account by Martin of his recent expedition with Osa into the wilds of British North Borneo. “Asia” told “how adventuresome the westerners were making motion picture records for the last 10 years of the fast disappearing races of every archipelago in the South Pacific.” (The Chanute Tribune, Thurs., Jan. 20)

Feb.: J. A. Johnson (Martins father) a jeweler in Independence, Ks., retired after 26 years. He built one of the best businesses in the city and was said to always treat his customers fairly. Mr. Johnson was held in the highest of esteem by a wide circle of friends and customers. (Independence Daily Reporter, Mon., Feb. 7)

Feb.: Osa appeared as a guest speaker at the Presbyterian Sunday school for the class of 45 members. (The Chanute Tribune, Thurs., Feb.10)

In Malekula the Johnson’s were present when 60 human heads were brought in for curing. They frequently slept in native huts with rafts studded with “dried” human heads. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., Feb. 15)

Feb 18: The Boy Scouts and their friends enjoyed an adventuresome night as Martin gave them an exciting talk on his expeditions. (The Evening Star, Fri., Feb. 18)

April: The feature article of “Asia,” the magazine, was about the South Seas. Martin contributed an article on “Adventures Among the Wild Men of Malekula.” At that time, Martin was the only explorer who had proven cannibalism did exist through his pictures. (The Chanute Daily Tribune, Sat., Feb. 19)

Feb.: It was announced Martin planned to float another motion picture company. C. H. Kerr directed the new stock and put it on the market for sale with the new venture being a $60,000 proposition. In two days time more than $25,000 in stock had been sold. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., Jan 22)

Feb. 22: Martin was a guest of the Rotary Club where he showed some of his pictures and told very interesting stories about his journey. (The Chanute Daily Tribune, Wed., Feb. 23)

Osa and Martin planned to sail for Ceylon to establish their residence and add a motion picture studio on the side of a mountain. He felt the movie he planned to produce, “Osa of the Elephants,” would be his most thrilling. Anything that had to do with civilization was stricken from the movie as Martin wanted it to deal entirely with primitive life. (The Chanute Daily Tribune, Thurs., Feb. 24)

The Bird House in New York’s Central Park received a gift from the Johnson’s called the Australian Cucoboro bird or “laughing jackass.” (Independence Daily Reporter, Thurs., April 28)

“The Snark” theatre, named after Jack London’s oceancraft, would be renamed to become the “Best” Theatre. (Independence Daily Reporter, Tues., July 5)

July: Martin and Osa, after making five tours to out of the way places around the world making films, began their trip to the headwaters of the Nile. (The Hutchinson News, Tues., July 19)

Sept.: Martin and Osa were accompanied by an unusual companion, Kalowatt, their pet ape, when they left London for a year or two where they would work in the wild. (The Wichita Daily Eagle, Sun. Sept. 11, 1921)

Sept.: “Jungle Adventures,” the Johnson’s film about North Borneo, premiered in New York theatres. (Independence Daily Reporter, Fri., Sept. 16)

September: When Martin and Osa arrived for the first time in Kenya, battle lines were being drawn concerning the future of East Africa’s wildlife. Many white settlers favored eradicating the animals because of agricultural interests, while conservationists and guides preferred game preservation. The Johnson’s were there to make an authentic record of wildlife in its natural state at the urging of Carl Akeley. By the time they left in 1922, Martin and Osa shot 100,000 feet of film and had taken hundreds of pictures. The resulting film, “Trailing African Wild Animals,” premiered in April 1923. Martin’s book “Camera Trails in Africa” was published a year later in 1924.

For the first several months, they made photographic safaris to several areas in central Kenya including the Athi Plains, the Ithanga Hills, the Loita Hills and northwest across the Loita Plains. Their trip culminated with a visit to the northern reaches of Kenya, specifically Mount Marsabit where they spent time camped near a lake which they named Lake Paradise. There they found an area seldom visited by sportsmen hunters so animals were easier to approach. They learned a costly lesson, however, when Osa was forced to shoot the leader of a charging elephant herd to save Martin's and her own life. They survived but received a hefty fine from the British government since they were not hunters and had not obtained a permit to shoot big game. They had to telegraph a sponsor to pay their fine, so in future trips they learned to read the animals better and avoid such pricey and dangerous confrontations.

After a few short months they left Lake Paradise, but resolved to return for a longer period of time. With its undisturbed wildlife, they felt this was the ideal place to make a permanent record of African wildlife.
1923Their film Trailing African Wild Animals is released on April 15.
1924Martin and Osa arrive in Kenya for their second safari on January 26. This trip is also known as Four Years in Paradise.
1927Martin and Osa sail from New York for their third trip to Africa on December 14.
1928Simba premieres on January 23. It had premieres around the world, and we'll include the confirmed dates and locations as we can:

The Palace Theatre on September 28th
1929Highlight of the Year: In November, Martin and Osa make their fourth trip to Africa. This results in Congorilla, the first movie with sound shot in Africa.

Known Itinerary Stops: May 2, 1929 Both Martin and Osa Johnson attend a book signing in Toledo, OH. Source: Autographed & dated copy of SAFARI owned by Mabel & Walter Tilly was donated to the museum and is held in our archives.
1930The film Across the World with Mr. and Mrs. Martin Johnson opens on January 1.
1932 Highlight of the Year: Congorilla opens on July 21.

October 20, 1932: Osa Johnson is the Key Note Speaker at the Adventurer's Club in NYC. Martin Johnson, as well as family friends Frank Buck and his wife are present at the head table. Source: Photograph, Program and Signature Souvenir from the event in the Safari Museum Henshall Archives collection.

November 17 & 18, 1932: Osa Johnson was presenting lectures and signing autographed photographs of herself at the Kresge Department Store in Newark, New Jersey. Source: A souvenir program in the Safari Museum Henshall Archives about the lecture series with a copy of the photographs she signed during the series.
1933Martin and Osa arrive in Africa for their fifth and final safari. Using newly constructed runways in central Kenya at Nanyuki the Johnsons’ party, in January 1934, became the first to fly over Africa's second highest peak, Mt. Kenya and film it from the air. Similarly, they used as a runway the dry lake bottom of Lake Amboseli in southern Kenya to be come to the first to make aerial films of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak.

Because of concern for Osa’s health the Johnsons decided to conclude their trip. They left Nairobi on July 15, 1934, for London following the Nile River to Egypt, then across north Africa and France. They returned to New York City on August 9 aboard the S.S. Manhattan.

The “Flying Safari,” which involved traveling 60,000 miles, stretched the length of Africa from Cape Town to Cairo and is covered in Martin’s classic 1935 book “Over African Jungles” and in their movie “Baboona” released in the same year.
1934Known Itinerary Stop:
December, 12, 1934: Martin and Osa Johnson were in NYC signing autographs. Source: Copy of their photos plus the signed and dated autograph sheet sent to the museum archives by a fan.
1935On August 12, 1935, Osa and Martin left the U.S. for their last adventure together, a return to North Borneo. Traveling east by ship they brought only one of their famous amphibian planes. Arriving in Belawan, Sumatra, they reassembled the single engine “Spirit of Africa” and flew on to Sandakan, Borneo, making several stops along the way. The final leg of the journey involved the first flight over a range of mountains deemed dangerous and impenetrable at the time, including Mt. Kinabalu, the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. From a small base camp near the town of Abai on the Kinabatangan river they traveled by river and air throughout North Borneo recording the customs and rituals of the Tenggara, Murut, Bajou, and Dunsun peoples. The Johnsons also took photos and filmed numerous primates indigenous to Borneo, including the first pictures of the proboscis monkey in the wild. The daily rains, constant humidity and insects made filming difficult, as it had been 15 years earlier, but the experience gained since then resulted in their finest motion picture yet. They left Borneo in September of 1936 with 3,000 photos and more than 150,000 feet of film.
1937Martin dies of injuries sustained in a commercial plane crash in Burbank, California, on January 13. When Osa recovers from the injuries she sustained in the same crash, she attends the funeral & burial services for Martin Johnson in Chanute at Elmwood Cemetery.
1940I Married Adventure book is published.
July 24, 1940 I Married Adventure film premiere (presumed Hollywood debut)
September 23, 1940: I Married Adventure makes it's New York City debut at the Plaza Theatre
1942Osa Johnson presents a Lecture & Film Presentation of her travelogue "AFRICAN PARADISE at the Horace Bushnell Memorial Hall in Hartford, CT on March 27, 1942 at 8:15pm. Source: Date and time on a Film Program in the Safari Museum archives.
1953Osa dies in New York City at the age of 58 on January 7. Osa's mother arranges to have Osa buried next to Martin Johnson at the Elmwood Cemetery on Malcolm Avenue, the same street Osa was born on in 1894.
1961 Osa's mother Belle Leighty, Martin's sister Freda Cripps and the Chanute Chamber of Commerce officially open the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum it the former Santa Fe Railroad's Freight Office at 16 South Grant in Chanute, Kansas, on June 11.
1974The IMPERATO AFRICAN ETHNOGRAPHIC COLLECTION was established by Johnson scholar Dr. Pascal J. Imperato. It includes masks, headdresses, furnishings, personal accessories, tools, armaments, textiles, and musical instruments representing different ethnic groups in west and central Africa.
1980The museum’s amazing Stott Explorers Library was formed and now includes over 10,000 volumes covering a variety of natural history and cultural subjects. The collection was primarily donated by or in honor of the now late Kenhelm W. Stott, a friend of Martin and Osa Johnson, and the noted author of the first book about their spectacular lives and legacy. Mr. Stott first met Martin and Osa at age 10 at the San Diego Zoo. He remained life long friends with them and later retired as the General Curator Emeritus of the San Diego Zoo. Together with journalist Jackson Selsor, Mr. Stott, retraced every footstep Martin and Osa Johnson made across the globe, and continued on to places they had hoped to explore as well.
1981The Selsor Fine Arts Collection encompasses a wide range of artistic forms; from sculptures to paintings to sketches that feature natural subjects. It was formed by initial donations of Jackson Selsor, a journalist and avid traveler who along with Kenhelm Stott (see 1980 entry for more details), retraced every footstep Martin and Osa Johnson made across the globe, and continued on to places they had hoped to explore as well.
1993The Safari Museum relocates to its present location, the newly renovated Santa Fe Depot & Harvey House Restaurant in Chanute, Kansas.