Jessie Brown Johnson was born in Texas on March 16, 1871, and spent most of her childhood in Whitewright, a small city roughly 70 miles northeast of Dallas. Whitewright had a private school, Grayson College, where Jessie likely received her education prior to attending Baylor University. At Baylor, she was a member of the Calliopean Literary Society and graduated in the spring of 1891 with her M.A. (Maid of Arts) degree. Upon graduation, she worked at the Greenwood Male and Female Normal College in Greenwood, Texas, alongside a former classmate, Jesse Breland Johnson. Jesse left the next year to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Yale University, and Jessie returned home to Whitewright for a short time before returning to Baylor to pursue a master's degree. The two corresponded with each other and were married upon Jesse's return in 1895. The couple had ten children, seven of whom lived to adulthood. Jessie helped charter the Baylor Round Table, an organization devoted to intellectual and social pursuits among the female faculty members and faculty members' wives that still exists today. The Johnsons were active members in the First Baptist Church of Waco where Jesse served as a deacon for many years. Jessie died on November 1, 1929, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco.
More information about Jessie Brown Johnson can be found in the Jesse Breland and Jessie Brown Johnson papers at The Texas Collection.