Adams Co, MS Genealogical and Historical Research is an independent,
not-for-profit site brought to you as a public service in the interest of *free* genealogy.  
It is not a part of Ancestry Community.

If you arrived here via a paid site or in frames, you've been ripped off.

Click Here to break out of frames and see what you're missing.


William Johnson - Slavery to Prominence in Natchez, Adams Co, MS 

Bibliography - Hogan, William Ransoma and Davis, Edwin Adams, Editors; William Johnson's Natchez; Louisiana State University Press, Baton Route and London, 1951, 1979, Paperback, 1993.

About William Johnson

African-American Resources in Adams Co.



William Johnson was born a slave in 1809, in Natchez, Adams Co., MS. His mother was Amy, the slave of white William Johnson, who, in 1814, publicly posted his intent to free "his female slave Amy". The notice was publicly posted for 30 days, and on March 20, 1814, Amy gained her freedom. However, due to his young age, Amy's son, William, could not be released at that time, and so remained a slave.

Upon release from slavery, Amy adopted her former master's last name, and established a household in Natchez.

Four years later, in 1818, Amy's daughter, "a mulatto girl named Delia/Adelia aged about thirteen years" was granted her freedom. But it was not until February 20, 1820 that Amy's son, William, was liberated.

In 1820, Delia/Adelia Johnson married a twenty-year-old Philadelphia-born free Negro named James Miller, a barber who maintained a business in Natchez. Young William Johnson became an apprentice in the barber shop, and for several years operated his own business in Port Gibson, MS, north of Natchez. In 1830, Johnson purchased the Natchez business from his brother-in-law, James Miller, who moved his family to New Orleans. The purchase price was $300, and included such items as a dozen razors, a razor strap, and two bottles of "bear's oil."

Johnson, at age 26, married a young 20-year-old free mulatto girl named Ann Battles, in 1835. Up until that time, Johnson had maintained careful and detailed financial records of his business and personal life. Those records indicate that he was a man about town, frequently participating in gambling events, and attending theatrical performances with free women of color. His notes indicate that Ann was about 5 foot 7 inches in height. Johnson was slightly shorter that his wife, and his weight averaged around 135 or 140 pounds.

Last structure built by Johnson is currently undergoing renovation. Located at 210 State Street, Natchez, the building was constructed between August, 1840, and November, 1841. It replaced a frame house that had been destroyed by fire in September, 1839. This structure was the family home for more than 100 years. Photograph by Dale Woosley, Natchez, MS - 1997

William Johnson and his wife raised a large family of ten children. The tenth child arrived only one month prior to Johnson's death.

In 1835, Johnson's carefully maintained records evolved into a personal diary, in which he made note of everyday events that occurred in Natchez, in addition to his personal and business expenditures and trips. In his diary, Johnson recorded bits and pieces of news and events on a daily basis. Through these notations, historians are able to see an extraodinary and intimate picture of Natchez, Mississippi, and the daily life of it's citizenry during that time. Hundreds of notations were made regarding Natchez citizens and events.

William Johnson maintained his diary until his death in 1851. Shot by an adversary, white Baylor Winn, Johnson died eight hours later. The diary remained a secret until 1935. It was first published in 1951, upon the 100th anniversary of Johnson's death.

Return to Top of Page

Copyright Notice:

All files and graphics on this site are copyrighted by their creator. They may be linked to but may not be reproduced electronically or otherwise without specific permission from the county host and/or the contributor. Although public information is not in and of itself copyrightable, the format in which they are presented, the notes and comments, etc., are. It is however, quite permissable to print or save the files to a personal computer for personal use ONLY.


Unless otherwise indicated, written permission
by the webmaster is necessary in order to
download files and/or graphics.

Copyright 1996 -2006 Ellen Pack All Rights Reserved.