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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Six Generations removed Elijah Johnson 1785-1856

I am writing about my ancestor, Elijah Johnson who is a new addition to my family tree. I recently found his name while researching my maternal Grandfather's line. Elijah was born Free (or either freed), in Virginia, and raised in New Jersey (according to documents I have on him). He served in the war of 1812 out of New York, and then became involved in the American Colonization Society. Many of my ancestors, who are listed as Mulatto moved around freely from, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and up to Rhode Island. Elijah Johnson was also a Methodist Minister, and one of the original settlers of Liberia.

My ancestor, Sarah Johnson was his daughter, and he also had a son named Elijah Johnson. Both were left at a Poor Children's home in Chester County Pennsylvania in 1816. I do not know who left them or why, but their father is listed as Elijah Johnson a Negro. There is no listing for a mother, or the person who left them. A possibility is that their mother was a slave and captured in Chester County, and the children were taken to the Poor Children's home for safe keeping.

One of the reasons that Elijah would have for going to Chester County was the American Colonization Society. Ashmum Jehudi and Elijah Johnson traveled to Liberia in 1820, and appear to have been friends. Ashmum wrote of Elijah Johnsons' military skills, in his journal. The settlers that went to Liberia on the Ship Susan, did not fare well. The Natives attacked them, and many died of malaria. Elijah Johnson survived and oversaw the building of Monrovia. He was acting President of Liberia and his son was the first native born President there.

I have been in contact with descendants of Elijah Johnson, most of whom were born in Liberia (but live in the US). They have given me quite a bit of information about my ancestor in Liberia. We will be gathering for a Johnson Family Reunion in July of this year.

Elijah Johnson is not the first of my relatives to leave the United States. Of the Free Persons of Color in Virginia, some lines moved to Nova Scotia, and other parts of Canada. There were also lines that went to Liberia in 1834, and settled there. The lines that left for Liberia were my Lewis and Jackson lines.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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