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Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson
*Harvey Johnson was born on this date in 1843. He was a Black minister and theologian.
From in Fauquier County, Virginia, he was the son of Thomas and Harriett Johnson, enslaved persons on a local plantation. When freedom came during the American Civil War, the Johnsons migrated to Alexandria, Virginia. At one time, part of the District of Columbia, Alexandria was an important port in the Potomac River/Chesapeake Bay trade system. The city's Black population grew significantly following the war and established for itself some institutions. The Alfred Street Baptist Church, one of the more impressive Black Alexandrian institutions, attracted his family.
Johnson received his "calling" to preach and enrolled at Washington, D.C.'s Wayland Theological Seminary in 1868. Four years later, he graduated with honors and began a brief period of stints working in the rural countryside of Maryland and Virginia under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. During that same year, 1872, Baltimore's Union Baptist Church sought a replacement for its late pastor, Rev. William P. Thompson, who died unexpectedly at age thirty-two.
Union Baptist sent for young Rev. Johnson in November 1872. On April 17, 1877, Johnson married Amelia E. Hall, a Black Canadian from Montreal. A few years later, she accompanied her parents, both native Marylanders, when the family relocated to Baltimore in 1874. Their marriage yielded three children, Harvey, Jr., a daughter, Jessie E, and a son, Prentiss.
Outside of her responsibility to family, Amelia Johnson made a name for herself in the juvenile and religious literature circles. Beginning in 1887, she began to publish a monthly literary magazine, The Joy, as an outlet for Black writers, especially women, and an inspirational resource for Black youth. Filled with short stories, poetry, and literary items of interest, The Joy was well received and praised. Amelia Johnson also published work in newspapers, both secular and church-affiliated. During the early 1890s, she penned a regular column, "Children's Corner," in the Baltimore Sower and Reaper.
During that same period, Amelia Johnson had a full manuscript published by the American Baptist Publishing Society, one of the largest publishers of the time. Clarence and Corinne, or God's Way, a novel for juveniles, was well received, like Amelia Johnson's other works. According to her son, Harvey Johnson, Jr., several years later, Amelia was her husband's "best friend, and his chief comfort, his guide in all his business matters...I still consider [their] union a perfect one." Amelia E. Johnson died in the spring of 1922.
Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson served Union Baptist Church faithfully for over fifty years until his death in January 1923. As aptly described in an obituary in the Baltimore Afro American, Johnson's death marked the end of an era in leadership.