Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Fri, 08.04.1843

Harvey Johnson, Minister born

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 course of the U.S. Civil War, the Johnson's 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 a number of institutions. The Alfred Street Baptist Church, one of the more impressive of the 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 of 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 the age of 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 after she accompanied her parents, both of who were 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, like Amelia Johnson's other works, was well received. According her son, Harvey Johnson, Jr., several years after the fact, 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 during spring 1922.

Rev. Dr. Harvey Johnson served Union Baptist Church faithfully for more than fifty years, until his death in January 1923. As aptly described in an obituary appearing in the Baltimore Afro American, Johnson's death marked the end of an era in leadership.


New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

Sweet little Jesus Boy, ... SWEET LITTLE JESUS BOY by Robert MacGimsey.
Read More