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Johnson Family of Peacham, Vt., Papers, 1854-1904.
Johnson family.
Holdings
Library Call Number Copy Material Location
Vermont Historical Society Library  MSA 185  Manuscript  Vault-Manuscript 


Personal Author : Johnson family.
Title : Johnson Family of Peacham, Vt., Papers, 1854-1904.
Physical Description : .25 linear ft. (1 box).
Summary :

The Johnson Family Papers is a collection of personal correspondence and documents dating from 1854 to 1871. The bulk of the collection is comprised of letters, 1863-1871, from Martha Johnson, a teacher for the National Freedman's Relief Association in the Beaufort/Port Royal area of South Carolina, to her family in Peacham, Vermont. These letters cover the time of Union occupation of the South Carolina lowcountry, from the war through Reconstruction. There is a gap in Martha's letters between 1865 and 1871. Her sister, Clarissa's, account of Martha's life states that she continued to teach in South Carolina. The collection also contains three National Freedman's Relief Association documents: a letter of offer from the association to Martha, Martha's official certification from the association, and Martha's Broomfield school report to the association.

Only one letter in the collection predates the Civil War. Written in 1854, it is an extremely personal letter between two sisters, Priscilla and Martha, and makes no mention of national political tensions, although it does allude to the westward migration of Americans.

The collection includes one letter written by Samuel Johnson; it is written from Illinois at the start of the war. It contains comments on his personal prosperity, the war's initial popularity, and Abraham Lincoln.

The last letter in the collection is an account of Susan Johnson's 1904 visit to the Andersonville prison site in Georgia.

Includes photographs taken in 1999 and 2000 of Martha Johnson's grave, Perryclear Plantation, and the Johnson houses in Peacham.

Biographical or historical data :

Leonard Johnson was born in Peacham, Vermont, on March 17, 1797, and died there on March 5, 1890. His wife, Betsey Merrill, also a native of Peacham, was born November 29, 1800, and died there on November 6, 1855. The couple was married on November 27, 1821. Leonard Johnson was known for his strong abolitionist sympathies. Local tradition has it that his home on Danville Road was used as a way station on the Underground Railroad. Two of his daughters, Martha and Caroline, taught at freedmen schools during the civil war and reconstruction. His brother, Oliver Johnson, was a national publicist and abolitionist leader, and close confidant of Horace Greeley.

The couple had nine children. The letters in the collection were written by five of the children: Martha, b. Sept. 17, 1822, d. Beafort, S. Car., Dec. 24, 1871; Samuel, b. Nov. 12, 1824, d. 1867; Priscilla, b. Aug. 1, 1831; Clarissa, b. Nov., 1833 (year of birth approximate); Susan, b. July 3, 1843.

Martha Johnson was born in Peacham, Vermont, on September 17, 1822. She died in Beaufort, South Carolina, December 24, 1871. She was the oldest of nine children. She never married. Martha received her education at the Peacham common school and the Franklin Academy in New Hampshire. She was received in the Congregational church in 1842. In 1855, Martha took a job as matron of the female department in the workhouse located on Blackwell's Island, New York. She returned home that same year due to her mother's illness and subsequent death. From 1859 to 1861, Martha taught at an industrial school somewhere in New York. In 1863 she received a teaching commission from the National Freedman's Relief Association to teach newly freed slaves in the Union occupied area of the South Carolina lowcountry. She remained in this position until her death in 1871. She is buried in the Episcopal church cemetery in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Personal Subject : Johnson family.
Johnson, Martha, 1822-1871.
Subject Term : Education Freedmen.
Reconstruction South Carolina.
Schools Records and correspondence South Carolina.
Geographic Term : Peacham (Vt.) Archival resources.
South Carolina Archival resources.
Genre/Form : Certificates.
Correspondence.
Photographs
Occupation : Teachers.
Added Author : Chandler, Susan (Susan Johnson), 1843-?
Clark, Clarissa (Clarissa Johnson), 1833-?
Clury, Mattie H.
Johnson, Martha, 1822-1871.
Johnson, Priscilla, 1831-?
Johnson, Samuel Merrill, 1824-1867.
Added Author : National Freedman's Relief Association (New York, N.Y.)
Electronic Resource : Click here for full text of finding aid.
Click here for transcripts of Martha Johnson's letters from 1863 to 1871.