The house to your left, completed in 1841, was built by William Johnson. Born a slave in 1809 in Natchez and freed in 1820, Johnson learned the profession of barbering from his brother-in-law. At an early age, he owned a barbershop and later prospered by investing in real estate.
Johnson was killed in 1851 over a land dispute. His murderer, Baylor Wynn, eventually went free. Even though several black men witnessed the crime, under Mississippi law they could not testify against Johnson's killer, a white man.
Johnson's diary provides a complete account of his life as a "free man of color" in the antebellum South. Published in 1951, his diary documents and provides a unique perspective on Natchez during its heyday as a center of the slave-based cotton economy.
In 1976 the Preservation Society of Ellicott Hill purchased and stabilized the William Johnson House and restored its street façade. In 1987 the house became the first project of the Historic Trust Fund of Mississippi's Department of Archives and History. The City of Natchez purchased the house and the adjacent Lancashire Building (ca. 1837) and donated both properties to the National Park Service in 1991. Plans are underway to convert the house to a museum dedicated to interpreting Johnson's life and other aspects of the African-American heritage of Natchez and the surrounding region.
Photo above is of the William Johnson House prior to restoration of the street façade.