Caroline Pearson-Johnson

Her will is located in the Clarendon County probate office, Johnson, Caroline Apt. 91, Pg. 20. In her will there is mention of her children. Annie Pearson age 50 and William Junious Johnson age 52. Also Mary Lou Johnson, wife of William Junius Johnson.


Blacks Establish Town of Summerton

Taken from SC Alblum and Pictoral Document by Constance Schultz

Palmetto St. Farm Bureau 1936 - 1948, Univ. of SC SC Press 1992

Carolina Johnson

Carolina Johnson was born in Georgetown, South Carolina to slave parents as near as can be ascertained around the year 1826. She was one of three children having a sister and a brother who were also born in the 1820’s. Although there is no official record of her birth, we have been able to ascertain from surviving relatives that at the time of her death here in Clarendon County in 1931, she was believed to have been about 105 years old. A careful search has been made of the records of Clarendon County and we have found that no death certificate was filed for her although the records in the Clarendon County Courthouse relative to the estate of the late Carolina Johnson shows that she died in Clarendon County on September 27, 1931.

(It would appear to me that a careful search could not have been done, since I have located Caroline Johnson's death certificate, found under the spelling of Johnston). That's why it is so important for you to look for various spelling.

Based on the account given to relatives and friends by Mrs. Johnson, at the end of the Civil War there was a heavy concentration of blacks in the counties of Georgetown, Charleston, Beaufort and other counties along the coast of South Carolina. Because of limited transportation facilities, there were not many people located in the midlands or piedmont areas of South Carolina. In an attempt to re-distribute the numerous former slaves located along the coastal sections of South Carolina, many former slaves were relocated throughout South Carolina and other sections of the southeast.

Mrs. Johnson stated on a number of occasions that she and her sister and brother were among those that were moved to other areas and at the time they were separated, they were never able to make contact with each other again. A check of the records in Clarendon County Courthouse shows that Mrs. Johnson never received any formal education and all legal documents that were signed by her were signed by her mark. She often stated that she never was able to hear from or contact her brother or sister again nor did she ever know where they were relocated.

Shortly after coming to Clarendon County, she met and later married one Isaac Johnson. Since there are no official documents to verify the date of marriage, we believe that this marriage was performed by ceremony that was common in that day which was called "leaping over the broom." This was a ceremony where two young peolpe decided to join in holy matrimony they gathered at the home of the bride or at a suitable place and, with family and friends to witness the ceremony, the young couple would join hands and jump over the broom. This then made them legally man and wife. In this era no marriage or other records were recorded in the County Courthouse. However, we do know that to this union two children were born. One was a son, William J. Johnson, and the other was a daughter, Annie Johnson, and there is no record of any other heirs of the late Carolina Johnson.

Mrs. Johnson became the first black women to enter the business world in Clarendon County. The records are in the Clarendon County Courthouse shows that Mrs. Johnson acquired a plantation consisting of 354 1/2 acres of land which, at that time, made her one of the major landholders in this area. Mrs. Johnson was an efficient farmer operating a farm with 32 farm families under her supervision. Some of these were sharecroppers and others were common tenant farmers. Mrs. Johnson established one of the first cotton gins in Clarendon County. She, therefore, ginned all the cotton not only for her plantation, but for all of the cotton planters in that community. In the mid 1890's she established the Johnson Mercantile Company which was located on her plantation and was believed to have been one of the only mercantile businesses in her immediate area. She therefore supplied most of the farmers and inhabitants of this area with all of their supplies and necessities.

Transportation in that era being almost nonexistent, most of the supplies and commodities she sold in her business had to be transported from Charleston by horse teams and over the waters of the Santee River. Although Mrs. Johnson received no formal education whatsoever, she became a source of inspiration to all people in her community. She was industrious, a women possessed with unusual ability, had a great determination and was a strong believer in the christian faith. She donated land for the first church to be built by the Triumph Holiness faith. Although on another location, this church is still active in Clarendon County and stands as a tribute to Mrs. Johnson's christian principles. She was benevolent and many of the senior citizens who live in this area today who remembers her always mentions the many things Mrs. Johnson did to help her fellow man.

Through her mercantile company she extended credit to the needy, to her neighbors she was always one that was willing to help in any manner in which she was needed.

Carolina Johnson was unusual in that she came in an era when she had two major obstacles to overcome. First was her race, second was her sex. For a black female to have made such accomplishments in the business world in Clarendon County in this era was an unusual accomplishment. Today the only monument or edifice to perpetuate the memory of the late Carolina Johnson is a cemetery that she donated to her community which was named the Carolina Johnson Cemetery, however, there was one legacy she left to the young people of the community that will never be forgotten. That is a lesson that whenever a person has a determination and properly applies himself, he can succeed in his chosen field of endeavor. From the inspiration that she gave to the young people of her community, many of them struggled for educations and later became productive citizens of this county.




Last Update: 10/2008
Web Author: EE Vaughn
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