Johnson’s take on history well worth preserving

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 17, 2000

William Johnson probably never imagined that his humble diaries would one day spark a multi-million dollar investment by the federal government.

But that is just what has happened in Natchez, where the final funding for the $1.8 million planned restoration of Johnson’s house is now in place.

The federal funding will culminate an early vision of the Natchez National Historical Park — preserving and promoting the house, diaries and history associated with the &uot;Barber of Natchez.&uot;

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More important, the investment in the William Johnson House restoration project is important for our community and our nation. As the National Park Service follows its mission of protecting and preserving our historical treasures, we recognize that those treasures are as varied as Melrose — the centerpiece of the park here in Natchez — and the William Johnson House on State Street, where a freed black man who documented everyday life in Natchez during the late 1800s lived and worked.

Johnson’s house, the diary which has earned him a place in history, are important links to our history — not just a romanticized, glamorous history but a real, every day and honest insight into everyday life in Natchez, Mississippi, during its heyday.

As a local historian has said, &uot;He was an ordinary man who became extraordinary because he kept a diary.&uot;

And, we are glad that extraordinary accomplishment is being recognized and shared with generations to come through the William Johnson House and the Natchez National Historical Park.