Isaac Johnson was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in 1844. His
father, Richard Yeager, was a white farmer and his mother, Jane
Johnson, was an enslaved African from Madagascar. His parents lived
together as husband and wife and had four children, including
Isaac. In 1851, Yeager, unable to face neighbors' criticism, sold
Jane and their children to various new masters and left the area.
Isaac, who had not previously been aware of his enslavement, was
thus abruptly separated from his mother and siblings at the age of
seven. After a succession of owners and two failed escape attempts,
Johnson finally achieved freedom when, during the Civil War, he
fled his master's plantation and found refuge with a Union regiment
marching through Kentucky. After the war he moved to Canada and
began working as a mason and stonecutter, and later to New York.
Published in 1901, Slavery Days in Old Kentucky
written to argue against what Johnson saw as a romanticized
nostalgia for slavery.
A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings classic
works from the digital library of Documenting the American South
back into print. DocSouth Books uses the latest digital
technologies to make these works available in paperback and e-book
formats. Selected and edited by Bryan Giemza, Director of the
Southern Historical Collection, each book contains a short summary
and is otherwise unaltered from the original publication. DocSouth
Books provide affordable and easily accessible editions to a new
generation of scholars, students, and general readers.