My Contribution: I was a prominent local minister, music teacher, and property owner in the Eighth Ward who was very active in ensuring political rights in my community. I worked diligently for the equality of Black citizens after the Civil War both on a local level as the president of the Equal Rights Club of Dauphin County, and as a participant in national conventions. I led programs to commemorate the passing of the Fifteenth Amendment and marched as marshal in a parade celebrating U.S. Colored Troops buried in Harrisburg.
My Legacy: I served a crucial role as a music teacher and person of color in Harrisburg who was also engaged in community efforts related to suffrage, equity, and memorialization of African American veterans. My work as a music teacher and activist can still be seen in ongoing celebrations of the Fifteenth Amendment ratification, including the project that has inspired this set of biographies.
About Me: “Zachariah Jonson was the first Negro music teacher of this area.” — The Evening News, January 22, 1949.
Full Name: Zachariah Johnson • Birth Date: January 1820 • Death Date: after June 1900 • Place of Birth: Maryland • Sex: Male • Race: “Mulatto” (1870 Federal Census) and Black (1880 and 1900 Federal Censuses) • Places of Residence: 428 South Street, Harrisburg (owned from ca. 1867-1900). • Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Resident and property owner on South Street. • Family Members: Wife: Ellen E. Scott Johnson, m. April 5, 1855. Children: William B. Johnson, Leonard Z. Johnson. • Education: Could read and write according to the federal census. • Occupations: White- washer. Laborer. Preacher. Minister. Musician. Music Teacher. • Church Membership: Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church. • Activism: Involved in organizations promoting political rights of African Americans: Negro National Convention; Equal Rights Club of Dauphin County (president); Fifteenth Amendment Celebration parade (aid); and Decoration Day Committee. • Connections: Leonard Z. Johnson, O.L.C. Hughes, Joseph B. Popel, David R. Chester, Cassius M. Brown, T. Morris Chester, William Howard Day, William R. Dorsey, George Galbraith, Charles J. Carter, John Q. Adams, Benjamin Foote, and Matilda Stewart (neighbor).