My Dad's Family

The man at the very top of this homepage is Vincent Brown, my Great, Great Grandfather. His father was a slave in Virginia back in the early part of the 1800s. His father was also a preacher who convinced his slave-master that slavery was immoral. After the slave-master's conversion to Christianity, he set all his slaves free. At that point, my Great, Great, Great Grandfather headed North to Canada where he was assured of not being reenslaved.

This gentleman is my Grandfather, Lee Johnson. He died just 3 months after my Dad was born of a bronchial infection because hospitals at that time (1920s) would not treat Blacks. This is especially heartbreaking to me because today, my Dad and I both have the same bronchial problems he must have had then.

This woman is my Nana (Grandmother), Catherine Ann Brown Johnson. She died in 1981 at the age of 93. She was an incredible woman! She raised four children during the depression all by herself. She only had a 5th grade education, but she was one of the most literate people I have ever met. She used to kick my behind in Scrabble games! I don't think I ever won, even when I was in college!!

And this is my Dad, Harold Robert Johnson, at the ripe old age of eight months. My Nana used to joke that he was 200 pounds at birth!

Here are two pictures of the same kids! The one on the left was taken back in 1926 when my Dad was eight months old. He is held by his sister Catherine (age 11), his brother Kenneth in front (age 5) and brother Lee behind (age eight). The picture on the left is of my Dad, his brother Lee, sister Catherine, and their Mother Catherine Ann (my Nana) at Nana's 90th birthday party in 1979. = He is the only one of four children who went to college. All three boys went to Europe to fight in WWII for the Canadian Armed Forces. Because my Dad was so much younger than his brothers, he was still single and without a family when he got back. He used the Canadian G.I. bill to get his undergraduate degree at Assumption College, then got his Master of Social Work at Wayne State University. This is where us kids come into the picture...

This is my Dad while he was a student at Wayne State University. He earned his master degree in Social Work. Before going to graduate school, he worked for the union (UAW) in Windsor. Since receiving his MSW, he has worked with youth (during the race unrest in Detroit during the late 60s), worked for Michigan state government, worked in gerontology and taught social work to others.

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That's me with my Nana when I was about 1 year old! Don't I look sophisticated! My Nana and I were very close while I was growing up. I still have the weekly letters she wrote to me when I was a child.

This is a page from my old family bible. There is no publishing date on it, but I figure from the style of it, and the condition of it (it's crumbling from the acidity of the pulp paper which was used extensively after 1850), it's probably from the mid to late 1800s. It used to be my Nana's, and her Mother or Father's before that. It has records of old mortgages from the turn of the century, wedding and birth announcements, death notices, and a series of really old photographs in cardboard frames in the very back of the bible. It is the coolest thing I have. It is living history! In it my Nana wrote out the history of the family from the 1700s to her children's generation. Now we have to add her childrens' childrens' children!

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