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Jennett Rowland Johnson

March 5, 2012

Being slight, weighing less than 100 pounds, no one expected much of Jennett Rowland Johnson. Despite this, she raised a large family, cared greatly for her community, and provided a safe haven at the Johnson House for Freedom Seekers on their journey to the north.

Jennett was born in 1784 to John and Sarah Rowland. Jennett’s parents had joined the Quaker faith and had freed their three slaves. Her Quaker up-bringing is the likely root of Jenett’s strong values regarding human dignity, a belief that she instilled in her own children.

In 1805 Jennett married Samuel Johnson, and the couple moved into the house on the corner of Washington Lane and Germantown Avenue. She had 12 children and served as the head of the Johnson household for the next 71 years. Stories convey that the busy household was known amongst neighbors for its warmth and hospitality. It is believed that this hospitality was extended to the travel-weary Freedom Seekers along the Underground Railroad. Additionally, tradition holds that the home saw visits from other famous abolitionists such as William Still.

Jennett Rowland Johnson died in June of 1876 at the age of 92, leaving behind a legacy of anti-slavery leaders in her own children.

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