Johnson, James Bartlett(born: 1830 - died: 1900)
James Bartlett Johnson, born in Taylor County, KY, was enslaved, but his wife, Mary A. Buchanan, had been free since she was three-years old. The family was separated in 1856 when Johnson was sold to a Louisiana plantation. While there, Johnson began preaching and organized a church where he preached to the slaves.
Johnson escaped and joined the Union Army in 1861, serving for three years. When he was discharged, he made his way to Kentucky, where he found his wife and child after having been separated from them for nine years. The family moved to Louisville, KY, where Johnson was ordained a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church and became a member of the Kentucky Conference. He was called into service in Springfield, KY, and in Lebanon, KY.
While Johnson was in Lebanon the church was burned to the ground, and the members left because of the split between the AMEZ Church and Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. The Springfield and Lebanon churches and congregations were later restored under one circuit.
Bishop Johnson served in several other churches and was a respected leader of the AMEZ Church. He died in Louisville on September 9, 1900 [source: Kentucky Death Records, 1852-1953].