From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Johnson, Kissiah "Kizzy"

(born: 1767  -  died: 1880) 

Kissiah Johnson is regarded as the oldest person to have lived in Greene County, Ohio; she was said to be 112 years and 3 months old when she died February 28, 1880.  She is mistakenly identified as a man in A. R. Kilner's book Greene County, Ohio Past and Present.

The following information about Kissiah Johnson and her family comes from Robert Claxton Winston Day's self-published title Kizzy, 1767-1880 / Janie, 1902-2004: Me and Janie 1990. Kissiah "Kizzy" Johnson was a slave born in Virginia c.1767, initially owned by Anthony Thornton, Sr. Upon Thornton's death, his slaves were willed to his daughter Lucy Dixon Thornton. Author R. C. W. Day gained this information from Slave Records of Lucy Dixon Thornton, a document he obtained from the John Fox, Jr. Genealogical Library in Paris, Bourbon County, KY. [The library is within the Duncan Tavern Historic Center.]  

Anthony Thornton, Sr. had moved his family and his slaves to Kentucky in 1807, and he died in 1827. His daughter Lucy Dixon Thornton died in 1858. When Lucy died, the welfare of her slaves was left to her son Henry Walker Thornton who was supposed to eventually emancipate the slaves and remove them to Liberia, Africa. Author R. C. W. Day wrote in his publication that he assumed that Kissiah Johnson had died while a slave belonging to Henry Walker Thornton; records indicated that the former slaves had been freed, but had not gone to Liberia, rather, they had moved to Jamestown, Greene County, Ohio. Among them were Kissiah's daughter Rose, and Rose's children Kizziah, Maria, Andrew, and Rosa.

Rose's son Daniel (1846-1924), the great-grandfather of author R. C. W. Day, lived the rest of his life in Brentsville, Bourbon County, KY. Daniel's son, Garland (1875-1967) was a land owner in Brentsville and built the four room house where author R. C. W. Day was born in 1934. In his search for Kizzy, R. C. W. Day reread the estate records of Lucy Thornton and found that he had overlooked the name James Willis Sterling that was bracketed with Kizzy's name. Looking at the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, R. C. W. Day found that James W. Sterling also lived in Jamestown, Greene County, OH, in the home of Cyrus and Frances Eads, along with Frances' mother, 99 year old Kissiah Johnson. She had lived to see her family emancipated and she survived the move to Ohio.

Kissiah Johnson died in 1880. Her gravesite is located in the Old Silver Creek Cemetery, and there is a monument listing the names of Kissiah, her son Daniel and his wife Maryann, and Fanny (Frances) Eads.

Additional Information:

The text version of the will and inventory of Anthony Thornton, Sr. is available online at the Bourbon County, KY website. [The Thornton family lived in Harrison County, KY.]

The text version of the will and inventory of Lucy Dixon Thornton is available online at the Bourbon County, KY website.  [Henry Walker Thornton was the adopted son of Lucy Dixon Thornton; he was her deceased brother's child. The slaves Henry Walker Thornton inherited from Lucy Dixon Thornton were to be liberated upon his death.]

It is not known when Henry Walker Thornton died. In the 1860 Slave Schedule for Cynthiana, Harrison County, KY, H. W. Thornton is listed with 19 slaves, the oldest an 84 year old mulatto female. [Slaves were not listed by name in the Slave Schedules.] H. W. Thornton, who was single in 1860, is listed in the census as a farmer. He had real estate valued at $17,850 [$516,000 CPI in 2013], and he had a personal estate valued at $20,000 [$578,000 CPI in 2013]. Henry Walker Thornton is not listed in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, by which time Kissiah Johnson and her family were free, and most were living in Jamestown, OH.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Harrison County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Brentsville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Cynthiana, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Greene County, Ohio- -past and present
NKAA Source: Kizzy, 1767-1880 / Janie, 1902-2004: Me and Janie 1990 (self-published)

Related Entries Citing this Entry


Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Johnson, Kissiah "Kizzy",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 13, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-06-11 17:24:11