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Hazlehurst in Copiah County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Robert Johnson

 
 
Robert Johnson Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cleo Robertson, January 3, 2015
1. Robert Johnson Marker
Inscription.
Front
The legendary bluesman Robert Johnson was born on the northern outskirts of Hazlehurst to Julia Major and Noah Johnson, on May 8, 1911 (or possibly 1912). Johnson lived in Tunica County and in Memphis as a child, but in the early 1930s he returned for a stay in the Hazlehurst area, where he honed his skills playing with local blues guitarist Ike Zinnerman.

Back
Robert Johnson whose body of twenty-nine recordings from 1936-37 is widely regarded as an artistic high point of the blues, had a close connection to the Hazlehurst area. He was born here, probably in the Damascus community north of town, later returned regularly to perform, and fathered his only known child with a local woman. Johnsonís mother, Julia Majors, was originally from Hazlehurst, and after separating from her first husband, Hazlehurst native Charles Dodds, she had a child with Noah Johnson, a local sawmill worker. Robert Johnsonís year of birth is frequently reported as 1911, but the ages given on two marriage licenses, school records, and his death certificate suggest birthdates ranging from 1907 to 1912. Since he is not listed in the 1910 census among his motherís children, 1911 or 1912 are more likely.

Shortly after Johnsonís birth his mother moved to the Delta and sent Robert to live in Memphis with the
Robert Johnson Marker (Back) image. Click for full size.
By Cleo Robertson, January 3, 2015
2. Robert Johnson Marker (Back)
family of Dodds, who had changed his last name to Spencer. In the late 1910s Johnson moved to the Abbay and Leatherman plantation near Robinsonville to live with his mother and her new husband, Dusty Willis. Some confusion about the details of Johnsonís life has stemmed from his using the names Johnson, Dodds, Spencer, and Willis. He began actively performing music while in his teens, and around 1930 came to the attention of local blues powerhouse Son House, who later recalled that at the time Johnson could only make a “racket” on the guitar. In the early Ď30s Johnson returned to the Hazlehurst area, where he studied with guitarist Ike Zinnerman of Beauregard, ten miles south of Hazlehurst. Upon Johnsonís return to the Delta, House recalled that Johnsonís skills had increased markedly. In Martinsville, just south of Hazlehurst, Johnson had a romantic relationship with Virgie Mae Cain, resulting in the birth of Claud Johnson on December 12, 1931. In 1998 the Chancery Court of Leflore County determined that Claud Johnson was Robert Johnsonís son and the legal heir to his considerable estate. He subsequently founded the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation, oriented toward arts education.

In May of 1931 Robert married a Martinsville woman, Callie Craft, and gave a Memphis address when he filed for the license. Johnson traveled widely, but continued to visit the Hazlehurst
Robert Johnson Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cleo Robertson, January 3, 2015
3. Robert Johnson Marker
Marker is located near flagpole at north wide of Hazlehurst Amtrak station. Southbound Amtrak train was at station during my visit.
area, where he stayed with his aunt, Clara Majors Rice. Her son Howard recalled that, in addition to guitar, Johnson played piano and pump organ. Among the musicians who played with Johnson during these years was guitarist Houston Stackhouse, who recalled performing with him at the Frank Ford plantation outside of Crystal Springs. Johnson died in Greenwood on August 16, 1938.
 
Erected by Mississippi Blues Commission.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
 
Location. 31° 51.682′ N, 90° 23.665′ W. Marker is in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, in Copiah County. Marker is at the intersection of South Ragsdale Avenue and West Gallatin Street, on the right when traveling north on South Ragsdale Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is located on the north side of the Amtrak station close to the red caboose on display. Marker is at or near this postal address: 136 S. Ragsdale Ave., Hazlehurst MS 39083, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hazelhurst (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Robert Johnson Birthplace (about 700 feet away); Mrs. Annie Coleman Peyton
Robert Johnson Marker image. Click for full size.
By Google
4. Robert Johnson Marker
The area surrounding the Robert Johnson Marker include the Amtrak passenger rail station and local history transportation artifacts.
(approx. 0.2 miles away); Tommy Johnson (approx. 9 miles away); Bus-Train Collision of 1942 (approx. 9 miles away).
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
 
Also see . . .
1. NPR Music: Robert Johnson At 100, Still Dispelling Myths. Article written by Joel Rose on May 6, 2011. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

2. Robert Johnson Blues Foundation: Biography. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
3. YouTube: Robert Johnson - Crossroad Audio. "Cross Road Blues" (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

4. YouTube: Robert Johnson ®The Complete Recordings® Full Album. Robert Johnson, cantante, compositor y guitarrista. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

5. YouTube: Alleged Video Footage Of Robert Johnson. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
6. YouTube: Can't You Hear The Wind Howl - The Life and Music of Robert Johnson. "Come Longer (Vip Mix)" by Vibration 6 (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

7. bio: Robert Johnson Biography. Singer, Guitarist, Songwriter (1911–1938) (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
Robert Johnson image. Click for full size.
By Hooks Bros. Photography Co., Memphis, Tenn., circa 1935
5. Robert Johnson
One of the two known photos of Robert Johnson. (Photo courtesy of the Delta Haze Corporation.)
 

8. Mississippi Writers & Musicians: Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues. Article by Terry Johnson (SHS) (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

9. MotherJones: Fact-checking the Life and Death of Bluesman Robert Johnson. Article by Joe Kloc, Mon Jun. 21, 2010 (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

10. SaveWealth: Bluesman's Estate Finally Settles 62 Years After Death. Despite the fact that [Robert Johnson] died penniless, his estate subsequently made thousands in royalties, prompting an estate dispute and lengthy probate that would not be settled until 62 years after his death. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

11. Wikipedia: Robert Johnson. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
12. American Studies at the University of Virginina: The Robert Johnson Notebooks. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
13. Vanity Fair: Searching for Robert Johnson. Article by Frank DiGiacomo, November 2008. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

14. RollingStone: 100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks - #5 Robert Johnson. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
15. NPR All Things Considered: Robert Johnson And Pablo Casals' Game-Changers Turn 75. 13-minute audio story and music interview. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.) 

16. Mississippi Blues Trail: Robert Johnson Birthplace. (Submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)
 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This page has been viewed 268 times since then and 29 times this year. Last updated on March 23, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 3, 2015, by Cleo Robertson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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