President Abraham Lincoln's Barber and Valet, Messenger; United States Treasury Department. Most all that is known of him is from Lincoln's Papers. He arrived with President-Elect Abraham Lincoln from Springfield, Illinois, and had been serving him for about a year when Lincoln wrote him a note of recommendation on March 7, 1861. It stated: Whom it may concern. William Johnson, a colored boy, and bearer of this, has been with me about twelve months; and has been, so far, as I believe, honest, faithful, sober, industrious, and handy as a servant. A. LINCOLN. Although he served as the President's valet, the President's House Register listed him in 1861 as "W. H. Johnson, Fireman, President's House, $600 per annum." On March 16, 1861, Lincoln wrote to Navy Secretary Gideon Welles to give employment to W. Johnson, "a servant who has been with me for some time." On November 29,1861, Lincoln wrote Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase: You remember kindly asking me, some time ago whether I really desired you to find a place for William Johnson, a colored boy who came from Illinois with me. If you can find him the place shall really be obliged. Yours truly A. LINCOLN. He was then given a place as laborer (messenger) in the Treasury Department at $600 per year. On March 11, 1862, the President wrote him a check for $5. October 24, 1862, again found Lincoln writing a recommendation for him. The bearer of this, William Johnson (colored), came with me from Illinois; and is a worthy man, as I believe. A. LINCOLN. On December 17, 1862, Lincoln wrote a memorandum referring to a request for leave of absence for him in order to earn extra money. I decline to sign the within, because it does not state the thing quite to my liking. The colored man William Johnson came with me from Illinois, and I would be glad for him to be obliged, if he can be consistently with the public service; but I can not make an order about it, nor a request which might, in some sort, be construed as an order. A. LINCOLN. On November 18, 1863, Lincoln wrote a note saying that William H. Johnson, his valet, would accompany him to Gettysburg. Mary Todd Lincoln did not travel with the President as Tad Lincoln was ill with smallpox. On the way back to Washington from Gettysburg, Lincoln began to feel ill. He attended to the President the best he could, made sure the President was comfortable and began putting cold cloths across Lincoln's head. Although the President would survive, he had given the illness to him and he died. The day of his death is not known, but it is known that on January 28, 1864, Lincoln wrote a recommendation for Solomon James Johnson (it's unknown if he was related) to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase: This boy says he knows Secretary Chase, and would like to have the place made vacant by William Johnson's death. I believe he is a good boy and I should be glad for him to have the place if it is still vacant. A. LINCOLN. Lincoln had him buried on the Arlington Mansion grounds, now Arlington National Cemetery, and paid all the expenses for his funeral services. Lincoln even paid for his stone. That stone today doesn't exist, he now rests under a government issued stone that states "WILLIAM H JOHNSON" and below his name a word that would make both he and Lincoln proud, "CITIZEN."
Bio by: Ugaalltheway