Yesterday’s post provided the history of the pre-post office occupant of the site on the corner of Wall and Main, Natchez. William Johnson, a free man of color, owned and operated a barbershop at this location. As indicated, in 1854, a new shop was constructed on the site following Johnson’s death in 1851. After son Byron Johnson was killed in 1872 at the barbershop, I wondered what became of the property and the remaining family members. I located an 1872 news article that Mrs. Anna F. Johnson, William’s widow, owned property of a brick store at No. 3 Commerce and a brick residence at Northwest corner of Franklin and Canal. Between 1872 and 1893, various occupants of residences or businesses described as being located at Main & Wall (no specific corner location given except for one item on the Southwest corner) included:
- 1872 Mrs. S. E. Carpenter sold SW corner house and lot to John Botto
- 1882 Louis Botto, liquor store
- 1884 Tremont Building
- 1884 A. P. Kuehn, manufacturing jeweler
- 1888 vacant corner lot bought by Botto
- 1888 Chinese laundry
- 1891 residence of Easter Carter and her daughter, Nita
- 1893 Louis Botto opened store for groceries and liquor
Possibly the lot and business was sold, although I can find no mention of it in the papers. William and Anna Johnson’s house at 210 State Street is currently a museum owned by the Natchez Historic Park. From the Louisiana State University special collections, I learned the other son, William, Jr., suffered from mental illness and was institutionalized in 1866. Byron became head of the family after his father’s death. After Byron died, his sister Anna L. was the most prominent family member. A nephew went to medical school at Howard University and returned to practice medicine in Natchez until he died in 1938.
Prior to this building’s erection, the Natchez Democrat (March 19, 1898) reported on the bids to provide a building for the proposed post office. One bid was from Henry Frank, for his former store building on the corner of Main and Pearl. The second was from Louis Botto for his building at the corner of Main and Wall, and his proposal was accepted. Botto began clean up of his building in preparation for post office occupancy July 1. Botto had windows cut into the Wall Street portion, and planned to paint the building and place interior fixtures for occupancy proposed by May 1st (Natchez Democrat, March 23, 1898, p. 2). The entrance was at the corner, approachable from either Wall or Main and the post office was transferred and opened on May 11, 1898 (Natchez Democrat, p. 2). The new post office building had lock boxes with combination locks instead of keys.
The current former post office building occupying a corner of Main and Wall was completed April 1906.
In the construction of a government building, the department requires the architect in charge to furnish two photographic views each month, in order that the chief architect may accurately note the progress being made.
Mr. Cal Brown has been looking after this branch of the business since work was begun on the Natchez post office and expects to make the last picture on April 1st. The picture on April 1st will complete a series of 26 pictures, the work on the government building having covered a period of thirteen months. (Natchez Democrat, March 29, 1906, p. 5)
Additionally, bids were received in 1907 for grounds improvement, including the completion of approaches, grassing the lawn, erecting a retaining concrete wall and iron fence, and concrete coping (Natchez Democrat, Mar. 19, 1907, p. 5). Next up, we’ll take a look at the annex, completed in 1935.