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Johnson, William (1809–17 June 1851), diarist and entrepreneur, was born in Natchez, Mississippi, the son of William Johnson, a slaveholder, and Amy Johnson, a slave. When William was five years old his mother was emancipated and established her household in Natchez. In 1820 the eleven-year-old William was freed by the Mississippi legislature at the request of his owner. Once emancipated, he apprenticed with his brother-in-law, James Miller, in his barber business in Natchez. Johnson became proprietor of the business—reportedly the most popular barber shop in Natchez—when Miller moved to New Orleans in 1830. Johnson and his African-American staff ran the shop, which served a predominantly white clientele. Johnson’s barbers not only offered haircuts and shaves, they also fitted wigs, sold fancy soaps and oils, and, beginning in 1834, operated a bathhouse at the Main Street location....

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Knight, Sarah Kemble (19 April 1666–25 September 1727), diarist and businesswoman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Thomas Kemble, a merchant, and Elizabeth Trerice. She married Richard Knight of Boston, of whom little is known, and had one child.

The Boston census in 1707 recorded that Sarah Knight, then a widow, headed her deceased father’s Moon Street household and shop. She kept boarders and may also have taught school. Knowledgeable about law, she served as a copier of legal documents and witness to one hundred or more deeds. In 1704, she traveled to New York to settle a family estate, keeping a diary of her journey that was first published in 1825 in ...