top of page

Mitchie Johnson

The Story

The Fulani were one of the largest tribal groups in West Africa. They, at that time, lived in scattered areas between Senegal and Nigeria, tending their large herds of cattle.

 They ruled much of West Africa until the Europeans came in the 19th century. Subsequently, these great people were conquered by Mali and taken away.

Today, the Fulani no longer inhabit Ghana but can be found in other West African countries such as Gambia, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, and Mali.

In 1807 the British Slave Trade from Africa to South America and the Caribbean was abolished.

Sometime in the early 1800s, a Fulani Muslim woman and her child, Yhaba Waboosia, were abducted from Gold Coast (Ghana) in West Africa and sold into Slavery in the Colony of Berbice.

Berbice, at that time, was one of the three Colonies settled by the Dutch, for trade, in what is today known as the Republic Of Guyana.

Yhaba Waboosia was less than seven years old when she was taken into Slavery and brought to a foreign country. What a traumatic experience it must have been for the young girl!

After working for some time in Berbice, Yhaba and her mother were sold to an enslaver named Johnson at Pln. L'Union on what is now known as the Essequibo Coast. Pln. L'Union included lands known today as Queenstown.

Yhaba's mother was sold to other enslavers, Hubbard and Melville Tyrrell. Little is known of  Yhaba's mother except that she gave birth to three sons from whom the Hubbards and the Tyrrells of Queenstown, Essequibo, and the Melvilles of the Pomeroon are descended.

Yhaba worked as a house enslaved person with the Johnsons and later helped in the "birthing" of many enslaved children. Yhaba worked as a "midwife" to her fellow slave women.

While Yhaba was serving the Johnson family, she met Aboti Aboshia, the enslaved person who drove the master's horse-drawn carriage. They both were converted to Christianity, discarding their Muslim names; Yhaba took the name "Mitchie," and Aboti became "Joseph Johnson”, taking the surname of his enslaver.

Joseph married Mitchie. This union produced five children: Elizabeth (Mrs. Fileen-Patterson), Janet (Mrs. Victor), Phoebe (Mrs. Jonas), Barbara (Mrs. Kilkenny), and Joseph Junior.

The five branches of the JOHNSON FAMILY TREE come from these five children.

The abolition of Slavery eventually came, and with it also came the period Of Apprenticeship, which lasted from 1834 to 1838.

For four years, the formerly enslaved people were compelled to work for their masters, but they were paid for their services this time. This was a time of preparation for the formerly enslaved people, as they had to learn to "stand again on their own feet.

The formerly enslaved people had no access to banks and thus saved their wages in old stockings, which they emptied into wheelbarrows when they were ready to buy land. Many villages were purchased on a cooperative venture among the freed Blacks.

Mitchie Johnson, a woman of independent thinking and sound business acumen, bought lots of land in what is now known as "Queenstown" on the Essequibo Coast.

Mitchie Johnson is thus one of the "founding mothers" of the village—the land she shared among her children and grandchildren.

The estate, now known as "Little Alliance" (between Queenstown and Taymouth Manor), was given to Mitchie by her former enslaver. This estate she "deeded" over to her eldest child, Elizabeth Fileen/Patterson.

The Bracey Family, direct descendants of Elizabeth Fileen/Patterson, still hold the deed to this property.

By then fondly called "Ma Johnson," Mitchie acquired a store which she kept in a part of her sizeable, rambling dwelling house. Ma efficiently conducted the day-to-day business of running the shop, and once she thought she was being cheated, she appeared on her behalf to argue her case before a magistrate. This was quite an achievement for an ex-slave. Ma Johnson feared no one. She exacted her pound of flesh, and she won her case.

Mitchie Johnson possessed brains as well as beauty.

Despite the rigors of childbearing, Mitchie retained her girlish figure and was a picture of grace and poise when she walked into a building. My grandmother, Agnes Carryl (whose grandmother Mitchie was) used to say to my sister Carmen and me: "Ma must have come from a line of African Royalty. All heads would turn when she alighted from her carriage and stepped into the church. People would murmur: "Here comes the black backra."

But Mitchie Johnson was a devout Christian respected and envied in the community. She and Pa Johnson sought to instill in their children the many Christian principles and moral values they have passed down to us, their progeny.

Pa Johnson (Joseph, Senior) predeceased his wife several years.

Ma, born in 1800, died at the ripe age of 106 years.

She remains rest in the middle of the cemetery of St. Barthol-omew's Anglican Church, Queenstown, Essequibo, Guyana.

Today, God continues to bless our huge FAMILY. Each generation of mitchie's children, He rewards with genes of Intelligence. Our FAMILY, with a few exceptions, throughout the years, has provided leaders in the community - - leaders who stand for right, truth, and justice --- leaders who are respected in the various communities in which they serve.

NOTE: Much has not been said about Pa Johnson and his contribution to our great FAMILY, but it Is African and Jewish tradition that the Family Tree be traced through our mothers.

     This research was initiated primarily by Mrs. Doreen Ellis Ruder (Teacher Doreen, from the Carryl Clan) with some input from other family members.  By knowing where you came from helps to know where you are going.


 Presented by: Ms. Jennifer Coker-Wiggins ,

At the First Family Reunion.

“Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”

bottom of page