“Joseph Henry Johnson, a leading physician of Talladega, and Principal of the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, the Academy for the Blind, and the Academy for the Colored Deaf and Blind, was born in Georgia in 1832. He was a son of Seaborn J. and Minerva (Fannin) Johnson, both of whom were natives of Georgia. The former was a prominent attorney of Floyd County, Ga. where he practiced law and followed planting on a large scale. Col. Fannin, a cousin of Mrs. Johnson, was massacred at the Alamo and a county in Texas is named after him. Joseph H. Johnson was raised on the farm with the advantage of the neighborhood schools. He was also educated at Hern school in Georgia and began teaching the Georgia Institute for the Deaf and Dumb, remaining there nine consecutive years. In 1854 he left the institution and entered Charleston Medical College for one course of lectures. He then went to Philadelphia, graduated in 1856, and returned to Georgia, where he taught another year. In 1858 he came to Talladega and opened a school for the deaf and dumb and was in charge of the school until 1861. In March of that year he organized Company First Alabama Infantry and became captain, serving one year. He then met with an accident which rendered him unfit for active duty and he returned to Talladega. Again he assumed charge of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and in 1856 secured the establishment of a department for the blind, in connection with the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. In 1891 he was the prime mover in the establishment of the asylum for the deaf and blind of the colored race. He superintended all the improvements made in the asylum.
Joseph was married in 1853 to Emily Darden, daughter of Judge Abner, native of Georgia and Nancy (Morris) Darden. To the marriage of Dr. Johnson and Miss Darden were born four children, Seaborn Johnson, Joseph H. Johnson, Jr. Annie Johnson and Helen Johnson. She was a native of Georgia and both she and her husband were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
He was a member of the Masonic order and Grand Master of all the Masonic bodies in the state. He was a Knight’s Templar, a member of the Odd Fellows and was a Knight of Honor. Joseph served about ten years as alderman of Talladega and was one of the most prominent and best of the citizens of Talladega County. He was appointed to serve on a Select Committee of Five to perfect some plan to carry out the ideas of resolutions offered to establish a Masonic Orphans Home and College at the 1882 Annual Communications.”