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St. Louis Post Dispatch
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Contributed by Gigimo

Description: William JOHNSTON. Death of an Aged Colored Man, Whose History was Remarkable.

Date: July 10 1885

Newspaper published in: St. Louis, MO

At Alton, a few days ago, at an advanced age, died a colored man named William JOHNSTON, who was something of an historical character. He was a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, and was a Freemason there. When a very young man he was body-servant to a Scotch nobleman, and in that capacity traveled extensively in Europe. He saw and heard Lord Byron make a speech in Aberdeen in acknowledgment of a reception given him when he succeeded to the title. JOHNSTON came to America more than fifty years ago, and worked at his trade as stone mason in St. Louis for some time. He laid the last stones on the tower of the old cathedral on Walnut street, and used to say that when the work was done Bishop ROSATTI gave him a glass of wine and $5 in gold. While walling a well in this city he was buried by the caving earth and released with difficulty after many hours interment -losing the sight of one eye by the terrible ordeal. When Elijah P. LOVEJOY was killed in Alton, in 1837, by a proslavery mob, JOHNSTON was living there, and, without fee or reward, dug the grave of the first anti-slavery martyr. He performed on the same terms the same office twenty years later, when the remains were removed to another part of the Alton Cemetery. If all men did their duty as well as William JOHNSTON did his, the world would be a much more desirable place to live in.

Submitted: 10/02/10

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