«Back to 2014 Authors and Guests

Suzanne Stone Johnson

Bitter Freedom: William Stone's Record of Service in the Freedmen's Bureau

PRESENTING:Race Relations in SC: Sunday, 3/1, 11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m., Carolina

Suzanne Stone Johnson and Robert Allison Johnson are co-editors of Bitter Freedom - William Stone’s Record of Service in the Freedmen’s Bureau. Robert is also the author of This Violent Land, a detailed and personal account of William Stone’s life.

The great-grand daughter of William Stone, Suzanne is a retired school teacher (Longmeadow, Massachusetts) and is currently co-editor of her community newspaper in Leesville, South Carolina.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Tufts University, her certification as an Occupational Therapist from the Boston School of Occupational Therapy, and a Master of Education from American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts.

She enjoys boating, reading, sewing, crafts and travel.

When a family member in Annapolis, Maryland recently discovered in a dusty basement a priceless treasure trove of letters and archival material written by her great-grandfather, William Stone, Sue felt compelled to see to its preservation for posterity and historical research. Stone was the son of an abolitionist minister in New England, served with distinction in the Union Army during the War Between the States, was for three years an agent for The Freedmen’s Bureau in South Carolina, and ultimately became Attorney General of the state under the Chamberlain administration. Bitter Freedom is, along with a scene setting Introduction by Reconstruction scholar Dr. Lou Falker Williams, an exact rendition of Stone’s insightful summary of his experience in the post-war South. It was a pivotal era in our nation’s history which saw famine, devastation, violence, voter fraud and racial hatred. From it, at least partially attributable to the work of The Freedmen’s Bureau, emerged a vibrant and prosperous South.

Suzanne’s husband and co-editor, Robert Allison Johnson, recognized the dramatic potential of Stone’s reports and correspondence, and authored This Violent Land, a dramatized version of Stone’s entire life. It has been published by Bright Mountain Books of Fairview, North Carolina.

Bob spent his entire working career in Western New England, and retired as Senior Vice-President of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. He received numerous awards and honors during his business career and has been listed in Who’s Who in America for more than thirty years.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Harvard University and an MBA from Western New England College in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Johnson’s moved to North Carolina fifteen years ago and to South Carolina eight years ago. They share the opinion that their years in The South have given them a new and more balanced understanding of the issues that once divided North and South.

Bob enjoys travel, reading, boating and writing.

The Johnson’s have four daughters and four grandchildren, all of whom now live in the South.

They are particularly pleased that William Stone’s cogent contribution to our understanding of our great nation’s history has been rescued from the obscurity of a dusty trunk in a dusty basement, and thanks to the USC Press, made it available to all.

GENRE(S): Nonfiction History South Carolina History