It was July of 1861 and Pap had just finished reading the dirty and scribbled note thrown through our parlor window tied to a rock. It read:
“If yu valu yer lif yu betr git out a the Ozarks”
“Perry, where are you when I need you?” I wondered silently.
We lived in Ozark County, Missouri just one-half mile from the ArKanzas line. I had just become engaged to Perry Campbell, the handsomest and most Christian man in my memory and my father’s business partner’s son in the making and selling of Peach Brandy.
Even though I had just turned twenty-five on November 10th, 1860, barely nine months ago, I did not feel as old as some of the women here in the Ozark County of Missouri treat me. For most of them any woman over the age of fourteen who is not married is considered to be an old maid. In our family, until the proper match is made in which both parents and the intended all agree that the match is right, there is no marriage. I have to admit I am more comfortable with our traditions and am glad for rules which make sense and give guidance for the future.
Both Perry’s and my families have been helping the slaves escape across the North Fork of the White River from ArKanzas to freedom in the North and we were now being threatened with our lives.
Pap said, “We are going to escape as soon as possible and enlist all of our families’ help, cousins who do not agree with us are not being told of any of our plans. However, we are going to stay in Southern Missouri as long as possible to help the slaves who are trying to find their freedom with precious little help."
|Johnson's home in Ozarks 1850s|
Perry had shared with Serenia that one of the slaves they had helped had given him over 30 melon seeds which were black in color and called Water Melon by the Africans. He planned to plant them when they finally had their homesteaded land. He immediately asked Serenia’s Pa, “Can’t Serenia and I be married as soon as possible so I can personally take care of her in this threatening situation?”
 This is now located in the Mark Twin National Forest