Township of Johnsonville

Twenty miles from Monrovia is the township of Johnsonville which was named after Liberian President Hillary R. W. Johnson. The Kru people originally occupied Johnsonville and mainly used their land for growing cassava and rice.

As settlers from America came to Liberia in the 1800s, they were disbursed into settlements from the Cape Mount to Cape Palmas. As word spread throughout the US about life of the settlers who moved to Africa, freed slaves from Arkansas also decided to migrate to the colony. By the 1880s the American Colonization society surveyed Johnsonville and decided that new immigrants would be placed there.

In 1890, settlers, who had mainly traveled from Conway and Pulaski Counties of Arkansas, arrived and quickly started to build shelters and plant crops in Johnsonville. A roll of emigrants from New York for Johnsonville in 1892 included about 50 people. Without a prominent schooling system in the town, many families sent their children to nearby Bardnersville for school, while other children were home schooled.

Several historic texts mention missionary work with the natives and settlers in Johnsonville. Numerous decades later, the township was also the site of a West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) Training Center in the mid-1970s.

Driving through Johnsonville during our 2018 visit, we saw a typical township in Liberia. It is a home to the average Liberian with meager means. The most grandiose structure in the town is the Liberty Christian Church, which is a stark contrast to the town in its entirety.