A few people came out of their businesses as they watched a house moving down Hwy 51 on Wednesday, October 22. A house being moved is a novelty and draws attention, but few of those who watched as the red Mack truck crept closer to the Hazlehurst city limits realized they were witness to an historic event. The house being moved was the birthplace of Robert Johnson, the famous blues musician who was born in Hazlehurst.
Ironically, this was not the first move for the house. Originally located on Damascus Road, the house was moved to Miller Road when Hwy 55 was constructed. The new location is Lowe Street in Hazlehurst, behind the Heritage House.
The significance of this move and the ongoing effort to raise funds to restore the historic house is one of economic opportunity for Copiah County. The blues is an important part of Copiah County’s history. Some of the most important names in the history of blues, Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson (no relation), were born in this county. With Crystal Springs and Hazlehurst joining the Blues Trail, tourists will be drawn to the area and every added blues artifact brings with it the potential for economic development.
The authenticity of the house as the birthplace of Robert Johnson is the result of outstanding research efforts by Paul C. Cartwright, the former director of the Copiah-Jefferson Regional Library in Hazlehurst. Documentation includes a letter from one of Robert Johnson’s half-sisters who acknowledged in writing that this house was where Robert Johnson was born.
The house is owned by the Copiah County Board of Supervisors and was purchased through grant funds transferred from the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame, a non-profit corporation celebrating Mississippi music and musicians. This move was funded with grant funds from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
From the Copiah County Office of Cultural Affairs