Charles Dodds had been forced by a lynch mob to leave Hazlehurst following a dispute with white landowners.
Julia left Hazlehurst with baby Robert but after two years sent the boy to Memphis to live with her husband, who had changed his name to Charles Spencer.
Here Caletta died in childbirth, and Johnson left for a career as a "walking" or itinerant musician.
From 1932 until his death in 1938, Johnson moved frequently between the cities of Memphis and Helena, and the smaller towns of the Mississippi Delta and neighboring regions of Mississippi and Arkansas.
His landmark recordings in 19 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians.
Shines is quoted describing Johnson in Samuel Charters's Robert Johnson: Robert was a very friendly person, even though he was sulky at times, you know. And you wouldn't see Robert no more maybe in two or three weeks. He reputedly asked homely young women living in the country with their families whether he could go home with them, and in most cases he was accepted, until a boyfriend arrived or Johnson was ready to move on.
Robert was remembered by some residents as "Little Robert Dusty", but he was registered at Tunica's Indian Creek School as Robert Spencer.