The Legacy of West Ford - the Descendants

Many of the distinctive traits and values of family patriarch West Ford and his parents - the slave Venus and the famous general George - live on in their descendants. Traditions of patriotism, pioneering and civil rights activism are a continuous thread throughout the lives of contemporary Ford children and their forebears, tying them to ancestors who lived over two centuries ago. Described here are some of the descendants who became designated chroniclers of the legacy of West Ford. They have carried on the family's oral tradition, as first begun by their ancestor Venus, the mother of West.


Ford descendant George William Ford Major George William Ford, a grandson of West Ford, was a Buffalo Soldier who joined the Army at age 21 following the Civil War. George Ford served as a member of the 10th Cavalry for 10 years, and voluntarily enlisted for a second term at age 50 with his eye on a prize - the rank of officer. Major George Ford was one of the so-called "Immune Troops" sent to Cuba for the Spanish American War. During this time, Ford became personal friends with Theodore Roosevelt. Later, Ford got to know W.E.B. DuBois and accepted an advisory position in the Niagara Movement. George Ford continued a life of public service until his death in 1939.
Ford descendant Elise Ford Allen Elise Ford Allen, a granddaughter of Major George Ford, was the first African-American woman to edit and publish a newspaper in the state of Illinois. Her newspaper, The Traveler Weekly, is still in publication. Mrs. Allen was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, and has been publicly recognized for her work toward causes of freedom and equality. Elise Ford Allen was happily married for 62 years to James O. Allen, now deceased, who was also an American innovator. James O. Allen was an inventor who held one chemical and five mechanical patents, and owned a successful printing business. The couple had 11 children.
Family of Elise Ford Allen, descendants of West Ford
Elise and James O. Allen and their 11 children

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Harrison Ford, a grandson of George Ford, graduated from Bradley University with B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mathematics. Harrison Ford's mathematical prowess gained the attention of the U.S. government during the Korean War, in which he had served for three months before being taken from the ranks to work with the Lockheed Air Defense Industry. His career as a respected mathemetician flourished, leading to his civilian employment with prominent companies such as Burrells and Liberscope. Harrison Ford married Joyce Post (deceased), a concert pianist. The couple have 11 children and 14 grandchildren.
Ford descendant Janet Allen Janet Allen, a daughter of Elise Ford Allen, is an editor, civil rights activist, and published poet. Her efforts as a designated chronicler of her family's history have been creatively inspirational for Allen. Themes of truth and justice often find poetic expression in her work. Janet Allen has one son, Joe Moore.
Ford descendant Linda Allen Bryant

Linda Allen Bryant, another of Elise Ford Allen's daughters, is a writer and public speaker who has spent over 20 years researching and documenting the Ford lineage. Allen Bryant has developed an extensive portfolio which includes public speaking engagements and numerous broadcast and print interviews. In an upcoming book, Allen Bryant focuses on the lives and contributions of West Ford and the line of chroniclers descended from his son, William Ford. Linda and her husband, Russell Bryant, have three sons - Julian, Russell III, and Ian - and a granddaughter, Bria.
In her own words, Linda Allen Bryant explains her family's decision to break their 200-year-old secret and let the world know who they are.

Ford descendant Judith Saunders-Burton Dr. Judith Saunders-Burton is a historian and storyteller whose research has been critical to the official documentation of the legacy of West Ford. Her 1986 dissertation, "A History of Gum Springs", has been an invaluable resource to those seeking information about family patriarch, West Ford. The work lends insight into the visionary spirit of Ford, who used his inheritance to help establish the free Black community of Gum Springs. Saunders Burton and her husband, the late Kenneth Burton, have two children, Robert and Danielle. Biographical information on Dr. Judith Saunders-Burton


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