Gum Springs was named after a gum tree that once marked its location near historic Mount Vernon. The community was founded by patriarchal freeman, West Ford, who allowed the land he inherited from the family of George Washington to become a refuge for freed and runaway slaves during and after the Civil War.
The location became a depot where many newly freed slaves came to be reunited with their separated families, or to settle as newly emancipated people. Gum Springs ultimately became the final destination for many more Black families after the U.S. government stilted on its promise of "forty acres and a mule" in reparation to former slaves.
The African Americans of Gum Springs began erecting homes and developing the life of their independent community. With the help of the Freedmen's Bureau and the Quaker community, Gum Springs residents established means of economic survival through farming, in the lumber industry, and in trades they first learned as estate slaves. The small community prospered and grew. Today, Gum Springs has over 2,500 residents, many whom are descendants of the original folk who lived there. The proud history of Gum Springs is preserved through its community, through the Gum Springs Historical Society and the Gum Springs Community Center.
For more information about West Ford, founder of Gum Springs, click here.