Documented Mentions of West Ford

1801 - The Last Will and Testament of Hannah Washington, Bushfield Westmoreland County Circuit Court:

"A lad called West, son of Venus, who was born before my husband's will
was made and not therein mention (sic), I offered to buy him of my dear sons,
Bushrod and Corbin Washington, but they generously refused to sell him, but
presented the boy to me as a gift. It is my most earnest wish and desire that
this lad West may be as soon as possible inoculated for the smallpox, afterwhich
to be bound to a good tradesman until the age of 21 years, afterwhich he is to be
free the rest of his life."

1812 - West Ford marries Priscilla Bell at First Presbyterian Church of Alexandria by Reverend James Muir. (Arlington County Court House Marriage Registrar, 1803-1879; Corbin, 1982, Chapter II, p. 8; Robinson, 1981, p. 167).

1826 - Bushrod Washington's Last Will and Testament, Fairfax County, Virginia:

"Sixteenth, I give to West Ford the tract of land on hunting creek (sic)
adjoining Mr. George Mason and that occupied by Dr. Peake which I purchased
from Noblet Herbert, deceased, which was conveyed by Francis Adams to him,
the said West Ford and his heirs, whatever appears by my ledger to be due to
said West Ford is to be paid to him and it is my request that he will continue
in his present situation and employment during the life of my wife provided
she wishes him to do so on the terms he is now living with me.

1830- Tax and property records of West Ford (Fairfax County Deed Book, 1830, Y3-400; Property Records A & B Schedules, 1830-1850; Robinson, 1981, p. 169).
1831 - Description of West Ford which appears in the Register of Freed Slaves, Fairfax County, Virginia:

"The bearer hereof West Ford, a yellow man, about forty seven years of age,
five feet eight and a half inches high, pleasant countenance, wrinkle
resembling a scar on the left cheek, a scar on the left corner of the upper lip,
is a free man emancipated by the last Will and Testament of Hannah Washington
as appears from an original Register heretofore granted by the County Court
of Fairfax."

1837 - A letter from George H. Duffey to Lawrence Lewis dated April 1, 1837, when they were examining the tomb of George Washington. (Lewis, 1837; Robinson, 1981, p. 17).

"West Ford not being able to open the door of the vault at Mount Vernon
employed me to do it for him, and to assist him in executing your order,
and requested me to make a correct drawing and send it to you which I have
done to the best of my ability. West has got the plate and would have written,
to you himself but as it was late in the evening and I was coming to Alexandria
he thought it might expedite the letter by getting it sooner in the Post Office
than he could have sent it. You can rely on the accuracy of the drawing as West
was very particular in the measurement and I stood by and seen and set it down."

1850 - Norfolk Beacon, Benson J. Lossing, June 19, 1950 - interview and sketching of West Ford's picture.
Lossing stated:

"I found him prepared (West) having on a black satin vest and silk cravat, and his curly gray hair arranged in the best manner."

Ford states to Lossing:
"Artists make colored folks look bad enough anyhow."

West Ford wrote his name on the sketch, a copy of which appears in the original article.

1850 - The Alexandria GazetteMentions West Ford's prestigious position and authority at Mount Vernon estate. (Alexandria Gazette, 1850, p. 5: Robinson, 1981, p. 168; Virginia Advertiser, 1850, p. 5.)
1857 - A letter from John A. Washington, Jr. April 17, 1857:

"West will go up in the morning and I sent up by him some bacon and shad that I have
had prepared for Cousin Harriot-some fresh fish that we may certainly meet on Monday,
and that you, my precious wife and friend, be restored to health and strength."
(Washington, J.A. Jr., 1829).

1857 - A letter from John A. Washington, Jr. November 1857:

"Tell Mr. Gedding to have the trees William Ford (West's son) has packed sent down on
the boat, tell William Ford to come up on the boat and meet me in Alexandria to shew
me the different lots so that I can mark and label them there. Tell William that West
has labeled boards ready, and to bring them up with him."
(Washington J. A. Jr., 1829).

1857 - Letter of 1857 (exact date unspecified) to John Washington, Eleanor, his wife, wrote:

"West has just sent me up your letter, which I am truly glad to get. West has hurried
me so much that I must say goodbye my beloved husband and hope soon to be with you."

1857 - Division of West Ford's land to his children. (Corbin, 1982, Chapter II, p. 11; Fairfax County Deed Book, 1857, A3, 331-333; Robinson, 1981, p. 170).

1859 - Harper's New Month Magazine, 1859, Vol. 48 p. 445 - interview with West Ford for a lead article. West spoke of about his plantation on Little Hunting Creek where he would retire after the Washington estate was no longer in the Washington family.

1859- A letter from John A. Washington, Jr. dated February 25, 1859 to his wife:

"Tell West to make a strongbox to hold the woodwork of the different ploughs he has made to go to Waveland and to box them all up together with triple, double and single trees for the ploughs."

1863 - A letter dated June 1863 to Pamela Cunningham, founder of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association from Sarah Tracey, the association's secretary:

"We have had old West Ford brought here. Mr. Herbert and myself went to see him
Sunday and found him very feeble; and fearing all the excitement might hurt him,
we have had him brought here, where we could take better care of him.
I felt it was our duty to see that he should want for nothing in his old age"
(Muir, 1975, p. 68; Thane, 1977, p. 248).

1863 - West Ford's obituary appears in the Alexandria Gazette on July 21, 1863:

"West Ford, an aged colored man, who has lived on the Mount Vernon estate the
greater portion of his life, died yesterday afternoon, at his home on the estate.
He was, we hear, in the 79th year of his age. He was well known to most of our older citizens."

1885 - Letter from Colonel Harrison Dodge, resident director of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association from 1885-1936:

"Herbert Upton visited Mt. Vernon last week and I questioned him closely upon many of
the Mount Vernon traditions and ancient features upon which I need and wish enlightenment.
As to the style of fence and coping on the garden walls he says he followed the description
given by old West Ford, Judge Bushrod Washington's servant."
(Dodge, 1885-1936; Robinson, 1981, p. 164).

1937 - "From Mount Vernon to Springfield," Illinois State Register, January 17, 1937, by Rev. Gay C. White, details the life of West Ford's grandson, George Ford, at Mount Vernon.

1940- Pittsburgh Courier article showed resemblance between West ford and George Washington and stated:

"Know your history: West Ford, known as a Negro son of George Washington. Several white
writers say that Washington, like other slaveholders of his time,had Negro offspring,
butothers as strongly deny it and say it was British propaganda.
(Rogers, 1940, p. 24).

1966 - Mentions of West Ford and his recollections of the Washington era. (Thane, E., 1966, Mount Vernon is Ours: The Story of its Preservation. New York: Duell, Sloan, & Pearch.

1972 - Excerpt from book depicts West Ford's prestigious position at Mount Vernon. (Sorin, G., 1972, Abolitionism, a New Perspective, New York: Praeger.

1977 - The Washington Post, February 1977, Thomas Grubisich, "Register of Freed Slaves Bares Fairfax Count 'Roots', published an article about West Ford's success as a free black man during slavery and the speculation of him being the son of George Washington.

1983 - Northern Virginia Heritage, February issue, showed pictures of West Ford, one in his youth and the other in his seventies.

1985 - New York Times, November 8, 1985, Article discussing West Ford and his contribution to Gum Springs Virginia.

1986 - Fairfax Chronicles, May-July 1986, Vol. X, No. 2, "Dear Master": A Unique Letter From West Ford Discovered," by Donald M. Sweig, Ph.d.

1986 - "A History of Gum Springs, Virginia: A Report of a Case Study of Leadership in a Black Enclave, May 1986, George Peabody College for Teachers of Vanderbilt University, Judith Saunders-Burton, Ed.D. Dissertation mentions: West Ford, The Father of Gum Springs and the speculation that he is the black son of George Washington.

1996- Rocky Mountain News, November 4, 1996, "George Washington in their Family Tree, Black Sisters Say," Robert Jackson.

1996 - Traveler Weekly, Vol. 31, No. 22, Nov. 16-30, 1996, "Thesis says George Washington fathered their fourth great grandfather."

1996 - Peoria Journal Star, November 22, 1996, "George Washington a branch on their family tree, according to former Peoria sisters," Anita Szoke.

1996- NEWSWEEK, November 25, 1996, "Tracing a Very Familiar Face?" Lucy Howard and Carla Koehl with Bureau Reports. Linda Bryant and Janet Allen, sisters, say West Ford was their fourth great grandfather.

1996 - Der Spiegel, 48/1996, PERSONALIEN Linda Bryant and Janet Allen, sisters, say West Ford was their fourth great grandfather.

1997 - The Urban Spectrum, March 1997, "Black Family Seeks Roots Beneath the Cherry Tree," Wendy Robinson.

1997 - Denver Post, April 24, 1997, "Whose Ancestor?" Article states family traces lineage to George Washington," Bill Briggs.

1997 - What's Going On, Personal Essays by Nathan McCall, Random House, New York, 1997. A chapter titled "The Father of Our Country" examines issues surrounding the claim that West Ford was the African-American son of George Washington.

1997 - USA Today - November 3, 1997, Tamara Henry, Books: "What's Going On' in the Racial Divide." Article mentions George Washington being the father of West Ford.

1998 - AOL.COM, Internet, Dwyane Conyers, November 9, 1998. "Last year, two female descendants of George Washington showed up."

1998 - The Chicago Tribune, November 11, 1998, p. A02, "Slave Descendants Claim G. Washington Tie," Jon Jeter.

1998 - The Journal Star, November 11, 1998, "Peoria Family Claims Link to Washington," Christopher Thorne.

1998 - Associated Press, November 10, 1998, Christopher Thorne, "Family Eyes Gene Test of Washington."

1998 - USA Today, November 11, 1998, NATIONLINE, "DNA Tests Sought."

1998 - St. Louis Post - Dispatch, November 11, 1998, NATION, "Black Family Would Prove Link to George Washington."

1998 - The Courier, November 13, 1998, METROLIFE, "True Birthright," Pat Kinney.

1998 - The Rocky Mountain News, November 12, 1998, "Sisters want Research on Their DNA History," Robert Jackson.

1998 - Foster's Daily Democrat, November 15, 1998, Amanda Milkovits, "George Washington's 'hair' apparent."

1999 - New York Times, July 7, 1999, Nicholas Wade, " Descendants of Slave's Son Contend That His Father Was George Washington."

1999- Denver Post, July 7, 1999, "Women Seek DNA Link to Washington."


1998 Channel 9 News
1998 MSNBC
1999 Today Show
1999 CBS Morning Show
1999 MSNBC
2000 48 Hours
2000 PBS Frontline - "George and Venus"

1998 CNN
1998 Jay Leno Show
1998 Saturday Night Live
1999 C-Span

1997 KDKO - Denver, Colorado
1997 Peter Boyles' Talk Radio - Colorado
1998 KACT Los Angeles
1998 BBC London
1998 Sheridan Broadcasting Network - USA
1998 Rush Limbaugh Radio Network
1999 Sheridan Broadcasting Network - USA
1999 KACT Los Angeles

2000 - The Legacy of West Ford website established
2000 - AOL - Top pick for genealogy page in February
2000 - Feature story in in April
2000 - Top Pick for in May

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