West Ford and Priscella Bell

2nd Sketch of West Ford

2nd Sketch of West Ford

This is a drawing from an unnamed source of an older West Ford from the Ford Archives. Ford again signed his name at the bottom of the sketch. West Ford's name is more than a signature; he was a man who survived slavery and lived to tell his story to his children and his grandchldren.

William Ford

William Ford

William Ford, son of West Ford and father of Major George Ford.  William married Henrietta Bruce and the couple had four children: George, John, Constance, and Hannah. William was the first of the Fords to name a son after George Washington. 

George Washington, older

George Washington, older

A painting of George Washington around the age of 60. In the Ford oral history, the father of the country was also the father of West Ford and a slave named Venus. For almost 56 years, Washington bought and sold slaves, yet at the end of his life, he freed the ones he still owned. West Ford would have been around 14 years old.

A Young George Washington

A Young George Washington

A painting of a young George Washington around 25 years of age. The world into which George Washington was born in 1732 was a comfortable one and wholly dependent on the "peculiar institution" of slavery. Washington's ancestors had been practicing slavery in Virgina for almost a century and throughout his young manhood he accepted the institution without question. He was born into a time when slavery was the mores of the old South. Washington owed more than 300 enlaved black men, women and children that provided the labor force required to run his plantation. 

West Ford at Mount Vernon

West Ford at Mount Vernon

An older picture of West Ford at the Mount Vernon Plantation. Though Ford was free at the time this photo was taken, the legacy of slavery in all it's complications has left its mark deep in the roots of this country. Photo from the Mount Vernon Plantation archives.

West Ford's Property

West Ford's Property

West Ford was willed 160 acres of land adjoining Mount Vernon in 1829, making him the richest black man in Virgina at that time.  He later sold his land and purchased 214 acres adjacent to it which he later divided into four, 52-3/4 acres for his children. After the Civil War his property became a refuge and depot for freed slaves. The area is known today as Gum Springs and West Ford as the father of Gum Springs (I Cannot Tell a Lie, Chapters 11, 16, 21).