Mr. James Thomas Ford was a hardworking man. He was determined to make a better life for himself. At the age of 17, he knew the value of supporting a family. He along with his other siblings help earn money to support their mother and his younger siblings.
James was the second child of eleven siblings. His parents were Thomas Osborne Ford and Rosa Ellis. Thomas, his siblings and parents, Osborne and Elizabeth migrated from Fairfield, South Carolina to Richmond, Virginia.
Prior to 1930, Rosa and her children returned to her birthplace, Victoria, Lunenburg, Virginia. James spent a short time in his mother’s birthplace. Eager to have a better life, James Thomas Ford migrated at the age of 17 to Alexandria, Virginia.
James will make Alexandria his home and become a federal employee, cab driver and after retiring from the federal government, he became an entrepreneur. You can read more about Mr. Ford in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper, “The Cigar Man Made a Better Life – James Thomas Ford,” on page 5, dated October 28, 2020 at http://connectionarchives.com/PDF/2020/102820/Alexandria.pdf.
Reverend Fields Cook was a man that was well beyond his times on politics and the constitution as it relates to Colored communities. He was not the type of person that overlooked an opportunity. He looked opportunity in the face and took advantage of it.
In 1847, Fields Cook wrote a 32-page handwritten unpublished autobiography manuscript of his life from childhood to early adulthood. In addition, since 1902 the handwritten manuscript has been at the Library of Congress. Many scholars have attributed the narrative to Fields Cook, a Richmond preacher, medical practitioner and leader of Richmond’s black community after the Civil War.
Fields Cook was born in 1817 (1814) as an enslaved person in King Williams County, Virginia. He obtained his freedom in 1853 from his master in King Williams County. He worked in Richmond as a barber. By time the Civil War started, he was a lay preacher in Richmond’s First African Baptist Church. Prior to the Civil War, he was able to purchase the freedom of his wife, children and siblings. After the Civil War, he owned property worth $2,400.
During the Civil War and after, Cook became very active in politics, as well as helping the Colored race. He worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau and he became a prominent Colored leader who helped organize a meeting in 1865 to protest the treatment of Colored soldiers. In May 1867, he was one of five colored men who was appointed to the federal grand jury that indicted the former President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis for treason. In addition, he was involved in establishing a biracial Republican party in Virginia in the late 1860s. He ran in 1869 for the U.S. Congress as an independent candidate and lost. After his unsuccessful run for Congress, he accepted a job at the Freedman’s Savings Bank in Alexandria.
His most historic accomplishment took place when he migrated to Alexandria, Virginia in 1870.