Behind the scenes of the article titled, “A 150-Year history of the Contee-Gibson Family School.”
Myron Contee had no idea about the history of his ancestors in Alexandria, Washington, DC and Maryland. His Contee and Gibson families were early property owners in Alexandria. The Contee family migrated from Prince Georges, Maryland around the beginning of the Civil War to Washington, DC. They stayed in Washington, DC until after the Civil War. Myron’s second great-grandfather and his children migrated to Alexandria after the civil war leaving other relatives in DC. They became property owners of not just one house but several homes in Alexandria.
Behind the scenes of the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article, “If These Walls Could Talk – Roberts Chapel Methodist Church”.
It is remarkable to research an African American Church’s history that goes back beyond the Civil War. This old Alexandria’s Church has records in old ledge books. One can feel the texture of the old books and see the markings of the old ink quill pen that recorded members’ activities in Church. The near perfect penmanship that once was considered the penmanship of literary individuals is displayed throughout the Church’s ledge books.
In Alexandria, you will find one of the oldest African American’s Methodist Church that has been around since 1832. You will find this Church on Washington Street where the view of Roberts Memorial United Methodist Church (UMC) seems to be tucked behind shady trees that could slightly block your view at 606 South Washington Street. This Church congregation started at Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia prior to the 1830.
The free and enslaved African Americans left Trinity and started their own Church. The Church records of Roberts Memorial UMC speaks of the who’s who among African Americans in early days of Alexandria when the Church was known as Roberts Chapel. The Church has gone through several name changes from Davis Chapel to Roberts Chapel Methodist Church to its present name.
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.
Patrick H. Lumpkins had beaten the odds, he had a disability due to slavery but he excelled after the civil war. Besides being a teacher and a music director, he raised a family. His daughter, Helen Lumpkins Robinson Day, became a well-known teacher, choir director and community activist. In 1950s, Patrick’s son Patrick II was working for Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO).