The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has approved eight new historical markers. They are in the counties of Amelia, Fairfax, King and Queen, and Powhatan; the cities of Fredericksburg, Radford, and Richmond; and the town of Colonial Beach.
The department advises that “DHR creates markers not to ‘honor’ their subjects but rather to educate and inform the public about a person, place or event of regional, state or national importance. In this regard, erected markers are not memorials.”
After approval by the Board of Historic Resources, it can take upwards of three months or more before a new marker is ready for installation. The marker’s sponsor covers the required $2,880 manufacturing expenses for a new sign.
Here’s the list, as described by the department:
West Ford (ca. 1784-1863)
West Ford, born enslaved in the household of George Washington’s brother John Augustine, was brought to live at Mount Vernon ca. 1802. Taught to read, write, and do arithmetic, he became a skilled carpenter and was freed at the age of 21. For more than 50 years he was a plantation manager at Mount Vernon, becoming well known in the area. Ford inherited more than 100 acres from Bushrod Washington in 1829; he sold the property and bought 214 acres here in 1833. This land became the nucleus of a vibrant free African American community that continued to expand after the Civil War. Ford, the “Father of Gum Springs” and one of the wealthiest Black men in Fairfax County, died at Mount Vernon in 1863.
Sponsor: West Ford Legacy Foundation
Locality: Fairfax County
Proposed location: Richmond Highway (U.S. Route 1) at intersection with Fordson Road
Great Exodus from Bondage
The former Farmers’ Bank building at this intersection was once the home and workplace of John Washington (1838-1918), who early in the 1870s wrote a memoir of his life in slavery. On 18 April 1862, about eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation, Washington fled Fredericksburg and crossed the Rappahannock River to Falmouth, where Union forces had just arrived. He was among the first of more than 10,000 refugees enslaved in surrounding counties who escaped to Union lines and freedom over the next four months. These acts of self-emancipation accelerated a shift in federal policy that ultimately led to the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ending chattel slavery in the United States.
Sponsor: City of Fredericksburg
Proposed location: 900 Princess Anne St.
Trailblazers of a New Era
Dr. Joseph Endom Jones and Rosa Kinckle Jones, prominent educators in post-Emancipation Richmond, are buried here. Joseph Jones, enslaved at birth, taught at Virginia Union University for 45 years. A minister, he served as corresponding secretary of the Baptist Foreign Mission Convention and installed many Black clergymen in pastorates. His wife, Rosa, earned a teaching degree from Howard University and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. She taught music at Hartshorn Memorial College for decades and led the Woman’s Union Beneficial Department, an insurance company. Their son Eugene Kinckle Jones led the National Urban League and in 1906 co-founded Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Sponsor: Alpha Phi Alpha Alumni Brothers
Proposed location: Near new entrance to Evergreen Cemetery
James Horace Carter Lynched
James Horace Carter, a 45-year-old African American husband and father, was lynched on 12 Oct. 1923 a mile southeast of here. Two weeks before the lynching, a white woman had admitted that Carter was the father of one of her children. He was charged with rape and arrested. While being driven by officers to the King and Queen County jail, a mob seized him from the car, shot him ten times (five in the face, four in the chest, and one in the back) while he was still shackled, and left his body in a ditch. Gov. E. Lee Trinkle offered assistance and the case was widely reported, but no one was prosecuted for the murder. The woman’s husband later used her admission of adultery as grounds for divorce.
Sponsor: Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society
Locality: King and Queen County
Proposed location: The Trail (state Route 14) and Allens Circle (county Route 681)
William Ingles established Ingles Ferry on the New River ca. 1762, on a site that had long been occupied by Native Americans. He and his wife, Mary Draper Ingles, resided on the river’s eastern side and operated a tavern and store on the western side. Migrants moving westward, coffles of enslaved African Americans, and well-known individuals such as future French king Louis Philippe I used this crossing on the heavily traveled Great Road. Virginia native William Clark crossed here in Nov. 1809 on a journey from St. Louis with his wife and son to visit family, conduct business in Washington, D.C., and make plans for the publication of the Lewis and Clark Expedition journals.
Sponsor: Virginia Lewis & Clark Legacy Trail, Inc.
Proposed location: Wilderness Dr. near W. Main St.
Potomac River Oyster Wars
Disputes over harvesting oysters in the Potomac River fueled violence between local watermen and Maryland’s fisheries police for many decades. Conflicts escalated after World War II as watermen violated Maryland law by dredging, rather than tonging, for oysters. When detected, they raced toward shallow waters with armed patrol boats in pursuit. After Maryland officers killed Virginian Berkeley Muse near here in April 1959, the fisheries police underwent extensive reforms, and the two states and the federal government finalized an agreement to regulate the river. In 1962 the U.S. Congress created the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, bringing an end to the era of violence.
Sponsor: Colonial Beach Greenspace, Inc.
Locality: Town of Colonial Beach
Proposed location: Intersection of Irving Ave. and Monroe Bay Ave.
Belmead, the Gothic Revival-style home of planter Philip St. George Cocke, was designed by Alexander J. Davis in 1845 and built with enslaved African Americans’ labor. Louise Drexel Morrell and her sister, Katharine Drexel—founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and a saint of the Catholic Church—were instrumental in establishing two schools here in the 1890s. St. Emma Industrial and Agricultural Institute (later St. Emma Military Academy), for many decades the nation’s only military school for African American young men, and St. Francis de Sales High School for Black and Native American young women educated thousands of students from across the U.S. and abroad before closing in the 1970s.
Locality: Powhatan County
Proposed Location: Intersection of Bell Road and Cartersville Road
Rosa L. Dixon Bowser (1855-1931)
Rosa Bowser, educator and social reformer, was enslaved at birth at Clay Hill plantation in Amelia County. Educated in Richmond’s public schools, she taught school, supervised teachers, and helped form the first African American teachers’ association in Virginia, which she later served as president. As a leader in women’s clubs and African American reform organizations, Bowser sought improvements in health care, legal aid, support for young mothers, and education for disadvantaged children. She helped found the National Association of Colored Women, which worked against lynching and segregation and for women’s suffrage. The Richmond Public Library’s branch for Black patrons was named for her.
Locality: Amelia County
Proposed Location: Intersection of Patrick Henry Highway (U.S. Route 360) and Grub Hill Church Road (county Route 609)