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Sat, 10.15.1842

Annie Ford, Slave Teacher born

Annie Ford

*The birth of Annie Ford is celebrated on this date in 1842.  She was a Black slave and homemaker. 

Born Annie Helm, she was from Owensboro, Kentucky, and was one of two daughters of an African slave woman and her white-American master. As a child, she worked in the house of her master, mainly taking care of his only daughter.  During this time, she learned to read by interpreting the words on prescription bottles. From there, her owners used her aptitude and knowledge, and she was chosen to read the bible to the other slaves.

At a very young age, she met and eventually married Isom Ford.  He was born a slave in Mississippi of an African woman and an Irish father. Before the American Civil War, her sister Julia had run away from slavery with the help of the Underground Railroad. In her sister’s journey, Julia was put on a stagecoach to Chicago after hiding in southern Illinois for a while when the time was right. A young white man with a fugitive slave notice for Julia told her, “I know who you are, but I will help you.” He was a member of the Kimball piano family of Chicago. Julia was given a cleaning job in their factory and soon contacted her sister Annie. 

During that time (1862), Annie and Isom had their first child John Elijah while living in Kentucky. Not long afterward, Julia sent Annie and her family on a small family journey north to live with her in Chicago. Annie and Isom Ford eventually lived near 33rd and Dearborn Street.  Together they had fifteen children, nine of which died of childhood diseases or were stillborn. Six children survived: John, Georgie, Dotie, Lola, Vertel (Bud), and Milton. On October 8, 1871, the day of the “Chicago Fire,” Ford was in bed with their 3-day-old daughter Georgie. The police ordered her to leave because of the danger, but she refused. 

All of the houses around her did burn down except their home. There is very little information on Annie in her elder years. Her husband Isom died on September 18, 1900. Annie Ford died on February 25, 1912. The couple and Isom’s sister Corcia are buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Her granddaughter was Beneta Edwards, and her great-grandson, Benjamin, became the founder of African American Registry®.

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Poetry Corner

The sale began-young girls were there, Defenseless in their wretchedness, Whose stifled sobs of deep despair Revealed their anguish and distress. And Mothers stood with streaming eyes, And saw their dearest children... THE SLAVE AUCTION by Frances E. W. Harper.
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