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Thu, 09.05.1850

Cornelius Ford, Agribusiness Buyer born

Cornelius E.Ford

*Cornelius Ford was born on this date in 1870. He was a Black Agribusiness buyer and community advocate. 

Cornelius Evarts Ford was born in Jonesboro, Tennessee, his parents were Mark and Angeline Ford. He attended Warner Institute, an American Missionary School in Jonesboro. He paid for his schooling at Warner by taking care of the buildings and grounds . He moved to Addison, Michigan to work on the farm of one of his instructor's father Fred H. Smith for three years before entering into a partnership dealing in livestock with him.

Ford often traveled to Buffalo as part of his business and decided to move to the city in 1906.  He worked as a buyer for both Armor & Co. and Cudahy & Co. He was also a buyer for Chiefetz & Greenberger and Mayor Hornblum & Son. He Ford was an appraiser of cripple and dead livestock for the Canadian Insurance Company.   In 1917, he married Martha Thompson and the couple had one son, Cornelius.

He set up a livestock brokerage, C.E. Ford Company in the Buffalo Livestock Exchange that became very successful. One of his biggest clients was the Armor and Company, the largest meat packing company in the world at that time. He was the only Black member of the Buffalo Livestock Association and for 27 years, the only Black man buying and selling livestock in Buffalo.  His wife, Martha Thompson Ford was active in the Phyllis Wheatley Club and Buffalo Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was the first president of that organization's Women's Auxiliary. That group established three committees: Education, Fundraising, and Entertainment. These committees organized cultural events, baby contests, beauty pageants, and other projects to raise funds and the visibility of the NAACP in the city.

A profile of Mr. Ford in the 1941 Who's Who in Black America, stated that they "live in a very pretentious residence."  She was also a founder of the Douglass Club of Colored Women as well as The Dames. The Dames was organized to provide its members with activities centered on cards and social/cultural activities. Mrs. Ford died in 1936.  From 1945 to 1947, he served as president of the Exchange, the first Black in the nation to hold such a position. He was a member of the board of directors of the National Livestock Association.

Ford became very active in the Buffalo community. He was a board member of the Michigan Street Church, Michigan Avenue YMCA, a member of the NAACP, the Buffalo Police Reserves, treasurer of the Buffalo Urban League and the Buffalo American, a Black newspaper and a member of the William Street Businessmen's Association.  He was also a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Ford was honored by the National Urban League for his outstanding professional achievement. In 1948, he received the League's Certificate of Recognition and was a member of the Appomattox Club.  Cornelius Ford died on April 19, 1951 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  

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