Eliza A. Ford - Marlaina Bozek

Eliza A. Ford - Family Tree

Pictured is a detailed family tree that displays the descendants of Eliza and Peter Ford

Eliza A. Ford was an African-American woman born in the 1840s who lived in Fairfax County, Virginia. She was a landowner in the Mount Vernon District of Fairfax County. This exhibit will piece together the limited evidence and documents that tell the story of Eliza A. Ford’s life. These documents will construct a biographical entry as a part of the Black Lives Next Door initiative at George Mason University.

Eliza married Peter Ford who was a member of one of the founding African American families of Fairfax, the Ford Family. A family tree of Eliza A. Ford and her husband Peter Ford, seen above, was found in a file concerning a Chancery Case filed in the Fairfax County Circuit Court's Historic Records Center involving her property, which displayed all of Eliza’s lineage, including her 8 children.

Tracing Black land ownership within Fairfax County proved to be a daunting task. With help offered from the archivists at the Fairfax County Circuit Court’s Historic Records Center, we were able to piece together the story of Eliza Ford and her property. First, the archivists aided in finding when the land was granted to Eliza Ford. This helped to start build the timeline of when Ford was a property owner in Fairfax. To complete this task, we looked for Eliza’s name in the Fairfax County Grantor Index. From this bit of information, we were able to branch out in our research. The original deed for the property was able to be identified and assessed

From here, we looked at land tax records for the Mount Vernon district of Fairfax County, Virginia. The first land tax records that Eliza A. Ford appeared in 1894, the land tax records that were provided in class when first beginning the research.



Eliza A. Ford 1894 Land Tax Records

Pictured is the 1894 Land Tax Records for the Mt. Vernon District within Fairfax County

Within land tax record books, there was a segregation between white and “colored” landowners. This segregation occurred in the land tax record books dating until the mid-twentieth century. This bigotry allowed for an easier distinction and search for Eliza within the books. With these land tax record books, we were able to find information concerning the property itself, taxes paid, the number of acres, the location, and how much the property was worth. We were able to trace Eliza’s property through the land tax records until the year 1980.

Eliza Ford was a black landowner within this county’s history that has been lost due to the limited amount of documentation and records written. Throughout the search for information, we were unable to find records for her marriage, death, last will and testament, and voter registration. Without these documents on file within the courthouse records, this begs a couple of questions. Specifically, who was Eliza A. Ford?

Eliza also married into one of the well-known black families in Fairfax County. Who was she within this family? How did this family’s history impact her owning this property?

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