"Barney Ford, Business man"
"Barney Ford, Business man"
Another story of our Black frontier with back men and women that have accomplished so many goals in their lives according to LillIan Schlissel:
Barney Ford escaped his slave owners and made his way to Chicago ever before Civil War ended. There he met Henry Wagoner, who worked for a newspaper founded by black leader Frederick Douglass. Wagoner was a member of the Under ground Railroad, a secret organization formed to help slaves escape. In time, Barney Ford married Wagoner's sister, Julia and when gold was discovered in California in 1849, the newly weds decided to find their fortune out west.
To reach California, Barney and his wife took a train to New York, and then a ship down the Atlantic Coast to central America. Before the Panama Canal was opened in 1914, travels disembarked in Nicaragua and too a carriage, or a mule train across the narrow strip of land; until they reached the Pacific Coast. Then they boarded another ship and sailed north to San Francisco . Barney Ford studied the weary Travelers and decided to open a hotel in Nicaragua so people could rest and enjoy some American food before continuing their journey.
Ford never reached California, but he went back to Chicago a rich man. When gold was discovered in Colorado ten years later, Barney Ford decided to try his luck again. He was rich enough this time to afford a seat on a stagecoach, but blacks were not permitted to ride. Barney Was never a man to be deterred. He found a wagon train and signed on as a barber. When he reached Mountain City, Colorado; Ford, who had owned a hotel, found no one would rent him a room. Clara Brown, a black women who had come to Colorado as a laundress, saw to it that he had a play to stay; and then she introduce him to a black business man, who owned a smelting company, a bakery, and a newspaper,soon, Barney and five of his new friends staked a claim and started prospecting for gold.
They could hardly bleieve their luck when they found what they were looking for. Ford and his friends asked a white lawyer to file their claim, but a sheriff in league with the lawyer ordere the black miners off their own land and stole thier gold. Perhaps, though, the black miners had the last laugh. The sheriff and the lawyer kept looking for more gold, under the floor boards near the well, even around the outhouse. No one except Barney and his friends ever found fgold on that claim. Wne Barney left the mining camps, he managed to keep enough gold dust to go back to Denver and; with his old friend Henry Wagoner, to open a string of businesses-- Barber shops restaurants, and hotels. Barney built and manged the huge Inter Ocean Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and later Ford's Hotel in Denver. Though each hotel burned down, Ford rebuitl them and started again.
Barney Ford and Henry Wagoner worked within the black commnuity of Denver, setting up first adult classes to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, and government. Ford was the first black man to serve on a grand jury in Colorado, and Wagoner was the first to be a deputy sheriff. In 1964 Denver changed the name Nigger HIll,where Ford discovered Gold, To Barney Ford HIll. It was a way for the city to honor a respected citizen.
Benny Faye Douglass
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