Located in the heart of Jackson, Mississippi’s Farish Street Historic District at 136 and 138 East Cohea Street, the Scott Ford houses were built from 1891 to 1892. Mary Green Scott, a formerly enslaved woman, and her daughter and son-in-law, Virginia and John Ford, were among the first African Americans to build homes on Cohea Street after the Civil War ended, and their descendants owned the properties for more than a century.
Virginia Ford was a practicing midwife serving the African American community by attending births and providing basic medical care during the Jim Crow era when African Americans had little access to most of the area’s doctors and hospitals. Her husband, John Ford, ran a type of taxi service (called a hack in his day) and often drove his wife to her patients’ homes.
Virginia’s daughter, Lula Ford, witnessed the Civil Rights Movement in the Farish Street District. She operated a laundry behind her home, where she served members of the Mississippi Legislature and prosperous African American residents. She also sold insurance to her neighbors for the Collins Funeral Home, located next to the building that housed Civil Rights organizations including the NAACP and the ACLU. In 1963, the recessional for slain Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers started at the Masonic Temple on John Roy Lynch Street and ended at Collins, from where his body was taken to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.
Preserving a Legacy
The Scott Ford Houses require extensive restoration to become an operational urban museum complex (two homes, wash house, gardens and chicken coop). The goal is three-fold:
- Preserving and interpreting the history of Mississippi’s midwives, and chronicling their accomplishments and contributions through an interactive database of oral histories and historic artifacts, collected in collaboration with the Smith Robertson Museum and the Margaret Walker Research Center;
- Preserving the history of the Scott Ford family, a model of accomplished and self-sufficient middle-class African Americans in the age of Jim Crow;
- Being a hub for Civil Rights tourism in the Farish Street Historic District through the activities of Lula Ford, including a driving and walking tour, and interactive displays.
Complete restoration of the houses to Department of Interior standards is estimated at more than $600,000. Through grants and donations, the Scott Ford Houses can reach this goal within the next three years.
You are invited to share your midwife story to be included in our database, by providing the name of the midwife who assisted in your or a family member’s birth, date of birth, city, county, parent names, number of births assisted and your contact information. Fill out the form on our contact page, or mail information to Scott Ford House, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, P.O. Box 1173, Jackson, MS 39215.