“We firmly believe that there is not another section in the United States where a better community of colored people live and are more highly respected than that illuminated by that beautiful moral and religious life of John H. Fox. Every family within a radius of five miles has felt his influence for good. He was a man of superb courage. Danger never weakened him. Disaster never appalled him and whenever there was something good to dare and do from which others shrank he was ready. The feeling that he cannot be spared is general. He was a self-made man and his principal inheritance from his parents was his character”- J.R. Clifford
John Fox with Adam Stephen Dandridge III in the Rockbridge Artillery
Born at the Bower near Leetown among over sixty other enslaved persons, John Fox was one of five children to Mary Fox. Before the war and up to about 1862, he worked cutting out timber at one of the Dandridge farms in Kearneysville, where the Baltimore & Ohio stopped for water. John Fox’s grand-daughter, Bertha Fox Jones told me – when a train was getting water, John Fox would smuggle enslaved persons into the cars and covered them with straw. He was about the same age as Adam Stephen Dandridge III of the owning family who, because of ASD III’s impulsive disposition, saw him to Virginia Military Institute (his daughter Serena Katherine Dandridge later wrote that, in order to join the Confederate Army, he achieved a record number of demerits, hopefully enough to get kicked out of VMI – over a hundred). His parents hoped he could be ensconced there during at least some of the conflict. The highly reliable John Fox wound up with ASD III ensconced in the Rockbridge Artillery to perform as a civilian teamster and to mind Adam Stephen. Both lived to see the surrender at Appomattox.
Today, Charles Fox Makes A Journey to Solve the Mystery of John Fox, His Great-Grandfather
For two days, I questioned what was the meaning of that dream and it was when I was back in the house – quiet – a voice said to me: “Go see your grandfather.”
“Go see my grandfather? He’s been dead for 10 years!” The voice was deeper. It felt like it was coming from inside me. I could feel a trembling from this voice. It said: “Go see your grandfather!” Okay. I’ll go see my grandfather, I love to travel by train.
Sunny day, and I mean nothing’s going on except the cows grazing on the other side of the narrow road.
THE NEXT DAY,
I was with Charles later. He said: “Let me tell you. It was so peaceful since I was there with Papa and my grandmother, Sarah,
I decided I was going to lay down right between both their graves and take a nap; and when I woke up, my cousins came back by and they picked me up.
I turned to my grandfather’s grave: “Papa – I don’t know why I’m here. but I did as I was told and I’m here.”
“Sixty-five years ago ( about 1846), Mr. John H. Fox was born a slave to the Dandridge family . . .
and about two years ago Mr. Lemuel Dandridge told us: “that of all men he ever knew, John Fox regardless of color, is the best type of Christian gentleman,” and in that we concur.
Forty-one years ago (1870), he was without house and home, but three years later 1873, he was seen with an ox and cart
‘I remember part of one of the songs which the ox-driver sang in a slow monotone, sitting on the pole of the ox-cart, and keeping time to the slow, swinging steps of the oxen: “See the bull go to school, hooie booie, hooie booie, See the bull go to school, hooie booie John.’
‘See the bull go to school, with his book on his horn, And that is the last of old blind John. See the cow build the mill, hooie booie, hooie booie, See the cow build the mill, hooie booie John. See the cow build the mill, water runnin’ up the hill, An’ that is the last of old blind John.” The verses were endless and seem to have been extemporized as he drove along.’
“living in a small house and keeping a tollgate one mile south of Kearneysville.
“From this place he moved on Dr. Border’s farm
“where he toiled unceasingly and saved his earnings.
“By and by, the Doctor (Border) made other arrangements.
“Little did he (Dr. Border) know that Mr. Fox had already purchased 87 acres
“Mr. Fox had already purchased 87 acres of as fine land as was in Jefferson County, with a nice house thereon. The house was improved.
“Fine barns and all kinds of other necessary buildings were, in due time, erected, a splendid orchard planted good fences put up and roads made.
“Not many years had passed ’till Mr. Fox had bought more land, adjacent.
“He bought nearly a hundred more acres adjoining the land of his second purchase with a good dwelling house.
“About a month before his death he bought sixty-three more acres including a house.
“He was not an educated man — and we admit that education is great – But we insist that manhood is greater, for the latter is principle and the former is accident.
“He was by nature honest, truthful, industrious, frugal and economical.
“He was that kind of citizen which made him respected and others to emulate it.”
“None but God himself knows the blessing he has been to that entire vicinity.
Begin lower right (viewer’s) counter-clockwise:
Dolly Irvin Thompson
SOURCE: Jasper Thompson’s Destiny Day by Jim Surkamp with Monique Crippen-Hopkins. youtube.com
Jasper Thompson USCT 23rd Regiment murdered September 6, 1906 by, according to the Charlestown newspaper a self-described “white supremacist;”
Family Historian Shelley Murphy on the Goins Family – civilwarscholars.com
(Across top row going left (viewer’s) Storer College Musical Group Members, Harper’s Ferry, W. Va. – 1873 ID: 023804; From left to right is Portia Lovett and Mary Ella Dixon – wvhistoryonview.org MORE
(Continuing across the top row, going from viewer’s right to their left) (numbered 1,2,3) Thomas, Etta and John Lovett
SOURCES: facebook.com/HFPAssociation/photos/; wvhistoryonview.org; jcblackhistory.org; & Storer College Catalogue – 1875 – ancestry.com
Azemia (Azzie) Harris, Shepherdstown, WV midwife and mother of long-time school teacher Dr.John Wesley Harris – (John Wesley Harris/Jim Surkamp Collection)
(One row down from the top row image of the three Lovetts)
Coralie Franklin Cook (#4), Storer College, Harper’s Ferry, W. Va.
Collection Number: A&M 2621
Born in Lexington, Virginia in 1861 to enslaved parents, Cook attended Storer College in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, graduating in 1880 and later served on the Storer faculty as an assistant professor. Cook was also active in the NAACP and involved in the inner circles of the NAWSA, working for the passage of the 19th amendment.
(Two rows down from the top row image of the three Lovetts)
Storer College Musical Group Members, Harper’s Ferry, W. Va.
Identifier: 023804; Front row seated. middle two persons from viewer’s left to right: Alberta Redmond, Hamilton Keys Date: 1873
Description: From left to right in the upper row standing is Robert Trent, Portia Lovett, Mary Ella Dixon, and Charlie Hale. Sitting from left to right is Walter Johnson, Alberta Redmond, Hamilton Keys, and Mertia Lovett. First concert was given in Buffalo, N.Y., May 2, 1873. They gave 40 concerts in the principal cities between Buffalo and Utica, going home, July 5, 1873.
(Immediately to the viewer’s left of the musical group)
George Johnson (courtesy Charles Fox), founder of Johnsontown with his wife Sarah
(Bottom row third from George Johnson to the viewer’s right)
View from today’s Visitor’s Center site in Harper’s Ferry – about 1910 (Jim Surkamp, Helen Goldsborough) – justjefferson.com
(Immediately above the Visitors’ Center photo and last two images in the montage starting with the image to the viewer’s left)
Abram (Abe) Minor – Shepherdstown (Jim Surkamp, Helen Goldsborough) – 1872-1930
“Every family within a radius of five miles has felt his influence for good —- He was a man of superb courage. Danger never weakened him, disaster never appalled him. Whenever there was something good to dare and do from which others shrank, he was ready.
“His life was an open book and his whole makeup was devoid of deceit and cunning. The feeling that he cannot be spared is general He was a self-made man and his principal inheritance from his parents was his character. . .
“and we will say, that if it had been possible for everyone within that radius to have known and loved him as did his heavenly Father, every father and mother, son and daughter, regardless of color would have been a mourner and in that apparently endless procession that followed all that was mortal of Mr. Fox to his final resting, praising God that such a noble man had lived among them.
“His life was an open book and his whole make up was devoid of deceit and cunning. His main concern was not death, and what lies beyond it. Life was his province, the living his duty. In christian character, he was the rare edelweiss in his home, at the church and in his neighborhood. He was a man of superb courage. Danger never weakened him, disaster never appalled him. Whenever there was something good to dare and do from which others shrank, he was ready.