Black American West Museum
The entity of Dr. Ford lets it be known that she is still on duty.
The rectangular building that is now the home of Black American West Museum and Cultural Center, has 3,764 square ft inside, and has six rooms in its two story, brick, stone foundation structure. It sits on a 6,250 ft. lot.
It has a spacious back grass area, and a front lawn area, that has memorial metal circular plaques, with the likeness of black cowboys and cowgirls, stage coach drivers, and champions of rodeo contests. There is a bronze memorial to Dr. Justina Ford, the first black female doctor in Colorado.
There is a iron-work fence surrounding the property with small, memorial plaques welded onto the fence of honored black doctors, and professionals such as Dr. Joyce Parks, and other well-known blacks who lived in Denver.
Inside the building, there are wonderful displays of stories of blacks who came west and lived as cowboys, miners, Buffalo soldiers, homesteaders, school teachers, lawmen and many other professions that were needed to develop the west and take care of the people who lived here. It is told with a black perspective. There are 1,500 on-site artifacts, and tens of thousands more in storage; including: Guns, saddles, farming equipment, papers, uniforms and photographs.
Children from schools come in and learn about both the good and bad experiences of these black Americans who lived during these times. They get to dress up in costumes, hear stories and learn songs about what it was like to be a black cowboy, miner, etc. They also get to see interesting artifacts and experience in action-focused activities.
The building that is home to the museum was built in 1890 and first served as an apartment building for six families. In 1902, the first black female doctor in Colorado, Dr. Justina L. Ford, lived in this building with her husband, Rev. Dr. John Elijah Ford. The second floor was their private home, and her official doctor’s office was on the first floor. When they owned it, this building originally was on Arapaho Street.
Around 1972, Paul W. Stewart established his museum showing a collection of black cowboy memorabilia and stories. He founded this museum, in the interest of educating people about the life stories of Afro American cowboys and other local people, like Dr. Justina L. Ford, who was the first OB/GYN and Pediatrician in Colorado. The collection moved around over the years — including a stay in an old saloon and in the basement of Clayton College.
Paul W. Stewart finally found a permanent home for his Black American West Museum in Dr. Justina L. Ford’s building, just after it was moved from Arapaho Street to the Five Points Denver neighborhood at its current location; a few steps ahead of being demolished by the city in 1985. In this new location, The Black American West Museum was able to grow to include life stories of black people who contributed to the growth and building of the west, all professions mentioned above.
Of course, there is a special permanent display that honors Dr. Justina L. Ford, who earned her medical degree in 1899 at Chicago’s Hering Medical College, a school for homeopathic medicine. She is an inspiration to all, as she was determined to be able to practice in Colorado and faced her difficulties with courage and perseverance.
After receiving her license, area hospitals still denied her and her patients access. Because she did not have hospital privileges for awhile, Dr. Ford specialized in general medicine and treated disadvantaged people of all races either in her office or in their homes. The majority of patients were poor and/or indigent, came to her for checkups, minor illness, and obstetrical care. She loved helping people.
Eventually, Dr. Ford was allowed to practice at Denver General Hospital and admitted to the Denver and the Colorado Medical Societies. She was finally granted membership in the Colorado Medical Society in 1950, two years before she died. She worked up until her death.
The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame inducted her in 1985. In 1989, the Colorado Medical Society passed a resolution honoring her posthumously “as an outstanding figure in the development and furtherance of health care in Colorado.”
Paul’s labor of love, The Black American West Museum and Cultural Center, has grown to be more than a museum, offering a variety of activities such as: “How the West Was Fun,” “Scavenger Hunts,” “Did You Know Guided Tours,” “Storytime, “”Arts and Crafts,” and “Documentaries.” There is also BAWM Camp, Afternoon Teas, and overnight stays in the Museum, where participants get to meet re-en- actors that are dressed up as various black historical visitors from Colorado’s past.
As of 2015, Paul is 89 years old and hasn’t been able to be around the museum much, because of health issues. Many volunteers help run the museum. There apparently is another volunteer in spirit form who helps with children seeing the museum, and/or involved in various activities.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
People who have a deep love for their work in a structure that included both work and personal home life, sometimes don’t want to leave the building or wish to visit a lot when they pass over into the spirit world. She misses being in practice, and still loves children.
After a hard struggle, Dr. Justina L. Ford opened her OB/GYN and pediatrician medical practice in her home with an office. She delivered 7,000 babies here, as well as treated many diseases and conditions. She and her husband enjoyed living in their private space in the building as well.
People that have buildings, organizations created based on their life’s work, or places named after them in their honor, or have a special exhibit of their life and work, or their home has been made a museum often like to visit.
Dr. Justina Ford must be very pleased that a museum that educates the public on the life stories of black people who made a difference in Colorado and the west, is now located in her family home/office. She must get some peace by seeing the exhibits, helping her to let go of the injustice that she had endured for a number of years.
The entity of Dr. Justina L. Ford
…is still in her beloved office and home.
These manifestations began soon after she died, and continue on to this day.
Just her footsteps have been heard as she goes about her business.
Doors open and close by themselves.
Her wispy apparition was seen walking around what was her office rooms and home rooms.
Today, she has appeared in full, solid form to children, and has walked them around the museum, holding their hands. Children have identified her from the pictures on display.
In one instance, Dr. Ford was helping a small child find items on the second floor in one of the museum’s Scavenger Hunts.
Every volunteer who has worked at this museum has seen or had an experience with Dr. Justina, making believers out of the skeptics.
Spirit Paranormal did an investigation there. They set up their equipment, and sent some children inside to interact with Dr. Justina. Apparently Dr. Justina gets annoyed with unruly youngsters and knocked some pictures off the walls. She didn’t appreciate being child-bombed with misbehaving children. This may have hurt other investigation groups efforts, as this didn’t inspire good-will and a spirit of cooperation with paranormal investigators.
PROBABLY SO, though the hard evidence is lacking. For a very long time, many adults and children have experienced contact with her, so she probably is still there, especially on the second floor. She is an intelligent spirit, reacting to the needs of children, and can show her annoyance with naughty and loud ones as well.
3091 California Street
Denver, Colorado 80205
The Black American West Museum & Cultural Center is located in the five Points area of Denver, on California Street.
- The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide
By Rich Newman
- Haunted Houses: Guide to Spooky, Creepy and Strange Places Across the USA
by Daniel Diehl and Mark Donnelly
- blackpast.org entry on Dr. Justina Ford, retrieved July 24, 2018
- “Museum founder celebrates blacks in the West, Colorado celebrates him” by John Wenzel, in The Denver Post, retrieved July 24, 2018
- Redfin Real Estate Listing, retrieved July 24, 2018
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr