St. Francis de Sales at Mt.Pleasant and St. Emma at Belmead have a rich human history that includes Native Americans, African Americans, and Europeans. They are places of past and present human activity. The mansion at Belmead is on the historic register, and St. Francis de Sales is in the process of obtaining this status. Both buildings are significant for groups of persons who have been connected through time to the land and the heritage that connects both sites.
Ornate stanied glass windows in the chapel inside the long-empty St. Francis de Sales High School, located on the property at Belmead on the James in Powhatan County, VA March 4, 2013. A small group of nuns are working to preserve the history and heritage of the ante-bellum mansion and the school on the property.
Barney Ford was born a slave in Virginia. At the age of twenty-fire, he escaped and began a successful career in a variety of entrepreneurial ventures.By 1860, he was living in Denver and became a prosperous tycoon in the hotel, restaurant, and barbershop businesses, earning the nickname the "Black Baron of Colorado." Throughout the Civil War, he gave financial assistance, food, and jobs to escaped and free African Americans.