Henry O. Wagoner: African American Pioneer

Henry O. Wagoner
Henry O. Wagoner

Long before he became a community leader and successful businessman in Denver, Henry O. Wagoner (1816-1901) was a staunch activist of the abolitionist movement, a typesetter and journalist for several radical anti-slavery newspapers, and a primary school teacher. He helped fugitive slaves escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad in Maryland, Illinois, and even in Chatham, Ontario in Canada. As an active participant in the anti-slavery movement, he met and corresponded with several prominent abolitionists of his era—and cultivated a close and enduring friendship with the indomitable orator and statesman Frederick Douglass. This formative and influential friendship lasted for fifty years. Though Wagoner was not a central figure of the abolitionist movement, he was certainly a prominent one, and his contributions deserve more than peripheral attention. Wagoner was unfailingly persistent in his efforts to assist fellow African Americans, and adamant about obtaining equal access to education, the right to vote, and the right to own property in a new era of territorial expansion and possibility. Continue reading “Henry O. Wagoner: African American Pioneer”

Barney Ford: African American Pioneer

In honor of African American History Month, we are excited to share some original photographs of Colorado’s influential black pioneers. Culling from the museum’s extensive photography collection, each week we’ll post a photograph on social media, accompanied by a blog post about that pioneer’s life and achievements.

We’ll highlight four African American pioneers who, like so many settlers who made the journey westward, overcame significant obstacles in creating a life in Colorado. Hailing from different eras and a range of professions, each left indelible impressions on history and their environs. Despite their differences, they share a core set of characteristics: fearless vision, unbreakable resolve, and a tenacious determination to achieve one’s goals. As a result, their contributions have shaped the course of Colorado history.

Barney Ford

Barnay Ford (95.200.183)
Barney Ford (95.200.183)

Throughout his life, Barney Lancelot Ford demonstrated considerable resilience while enduring cycles of professional booms and busts—great successes undercut by fire, war, and racism. Despite these challenges he forged on, making a name for himself as a businessman and a civil-rights pioneer in Colorado. Continue reading “Barney Ford: African American Pioneer”