Sentimental Sunday: Family Griot, Uncle Henry Ford

My uncle, Henry Ford and me in the late 1970s. He was undoubtedly telling me a good story.

When I was finally ready to start digging into my paternal family’s history about 15 years ago, I went to our family griot, my uncle, Henry Ford.  Born and raised in New Orleans when his family moved there from Ocean Springs, Mississippi in the early 40s, Uncle Henry filled in some details on my great, great-grandfather, Col. W.R. Stuart and my great, great-grandmother, Tempy Burton.  He showed me around his Nola stomping grounds from the best spot for a po’ boy sandwich to his most beloved attraction, the Audubon Zoo.  Then we drove through the deep Mississippi pines until we reached the other side of the gulf in Ocean Springs. There, he introduced me to family friends from my grandparents’ time living there and even showed me the spot where my great-grandfather, the Reverend James Ford had preached.

Henry’s enthusiasm for our history helped fan the flames of my budding ancestry ardor.  Now, I hope to bring that genealogy love full circle and give him some modicum of the joy he showed me for our shared history.

This weekend, my dear Uncle Henry’s foot was amputated and I’m sure his spirits could use a boost.

Back in December, his house in the 9th ward of New Orleans burned down and he suffered injuries in the fire further complicated by his diabetes.  The house had survived Katrina and a number of previous storms during the 60 plus years my uncle, dad and the rest of their family lived there.  When my grandmother, Lillie Mae Ford died last August, she left the house to Henry.  It was his last connection to her.

I’d guess Uncle Henry’s never been far from New Orleans for very long nor from his mother.  Now in the space of a few short months, he’s lost both mother and home. There’s no replacing either, but at least we still have our family stories.  I hope whatever new pieces of our family history we find will bring him some joy and comfort.

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8 Comments

Filed under African-American history, ancestry, family history, geneology, New Orleans, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Sentimental Sunday: Family Griot, Uncle Henry Ford

  1. Bless his heart! He has been through so much. It makes me feel guilty about complaining about anything. Will keep him in my prayers.

  2. Rachael Quinn-Egan

    I adore your posts. Your uncle looks like a fun guy, and you were so cute. Poor man, what a lot of heartache. Tell him that people he’s never even met are sending him their best wishes and hopes for his health and happiness.
    I’m so glad that I signed up for these e-mails from your blog. I am facinated by your amazing family, and by your tenacity. I’m feeling inspired. Thanks.

  3. Such a moving story. My heart breaks for your uncle. He is lucky to have such a loving and caring neice. Will keep him in our prayers.

  4. Best healing wishes to your uncle. I have relatives who had similar diabetes complications. I’m sure your work here is a great comfort to him.

    The photo is sooooo 70s!

  5. He certainly does look like a very fun guy (love his kool kat shirt!) – and the photo shows your mutual adoration. Does he read your blog? I would find it a great comfort to know that all my stories made such an impact and that the family history is being passed down like this, and that it was inspiring others as well.

  6. Sending Uncle Henry healing energy.
    Kathleen

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