Sallie Francis Method was my paternal ancestor, born during the American Reconstruction Era to an unwed mother, Phoebe Method.1 Sallie was her mother’s fifth child and second daughter. Her grandparents, Solomon Method and Millie Davis Method lived in the town of Moorefield, Hardy County before the Civil War, before the area became a part of the new state called West Virginia.

In her late teens, Sallie worked for a wealthy farming family as their nanny. I learned about her job through the cemetery’s groundskeeper.2 He recalled how the former Moorefield Mayoress (mayor’s wife), Myrtle Miley Pickard visited him while he maintained the Oak Hill cemetery where Sallie is buried.3 He said Myrlte stood near her marker and said, “She was my nanny.”

Sallie’s grave marker.

Photo Credit: Glon Turner, Find A Grave Volunteer. Mr. Turner gave me a lead to interview Mr. Washington for my research.

Prior to her passing, Sallie raised eight children mostly on her own. The mother of two, Charles and Edna, became Willard Ford’s third wife in 1914. 4 She and Willard would have three daughters Mary, Mildred, and Helen. Willard was killed in December 1918 while Sallie was pregnant with their youngest daughter.5 Sallie supported her family as a restaurant cook.6 She owned her home and grew her own food. Her daughter said, “We had fields and fields of land.”7 She birthed three more daughters.

Six of Sallie's children around  the late 50s.

Six of Sallie’s eight children.

Nicknamed Fanny in the 1940s.

Her middle daughter, Mildred Francis.

Charles Method around late 1970s.

Her only son, Charles.

Sallie was resourceful and family oriented. Her daughter, Pearl remembered that their mother designed their dresses and made their dolls.8 Her younger daughter described how her mother named them after family members and friends. Her oldest, a son is named after her Uncle Charles. A middle daughter, Mildred Francis after her Grandmother Millie, and herself. Her youngest daughter Anna Mae is her sister, Mae’s namesake.9 Her naming practices would later help me make a huge genealogy discovery.

Sallie’s Uncle Charles Clinton Method lived in my hometown.10 He left West Virginia around the death of his mother, Millie Davis Method in the mid-1870s.11 He married Keziah Foster Lowery in 1877, in Ross County, Ohio. 12 The couple raised their son, William Arthur Method, who became a physician and founded the first and only African American Hospital in Central Ohio in the 1920s.13

Click here to see the hospital and the physician on page 28.

Sallie spent her last day caring for her family. Her daughter described they were going in and out of the house hanging laundry.14 When she returned inside Sallie collapsed in the kitchen. The neighbors later arrived and found her surrounded by her daughters.15

Her former in-laws agreed to have her buried in their family plot in Oak Hill cemetery.

Sallie Francis Method Ford, 1884 -1938.

I hope you celebrated your mothers today and remember those women who are no longer here physically to nurture and love us through these earthly journeys.


  1. 1900 US Federal Census.
  2. Interview with former Oak Hill Cemetery Groundskeeper, Omer Washington, 2020.
  3. The Cumberland News, July 4, 1968 pg 22.
  4. Hardy County Marriage Registry.
  5. The Washington Post, December 22, 1918 pg 9.
  6. 1930 US Federal Census.
  7. Interview with Sallie Ford’s daughter in 2021.
  8. Interview with family friend, Joalee Jones, 2022.
  9. Interview with Sallie Ford’s daughter in 2023.
  10. 1920 US Federal Census.
  11. 1880 US Federal Census.
  12. Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993
  14. Interview with Sallie Ford’s daughter, 2019.
  15. Interview with former Oak Hill Cemetery Groundskeeper, Omer Washington, 2020.


  1. Hello: As you’ve reviewed the European Irvin’s, have you come across a wife with a family name of Cotton from Centerville, Henry County, Alabama? Edwin Cotton (about 1818-1862) was her brother and one of my great grand fathers. He was also the grandfather of Rosa McCauley Parks. She and my dad have different Native American grandmothers. There are so many secrets to us in the unknown of Native Americans, the silence of the Europeans and don’t care of us. Please continue your work. FLRichards 832 435 3050 Houston, TX

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    1. I became acquainted with a Cotton descendant a few years ago. We compared our DNA profiles. We haven’t made any connections with our families beside the same County. Thank you for your support.


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