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Notes and Sources on the Life of Sara Bickford, Entrepreneur (1852 – 1931)

SARA BICKFORD 

MY COMPREHENSIVE NOTES of RESEARCH SOURCES 

August – October 2020  

Kelly McCoy 1.9.21

Sara Gammon Brown Bickford (1852 – 1931) was the first Black woman to own a utility company. Born into slavery in 1852, she was separated from her parents when they were sold, and she never saw them again. The video below will weave you through the life of Sara Bickford. A Black woman who became the sole owner of Virginia City Water Company in Virginia City, Montana.

Below are suggested sources to begin your dive into the life of Sara Gammon Brown Bickford

I. Historic Sites  

 A) Virginia City, Madison County, Montana  

 1. https://virginiacitymt.com/ 

 2. PDF Map of City  

 B) Sara Bickford’s House (a.k.a Romey’s Gardens) in Virginia City City, Madison County,  Montana. The property lies 4 Blocks East of intersection of Fair-weather and Idaho  Streets. Cannot locate the specific street number or name. 

 1. https://historicmt.org/items/show/894.  

 C) Hangman’s Building (a.k.a. Virginia City Water Company) – the public utility that she  owned and operated. 125 West Wallace Street, Virginia City , Madison County, Montana  1. https://mhs.mt.gov/Portals/11/shpo/AfricanAmerican/PropertyRecords/24MA2392.pdf  

II. Internet and Books that helped me to shape my story 

 A) Finding Sara Gammon Bickford by Bill Peterson, Ph.D. and Orlan Svingen, Ph.D.   Researcher Ph.D. student Laura J. Arata – 2009 

 1. https://sarahbickford.org/ 

 B) Sara Gammon Bickford – Marlette C.Lacey on BlackPast.org – 2007  1. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/bickford-sarah-gammon-1855-1931/  2. Book “ From Slave To Water Magnate: the Story of Sarah Bickford”   3. She is also does living history on the life of Sara Bickford  

 C) Women’s History – Montana’s African American Heritage 

 1. https://mhs.mt.gov/Shpo/AfricanAmericans/Womens-History 

 D) Celebrating Sarah Gammon Bickford – Montana Women’s History – 2014   1. http://montanawomenshistory.org/celebrating-sarah-gammon-bickford/ 

III. Other resources folks might find helpful to learn more 

 A) Book “ Race and the Wild West Sara Bickford, The Montana Vigilantes, and the Tourism  of Decline 1870 – 1930” by Laura J. Arata , University of Oklahoma Press 2020.   This book is Volume 17 in the Race and Culture in the American Press – Edited by  Quintard Taylor, Historian and Professor Emeritus of American History University of   Washington, and founder of BlackPast.org.  

B) Currently there are no documentary films featuring Sara Gammon Bickford 


Video and Source List Provided by: Kelly McCoy, Producer/Content Creator  

Kelly McCoy is the founder of G.E.A.R. Shop Collective, specializing in researching,  illuminating, and amplifying culture and heritage of BIPOC communities. Passionate about  creating and curating inclusive, diverse and equitable community-based experiences. Connect with her about cultural heritage and adventure tourism experiences, adventures in the natural  environment, and crocheting on Linked In or G.E.A.R.ShopCollective

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