Origin of the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center
Paul W. Stewart founded the museum in 1971. Paul W. Stewart was the premier “Storyteller”, he bought to life the stories of early African Americans who came West. The Black American West Museum grew out of his personal passion for collecting materials that would document the stories. He took his storytelling performances to schools and gave numerous tours inspiring today’s African Americans youth and adults to continue to forge new frontiers built upon by the rich cultural heritage of those African American heroes and everyday people who settled the West.
With an African-American “back to the land” movement at the turn of the 20th Century, O.T. (Oliver Toussaint) Jackson invested in land for an African American colony located on Highway 34, ninety miles north of Denver. O.T. Jackson established Dearfield as a self-sufficient all-African American agricultural colony. The Museum is housed in the former home of Dr. Justina L. Ford, first licensed African American female physician in the state of Colorado. While famous for telling the story of the Black cowboys, the museum tells the stories of those early African Americans who came west and performed as miners, soldiers, homesteaders, ranchers, blacksmiths. schoolteachers, lawmen, and every other profession needed to build up and develop the West.