Gum Springs was founded by the patriarchical Freedman, West Ford, whose bones rest near George Washington's at Mount Vernon. It was named after a gum tree that once marked the marshy land, highly prized for farming in the past. Quietly nestled across the river on George Washington's side of the Potomac, Gum Springs was a place for blacks to prevail, assimilating runaways and freed slaves who migrated there by way of the nearby port of Alexandria. Many of its forbearers tended General Washington's estate at Mount Vernon before they were freed at the death of his wife, Martha. Freed slaves found assistance from Quakers in their struggle for economic survival. The skills and trades they learned as estate slaves added to their growth towards independence. Today, Gum Springs has more than 2,500 residents and as many as 500 are descendants of the original families.