ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Virginia Women’s Monument is underway in Richmond, and one of the 12 women being honored with a statue, Sarah G. Jones, was born in Albemarle County.
Now one of her relatives is hoping enough funds will be donated to allow the statue of Jones to be completed by the monument’s dedication in October.
Jones was the first female African-American doctor in Virginia, but more than 100 years after her death, many of her relatives including Albemarle resident Philip Cobbs weren’t aware of her accomplishments until she was selected for the monument honor.
"One of the first things was I saw a picture of her, and I was struck by how similar she looked to my mother,” said Cobbs, who still lives on land in the southeast part of Albemarle County where Jones was likely born.
Cobbs says his great-grandfather was the brother of Jones’ mother.
After another relative made the connection, Cobbs was invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Women’s Monument in December 2017.
"When I read her story, every part of it, I was more amazed by her,” Cobbs said of Jones.
As he soon learned, Jones, who relocated from Albemarle to Richmond with her family when she was a child, grew up to become a remarkable woman.
The Virginia Women's Monument website says Jones started Howard University's medical school in 1890. She was the first African-American woman to pass the Virginia Medical Board exam. She and her husband, also a physician, helped start a society for black physicians. Jones also helped open a hospital for black patients in 1903.
She became ill after treating a patient and died in 1905 at age 39.
In a phone interview, Sandra Treadway, the librarian of Virginia and a member of the Virginia Women's Monument Commission, said Jones was a natural pick.
“Someone who pushed the boundaries of what was conventional and possible," Treadway said.
The monument plans call for Jones to be depicted in conversation with her lifelong friend Maggie Walker, an acclaimed educator.
Cobbs said his enthusiasm for the monument grew after attending the groundbreaking.
"I was excited to see what the end product was going to be," he said.
Treadway said the monument will cost about $3.2 million, and there's about $300,000 left to raise. That means several of the statues, including the one of Jones, aren't fully funded.
"We are soliciting funds from any source,” Treadway said. “If a school child wants to give us $5, that's great, but of course we're also looking for donors who can put us over the top."
Cobbs hopes that as more people learn about Jones, the funding will come in so her statue can be finished in time for the October dedication.
"I would like for people to know about her, especially local people, because she has a lot of local connections," he said.
For more information on the monument, click on the link in the Related Links box.