Florence Jackson Ward (c. 1855-1939) was born in the St. Anne's district of southern Albemarle County to Louisa Jackson, a free Black woman.
Her father, Noah Jackson, a shoemaker, may have been enslaved. David J. Ward's (c. 1855-1926) mother, Jane Christmas, was the enslaved daughter of a North Carolina slave owner, Lewis Yancy Christmas, who acknowledged his children with Jane and freed them and Jane in his will.
Florence and David probably met as students at Shaw University, a historically Black school in Raleigh, North Carolina. They married in 1878 in Albemarle County and eventually had 11 children.
Early in the marriage, David worked as a waiter in hotels in Charlottesville and at the Homestead resort in Warm Springs, Virginia.
By 1906, he had opened a laundry and clothing store in West Main Street, in downtown Charlottesville, which he operated until his death. Florence worked for a time as a private nurse.