William Ford


The spectacle of an elderly and well-preserved gentleman, retired in honor from the active labors of life, secure in the esteem and confidence of the people with whom he has spent numbers of years, is exceedingly pleasant to contemplate. The reputation of Mr. Ford among his neighbors is something of which he has reason to be proud. The industry and perseverance of his younger years resulted in the accumulation of a competence, and he is now enabled to sit under his own vine and fig tree, give time to the pleasant amenities of life, and thought to the scenes which have passed like a panorama before his eyes during the vicissitudes of a long and well-spent life.

The present home of Mr. Ford is pleasantly located in Scales Mound Township, on section 23, where he has a comfortable residence and a small spot of ground. On section 3, in Guilford Township, he has a fine farm of 172 acres, with good improvements, machinery, and live-stock. He is a native of Cornwall County, England, having been born Feb. 9, 1829, and was reared upon a farm, obtaining his education mostly in a night-school. When a youth of seventeen he embarked for America, setting sail from Penzance on the 1st of May, on the vessel "Triton", and landing in the city of Quebec on the 24th of June following. He made his way from Buffalo to Chicago by steamer, and from there to White Oak Springs, this county, overland with team. He began prospecting for lead ore at Council Hill and East Fork, and was thus occupied until 1855. He then purchased the farm in Guilford Township, in partnership with his father. Much of this was covered with forest trees, which he cleared, and later became sole proprietor. There were thirty acres broken, but aside from this there had been no attempt at improvement. All the buildings and fences, which appear in such good shape, are the result of the labors of Mr. Ford. He keeps excellent grades of live-stock, mostly horses and cattle; and remained upon the farm until 1884, when he purchased his present home at Scales Mound, to which he removed, renting his farm. The latter, it is hardly necessary to say, is the source of a good income.

On Thursday, the 26th of February, 1868, our subject was married in Thompson Township, this county, to Miss Mary Laura L. Smith. This lady is a daughter of Horace and Harriet A. (Soule) Smith; the father was a native of New York State; and the mother of Indiana, born July 4,1819. The paternal great-grandfather, also Horace Smith, was a native of Germany, and upon coming to America located in :New York, where he engaged in farming. Grandfather Joseph Soule was also a native of the Fatherland, settled in New York upon coming to America, and farmed there until his death. The grandfather, Capt. John L. Soule, was born in New York, received a good education, and engaged for a time in teaching. Later he emigrated to Indiana, and was one of the first settlers along the Blue River. He taught school there also for several years, then removed to Adams County, Ill., and engaged in farming until 1854. That year witnessed his arrival in this county, and he located on a farm in Scales Mound Township, near the mound from which it receives its name. Upon the outbreak of the Black Hawk War he organized a company, of which he was elected Captain, and remained in the service until the surrender of the famous chief. After the war he sold his farm, and purchased a large tract of improved land at Gratiot Grove, Wis. This he sold later, and, returning to this county, in 1840, purchased 160 acres of improved land in Thompson Township, upon which he labored until his death, in 1851, at the age of sixty-three years. He was quite prominent in local affairs, serving as Justice of the Peace a number of years, and in politics affiliated with the Democratic party.

The father of our subject was reared to manhood in his native State, becoming familiar with farm pursuits, and came to this county in 1838. Settling in Thompson Township, he engaged in mining lead ore, and in 1841 was married. He followed mining until his death, in 1852. He, like his honored father, inclined to the principles of the Democratic party. The mother, after the death of her husband, became the wife of William Gilbert, a native of Lincolnshire, England. He occupied himself in mining and farming combined, and died at his home in Thompson Township Nov. 9, 1872. The mother at present (March, 1889) makes her home with her son-in-law. Of her first marriage there were born three children: John William, who is farming in Thompson Township; James A., a resident of Clay County, Kan.; and Mary Laura L. Of the second marriage there were born nine children: Lucinda (Mrs. Joseph Edge) lived in Scales Mound; Elizabeth is a resident of Buena Vista County, Iowa; Emeline died when about ten years old; Thomas is a resident of Iowa; Sarah is deceased; Samuel resides in Cassville, Wis.; Lorenzo is deceased; Etta is a resident of Warren, Ill., this county; Willis resides in Cassville, Wis.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)