Story by Fred Gahimer.
Ephraim Ford’s father, John Ford, emigrated from Ashe County, North Carolina to the little village of Zionsville just north of Indianapolis, Indiana between 1830-1838. There he met and married Elizabeth Dye, the daughter of George Dye, an early pioneer, and one of the first settlers of the area. They were married by Warner Sampson, M.G., on March 11, 1838. John was 26 years old and Elizabeth was 17.
For more information about Ephraim’s younger years, see this story.
In 1852, at the urging of his two brothers in letters to John to join them in the western gold fields, John and a group of other would-be miners headed west with their families. When they got to Iowa, John became fearful for the safety of his family if they continued, so he settled in Story County in central Iowa and became a prosperous farmer. John died in 1862, and Elizabeth stayed on the home farm near Colo, east of Nevada, and had the oldest sons George and Jim manage the various farms. The other son, Ephraim, went to Burr Oak, Kansas to farm with relatives. In 1879, Elizabeth took ill and died.
Her son Jim sent Ephraim a letter telling of their mother’s death.
TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Burr Oak, Jewel Co., Kansas 3c postage FROM: Nevada, Iowa Dec. 8, 1879 Dear Brother, With a sorrowful mind I will try and write a few lines to let you know that our dear Mother is gone forever. She departed last night, and will be buried tomorrow at 2 o'clock. I wish you could have been there. She spoke so often about you. Let Aunt Sally know of her death. So goodbye. Write soon. As Ever, Your Brother Jim We will bury her in the Nevada Cemetery.
The following year, 1880, Ephraim Worth Ford headed west for Wyoming.
Wyoming did not at first prove attractive to homesteaders except in the best valleys along the Union Pacific railroad in the southern part of the state. It was then discovered that the bunch and buffalo grass of the plains made excellent feed for cattle. Not only did they fatten on it in the summer, but the thick ripe bunches, retaining all their nutritious food elements, penetrated the thin snows of the wind-swept plains, enabling the herds to live and thrive all winter without extra food or care. Also, cattle could be grazed at a distance from the railroad and when ready for market transported themselves. Soon great herds of longhorns were on the way north from the overstocked ranges of Texas. By the 1870s, the ranges of Wyoming were well stocked. Herds increased rapidly and almost without expense.
Gen. George Crook’s campaign against the Indians was begun in early 1876 to stop the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho from raiding the settlers coming into the area along the Bozeman Trail. The Custer disaster on the Little Big Horn in mid-year triggered a national desire to end the Indian problems. More forts were built, more troops were sent, and in early autumn the campaign began in earnest. By the end of 1878, most of the hostiles had been driven out of the Powder River country, and, except for small sporadic incidents, the Indian menace was over. As a result, the influx of the classic, honest, hard-working, pioneer settlers greatly increased, which ultimately led to increased resentment and friction between them and the big ranchers. The cattle industry, so prosperous in the late 1870s, passed into an era of troubles in the 1880s. The range was soon overstocked. Market prices dropped.
In 1877, August Trabing set up a trading post on the Bozeman Trail near the crossing at Crazy Woman Creek. It became known as Trabing. Two years later he pulled up stakes and moved all his belongings to the settlement which became Buffalo. He built his log store where the Masonic Building and First National Bank now stands. The store eventually became the John H. Conrad and Company. O. P. Hannah, a buffalo hunter, settled near what is now Sheridan, and he and his partner, Jim White, hunted deer and elk, plus occasional buffalo, for sale to the Army at Fort McKinney, as by that time the commercial quantities of buffalo were gone.
The Buffalo and Sheridan area in Wyoming Territory in the 1880s was characterized by growing friction between the big ranchers and the cowboys and settlers. Rustling was the only livelihood many of the men had in those days. The marshall during that period, Frank M. Canton, outdid John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn in tangling with such outlaws and rustlers as Arapaho Brown, Jack Flag, Big Nose George, Teton Jackson, and later broke up the Dalton gang in Oklahoma. (Read his autobiography – “Frontier Trails”).
The trouble was, a lot of the so-called “rustlers” were cowboys and small ranchers who were running cattle on the open range along with the big ranchers. Some of the “rustlers” were cowboys who would gather up mavericks (unbranded calves) born over the winter and would start their own herds, to the chagrin of the big ranchers, who viewed all such cattle as theirs. The cattlemen tried to put a stop to it by not allowing the small ranchers to take part in the spring roundup, and started a brief war in 1892 which failed due to Army intervention. Ephraim would have experienced the beginnings of this problem.
The first pioneer settlers of Big Horn were reportedly the family of W. F. “Bear” Davis. After being a captain of wagon trains for twenty years, sometimes traveling through the Little Goose Creek area, he decided to settle his family there. When his wagon train arrived at the creek on June 17, 1879, he found the Frank James gang there living in dugouts, with a corral of 300 stolen horses nearby. As they tried to cross the swollen creek, the current was too much for the 4-mule teams, and they were stalled. A black man came out of one of the dugouts and threw a lariat over one of the mule’s neck, climbed on a horse, and helped the first wagon across. Bear recognized the man as “Nigger John”, who had belonged to his uncle, Redman Wolfly, back in southern Missouri prior to the Civil War. He had run away and joined the James gang during the war. The wagon train moved on and camped in a circle.
That night, Nigger John, having recognized Bear, came to Bear’s wagon and talked to him in secrecy because the James gang would shoot him if they knew. He told Bear to put their mules in the circle because the gang intended to take them and leave. After doing that, the people danced all night to stay awake. The next day Frank James and another member of the gang rode into camp. They had come to say goodbye, for they were going up the trail. A few years later, the James gang rode up to Bear Davis’ cabin where Mrs. Davis was alone. She stood in the doorway while they replaced their guns in their holsters. They politely asked if she could feed them. She served them the company fare of a frontier kitchen: potato soup, venison steak, and buffalo berry pie. They ate, and then courteously bowing and thanking her, they left. In 1881, the settlers used the James gang dugout cabin for a school for a few months. Outlaws were common in Big Horn and all around the Powder River area of Wyoming.
Ephraim Ford arrived in northern Wyoming and hunted buffalo, reportedly with Buffalo Bill; and worked as a cowboy in the area around the small unnamed settlement of forty hardy souls on Clear Creek at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains. Later that same year, 1880, two of his sisters, Frances “Fannie” and Effie Ford joined Ephraim in the settlement which was soon to become Buffalo, where he had squatted on a site on the east side of what became Main Street.
Charles Buell and A. J. McCray built the Occidental Hotel at its present location on Main Street where it has been rebuilt and improved several times. Later in the year 1880, in the bar of the hotel, Mr. Buell suggested that those present should write a name for the village of forty people on a piece of paper and that one of them be drawn from a hat. The name drawn was “Buffalo” submitted by Will Hart, a young man from Buffalo, New York.
Many famous names have been entered on the Occidental Hotel’s register over the years, including Buffalo Bill (Bill Cody), Teddy Roosevelt, and Generals Crook and Sheridan. Calamity Jane made her headquarters at the hotel when in town.
In the 1880s freight was hauled by trail wagons hitched in single file pulled by 7-10 yoke of oxen or eight mules or horses. The stage coach lines ran between Rock Creek and Junction City, with stations at Rock Creek, Point of Rocks, Spring Canyon, LaBonte, Fort Fetterman, Sage Creek, Brown Springs, Weir Morlett’s Seventeen Mile Ranch, Powder River Station, Trabing, Buffalo, Big Horn, Dayton, Forty Mile Ranch, Crow Agency, Fort Custer, and after crossing the Big Horn Mountains, Ferry, and Junction City. Holdups were frequent, and one point north of Fetterman was called “Hold-up Hollow”.
On October 4, 1881, E. W. Ford & O. J. Westman bought 80 cattle by chattel mortgage, probably in a partnership to run the cattle on the open range. The herd was described as, “Twenty-four (24) cows branded JE on left side (56) fifty six stock cattle branded JE on left side making Eighty (80) head in all. Known as Garvey and Brothers herd now running on Clear Creek about two miles east of Fort McKinney in the County of Johnson Territory of Wyoming.” They mortgaged the herd from Garvey and Brothers for $500, to be paid on or before April 4, 1882 with interest at one percent per month. [Chattel Mortgage Bk 3, p23-5]
Ephraim’s partner, O.J. Westman (25) married Mary Alice Dawson (21) on 9 Nov 1881 at the Johnson County courthouse. She was a resident of Marshall Town and he was a resident of Buffalo.
That same year, S. T. Farwell opened a cigar and tobacco store in Buffalo. About December of 1881, Ephraim obtained a homestead of 160 acres of creek bottom land on Crazy Woman Creek just downstream of the junction of the Crazy Woman and Dry Creek roads. It was made up of two 80 acre parcels in a lazy-L shape comprised of the W1/2 of the NE1/4 and the S1/2 of the NW1/4 of Section 10, T51N, R79W of the 6th Principal Meridian in Wyoming Territory. He maintained his home in Buffalo, and probably went to the homestead during the ranching period each year.
The following year, on February 15, 1882, Ephraim apparently ended his partnership with O. Westman by selling 75 cattle to him. Westman financed the purchase with a mortgage of $800 from Ephraim, to be paid on or before October 15, 1882 with interest of two percent per month. On September 18, 1882, Ephraim was repaid and released the mortgage. [Chattel Mortgage Bk 3, p63]
Seeing that much of the business in and around Buffalo involved providing supplies to Fort McKinney, Robert Foote saw an opportunity for growth, and opened a large log mercantile store across the street from Ephraim. The Buffalo Flour Mill and the Fischer Brewery were established, and the first genuine physician, Dr. John Watkins moved to town. Edward “Doc” Huson, a “country doctor,” merchant, and druggist, had moved to Buffalo from Trabing earlier in the year. George “Pap” Myers, from Bavaria, organized the first band in Buffalo in 1882 (he was married to Alice Westman at the time, the mother of O.J. Westman), and was identified with every band in the city until his death in 1926.
Ephraim was married to Hattie K. “Katie” Huson by H. R. Mann, JP, on December 17, 1882 in Buffalo at the home of her parents, Edward and Clarissa Huson. Witnesses were her father, “Doc” Huson, and John Paul. Katie was 17 years old. (Marriage Book 1, page 16)
For more information about Katie’s younger years, see this story.
In 1883, the townfolk decided to remove several unsightly old Indian graves which were high up in the forks of trees on the southeast side of town. In August, The Echo was established as the first newspaper in the area. Dr. R. E. Hollbrook became the first dentist. C. P. Organ and Company established a hardware and implement store, George Holt started the first drug store, R. H. Linn was the first saddle and harness maker, and Billie Hunt and James Convey established rival livery and feed stables.
After the turn of the century, when autos were becoming more common, a man was herding three horses down Main Street. One of them was an old saddle horse which had frequently been kept at the livery, which in the meantime had been converted into the Central Garage. The horse walked in, looked around at the shiny new cars and decided this wasn’t where he belonged, so he just calmly walked through the plate glass window and up the street.
Other businesses in Buffalo were the Cowboy, Senate, Charlie Chapin, Minnie Ha-Ha, and Kennedy saloons. the “Q.T” Bowling Alley and Saloon, the Germania House Restaurant and Beer Depot, Charles Burritt Attorney-at-Law, B. Hertzeman’s Merchant Tailor shop, Hopkin’s Meat Market, and Sam Lung’s Chinese Laundry. Webster and Pratt set up a barber shop, and R. V. Stumbo started a restaurant.
On August 4, 1883, Helen Buell, the first white child born in Buffalo, was delivered in her father’s Occidental Hotel.
On March 3, 1884, the Territorial Legislature approved a charter for Buffalo, and it officially became a city. The first court house was built that year, and the day after Christmas they had a Citizen’s Ball in honor of its dedication. Tickets were $5 and included supper. The Occidental and Monroe bands combined their talents to provide stirring music for the dancers. At midnight, the revellers retired to the Occidental Hotel where they were served “the finest supper ever served in this county.”
The Homestead Act allowed any person to acquire 160 acres of land by living on it and cultivating it. However, under the Desert Land Act, one could acquire 640 acres by irrigating any portion of it.
The first patent of record in Johnson County was issued to Verling K. Hart. It was a desert claim and was located next to Fort McKinney. This land became the original site for Buffalo. Major Verling was the commanding officer of the fort from 1882 until his death in February, 1883. His widow, Juliet Hart, was granted a patent for it on June 19, 1884. She wasted no time in platting what is now Buffalo, and the plat was filed on July 29, 1884. Until then, there had been no city plan for laying out streets or locating building sites. People had put up buildings anywhere, and it was virtually impossible to get the plats to conform to what was already there. The result was crooked streets.
Ephraim Ford purchased Lot 24, Block 18, in Buffalo from Juliet W. Hart on September 18, 1884 for $10. (Deed 547, Recorded in Book 1, Page 39). He and Kate had been living as squatters (as all the early settlers of Buffalo were until Julia Hart inherited her husband’s desert claim for the land and had it platted). Julia Hart sold the squatters’ land to them for a nominal sum (e.g. $10 for Ephraim’s lot). On the same day, he sold the lot for $1000 to John A. Jones and J. C. Harrington, who went into a partnership in the first liquor store in Buffalo, apparently built on that lot. The lot is on the east side of Main Street in Buffalo exactly where Highway 16 comes to a Tee at the main intersection at the Court House. There was still a liquor store there in 1993, a century later.
One of Jones and Harringtons’ biggest customers was the “queen” of Buffalo’s night life, Nettie Wright. She was one of the first women in Buffalo, and took advantage of that fact to ply the oldest profession there. She could not read or write, but she knew how to make money. She used the capital thus obtained, along with a loan from her friend, John A. Jones, to build a saloon and roller skating rink. She bought 45 pairs of skates from Kansas City.
The Jones are also interesting. John and his wife Ella were quite the business people. They were handsome for those days, and were very busy running a variety of businesses while raising four children. Their businesses at various times included a mortuary, liquor store, dress and milliner shop, a saloon, a furniture store, and they always kept about ten to twelve boarders, feeding them each day.
On September 25, 1884, Jim H. Rice purchased a barber outfit in Big Horn from Bernard Hertzman with a chattel mortgage (Book 3, p291-2). On October 22, Ephraim Ford’s sister, Effie Jane Ford, at the age of 25, was married to Jim Rice (28) in Big Horn by congregational minister Herbert E. Probert, an Englishman, at the house of a Mr. Haund and witnessed by her sister Fannie Ford and a Mrs. Belle Babcock of Big Horn.
BIG HORN SENTINEL Oct. 25, 1884 J. H. Rice, formerly of Buffalo, has taken up his residence in Big Horn and has temporary quarters in the "Star of the West" saloon. Mr. Rice is a barber of no small experience, and is securing a fair share of custom. ---------------------- A quiet wedding took place in the parlors of the Oriental hotel the early part of this week, the contracting parties being J. H. Rice and Miss Effie Ford. Rev. Herbert Probert officiated. The newly wedded couple have been extended the congratulations of friends and acquaintances. ---------------------- HE WOULD GO ON A "TOOT". Fisher, a cook who has been employed for the past two months at Hanna & Babcock's hotel in this town, hired a horse this week out of Farwell's livery stable for the purpose of going to Buffalo and seeing the sights. Evidently he saw more than he bargained for, and after the second day's visit he concluded to come home, but first filled himself skin-full of "booze", and, mounting the livery steed, rode quietly out of town, headed for Big Horn. He had gone but a short distance when he became too top-heavy, and fell off, the saddle turning under the animal's belly. The horse ran and bucked for all that was in him until he reached Billy Hunt's stable in Buffalo. Enroute, he ran over Mr. W. W. Pringle, throwing him to the ground, knocking him insensible, and severely bruising his right shoulder, and otherwise injuring him. Mr. Pringle lay insensible about two hours, when he was taken to his ranch south of Buffalo. Dr. Wood, the physician who was called in, says the injuries will not prove fatal.
On February 27, 1885, Ephraim Ford received a Stock Brand Certificate for his brand, best described as a running W with a F as the right stem.
BIG HORN SENTINEL May 2, 1885 The practice of shooting off firearms in town is getting to be a nuisance. Those who wish to become perfect in this line should select some place for practice other than our principal streets. A stray bullet might accidently hit the wrong mark.
BIG HORN SENTINEL May 30, 1885 Charles A. Trabing, of the firm of Trabing Brothers, Laramie City, died in Omaha last Sunday of blood poisoning. Mr Trabing was one of the pioneer residents of Wyoming. He was also the first man to open a store and trading post in this county, and a post office on the Wyoming stage line is named after him.
BIG HORN SENTINEL June 6, 1885 In Buffalo, under the new city ordinance, a fine of not under ten nor over twenty-five dollars will be imposed on each woman for appearing on the streets in a "Mother Hubbard." This is a move which concerns us but little either way or the other, only that we would say to the makers of that law, please don't extend your city limits so that is would take in Big Horn.
About this time, Ephraim and Katie moved to their Crazy Woman Creek homestead of 160 acres of creek bottom land just upstream of Bass Draw and the outlet of Dry Creek. It was about 16 miles east and 4 miles north of Buffalo (as the crow flies). Her parents moved onto Crazy Woman Creek in the SW1/4 of Section 9, immediately west of them.
￼Mabel, the first child of Ephraim and Katie, was born that year at the homestead on Crazy Woman. She was one of the first white children born in Johnson County, Wyoming. She had golden hair, which the Indians fancied; and they had to keep a close watch over her lest the Indians kidnap her. When the first white child had been born in Johnson County the previous year, the Indians tried to trade their best Indian ponies for her because she had blond hair.
BIG HORN SENTINEL Aug. 8, 1885 They Took Us In. A small party of Crow Indians struck a picnic in Big Horn this week. They loafed around several days and then interviewed THE SENTINEL office on the subject of horse racing, bringing to the office door a one-eyed, pigeon-toed, and ring-boned cayuse that didn't seem to have enough life in it to beat Charlie Round's slow mule in Buffalo, which made a record of a mile in ten minutes on the Fourth of July last. Our "devil" had for some time been putting in trim his fleet-footed race nag, but being far minus of having enough funds in his exchequer, called upon the staff to make up the desired amount, in order that the Indians could return to the agency in a dilapidated condition financially. The race came off, and on account of improper management on our part (we suppose this was the cause) the Indian pony came out a neck ahead. A second race was made up the following day, with double the amount bet that was put up the previous day - and again the Indian managed to get his horse through about a neck ahead. This was proof that either THE SENTINEL outfit didn't have a race horse, or that the Indians were equal to any emergency in the line of racing.
THE BIG HORN SENTINEL Aug 15, 1885 Bad Belly, a Crow chief who made a "clean-up" in horse racing in Big Horn last week, is reported to have gone north with several head of horses belonging to the Stoddard & Howard Live Stock Company. If Bad Belly illegally came in possession of any horses belonging to a cow outfit, he will most likely receive a rounding-up from the cowboys in the form of a surprise party in the Crow camp.
THE BIG HORN SENTINEL Aug. 29, 1885 Col. Benteen, the officer who had charge of the pack train during Custer's campaign through this country in 1876 and who joined Reno on the Little Horn just before Custer and his command were taken in by the Sioux, is now stationed at Fort McKinney. ---------------------- J. H. RICE BARBER BIG HORN, : : : : : : WYO For a Clean Shave or a Neat Hair Cut give my shop a trial J. H. RICE
A son was born to Jim and Effie (Ford) Rice in Buffalo during the week of September 26, so they must have moved there beforehand.
THE BIG HORN SENTINEL Sept. 26, 1885 The wife of J. H. Rice, the barber, gave birth to a son this week in Buffalo.
THE BIG HORN SENTINEL Oct. 17, 1885 Wanted, a barber -- Apply to the unshaven and unshorn inhabitants of Big Horn. ---------------------- "The Chinese must go" is the cry all over the territory. Will one please stop at Big Horn to open a laundry? We hesitate to advocate importation of "Chinese cheap labor," but as we must have clean clothes once a month, if not oftener, and no one else seems inclined to relieve our necessity, we apply to the last resort offered.
THE SENTINEL, Buffalo, WY. Dec. 12, 1885 The cold weather has driven a large number of range cattle into town, and they go wandering up and down the streets at all hours of the night in search of food and shelter.
The winter of 1885-86 was one of the coldest in Wyoming history, causing terrible loss of range stock. After the spring thaw, masses of dead carcasses were found in the draws.
THE SENTINEL, Buffalo, WY. Jan. 23, 1886 Dave Larison, that grittiest of stage drivers, arrived in Big Horn Thursday last with a frozen finger on each hand, his eyes almost totally closed by the cold, and not withstanding all these ailments, any one of which would have been enough for any ordinary man to give up in despair, in all honor to his duty, this nervy fellow refused to lay over at Big Horn and permit a volunteer, of which there were several, to finish his drive for him. After thawing out as much as possible he again grasped the lines and continued his drive - of which Big Horn is about the central station - in the face of a blinding storm of wind and snow. Fit stuff for a hero in that man. ---------------------- The cold spell continues with the thermometer thirty degrees below zero and a keen cutting wind from the northwest.
THE SENTINEL, Buffalo, WY. Jan. 30, 1886 Since Dave Larison, one of the drivers on the stage line from here north, was frozen so badly in the blizzard of last week, he has been laying up for repairs at Sheridan.
THE SENTINEL, Buffalo, WY. Feb. 20, 1886 The deepest snow of the season fell Wednesday night.
THE SENTINEL, Buffalo, WY. Mar. 6, 1886 The stages from the north have been delayed somewhat this week on account of the bad condition of the roads.
On March 11, 1886, Ephraim and Katie had their second child, Myrtle, while still living at the homestead on Crazy Woman Creek. Ephraim had a ticket for a Pythias ball and supper for March 17 in Buffalo. One of the men in charge of the reception at the ball and supper was Frank Canton, the famous lawman. Ephraim must not have attended, since the ticket was among his mementos he brought back with him to Indiana.
THE SENTINEL, Buffalo, WY. Apr. 3, 1886 The drivers on the Wyoming stage line are a unit in declaring the present condition of the roads the worst in their memory.
THE SENTINEL, Buffalo, WY. June 5, 1886 Dave Larison, who pulled the ribbons on one of the coaches on the Wyoming stage line for a period of three years, and who recently located near Bingham to follow the life of a granger, has gone to Miles City, where he will list himself among the ranks of benedicts. Dave's friends are legion in this neck o'the woods, who wish him joy and prosperity in his new departure.
THE SENTINEL, Buffalo, WY. Jul. 31, 1886 Grasshoppers are reported as doing considerable damage in some parts of the county. ---------------------- A PUBLIC DISGRACE. There is a period in the history of all frontier towns when it makes but little difference whether houses of prostitution are conducted openly in the principal business streets or not, but as towns build up and a better class of people become the controlling power, such places of infamy are usually consigned to the back streets and their inmates frequently brought before the city authorities and compelled to pay a fine in case they violate any of the city ordinances. Different in this town. A stranger coming to Buffalo need not wait until the gas light looms up in order to see the extent of vice. The nigger houses of prostitution, conducted openly on Main street and the inmates thereof appearing in the street half clad, is sufficient for any ordinary being to become at once disgusted with the town and the men who have the power to enforce the ordinances. Gentlemen of the city council! We appeal to you on behalf of the business men of Buffalo, and for the sake of the better class of our female population, to make some move in the direction of compelling the colored prostitutes to take up quarters elsewhere than on the principal street, and to see that their appearance on the streets, in a manner beyond all lines of decency, will hereafter be a thing of the past.
On December 16, 1886 Ephraim gets final receipt on their homestead of 160 acres on the creek bottom of Crazy Woman Creek. (Book D, p355) Kate’s parents still had the one immediately west of them.
No. 1028 RECEIVER'S OFFICE AT CHEYENNE, WYOMING DUPLICATE December 16, 1886 Received from EPHRAIM FORD of Johnson County Wyoming the sum of Two hundred Dollars being in full for the W1/2 of the NE1/4 and S1/2 of the NW1/4 quarter of Section No. Ten<br>in Township No. 51 N of Range No. 79 West, containing 160 acres at<br>$1.25 per acre.<br> WILLIAM M. GARRARD Receiver $200.00
During 1888, Ephraim split his time between the Crazy Woman homestead, and the Bechton and Big Horn area, probably grazing cattle or working at one of the ranches there to augment his income.￼
￼Ephraim and Kate received a formal printed wedding notice from her older brother William O. Huson addressed to E. W. Ford, Beckton, Wyoming Territory, postmarked received at Big Horn, Wyo., Feb. 10, 1888, one cent postage, as follows:
W. O. Huson. Florence Grove. Mr. & Mrs. W. O. Huson Married January 23rd, 1888 AT HOME After February 10th, 1888 Kingman, Arizona
Ephraim and Katie received an announcement of a social hop at Skinner’s Hall in Big Horn for Wednesday, February 22. O. P. Hannah, the first settler in Sheridan County and a renowned hunter and scout, was on the invitation committee for the hop.
THE ENTERPRISE, Sheridan, WY. Feb. 4, 1888 Elsewhere in this issue appears the announcement of a dance to be given in Big Horn, on the 22nd, in Skinners hall. Big Horn has always been noted for its dances, and from the arrangements being made for this one we are led to believe it will surpass any previous occasion of the kind ever given in that town. Tom Green has the affair in hand, and you may rest assured of a pleasant time should you attend. ---------------------- BALL! in Skinner's Hall, BIG HORN, WYO. Wednesday Evening FEBRUARY 22D. The best of music and a general good time for everyone.
THE ENTERPRISE, Sheridan, WY. Feb. 25, 1888 THE BIG HORN DANCE The dance given at Big Horn last Wednesday evening (Washington's birthday) was well attended, and proved to be one of the most enjoyable of the season. Early in the evening the participants, who were mostly Big Horn people, began to assemble at the hall, and soon there were arrayed in their best about twenty-five of her fair ones ready to trip the light fantastic, which commenced at about 8:30 o'clock. This time Big Horn was in excess of its chivalry, which no doubt had a consoling effect on the young men, as on other occasions they often got left. The music, which comprised three violins, cornet, and organ, was excellent, and the prompting of J. W. Howard was good. At twelve o'clock supper was served at the Oriental, by the landlady of that popular hotel, who on this occasion prepared one of the finest repasts ever spread before a gathering of this kind in the country - turkey, chicken, oysters, salads, pickles, sauces, jellies, etc., etc. - and it undoubtedly had the desired effect of satisfying the appetites of the merry makers. After supper was served they repaired again to the hall and continued the pleasurable excitement until the wee small hours of morning, when all left for their homes well pleased with the evening's entertainment.
Fannie Ford had gone to Olympia, Washington with Effie and Jim Rice. She wrote to Ephraim and Katie at Bechton, Wyoming in April telling him about Washington and asking him to send some of her clothes.
TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Bechton, Wyoming FROM: Olympia, Washington April 10, 1888 Dear Sister, Brother, and Girls, As we have reached the jumping-off place. Jim got out of work at Walla Walla and got a job over here and they want me to come with them, so I might as well see this part of the world and its daisy. The nearer you get to the coast, the rougher it is. This is the roughest looking town. It is partly surrounded by water, and the rest by bluffs and pines. It doesn't look as though there is a wagon road out. We was at the capital building. It's a two story white frame, four old-fashioned windows in front, and sets back in the pines or a place cleared just large enough for it. We came over the switch-back railroad over the cascades. Twas in the night when we crossed them and snowing. We could see far enough to see one track below running beside us. You could look down into the canyons and up at the mountains. Came from Tacoma about 5 hours ride on the Fleetwood Steamer on the bay. There is one nice valley just on this side of Walla Walla, Yakima, and a county seat of the same name. They have been trying to move the capital there. Don't think I will stay here any longer than I can get away. Gerdel's note is due the first of June, so I don't believe I will try to get a school here. Have been sewing. It's so rainy and cool here, still, flowers were in bloom when we got here and at Walla Walla three weeks before we left. I never bothered the senator only the one time. I don't think he would have done as he did sometimes if it hadn't been for his last wife. She is hogdutch and his daughter Mary, she was so afraid he would help us. They say it's healthy here, but if you could see the roofs that are covered with moss and wet, you wouldn't wonder. I don't think it's as healthy as Wyoming. It rains all winter here and they say they have delightful summers. Say, there are nice farms a few miles from town. Don't think you would like any place I have seen, only Yakima Valley. It's so rough everywhere else. May talks everything; knows all of your pictures, and talks about Maybell. Says tell her Papa got some little dishes. She is not as fleshy as when little. We wrote to Chapman at B to get that horse. He said while he had him, he had never been paid for him, and at first he claimed that I owed him - and was owing me. Never paid me for that hay that was in the field. Kate, wish you would send me my scarf right away by registered mail, and I will wait till I stop for good to send for the balance. I wrote to you about your blankets and you didn't say where to send them or how. I would have suffered on the road without them. Eaf, I have wrote to that valley to see about land, and if there is a good show, I will write. Think that was the nicest. It was a mild winter there to what it was east of the range. That's the most attractive feature of the west -nice winters and no cyclones. We haven't heard from Chapman. Do you know if W has that horse yet? Everything is higher here than in Walla Walla. Want you to write soon. I wrote to McCain about land he said he could get. Land in western Nebraska. I thought I would go there till they have had such a hard winter and storms already. Will send some pieces of dresses, blue and light maze, blue and plaid Effie's, brown mine. Have just commenced ours. I need my black dress bad. It's so cool here. Are wearing winter clothes. If you can register mail at Bechton, you may send it. Send them right away. And write. Had a letter from McCains. Love to all. Fan
THE ENTERPRISE, Sheridan, WY. May 12, 1888 For the past ten days our town has been crowded with cowboys and wagons taking in supplies and making other preparations for the spring round-up which commenced near Ohlman on the 15th. George Lord is captain, and it is needless to say the work will be done thoroughly and well. ---------------------- Some of the saloons have the following notices posted on their front doors during Saturday: "Have your Sunday bottles filled here."
THE ENTERPRISE, Sheridan, WY. July 21, 1888 There is a dog in town called Dick which performed the remarkable feat of traveling alone from Missouri this summer back to Sheridan. He was owned by a man who formerly lived here, but returned to his home in the east last fall, taking the dog with him, and great was the surprise of the people when he put in an appearance a short time ago. He is evidently stuck on the country.
THE ENTERPRISE, Sheridan, WY. Nov. 24, 1888 The festive cowboy has returned from the range with his pockets filled with gold galore, after a season of hard toil, and asks for a new deal. He will help make the town lively during the winter.
Katie gave birth to a son, Harry, in December.
￼In January 1889, Fannie Ford wrote to Ephraim and Katie at Buffalo, Wyoming telling of trouble with a man stealing money from her mail.
TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Buffalo, Johnson Co., Wyoming 12 cents postage, registered mail FROM: Ellensburg, Kittitas Co., Wash. Jan. 8, 1889 Dear Brother, Sister, and Family, As I haven't heard will write again and register, and now if I don't hear, will suppose you are dead or never intend to write. I don't know where you are. Was at Bechton but I couldn't hear from you there, and I directed to Bighorn and Buffalo. Eaf, had a letter from Jim about two weeks ago. He was better and was trying to sell to come out west. Said he had written me a plain letter that he thought I would understand, but I never saw it. He said he thought someone must be meddling with the mail. Bice said he had never got any from him, but I suppose he did. I told the postmaster not to let him have my mail and he said their mail come in my name as I did all the writing. So I told him it didn't matter what he said, that he had better not let any more out of the office. I sent Eaf $5.00 in a letter this winter with a fellow where I was at work, for her to send me a pair of shoes and the fellow gave the letter to Jim in his shop in the presense of another man that was with him when I handed him the letter, and he never was away from the other fellow after they started, and Bice says there was no money in the letter when he got it, and I went to town the next Sunday on the Train and asked Eff why she didn't send my shoes and she didn't know anything about it. When he came to the house she asked him if he got a letter from me and said yes, it was at the shop. He had forgot it. And she told him twice to go and get it. The women's mother was there when we got back with it. The letter had been steamed open and a piece torn off large enough for the 5 gold piece to drop out (I couldn't get a bill) and said it was just that way when he got it. So I took the letter and told the man what he said and he wrote to him and then went to town to see him, and he said Bice denied saying there was no money in the letter and he told him he was a lier. He had said it and Bice flew at him to fight, and the man went and had him arrested and fined $25, and he said times was dull he would go to jail, but he didn't. He got into the sheriff's sympathies so he gave him time and told him to go ahead and do the best he could, and he put the sheriff off 30 days and then told him he had no right to take him so him and the sheriff and deputy had a fight and the deputy drew a revolver on him and Eff went and got some men to go his bonds and he was out yet when I come from Yakima Christmas. He is doing no good. Nobody likes him. He wants Eff to go to Jim [Rice]. Says he can't make a living there for her. I never expect to go near them again. I have got sewing here and can get all the work I can do. I would like to see you all but we have such nice winters here. I don't think I want to be on that side of the range another winter, although I may be there some time. I will send you $5 and want you to send my things to me soon as posible by express. Have my old bed sent from Beecer if it don't cost too much. If you would rather have your blankets, I will send them, if not will send you the money for them. Want you to tell me which and write soon without fail. Send me the children's pictures if you have them. Eff got Sophia's and her family's pictures. Sophia has changed. I didn't know her. Has her hair shingled. She wanted to know about Connie coming out here to get him away form her Pa. I wrote to her that there was little dependence in Bice or her Pa and not to have him come unless Jim comes in the spring. Now write without fail. A great big kiss for Maybell and Myrtle. As Maybell used to say that so sweetly. Kate, you wrote direct to me and of course this is all. Fan
Fannie Ford married Paul Jackson Lang in Kittitas Co., Washington on February 28, 1889.
In August or early September, Kate apparently had a miscarriage or stillbirth.
In September, Jim Ford, at his Victor Township, Osborne County, Kansas, ranch writes to Ephraim and Kate about having a horse ranch at head of Covert Creek, and sympathizes with their “sad bereavement.”
Covert, Kansas Sept. 18, 1889 Dear Brother and Wife, I just received your letter and was glad to hear from you. Am sorry to hear of your bad health and sad berievement (remember what Mother used to say - it may all be for the best). I got a letter from the girls a few days ago and answered it. I haven't a letter from you or the girls but what I answered immediately. I haven't any papers from you at all. Well, Eaf, I never had as good health in my life. Still, I am not very fat yet. You know about how fat I am in the summer. I wish you were close to me. I have got lots of horses. I tried to send you a team last spring by the fellow that Elias Hart used to go with running horses. He said it would cost more than they would cost up there. Well Eaf, you wanted to know what I am doing and how I am getting along, so here goes. I have 13 forties of land on the head of Covert Creek 3/4 of a mile of the best timber on the creek. My land all joins. I have the best little stock ranch in Osborne County. I have 25 head of Colorado horses from yearlings up, and a fine stallion 3/4 Noriker, weighs 14 hundred, 4 years old, and 13 head of yearling steers, and about $400 in notes drawing 12 percent. A good wagon, two sets of harness, and a lot of other filth. And I owe $600 that I am paying interest on, but I think I will make it all right. But still, Eaf, I feel pretty blue sometimes. I have a family engaged to come on my place. He keeps one team to work and I furnish the rest of the horses and ten head of cows. He does all the work and I give him half of what we make in the stock. If you was here I would do better than that. I have got to build this fall if he comes. His name is Louis of Burr Oak. You may know him. He lived across the creek from the Jordans. I would like to come and see you very much, but I can't get away. I am fencing. Got 60 acres of pasture, 6 forties to fence in the next one, so you see I have got something to do, as I always had. Eaf, I am sorry. I wish I had borrowed the money you wanted. If you don't make a sale of your property, let me know. Hope the girls is doing well, and you are feeling better. Write soon and often. As Ever, Jim
Ephraim’s sister Martha “Matt” (Ford) and her husband James Webster “Webb” Rooker moved to Zionsville, Indiana.
On October 8, Ephraim and “Hattie” Ford sold the Crazy Woman homestead to Erain Wickard for $500 by Warranty Deed (Book E, p255). Ephraim, Katie, and children then went to Jim’s ranch in Kansas, a trip of more than 500 miles as the crow flies, bringing their wagon, three horses, and herd of about thirty-some cattle plus calves and one bull. Arriving in early November, Kate died a month later on December 9, 1889.
As reported in the local newspaper:
The Farmer, Osborne, Kansas Wednesday, December 18, 1889 The wife of a Mr. Ford, of Victor Township, died Monday last. She had been in this county only about a month, and was taken ill shortly after her arrival.
Fannie Lang (unaware of Katie’s death) wrote to Ephraim telling more of Washington and about Effie and Jim Rice in Seattle.
To: E. W. Ford, Esq., Buffalo, Johnson Co., Wyoming Territory; forwarded to Osborne, Kansas; arrived in Jan. l890 From: Ellensburg, Wash., Nov. 17, 1889 Dear Brother and Sister, As we have not heard from you for a good while, Fannie insisting on me a writing to you. We would like to hear from you very much, and you must write to us when you receive this. We quit the railroad in the month of August and come to this place. Have bought a couple of lots here and have settled here for good. We both like this place, and as property is advancing very fast in value, we likely will have a chance to make something of one of the lots. The lots is 50 feet front by 140 feet back. Paid $125 per lot, Fannie is busy doing sewing. Moved in to our new home a week ago. This town was burned down last July, but it has built up wonderful since the fire, and it without a doubt will make a large place. It is the best town between Spokane Falls and Tacoma. It is about 250 miles west of Spokane Falls and 128 miles east of Tacoma. It is situated 60 miles east of the Cascade Range in the Kittitas Valley. Have the Yakima River a running a mile west of the town, and the valley extending about ten miles to the east. The country is subject to irrigation, and without water the soil is useless. Have two irrigating ditches through the valley, but they are not large enough to supply the want of water, but they are talking of running a canal next season which is supposed to be large enough to supply the want of water for irrigation. Have not had any cold weather here yet, and am not liable to have any for Christmas. I supposed you are having cold weather in Wyoming by this time. Have been all through Wyoming some years ago, and I know it gets rather cold there. James Rice and Effie is at Seattle. Have not heard from Effie since she leaved. We are both well. No more for this time hoping to hear from you soon. Yours sincere Brother and Sister P. J. Lang and Fannie E. Lang
Jack and Agnes Davidson, friends from Buffalo, wrote Ephraim to offer their condolences at Kate’s death.
TO: Mr. Ephraim W. Ford, Osborne City, Osborne Co., Kansas 2c postage; arrived Jan 8, 1890, 9 AM FROM: Buffalo, Johnson Co., Wyoming Territory, Jan 2, 1890 Friend Ephraim, Your letter of 24th Dec. 1889 came to hand this morning. We were all very sorry to learn of your loss, as were all your friends. I have told her friends of your bereavement. Enclosed find Post Office Order for the sum of $5. Trusting this will reach you safely. I am your friend, Jack Davidson When asked who sends this, say Mrs. Agnes Davidson.
In February, Edith Morrison, a cousin in Longmont, Colorado, sent Ephraim her condolences at Kate’s death, and tells of her own recent loss of a month-old son due to lung congestion.
TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Covert, Osborne Co., Kansas 2c postage FROM: Longmont, Colorado, Feb 26, 1890, [black edge paper & envelope] Dear Friend and Cousin, How alike our troubles are. Little did I think when I received your letter of poor Katie's death that next it would be my little family to be broken. For Eaf, I have buried our little baby boy. We only kept him one month, then God took him away from this world of sin and sorrow. He was only a month old but no one could see him without loving him. I think we all loved him too much to keep him here among us. They say he looked like me with long dark hair and blue eyes. I often wonder if in the other world if we know our relatives as we know them here. If so, Kate will love my darling little angel boy. It is hard to give up our loved ones, but God's ways are not our own. Everything is for the best, I suppose, but it is hard to think so sometimes. I am sorry you did not let us know Kate was sick. I would of given so much to of seen her before she died. I would of come to take care of her or Mother would of come either. She was as dear to me as a sister. It seems hard to think that we shall never see her any more. How I wish you had come home with us. Perhaps she would not of been sick then. Mother says if the little ones were here she would take care of them for you. We are still unsettled but Herb took a job today for six weeks, then we will go some place to settle for good. I have been sick a good deal this winter, but am better now. I believe Call is truly sorry for the way she treated Kate, for she has written to me. She is quite different to what she used to be judging from her letters. Jennie has a girl baby two months old. Preacher Rollins has a divorce from his wife. Mr. French is dead. Will Fin married Ida Webber. Herb says how is the chickens. Are the children well? Claud is growing fast. He talks so much about Mable. Herb and the folks send their regards and sympathies with your trouble. Write soon. Yours Truly, Edith Morrison P. S. The baby died with lung fever or congestion of the lungs.
In April, Ephraim’s sister Sarah (Ford) and husband A. B. McCain at Buffalo Co., Nebraska, wrote to Ephraim about their sadness at hearing of Kate’s death and how Sarah would like to come and take care of the three children, but must stay and care for her husband.
TO: [no envelope] FROM: Buffalo Co., Nebraska April 16, 1890 Dear Brother, We received your letter some days ago and we have been waiting, not knowing what to answer. Sarah would like to go down and see you. It is impossible for me to go, as I am unable to yet sit up all day. I took cold in one of my ears during my weakness, and it gathered and broke, and it is now affecting my head very much. They fixed up the spring wagon and I lay down in it and they brought me to Kearney in order to doctor my head. I am gaining strength very slowly. Am able to walk through the house by being very careful. It is possible she may come down, but at present she cannot think of leaving me. However, we will try and let her go if possible. The rest of us are in usual health. I have not written all I can. You must excuse me from writing further. So goodbye. A. B. McCain [Written on the back of the above letter:] Dear Brothers, I cannot give up coming to you and your motherless children. Pa has been so low all winter we could not leave him. We are in Kearny now having his ear treated. We sympathize with you in your affliction and bereavement. We will come if possible. I can't write any more I am so tired. I wanted Dode and Maud to go and see you but it took all of us to wait on Pa. Neal McCain was here all winter. We kept him employed all the time Orra was at home this winter. He wanted to come and see you but could not on account of Pa. I will come if possible. Love to all, Write soon unsigned - [Sarah (Ford) McCain]
Also in April, Matt Rooker wrote to Ephraim at Jim’s ranch at Covert, Kansas telling of their disappointment that he and the children had not yet come to Zionsville.
TO: Mr. Eaf Ford, Covert, Osborne Co., Kansas; 2 cts postage FROM: Zionsville, Indiana April 17, 1890 Dear Brother and All, We received Aunt's [Sallie (Dye) Harmon] and Maria's [Romane] letter last evening. Uncle Jake [Jacob Dye], Willa [William Rooker], and I have been to every train for several days since we thought it possible for you to get here. Webb and Willa went the most of last week, then Webb gave you up until today. Said he thought sure you would come this morning. Your letters always come from the south in the morning. Before Willa and I got to the train, we saw two or three trunks tumbled off, then we thought sure they were yours. Then we hurried faster if possible, but we soon saw by Uncle Jake's countenance that you wasn't there. Then we went to the office, got your letter, read, and then we all wilted again. Uncle said "I wish they hadn't written they thought of coming", he was so disappointed. And, of course, we had to read it to Aunt Fannie [Dye], and she was feeling worse yesterday too, so that I fell afraid for her to know, but Uncle said she would have to know it all, so he went with me to Aunt's [Fannie (Dye) Stoneking]. Of course, she has been elated over Aunt's coming and felt so anxious for you boys, but said she felt like you wouldn't come. She got quite nervous but took the news better than we thought she could. She has had so many disappointments and shocks she has disciplined herself to meet almost anything now. She thinks, and we all do, that when Jim gets able, that you will all come yet. It is cold and backward here yet perhaps it will be more pleasant to come after a few weeks and better for the boys and children, but we don't want you to think of giving up coming only for the time being. We won't tell you how disappointed we all are. But Uncle Will [William Dye] said all the time you wouldn't come. They have looked and hoped for you so much now I would show them that I could and would come home. Uncle Jim [James Dye] and Ike [Isaac Cline Dye] have been coming down quite of late. They too were very much set-up over you coming. Poor Jim. I do feel so sorry for him. I am afraid his sickness is partly caused by worry and how wrong that is and absurd in him. If he is bankrupted entirely, he is only one among thousands. That is only a sacrifice of this world. "What will it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul". If we could only be more concerned about our future welfare, oh how much happier we would be. I do hope and trust he will be more considerate hereafter, take care of himself, regain his health, then he can do all right. With health and a willing mind, great things can be accomplished, and how well we all know that true happiness consists not in the things of this life. How wicked for us to lay up treasures on earth. His mind and health and soul is worth all on earth. Now I want him to consider well his own welfare and quit his fretting. Remember, "Do thyself no harm". I trust when we hear again he will be very different, and as soon as he is able, I want him to start away from there, not waiting to get ready. Send the children's pictures. We had quit writing for them. Thought you would bring them. Sis wrote so nice about them I already love the little things. Tell them Aunt Matt wants to see them so bad, want you to write every few days, if only a few words. I would have written the first of the week, but Uncle Jake said not, wait for them. All usually well except Aunt [Fannie (Dye) Stoneking]. She is worked so much like Mother was, her limbs hurt her so bad now, we don't think she will ever get well. She said as much a few days ago. She had .......got several.........for you. They were waiting last evening. Will go to Aunt's this morning. Webb and Willa are hauling logs and make over $3 a day. Don't blame you for not wanting to leave Jim, yet you can't be much benefit to him. Do what you think best, but come as soon as you can. Matt
In late April, Jim accompanied Ephraim and the children to Zionsville, Indiana. Ephraim left his livestock, etc., at Jim’s ranch.
Jim wrote several letters to Ephraim in the summer and fall after he returned to his Kansas ranch, telling of his troubles trying to sell out, and of going over to fix up Katie’s grave.
undated; probably in May Well Eaf, I have been putting off writing to you for a long time as I had lots to do and to think of since I came back. Alta, the girl that worked here came over the day we started for Indiana and had them buttons on her dress that was got for Katie's shroud and she had gone to Oklahoma when I came home, so I think she must have got the rest of the things. As soon as I can hear of her I will find out for sure. I am trying to trade for stock. I don't know how I will make it. I want to get away this fall if possible. Does Webb and Joe still talk Tenn.? If I can turn my stuff into cash I will go with them, that is if I make the trade I am figuring on. If not, I don't know what I will do. I can hold the place for some time yet. Well Eaf, I went over and fixed up Katie's grave. Put a box around six inches high and filled it up with soil and Anna set out a lot of moss and flowers. I put up a head and foot piece of wood. It looks a lot better. Write. If there is anything you want to know that I haven't written, just write. Liss was down from Jewell to get Line to plow her corn. It is pretty dry up there.
June 22, 1890 At home alone Well Eaf, I wrote you folks a postal at Osborne. I had just delivered some stock. I straightened up with the bank that day. I let them have some of your cattle and put my cows and calves in the place of them for you. So you have 32 cows, 31 calves, and one 3 year old bull, and Bill and Frank and Rowdy. So if anything happens you will know what you have here. Your wagon is here yet. I have but one mortgage on stock and that is on hogs. I will pay that off this week. It is very dry and hot, but I think we will have rain. The grip is working on me again, but I think I can keep it off. I took some medicine last night. I don't know what to do. I think some of going to Colorado and looking. I will have to go up to McCains I suppose as I cannot get any word from them. I wish you would write, or have Mattie or Willie if you are not able, and tell how you are, if you can walk or use your hands any, and how Aunt and Uncle are, and how everybody is and how you are satisfied. I wish I had some of that mineral water. Write All, Jim P.S. I have bills as sent to the Office most every day for two weeks. Have you changed your medicine, and what are you taking? How is the children? How I would like to see them all. A big kiss for each one. Goodbye
At home Sept. 7, 1890 Am well and batching. Have been for one week, and it is pretty lonesome, as I have been used to so much company. But I guess I will get used to it. I got your letter 2 or 3 days ago and thought I would wait until today for it. Keeps me busy to cook and do the chores as I have all the water to pump and am trying to chop some wood. I struck a man a few days ago to trade with. Said he would bring his wife and look at the place. I want to trade if I possibly can and get out of this country, for we have raised nothing this year. I won't have a bushel of corn and only enough to feed a few days, and grass is terrible poor for hay. There will be some fodder. If I can I want to make a clean sweep, and if I don't, I will sell enough of something to comfort you and the children, and we will take the balance and go someplace. I don't want you to get discouraged, for I will do all I can and as soon as I can. There isn't much sale for anything at present. Times is terrible. Earred corn is 40 cts and scarce at that. Aunts is all well. How is crops and fruit with you? Is Webb going to.... Love to all. A big kiss for the children. Jim Aunt [Sally (Dye) Harmon] is talking of coming back to spend the winter. Line went to Colorado to work and is on his road back. Will get back with less money than he started with, and his horse's shin is poor. The stock here is in good fix and I can get enough to winter on if we have to keep them. All write.
Covert, Kansas Nov. 13, 1890 Dear Brother, I just received your letter. Was surprised, I didn't know anyone had wrote about my sickness. I had a bad spell but rallied, and thought I was getting along all right until I took a severe cold. But am getting better. It is the gripp. I think I will be all right in a few days. I have been waiting to hear from a trade I have on hands before I made any disposition of stock. So I don't think it is worthwhile for you to come back home without you are out of danger, as I can ship the stock on the market and take what it brings. I will write to Wash. and Kansas City for markets here in Kansas. Does Uncle Will [William Dye] want a source of good cows? I can pick out a carload of good milkers, some already fresh and will be coming in till May. I will put them on the cars for $18 per head. If not, I think of shipping one car of fat calves and trading the rest for good horses and bring a car of them. You can't sell anything here for cash, so don't be uneasy for I am going to get out of this pretty soon. So just rest easy and I will be all right. As Ever, Jim Covert, Kansas
In January, 1891, Maria Romane [a cousin] wrote from Covert telling about Jim being sick and staying with her for a few days, and how he is boarding at his neighbor’s – the Noyes.
Covert, Kansas Jan. 8, 1891 Dear Cousin Eaf, Received yours of Jan 2nd Friday evening the 6th. Was glad to hear from you and glad you are able to help yourself even a little. That is an improvement over what you had been. I do hope and pray for your return to health and strength so you will be able to care and look after your little ones. Jim is sick most all the time. Part of the time up and then down again. He hasn't been able to do chores this winter; well I was going to say any, but he might a very few times, but I haven't heard of it. I think he needs a change of some kind. I don't know why he don't sell the cattle. He could get them in at any price. The calves are all that would bring anything like a living price, and they would only bring $10 apiece. I don't know if he could sell the horses at any price, but he might on time and have notes, but I am only guessing at that. We think if there is as heavy a harvest as people are expecting, that teams will bring a fair price just before harvest, but you see, that is in the future. I suppose Jim wants to make the stock fetch all he possibly can is why he is holding back. That must be it. Carl, our second boy, has been herding the stock and doing chores for him since the 22nd of Dec. They brought Jim up here last Monday and he stayed 3 days and said he felt better the day he left than he had for a month, and I know he did for he went at it that evening. Fixed a mop handle in for me, fastened it in the handle where it had come loose, but he was in bed again yesterday. The children said he boards at Noyes and keeps the stock on his own farm. I think they are good to him. Seem to take as good care of him as if he was one of the family. Feed is very scarce and you can hardly afford to buy it at the price it is, and stock so low. We sold a fat cow ready to butcher for $10. Just think of it. I don't think I ever saw times any worse than at the present time. Well, you know how it was when you was here and then a complete failure in crops. This leaves us all, well, as usual. Joe is never very stout any more. Mother and Papa are still in Jewell County. They are coming back in the spring. They are all well when Lem wrote last. Jim is here with us. We are living here on Pap's place this winter and hope to hear you are improving. First write again. I did not show Jim yours. I thought just as well not. Goodbye. Maria Romane
Ephraim was ill, and left the children with his sister Matt and her blind husband Webb Rooker while he went to Orleans in southern Indiana to the “Springs” to get well.
￼Matt wrote to Ephraim in March, unaware that he had moved north to Columbus, Indiana.
To: Mr. E. W. Ford, Orleans, Orange Co., Ind. forwarded to Columbus, Ind. From: Zionsville, Ind. March 26, 1891 Dear Brother, We received your letter. Was getting anxious to hear. We heard you stayed in the city overnight, so we concluded you would stay till Monday and go back with Wash, as he wrote, it would be as cheap for him to come home over Sunday as board. The children are all well. Myrtle and Harry playing, Maybell at Joe's. We went up there Tuesday and she stayed. The day we went with you to the train we went to Aunt Fannie's. Stayed all day. She is better than usual - all usually. Well, nothing new to write - hope you are already improving. You didn't write what the nurse there said of your case. I feel sure that it will benefit you. Uncle Jake said they claim those springs are the same as "French Lick", only not such a fashionable place. We asked Harry why he don't take N. Webb to the barn. He says cause mad dog bite. Must close to send to Office. Write soon and often as you can. Matt X Myrtle's kiss X Harry's kiss
While Ephraim was at Columbus being treated by Dr. McLeod (a surgeon), Matt Rooker wrote the last two letters in April telling of the children and of things in Zionsville.
TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, c/o Dr. McLeod, Columbus, Bartholomew Co., Ind. 2 cts postage, [received same day sent] FROM: J. W. Rooker, Zionsville, Indiana April 1, 1891 Dear Brother and Friends, Received your letter from Columbus. Was very much surprised at you leaving the Springs. From what you had written us we were very much encouraged of your speedy recovery. We are fearful you didn't give them a thorough trial. "Uncle Jake" [Jacob Dye] says he wishes you had gone on to French Lick, yet it may all be for the best. Will try to think so at least, and as far as Doctors are concerned, I think and trust her McCleod will do as much as most anyone can. We were at Uncle Jake's the day we received your last letter. Aunt Loe [Malora (Owen) Dye] said in answer to cousin Emily that she would like very much if she could see them in their new home, that they weren't fixed up yet, but they were quite well satisfied with themselves. She was up this afternoon. Said they had hired a boy to clean yard. Waited until she was tired, then went at herself and spaded a bed and was tired and that Uncle laughed at her work. They milk two cows, make butter to sell. Billy's wife had another bad spell this week. Aunt Fannie is better again. She and Mrs. Jinler spent the day with us at Uncle Jakes. Uncle Will took dinner there too. Uncle Jim [James Dye] was down over Sunday week ago. Harry and Elmer last in Madison came down Sunday to have a tooth pulled, but failed. Said he had suffered very much with it. Bertha has been down sick but not bad - is better. Wanted to come to the entertainment, but they thought she wasn't well enough. Dilla was up there several days. Her father brought her home. The relatives are usually well as far as I know. Well Eaf, I have tried for a week to write, so today I got three lines written, when I had company from Lebanon. The piano man (Stevens). He asked me all about you and his .......... one of my old scholars and one of Betsy Roosi's girls which lost her husband this winter. She was canvasing Parpel-Stretchers. Said her mother was quite well, but so lonely. Myrtle and Harry are in bed telling me what to write. Myrtle says tell Papa her hair is long enough to braid. Has two braids on each side. Harry says a big kiss for Papa. Write Papa. Now he is telling how Edgar laughs ha ha. They all sleep in your bed and think it grand. They are all well and hearty. Don't fret about them. They are all right. Wish you were half so well. Besides, if anything gets wrong or that you ought to know, we will send word. They and me worked in the garden and flower beds most all forenoon. They enjoy being out. Maybell says tell Papa she has gone to two entertainments since you went away. Thought it was so nice. Last one Pa, Myrtle, and Harry stayed at the barn and ate Rea-nuts. Pa says tell you to sleep good over the children, that if anything happens, we will telegraph you, that Harry is all right, only that he is too smart. Says he will run off to the barn and hide in Prince's stall from Aunt Matt (they taught him). We asked him why he don't take Jeb to the barn. He says cause mad dog bite. He talks most everything. All tired and sleepy. Will write again. Pa says they are doing well, sold three at fair profits, think they will sell one tomorrow. Nothing from Jim, do you? We wrote you at the Springs. Did you get it? Write soon and often as you can. We are very busy now. Give our best regards to Dr. McC and his family. Matt and Webb P.S. Will send things as soon as I get time and chance to send safe. Pa says tell you their "Bingo" horse is making a good start, hired a colored man to tend him, looks well.
To: Mr. E. W. Ford, Orleans, Orange Co., Ind forwarded to Columbus, Ind From: Zionsville, Ind. April 5, 1891 Dear Brother, After waiting to hear from you again I will write. Received your two letters you last gave quite encouraging news. Hope you are still improving. The children are so glad you are getting better. Harry says "Papa get well". They send you kisses on all trains that go the way you started, then ask if that is Papa's train. They are all well and hearty. Their eyes are all right again. They all sleep in your bed. I think it is so nice. May-Bell was at Joe's a few nights, so Harry, Myrtle, and Matt slept there. They say wish Papa would come home. Well, Aunt Fannie [(Dye) Stoneking] has had quite a poor spell again. She caught her foot under her rug where she sits and fell. Hurt her knee, hurt herself worse trying to get up She and Mrs. C was alone. They worried so long before they could make it alone. Thought she would have to call for help. Is up and down. Uncle Jim [Dye] and Matt was down this week. Said Bertha had been quite sick, but better. Uncle was down over Sunday. They all seem anxious about you and read your letter to him. He said he did hope you would get along, but to be careful what you done, not to do too much. Uncle Jake said the same, he was afraid you would do something to hurt you. I want to say you can't be too careful with your self and money. I am afraid you will venture too far and maybe lose what you have. Had better be quiet and use it for your health, then you can do all right, but if you lose that and no health, it will be far worse. You are not able yet to undertake anything, so just be content for a few months at least. I don't think they have used your money, but if they have, they can replace it, but that is not the object with me. I want you to get able before you undertake anything. Harry lost his old......mare last Sunday. Acted like the other one did. Got down and couldn't get up. He is going to stop his "Nucter". They are at the city now to straighten it. That Stewart is a rascal. Harry will come out behind as usual. Now he sees it - when too late. Billy Covel's wife has been very bad sick. Thought she was losing her mind. Is some better. Uncle Jake is awful worried about them. It is snowing this morning. We got a hot bed partly made. Will wait again for good weather. No word from Jim yet. Webb is afraid you will do something to hurt you. Must close to send this to the Barn with MayBell. Oh yes, we all went to our supper, had a good house, the band played on the stage. Harry didn't take his eye off them while they were there. They got cross and sleepy before they sold the baby elephant, but MayBell enjoyed that. She says it was too quiet there. The midget performed. P.S. You left both pairs of your glasses. Did you mean to? If you want I will send them to or anything else you want. Got a letter from Mitchellville. Another big fire there. Several business men burned the Index office. So we didn't get last week's paper. Do you have lots of reading. If not, will send you papers if you want me to. Write often as you can without hurting you. unsigned - [Matt]
William Nineveh “Jim” Ford died on December 23, 1891, at the S. H. Noyes residence in Victor Twp., Osborne Co., Kansas, where he had been staying for the past two years because of illness. He died intestate. Mr. Noyes petitioned the court in Osborne to name C. W. Baldwin, of Baldwin & Co. Drugs, to be the administrator of the estate, consisting of nothing but a note for $250 owed by Noyes (probably for the sale of stock to him by Jim), and a few small notes from others for a total of about $300. The entire estate was used to pay the doctor and medicine bills, the funeral ($44), coffin ($28), burial suit ($5), and past boarding bills from Noyes.
The 160 acre farm of Noyes was at the head of Covert Creek close to the Victor-Covert Twp line. Jim Ford’s 280-acre ranch was about a mile northwest of Noyes. There are three identical very small FORD headstones near the gate to the Cole Cemetery just over the Covert Twp. line, about two miles southeast of Jim’s ranch. It is thought that after Kate had a stillbirth in Wyoming, they brought the body of the baby with them to Jim’s ranch, where Kate died. The two were buried together in the Cole Cemetery, to be joined two years later by Jim. There are no records of the burials in the Cole Cemetery, nor was there an obituary in the local paper to tell where Jim was buried.
On New Year’s Day of 1892, Ephraim married Mary Alice Johnson in Orleans, Indiana (16 miles northeast of French Lick, IN; 65 miles southwest of Columbus, IN). Mary was the daughter of Armstrong and Sophronia Johnson of Orleans, IN. Ephraim must have met Mary when he stayed in Orleans, IN after returning from Kansas.
On December 12, 1893, Ephraim and Mary had a son, Oscar L. Ford.
In 1895, the Columbus Republic posted a notice that E.W. Ford had mail at the post office that had not been picked up. He must have moved with his family to Shelbyville, IN by that time.
In 1900, Myrtle Ford (15) was boarding on the Peck family farm in Rush Co., Orange Twp., Indiana, and going to school. The family consisted of the father, Newton Peck (67 yr), a carpenter and farmer, wife Harriet (63), and daughters Sallie Yager (30) and Georgia Peck (7).
Mabel Ford (15) was boarding with the Janis Allander family on their farm in Rush Co., Posey Twp., Indiana.
Harry Ford (12) was staying with Webb and Matt Rooker in Zionsville.
Ephraim and Alice Ford were renting a house at 61 North Pike Street in Shelbyville, Indiana with their six year old son, Oscar L. Ephraim was an insurance agent, and Alice was a dressmaker. Ephraim never reclaimed Katie’s three children from their foster homes.
Ephraim was a member of the Washington Lodge of Knights and Ladies of Honor (KLH). The KLH fraternal organization originated in Louisville, KY in 1877 and is said to have been the first secret beneficiary society to admit women to equal social and beneficiary privileges with men. The headquarters were located in Indianapolis. Interestingly, one of their ritual odes recited at their ceremonies was:
“To take the orphan by the hand,
And lead him on aright,
To point him to that “better land,”
Should be our great delight. ”
In March, 1904, Ephraim became ill and began seeing Dr. G.F.H. Hossan, of Indianapolis (Ephraim was probably staying with his sister, Matt. Ephraim died from apoplexy on April 2, 1904 at Matt and Webb Rooker’s home in Zionsville, and was buried in the Zionsville Cemetery next to his sisters Matt Rooker and Fannie Lang and family, and his Uncle William Dye and family.
Obituary - Ephraim Worth Ford was born in Jasper County, Iowa, February 14, 1854, and died at Indianapolis April 2, 1904, aged 50 years, 1 month, and 18 days. He was joined in marriage in 1881 to Catherine Huson. To this union were born three children - Mabel, Myrtle, and Harry. He obeyed the gospel and united with the Christian Church at Orleans, Indiana a number of years ago, and continued faithful until his death. He was a lover of the Bible and delighted in it's study. He was a good husband and devoted father. He leaves to mourn his loss his children, four sisters, one brother, and a host of earnest friends. He was a member of the Washington Lodge, No. 1352 of the Knights and Ladies of Honor. In this he was a faithful brother and an earnest worker. Only just a few days before his death he attended the lodge and made a very touching and earnest plea for the sick of the order. To those in distress and trouble he ever extended a kind, helping, and sympathetic hand. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. They rest from their labors and their works do follow them.
Descendants of Ephraim had speculated that he and Mary had divorced between 1900 and his death in 1904, but Ephraim’s death certificate shows that he was still married to Mary at the time of his death. It’s interesting that there is no mention of Mary or Oscar in his obituary.
Matt Rooker was appointed guardian for Mabel and Harry on May 2nd.
Oscar became a private in the Army and died of pneumonia at the age of 24 at Fort Dix, NJ.
Nothing else is known about Mary after the 1900 census.
At first, Mabel and Myrtle were placed as apparent boarders in the home of the Offutt sisters living in a big house on the southwest corner of the intersection of the Knightstown Road and State Road 52 in the middle of the town of Arlington in Rush County, Indiana. They were reportedly treated rather harshly, and were subsequently placed in foster homes.
Mabel Ford McFatridge
Mabel was raised as a boarder on the Janis Allander farm near Carthage in Rush County, Indiana. She married Charles McFatridge, a nearby farmer.
Mabel and Charles had no children. After Charles died in 1938, Mabel went to Florida.. When Harry came to Florida after being permanently disabled, she cared for him there. ￼
Anna Gahimer, Mabel Wagoner Gahimer, Bill “Jr.” Percell, Fred Gahimer, Claude Wagoner, Mary Rose Wagoner Percell, Martha Gahimer, Patty Percell, Beth Ann Percell Doddridge, Mabel Ford McFatridge, Huson Wagoner, Myrtle Ford Wagoner, Marjorie Wagoner, Ruth (Huson’s Ruth) Wagoner. At Wagoner place on 244 near Moscow.
Mabel died in 1961 and is buried with Charlie in the Arlington Cemetery in Rush County. Mabel was well off. She gave the bulk of her estate to the Christian Scientist Church, except for $3000 she gave to Myrtle to bury her.
Myrtle was raised as a boarder on the Newton Peck farm in Walker Township, Rush County. They wanted her to carry water from a basement well, and to keep Mrs. Peck company when Newton was away on carpentry jobs. The Pecks treated her very well, like one of the family. She married Claude Wagoner, a nearby farmer, who was the son of William Bracken Wagoner, whose wife Lewie was the eldest daughter of the Pecks. Myrtle and Claude had seven children. She died in 1980 at the age of 93. She and Claude were buried with the Wagoner families in the Moscow Cemetery in Rush County.
For more on Myrtle Ford, see this story.
Harry lived with Matt for a while. In the 1910 Indianapolis City Directory, a Harry Ford was listed as a clerk at the Kingston Hotel at 31-35 Monument Place. He met and married Garnett Cleo Breen, a vaudeville dancer who performed with her sister Vivian at the Lyric Theatre in Indianapolis.
They had a daughter, Helen M., born in Danville, IL. While in Indianapolis, they had a daughter, Harriett Jane “Janie”, a son, James Breen, and a daughter, Betty Lee (called “Betty Lou”).
In 1917, Harry was a clerk at Nordyke Marmon & Company, manufacturers of milling equipment, located in west Indianapolis. Harry was of medium height, medium weight, with brown eyes and dark brown hair.
By 1920, they moved to Norfolk, VA. In Norfolk he was severely injured when a steel beam fell on him and pinned him, permanently disabling him, and he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. In Norfolk, they had three more children: Martha Ann, John Harrison “Junior”, and Garnett Vivian. At some time, they reportedly moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a bookkeeper. On May 17, 1924, Garnett Cleo died. Helen left home, and Janie, about 13 years of age, quit school to take care of her younger siblings. Garnett Vivian was about a year old and was sent to an orphanage (she was still there in the 1930 census). In the 1930 census, Harry was living with Betty and Breen and Helen Buck, a housekeeper.
About 1938, Janie, who was living in Miami, FL with her family, drove up to Bethlehem, PA and brought Harry to live with her. In the 1940 census, he was living with them and his daughter Garnett.
A some point (1946?), they had a fire in their home, and Harry was saved by his grandson Jack.
Harriett moved to California with her husband Bill, and so Harry lived with Joan (“Joni”) who was still in high school. When Joni married and moved to California, Harry moved in with his daughter Garnett Vivian until his death. Harry’s sister Mabel visited a few times while she lived in Florida.
(Much thanks to Teddi Schrakamp, daughter of Joni, for providing the information on Harry’s life)
Oscar Ford (son of Ephraim and Alice)
Oscar was born December 12, 1893, in Orleans, Orange County, Ind. He was a railroad employee.
He enlisted in the U.S. Regular Army in 1914 in Oxford, Iowa. He trained at Camps Dodge, Iowa, and Fort Dix, N.J. He was assigned to the Cavalry. He transferred to the Supply Company, 133rd Infantry, and served as Wagoner.
He died of pneumonia September 29, 1918 (age 24) at Camp Dix, N.J. He was buried in I.O.O.F. Cemetery, Orleans, Ind.