John Ford and Elizabeth Dye

Story by Fred Gahimer. Cover Photo: Land of John Ford near Nevada, IA in 2000.
Children of John and Elizabeth:

 1. Mary Ellen
     Born:  April 12, 1839; Zionsville, IN
     Died:  August 15, 1839; Zionsville, IN

2. Mary Pricella
     Born:  April 11, 1841; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  April 4, 1874; Rock Creek Twp., Jasper Co., IA
     Buried:  Bevin's Grove Cemetery, Clemons, Marshall Co., IA
     Married: George See, Marshall Co., IA  December 25, 1866
     Children:  Sophia, James, Harriett, Conaway, Andrew

3. Sarah Parintha
     Born:  July 23, 1843; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  July 24, 1930; Buffalo Co., NE
     Buried:  Westlawn Cemetery, Omaha, NE
     Married: Alexander Boyce McCain; July 12, 1864
     Children: Dode, Orran Ford, Adell, Effie Maude, Elizabeth Gay & Isabella May (twins), Fannie Fern (Hewett), and Hattie (May) & Mattie (twins)

4. George Dye
     Born:  May 19, 1845; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  Jan. 25, 1912; Liberty Twp., Marshall Co., IA
     Buried: Bevin's Grove Cemetery; Clemons, Marshall Co., IA
     Married: Nettie A. Rooker, Polk Co., IA; Oct. 2, 1889
     Children: Chella E (Hale), Mary E., John W., Gertrude L.(Robinson), George S., Louis E., Lois, Gailerd B.

5. Martha Serepta "Matt"
     Born:  Nov. 27, 1847; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  Feb. 5, 1935; Lafayette, IN
     Buried: Zionsville Cemetery
     Married: James Webster Rooker; Dec. 23, 1880
     Children: None

6. John William
     Born:  July 28, 1850; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  Sept. 15, 1851; Howard Co., IN

7. William Nineva "Jim"
     Born:  Sept. 14, 1851; Howard Co., IN
     Died:  Dec. 23, 1891; Victor Twp., Osborne Co., KS
     Buried: Cole Cemetery, Covert Twp., Osborne Co., KS
     Married: No

     Born:  Feb. 14, 1854; Jasper Co., IA
     Died:  April 2, 1904; Zionsville, IN
     Buried: Zionsville Cemetery
     Married: Hattie "Katie" Huson; Buffalo, WY; Dec. 17, 1882
     Children: Mabel (McFatridge), Myrtle (Wagoner), Harry
     Married: Mary A. Johnson; Orleans, IN; Jan. 1, 1892
     Children: Oscar L.

9. Frances Emiline "Fannie"
     Born:  Dec. 27, 1857; Jasper Co., IA
     Died:  Feb. 26, 1932; Zionsville, IN
     Buried: Zionsville Cemetery
     Married: Paul J. Lang; Kattitas Co., WA; Feb 28, 1889
     Children: Nora (Shore), Myrtle (Stanley), Gene, Lloyd, Clyde

10. Effie Jane
     Born:  Nov. 24, 1859; Story Co., IA
     Died:  Feb. 16, 1937; Portland, OR
     Buried: Portland, OR
     Married: James H. Rice; October 25, 1884 in Big Horn, WY
     Children:  At least a son & daughter; names unknown

11. John Lincoln
     Born:  Aug. 15, 1863; Story Co., IA
     Died:  Oct. 11, 1863; Story Co., IA
     Buried:  Nevada Cemetery, Nevada, Iowa  with John and Elizabeth


1800 – John Ford and his wife [Mary] and one son were listed in the Federal Census in Ashe County, North Carolina, for the first time.  John became listed in the county history as one of the earliest of settlers, arriving 1790-1800.

1810 – John Ford was listed in the Federal Census with wife [Mary] and five children (4 females and 1 male), and three slaves.

1811 – John Ford, Jr., was born on September 22.

1820 – John Ford, Sr., and wife [Mary] were listed in the Federal Census in Ashe County as having five females and five males in their household plus one slave.

1830 – In the Federal Census, Mary Ford was the head of the household.  John, Sr., had apparently died since the 1820 census.  She had five males (including John, Smith, Ninava, and Ephraim) and five females in the household.  No slaves.

1838 – John Ford emigrated to Indiana 1830-1838, and he and Elizabeth Dye were married in Zionsville, Indiana by Warner Sampson, M.G., on March 11, 1838.

Elizabeth Dye Ford (wife of John Ford, mother of Ephraim)

1840 – John (28) and Elizabeth (20) are found in the Federal Census living in Zionsville next door to Elizabeth’s brother Jacob Dye and his wife.  John and Elizabeth’s first child, Mary Ellen, had been born the year before on April 12, and died four months later on August 15.

John’s brother, Smith Ford, was listed in the Federal Census as living in Ashe County with his own family, which included a female 50-60 years old; probably his mother Mary.  Two females, probably his sisters, were in the household also.

1841 – John (28) and Elizabeth (20) moved to Howard County, Indiana. Mary Pricella born April 11, 1841. Sarah Parintha born July 23, 1843. George Dye born May 19, 1845. Martha Serepta “Matt” born Nov. 27, 1847

1848 – John Ford received a letter from J. W. Mast, a lawyer in Sugar Grove, Ashe County, North Carolina, on July 12, telling him that he had “Sold land for $40 to G. M. Bingham and paid off various debts of John’s.”

Sugar Grove, N. C. 
10 cent postage
July 16
To: John Ford, Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana
From: Sugar Grove, Ashe County, N. Carolina, July the 12, 1848

Mr. John Ford

Dear Sir I have set down to inform you I have sold your land for forty five dollars in money.  I adverised it that I would sell on a certain day but there was not a man attended.  But G. M. Bingham he offered me the 45 dollars and no more and I excepted it he paid me the money and I made him a title and should have sent it to you before this time.  But Landrine Eggers talked of going to your county and I thought it would be safer to sent it to you by him than by the mail.  I thought that I would mail a part of it and forward it on to you.  I have not as yet been able to affect a settlement with Daved Lewis, he is holding some claims against you one from Jordan Councill for something over six dollars this claim  will have to be settle as it was taken out of his hands by as attachments he has another he says he got of you on Willis Megee for something over two dollars and he says he must have his pay out of the amount of the receipt and I find if I would allow him all his claims he is not willing to pay any interest on the ballance as he says that he has been ready to pay at any time when cald on how to settle with him about the note.  I do not know he has taken two judgments on the debt and could not find property to make the money out of and I do not expect that the money can ever begot of McGee as he cut his knee last January two year's ago and he was confind to his bed nearly two years and is now a criple and dose not work at all and is ensolvent.  You will please to as nite when these comes to and let me know all about how the note was traded to Lewis and how I must proceede about it whether to settle it out of the reciept or not I went to see Solomon Isaaks and his wife Sarah they informed me that soon after I got your first letter that they received a letter from Hugh Eggers with Twenty Dollars in the letter and they nor I neither know whether that is all that is coming to Sarah or not so I thought it would be best to send you a part of the money and you could inform me wether I should pay to her or not so I sill incloes twenty five dollars on the bank of the State of South Carolina all curent money.  Hear your mother is as well as could be expected for as old a woman as she is.  Your connections are all well as fare as I know.  Your brother in law Piolert Piolapt departed this life sometime last fall and your sister Polly Yelton has moved back from Tenneysie last fall.  Your mother  received a letter from Nannevi dated some time in March..  He writes that they Indians are some what troublesome in his country.  He was out two hundred miles from home after the Indians when he wrote the letter.  We had a tolorable moderate winter but the spring was wet and backward but our summer has been warm with the exeption of a few day about the midle of June when there was in several freazes an hard enough to kill the corn.  Our wheat crop are as good as the commonly get to be, oats are likely and forward corn looks very promising.  People are generally well though out this country as fare as my information extends.  With these remarks I conclude and remain yours most affectionately.

To John Ford                                    
J. W. Mast

1850 – The Federal Census lists John and Elizabeth Ford and children living in Howard County, Indiana and owning about $2,000 in real estate.  Mary, Sarah, and George are in school.

John William born July 28, 1850; died Sept. 15, 1851

William Nineva “Jim” born Sept. 14, 1851

The Federal Census shows John’s two brothers out in Oregon Territory.  Ninava (35 yrs) was farming in Clackamas Co., near Oregon City with his 20 year old Missouri wife, Martha, and their one year old son John J., who had been born in Oregon Territory.  Ephraim (29 yrs) was in Yam Hill Co., just west of Clackamas Co., in the northwest corner of Oregon Territory.

1852 – John Ford’s brother Nineveh wrote from Oregon City, Oregon Territory entreating John and Elizabeth to come west with their family.  He tells of their group finding about $5,000 worth of gold in California, including a single nugget worth $64 which he still had.  Their brother Ephraim Ford was with Nineveh, and had married the previous spring.


TO: John Ford,  Kokomo, Indiana
FROM:  Oregon Territory, Oregon City, March 16, 1852
John and Elizabeth Ford

Dear brother and sister

I can inform you that we rec'd yours of the 28 Dec. last which gave us great satisfaction to heare from you.  I have wrote since I returned from California.  Ephraim was married last spring to Miss Martha.Sarrijon.  We returned from California the fall after we went in the spring.  We had tolerable luck in the mines making near 5 thousand dollars between us.  I dug one piece of gold that was worth $64.

I have got it yet.  I wish you could come and see it.  I think you would like to dig some of the yealow stuff but if you was here you could get it and stay at home.  Those that stays at home does as well as those that goes to the mines, which you will see when I give you a feew facts.  The mines are being worked very extensively in Oregon in or near a rich fertile and in a healthy country.  You say that times is hard there.  You wish to know how land rates in Oregon is.  I will try to give you a general idea in relation to land here.  The Congress of the USA pased a law on the 21st Sept. 1850 granting to all american white settlers on the public lands over the age of 18 that was in Oregon at the pasage of the law or and those that got here before the first day of December 1850 one half section or 320 acres if he be single man, and if he be maried or shall become maried on or before the 1st day of December 1851 one section or 640 acres of land, one half to the wife and the other to her husband, the wifes half to be held in her own name.  The donation is extended to those that come since up to the first day of December 1853 in half the amount of the above.  So if you can get here before the 1st day of Dec. 1853 you can get 320 acres without paying anything.  One half to your wife which is one quarter section each after 1853.  I think land will be sold by government at $1.25 per acre.  If you have any notion of coming to this country, start next spring 1853, then you will git here in time to git your half section.  I can write as I have wrote before that this is the healthiest country that I have seen.  Winters are miled, summers plasant, not so hot as your summers.  Winters are so.....and mild that stock keeps fat all winter.  This winter past was near a total failure for snow.  I did not see one particle fall during the winter.  The best country for stock perhaps in the contenent.  They keep fat all the time without feeding.  When I say stok I mean all kinds.  Our beef is fater off of the range here than I ever saw it in the stats out of the stall.  Pork fat all the year and the range stock increases fast.

I have got letters from home generaly.  Brother Sinut died in '49.  His wife has maried again.  Syrena is maried.  I got a letter last summer from mother.  They condition was generly well.  I have wrote since and am looking for a letter now.  We are all well except colds.  Mrs. Ford is quit porly at this time with a cold.  Our little snow storm has set some of us to coughing.

If you do conclude to come to this country I would advise you by all means to sell out next fall and come to Missouri and winter there and start early in the spring with first that starts.  You will come with one and get you a good team at home.

I want you to write as soon as this comes and tell me what your calculations are and so I will know what to advise.  Never think of coming without our family.  It is too far.  Do not come without Elizabeth is willing.  Elizabeth, I wish you was here with your family.  I think you would be hapy and we would be brother and sister here.


Yamhill O. T.   June 9th  1852

Dear broth and sister,  threw the .... of diveme providence an blesses with the opertunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that we are still in the living and enjoying a tolerable .... of health at present wishing these lines may find you in posesion of the same blessing.

We have the pleasure of reading your letter baring date Decemba the 28  1851  which is a sorce of grate satesfaction to hear from you and to hear that you are still living and well but sarey to learn of your misfortune in loosing your child but we must be reconsiled to God as he is just in all things.

You requested us to write concerning our country as to climate.  I suppose yours are informed, but I will say that it is the best I have ever lived in with the acception of rain in the winter and as to agriculture purpeses fare before your country not withstanding it is a pore corn growing country but we can make that up in small grain and I find of late by manuring our land we can rase as good vegilables as you can in....., and as to stock rasing I believe we can but would, we can rase a hors or cow here with as you can a chicken there.

Land is what you would call high but if you wish to cum to this country do not let that stop you for I think you can make a living in this part of our republic easeyer than you can there at your prices

for produce.  Perhaps you wish to know how times is, times is good.  Health is good.  Money is plenty.  Goods is cheap.  Produce is high.  Good horses from 100 to 150 dollars american, mares from 150 to 200, cows from 50 to 75 dollars per head, sheep 8 dollars, hens one dollar, beef 8 dollars per hundred, pork 10, butter 50 cts per pound, egg 50 cts per dozen, wheat 1.25 cts per bushel, wages from $2 to 4 per day.

If you wish to cum to this country git you a well made light three hors wagon and three or fore yoke of cattle and start from Missouri about the first of aprile.  Start with only clothing and bedding to last you threw as it will not pay, start with plenty of provision and if you wish any further information write as soon as you can and I will answer the same and if you start to this country I want you to write to me before you leave Missouri and send your letter by the mail and when you git on the road write by the packers if you wish any asistance and I will try to administer to your wants.

If you calculate on emmigrating to this country I think it advisable to cum next spring so that you can have a chance to hold 320 acres of land under the donation act which will be out the first of December 1853 which is cum next year.  Nineveh is still living in Oregon city and was well the last acount and is making money very fast.  I am still marreyed and think I am settled for life as I am satisfide with this country that I can make faster and easer than any other in my knowing.

I have stock a plenty to answer my perpose and to spare and a moderate crpoe of grain and calculate on sowing plenty this fall for you and I in Pardenership.

I would be extremely happy to see you all but think sometimes we will never have the pleasure of meeting in this world but hope that we will meet in the next where parting and sorrow will never be nomore.

Direct your letters to Yamhill Co. Lafayette Po O. T.

We want you to give our love to your childer as we would be glad to see them.

So nothing more at present best remans your with respect.

From Ephraim and Martha Jane Ford


TO:  Mr. John Ford, Esq.,   Kokomo, Indiana
FROM:  Oregon Territory, Nov. 26, 1852

Dear brother and sister.  It is with much pleasure that we take the opertunity of writing you a few lines to let you know that we are still numbered with the living and enjoying a tolerable degree of health at present.  Wishing these lines may find you all in possession of the same blessing.  The last letter we recieved from you was dated December 28, 1851 which we answered before so that I do know that we share anything interesting to write to you unless it is in relation to your friends Joneses.  John Jones was at Nineveh's 4 or 5 weeks.  Since he stated that his father and brothers had got in about fifty miles of this place they had considerable sickness in the family while on the road, as there was much sickness in the last part of the immigration.  Jones could not giv any account what of your calculation was in relation to immigrating to this country but stated that your brother-in-law [Jacob Dye?] had sold with the calculation of immigrating to this country next season.

When Jones was here Nineveh and his wife was sick, but have got a bout health is generaly good with the acception of the immigration last to this country in consequence of experience on the way to this country.  If you calculate on immigrating to this country I think next season will be the best time in consequence of the donations being out in December will this country American mares from one hundred and fifty, hundred dollars cows from 50 to 100 dollars, 8 and 10 dollars per head beef, 10 pork per hundred, wheat 3 and 4 dollars per flour, 15 dollars per hundred, labor 2 and 3 dollars per day, lumber fifty dollars per thousand and other productions of the country in protion.  If you come to Oregon and wish to bring stock I will advise you to bring scheap or cows and be shore to start in the first part of the emmigration for the reason that their is not half the sickings in the first part of the emmigration as the last.  if you cum write before starting and while on the road as we can git your letter in a very short time by male.

I am here for the purpose of proving my clame to a donation write to 640 acres of land.  We are at the same burruls that we was when we wrote last to you.  I have a good crop in and sold the .... of six hundred hogs this season and some beef cattle.

We send our love to our cousins and be glad to see them and if you do not cum this aunt wants you to take that perty boys likness that you wrote about having blew eyes and black hare and send it to her but much rather see him..........(mostly illegible)

with respect

Ephraim and M. J. Ford

To John & Elizabeth Ford
direct your letter to Yamhil Lafayett or Oregon City

1853 – John Ford (41 yrs) and family headed west to the gold fields of California in a party of 40 would-be miners.  John became concerned about the danger to his family in continuing the trip west, and they lived for a while in Jasper County, Iowa.

Ephraim Worth born Feb. 14, 1854

Frances Emiline “Fannie” born Dec. 27, 1857

1858 – John Ford and family moved in the spring to Story County, Iowa, east of Ames, where they purchased a farm south of Colo, in New Albany Township about thirteen miles east of the county seat, Nevada.

1859 – John and Elizabeth Ford have Effie Jane, born Nov. 24.

1860 – The Federal Census shows them in Story County, Iowa with Mary (19), Sarah (16), George (15), Martha (13), William “Jim” (8), Ephraim (6), and Frances (2).   John’s assets had increased to $10,000 real estate, and $500 personal property.

1862 – John’s brother Nineveh writes to him from Oregon

State of Oregon
Wayco County

Sept. 7, 1862
John Ford

Dear brother

We recd yours last evening of the 22nd of last June directed to the post master at oregon city stating that you had not herd from Ephraim and we since 18.., heared that you and George Dye came to Iowa and stoped.  We did not learn where you was   we have wrote to our relatives in carolina but learned nothing   I had nearly given up all hope of evering hearing from you thinking that the colery [cholera] had swept you all off on the plaines   my [heart] leaped for joy when I opened your letter, this being the first that I have saw since you came to Iowa.  Ephraim is living where he first settled, in 2 miles of McMinville, yamhill co.  I am living in middle oregaon east of the cascads over 300 miles from Ephraim 627 miles west of fort Benton in the Walla Walla Valey.  look on the map and you will see where I live   I have been living here 3 years and am well pleased with the country   I have not hered from home for a long time   we have 6 chilaern [children] living and one ded   John Thomas Jefferson is nearly grone   our 2nd Mary Simpson died at 9 years old, 4 boys living and 2 girls   you perhaps are posted in relation to the development of this country concerning the gold mines, graizing and agricutureal pursuits   the miners are still making new discoverys of new digings   some 15 to 20 thousand miners and traiders in middle oregon.  This is the fastest country that I have heard of   towns going up in a few days   men taking out their weight in gold dust in a short time and thousands doing no good and spending fortions in a few days   I have not worked in the mines here yet for what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and loose his own sole   we hope to gain the selistial [celestial] city and too much gold is dead weight some times on that pilgrimage   he that will run let him lay a side every weight and that sin that so easly beset us, that sin I think is unbelief   I once was young but now am old and I never saw the children of the riceous [righteous] beging bread (Soloman)

We should not trust in uncertain riches so says christ     dear brother and sister we would be hapy to see you all in this life, but if we should not be favored with that opportunity let us strive to meet each other in heaven where our dear little ones are gon, our parents have long since gained that heaven, and we too are hastening to that unseen world when we shall bid farewell to this vain world of woe.

Wrie when this comes to hand   direct your letters to (Walla Walla Washington Territory)

no more at present only our best wishes and brother and sister until death

Nineveh & M. R. Ford

To John & Elizabeth Ford

1863 – John Lincoln born Aug. 15; died Oct. 11.

1864 – James Webster “Webb” Rooker of Mitchellville, Iowa, about 25 miles south of Colo, enlisted in the Iowa Calvary volunteers on March 1, at 20 years of age.  Wounded at the battle of Harpeth Creek, Tennessee on Dec. 18; shot in the eye; the ball entering the right and coming out under the left, destroying the sight of both.

James Webster “Webb” Rooker holding Harriett Rooker

John Ford (52) died June 19, and was buried near the home farm in Indian Creek Twp., Story Co., with young son John Lincoln.  He had been under treatment by Dr. Mark D. Shelton, who filed claim for visits and medicine.  At the time of his death, John Ford owned 520 acres in Marshall County, at least 84 acres in Jasper County, and 147 acres in Story County, for a total of 751 acres. 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.

Sarah P. Ford married Alexander Boyce McCain July 12, 1864.  He was a Civil War Veteran wounded at Shiloh.

Sarah Parintha Ford (Ephraim’s older sister)

1865 – James W. Rooker was discharged from the Iowa Cavalry volunteers at Keokuk, Iowa on June 1, by reason of blindness.  He received a pension of $50 per month starting on June 4, 1874.

Elizabeth Ford sold 204 acres of land in Jasper County.

1866 – Mary Pricella Ford (25) married George See (27) Dec. 25, 1866 in Marshall County, Iowa, just east of Story County.

1870 – Elizabeth Ford is shown in the Federal Census living in the Colo area on the family farm, about 13 miles east of Nevada in Story County, with her children George (25), Martha (22), William “Jim” (18), Ephraim (16), Frances (12), and Effie (9).  Only William, Ephraim, and Frances were in school.  Elizabeth’s assets were $4,200 real estate and $550 personal property.  Her son George had $1,000 in personal property.   Maria Romane, a niece, was living nearby.

In the 1870 census, W. Rooker is listed as a blind farmer in Franklin Twp., Polk Co., Iowa, just south of Story County, with his wife Martha and two year old son James.

1874 – Mary Pricella (Ford) See died April 4, and was buried in the Bevins Grove Cemetery north of Clemons in northwest Marshall County, Iowa.

187? – Sarah and A. B. McCain write to her sister, she on the front page, and he on the back page.


home matters, etc, etc  Aprile the 20

Dear Sister

After our love to you then comes the Home matters   Orra says he looks for aunt marth in the morning.  he said he went home to grandmaws to stay till aunt marth come home.  Orra hasent forgotning you nor never will   he gets newespaps and reads letters from you and Chella   wants too write to you. he can spell and read a little and count.  The prospect for fruit is good   mother thinks she will have som apels [some apples]   Seet [sweet?] folks came from Story today they were all well at home.  Anna is such a seet [sweet] girl.  She says she likes us well a nought [well enough] to live with us.

We think we might keep her.

[A. B. McCain]

Ephraim has rented my corn ground.  which will relieve me of much travelling this summer.  George was over some time ago and stayed with us three nights.  He informed us his intentions were to herd cattle this summer and probably a herd of colts.  George and Priscilla's folks are all in usual health.  They and Ephraim have gone to Story yesterday.  will be back to day.  How much do you get a month for teaching school.  Is it a subscription school of is it a district schooll.  I have no other news of importance that would interest you.  Nouthing more.

Yours forever
A. B. McCain

1878 – Elizabeth Ford was living in Colo, Iowa; but upon becoming ill, moved to Nevada, Iowa, about 13 miles west.

A. B. McCain is listed in the Directory of Marshall County as “a farmer in Section 14; P. O. Bevins Grove; owns 80 acres of land, valued at $30 per acre; born in Armstrong Co., Penn., in 1834; came to Iowa in 1856.  Married Sarah P. Ford in 1864; she was born in Howard Co., Ind., in 1844; have seven children – Owen, Jo, Ben, Adel, Effie Maude, Isabella M., Elizabeth G., and Fanny.  Are members of Methodist Church.  Enlisted in Company H, 13th Iowa V. I., in 1861, and was wounded in the battle of Shiloh, and was discharged in 1863 on that account.”

1879 – On March 28, Ephraim Ford, and the rest of Elizabeth’s children, received their share in the estate from Elizabeth’s guardian (probably George Dye Ford), and each signed a hand written receipt.

Rec'd of Elizabeth Ford Guardian
the full amount of personal property
due me and I release said Guardian
from all liability on my account -

Nevada, Iowa
Ephraim W. Ford
March 28, 1879

Elizabeth Ford (59) died intestate on December 7, and was buried at Nevada, with husband John and last-born son John Lincoln, (moved from their prior burial in Indian Creek Twp. near the farm) about 100 feet inside the Lincoln Way entrance and to the left (east) about 100 feet.  George Dye Ford arranged the funeral and burial.  He purchased three lots (Lot #24) in Block 3 of the Nevada Cemetery for $10, and a large gravestone for $225.  He paid James Green $12 to dig the graves, and to move the bodies of John and John Lincoln from the Indian Creek Cemetery  to Nevada.  Dr. George Stitzell was paid $16 for sick calls to Elizabeth from Nov 29 to her death on Dec 7.

Obituary - Died in Nevada, Iowa after a protracted illness, Mrs. Elizabeth Ford, whose obsequies took place at her residence in this city on the 9th inst.  Mrs. Ford survived her husband fifteen years and leaves a large and respectable family.  She became united with the M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church at an early period of life, and continued a consistent member of the same till her death.  Her house was not only always open to the ministers of the gospel, but her hospitality was of that liberal christian character toward all, which can be observed in the fine and the good at all times.


Jim Ford writes to Ephraim at Burr Oak, Jewel Co., Kansas telling of their mother’s death, and asking him to tell Aunt Sally (Dye) Harmon.


TO: Mr. E. W. Ford, Burr Oak, Jewell Co., Kansas    3c postage
Forwarded to Colo, Iowa (13 mi. E of Nevada); arrived Jan 9, 1880

Black border on envelope, used when there is sickness or death. 

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 [(Dye) Harmon] know of her death. So goodbye.

Write soon.
As Ever,  Your Brother

We will bury her in the Nevada Cemetery

1880 – George See filed for Letters of Administration for his two minor children by Mary (deceased) as heirs of Elizabeth Dye Ford.

Matt and Effie were living with their brother Jim Ford on the home farm in New Albany Twp., Story Co., Iowa. just south of Colo.

Ephraim Ford went to Wyoming.  Fannie and Effie joined Ephraim there later in the year..

In the 1880 census, James W. Rooker was listed as living in Beaver Twp., Polk Co., Iowa with his four children: Nettie (11), William S. (8), Martha E. (5), and an unnamed daughter of four months.  His wife must have died at the birth of the child four months earlier.  Matt Ford married the blind Civil War vet Webb Rooker, December 23.

DesMoines   Sept 5/81

Rec'd of Martha S. Rooker One Hundred Dollars to apply on Note of Margaret J. Rooker and James W. Rooker to Mary Singer dated December 20th 1876 for $400.

W. A. Young

1881 – Ephraim filed for a 160 acre homestead out on the desolate rolling prairie on Crazy Woman Creek near the Dry Creek Road about fifteen miles northeast of Buffalo, Wyoming.

1882 – Ephraim Ford married Hattie “Katie” Huson on December 17 in Buffalo, Wyoming at the home of her parents, Edward and Clarissa Huson, by Justice of the Peace, H. R. Mann, with her father, Edward Wing Huson, and a man named John Paul signing as witnesses.  Katie was 17 years old. (Marriage Book 1, page 16). They moved to the Crazy Woman homestead, and were joined there by Katie’s parents and children, who took up a quarter-section homestead adjoining theirs on the east side.

1884 – In January, Webb Rooker receives a letter from H. U. Dale.

TO: Webster Rooker, Mitchellville, Iowa,
Sent Jan. 25 from Centerville, Iowa,  1 ct postage
Arrived: Jan. 28
Centerville, Iowa  1-25-1884

Dear Bro. and Sister:  In compliance to your kind request I write.  I arrived home safely yesterday and found all well except Mrs. Dale was suffering from severe cold.  The girls were almost in ecstacies over my return.  Edna said she felt so good that she could not laugh.  Craving an interest in your prayers and assuring you that you have in mine I remain your brother.


On August 14, Jim Ford bought the S1/2 of SW1/4 of Sect. 23 (80 acres) in Victor Township, Osborne County, Kansas from Robert and Mary E. Wilson of Gage County, Nebraska for $500.  (Osborne Co., Deed Book H, p597)

Effie J. Ford was married to J. H. Rice in Big Horn, Wyoming on October 22 by Herbert Probert, a Congregational minister from England, at the house of Mr. Haund and witnessed by her sister Fannie Ford and Mrs. Belle Babcock of Big Horn.

1885 – A son was born to Effie (Ford) and Jim Rice in Buffalo during the week of September 26, 1885 so they must have moved there beforehand.


Sept. 26, 1885

The wife of J. H. Rice, the barber, gave birth to a son this week in Buffalo.

1886 – Fannie went to Washington state with Effie and Jim Rice.

1887 – On May 20, 1887, Jim Ford bought the S1/2 of NE1/4, the SE1/4 of NW1/4, and the NE1/4 of SW1/4 of Section 23 (160 acres) in Victor Township, Osborne County, Kansas from William and Hannah Bradley of Independance, Osborne County, Kansas for $1800.  This was adjacent to his previous land purchase.

(Osborne Co., Deed Book N, p220)  On December 29, Jim obtained a Land Patent for the NW1/4 of SW1/4 of Sectiom 23 (40 acres) in Victor Township adjacent to the previous purchases.  This brought his total known acreage to 280.  (Osborne Co., Book AD, p468)

1889 – Fannie Ford married Paul Jackson Lang on February 19 in Kittitas County, Washington

Frances “Fannie” Emilene Ford Lang (Ephraim’s younger sister)

George Dye Ford married Nettie Anne Rooker (Webb Rooker’s daughter by his first wife) in Polk County, Iowa. Witnessed by Webb Rooker.

George Dye Ford (eldest son of John and Elizabeth Ford, Ephraim’s eldest brother)

Matt and Webb Rooker returned to Zionsville, Indiana.

In August or early September 1889, Ephraim Ford’s wife Kate apparently had a miscarriage or stillbirth. Late in 1889, Ephraim and Kate sold their homestead and suddenly moved with their three young children and belongings to his brother Jim’s ranch in Osborne County, Kansas.  Kate died a month after arriving.  The following spring, Jim and Ephraim returned with the children to Zionsville, Indiana.  Jim returned to his Kansas ranch.  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.

1891 – Jim Ford died on 23 December 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 Township line, about two miles southeast of Jim’s ranch.  It is thought that after Kate had a stillbirth in Wyoming, they sold their homestead on Crazy Woman Creek near Buffalo and brought the body of the baby with them to Jim’s ranch, where Kate died.  The two were buried together in the Cemetery, to be joined two years later by Jim.  There are no burial records for the Cole Cemetery, nor was there an obituary in the local paper to tell us where he was buried.

Alexander and Sarah (Ford) McCain were farming in Pleasanton Twp., in Buffalo Co., NE outside Kearney.


L – R: Sarah Parintha Ford McCain (Ephraim’s older sister), Fannie McCain Hewett (Sarah’s daughter), Alexander Boyce McCain (Sarah’s husband)

1892 – Ephraim married Mary A. Johnson in Orleans, IN on Jan. 1 where he had been recovering from illness he had contracted out west.

1900 – Ephraim and Alice (Mary A. Johnson) Ford were living on North Pike Street in Shelbyville, Indiana with their six year old son, Oscar L.   Ephraim was an insurance agent, and Alice was a dressmaker.  He never reclaimed his earlier children.

George Dye Ford was farming in Liberty Township, Marshall County, Iowa with wife Nettie of ten years, and children Chella E. (8), Mary E. (7), John (5), and Gertrude L. (1).

Sarah (Ford) McCain and her husband Alexander were farm owners living in Kearney, Buffalo County, Nebraska with their daughters Isabel and Elizabeth (twins, 23), Fannie (21), and Hattie (18).  Isabel is a school teacher, Elizabeth a seamstress, and Fannie a milliner.

Fannie and Paul J. Lang were living in Wenatchee Lake, Chelan Co., Washington with Nora (10), Myrtle (8), Eugene (6), Lloyd (5), and Clyde (1).

1901 – Fannie and Paul Lang return to Zionsville from Washington over the Oregon trail in a covered wagon.  Paul had made a table which was carried on the back of the wagon.  Each night when they stopped, Fannie would set out the table and fix a formal dinner.  She was a well-educated woman (rare in those times) who always dressed very properly.

1904 – Ephraim Ford, apparently divorced from Mary, died at Matt and Webb Rooker’s home in Zionsville on April 2.  He was buried in the Zionsville Cemetery next to William and Margaret Dye.

1909 – Effie and Jim Rice were in Portland, Oregon, having arrived there sometime between 1906 and 1909.  They are first found in the City Directory of Portland in 1909.  They were listed in the personal listings as:  H. J. Rice, residence at St. Johns; in the business listing as: Barber; H. J. Rice at 8 Fourth Ave. N.

1910 – George Dye Ford was farming in Liberty Township, Marshall County, Iowa, with his wife Nettie of 20 years, and children Chella (19), Mary (17), John (15), Gertrude (11), George (9), Louis (7), Lois (7), and Gailerd (2).  Chella was teaching, and Mary was in school.

Alexander and Sarah (Ford) McCain were living at 1828 Ave. G in Kearney, NE.

1911 – Jim Rice had apparently died.  In the 1911 City Directory, only Effie is listed; as:  Mrs. Effie J. Rice, 248 1/2 Montgomery.

1912 – George Dye Ford died January 25, buried in Bevin’s Grove Cemetery north of Clemons, Marshall Co., Iowa.

TIMES REPUBLICAN, Marshalltown, Iowa

Jan. 26, 1912


George Ford, Well-Known Farmer, Meets Death From Trivial Accident

Marrow from Broken Leg Forms Clot On Brain

Becomes Unconscious a Few Hours After Log Slides From Load of Wood and Breaks His Leg - Wife and Eight Children Survive - Funeral Saturday Morning.

An accident that, in itself, would be classed as trivial, resulted in the death Thursday afternoon of George Ford, a well-known farmer living one and one-half mile north of Clemons in Liberty Township.

Ford's death resulted from a thrombus, which formed on the brain following the man's injury Tuesday afternoon when his left leg was broken by a heavy log which rolled off a sled.   Mr. Ford was hauling a load of wood from his timber to his home, and was in his own dooryard when the accident resulted.  Ford was walking beside the bob sled when the heavy log slid from the top of the load, falling against Ford's leg, and breaking it above the knee.

Marrow Carried Into Circulation

Ordinarily the accident would not have caused the victim anything more than the usual pain and inconvenience resulting from similar cases, but in this instance an unusual complication resulted.  Some

of the marrow from the fractured leg was carried into the blood, and by 2:30 o'clock Wednesday morning the patient became unconscious.  He never rallied from the comatose state, and the end came at 1:15 Thursday.

Was Well-Known Farmer

Mr. Ford was well known in his neighborhood, where he had lived for several years.  He was 67 years old, and is survived by his wife and eight children - four sons and four daughters.  Four sisters also survive, in the persons of Mrs. Sarah McCain of Kearney, Neb.; Mrs. Martha Rooker and Mrs. Fannie Lang of Indianapolis; and Mrs. Effie Rice of Portland, Ore.

Brief funeral services will be held from the house Saturday morning at 11 o'clock, and the funeral proper will take place an hour later from the Bevin's Grove Church.  Rev. C. S. Stauffacher, of the Zearing United Evangelical Church, officiating.  Interrment will be in the church cemetery.

1913 – Fannie Lang visited old friends at Nevada, Iowa on the way to visit her sister, Sarah McCain, in Nebraska.

Nevada, Iowa Newspaper


An Old Timer Returns

Mrs. Paul J. Lang of Indianapolis, who old timers remember as Frances Ford, is spending a few days with the Sam White family, and greeting other old friends and neighbors in Nevada, Ames, and Colo while pausing in her journey to visit her sister Sarah (Mrs. A. B. McCain) in Nebraska.

Mrs. Lang's father, John Ford, was an early settler of Story County.  He and Mrs. Ford and their four children came from Indiana to Iowa with a party of forty miners which were bound for California.

Mrs. Lang says the fair fields of Iowa lured them from their interest to cross the desert plains and the Fords tarried for a while in Jasper County, then located permanently on a farm in New Albany

Township [Story County], and there Mrs. Ford died in the later seventies.  Frances was a member of the Nevada High School during the first years of its existence in its present location, and was included successively in the Dan McCord, William Gatsa, and Jerry Franks families till at the death of her father, when her mother moved to Nevada and here died.  Frances and her sister Effie soon after went to Wyoming to visit their brother Ephraim, who is now deceased.  Both married in the far west, and there Effie, orMrs. J. H. Rice, remains.  The Langs returned to Indianapolis twelve years ago and there rejoice in two promising daughters and two sons, all grown and in active life.  Another of the Fords, Martha, now Mrs. J. W. Rooker, also resides in Indianapolis.  Frances the maiden is pleasantly remembered, and Mrs. Lang, the matron of wide and varied experience, is gladly greeted.

1914 – In July, Alexander and Sarah McCain celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.


The golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. McCain was celebrated enjoyably, when surrounded by members of the family, whose congratulations and gifts they received, were entertained yesterday.  Mr and Mrs. McCain have lived in Buffalo County for over thirty years.  They have been blessed with eight children, three boys and five girls, and with twenty-five grandchildren.  The gifts which were presented to them on the occasion were very elaborate and mark the appreciation which the children felt for all the sacrifices which the parents have made for them in other days.

Two gold watches, a gold bracelet, breastpin, and a set of collar, cuff, and stud buttons were among the presents.  A sumptuous dinner was served at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.  Captain S. James presided and made an appropriate presentation speech when giving Mr. and Mrs. McCain their children's gifts.  Mr. McCain responded and thanked those present for their loving remembrances.  After the dinner further speaking and musical numbers closed the enjoyable celebration.

The following children of the couple were present:  Mr. Orran McCain, Mr. Dode McCain, Denver, Colo.; Mr. Dell McCain, N. Platte, Nebr.; Mrs. Charles Wittlake, Omaha, Nebr.; Mrs. Charles Croston, Hazard, Nebr.; Mrs. Seymore Cruise, Mrs. Claude Hewett, and Mrs. Hattie May, Omaha, Nebr.

1915 – Effie Rice was listed in the Portland City Directory as: Effie Rice, 484 Burnside.

1917 – Alexander and Sarah (Ford) McCain were living in Omaha, Nebraska.

1919 – Alexander Boyce McCain died and was buried on the hillside behind the mausoleum in the West Lawn Cemetery in Omaha.

1920 – In the census, Effie (Ford) Rice (60), was living on Buck Street in Portland, Multnamah County, Oregon with her thirteen year old granddaughter, Donna Dixon.

Sarah McCain (75) was living in the home of her daughter, Fannie F. Hewett (40) and Fannie’s son Ross (6) on 42nd Street in Omaha, Nebraska.  Fannie was an office clerk.

Standing: Fannie McCain Hewett (Sarah’s daughter), Claude Henry Hewett (Fannie’s husband)
Sitting: Sarah Parintha Ford McCain (Ephraim’s older sister)


George Dye Ford’s widow, Nettie (50), was still farming the family farm in Liberty Twp., Marshall Co., Iowa.  Still at home were Lois and Louis, both 16, and Gailerd (12).  However, Nettie reportedly moved to Zionsville with Gertrude, Lois, and Gailerd, apparently during the last half of the year.  It is not known whether George S. came with them or came later.  Louis must have stayed, because he is buried in Bevins Grove next to his father George and sister Mary.

In the 1920 census, Paul Lang, at the age of 65, is living on Senate Avenue in Indianapolis with Forest Eaton, a boarder.

1923 – Webb Rooker died at age 79 in Lafayette, Indiana on Oct. 23; and was buried in Little Eagle Creek Cemetery southeast of Jolietville in Hamilton Co., Indiana next to Nellie G. Lutz (wife of his son, Wm. S. Rooker) and Mattie (daughter), both having died in 1900 in their 20s.

1929 – Nettie Anne (Rooker) Ford, widow of George Dye Ford, and daughter of Webb Rooker, died in Zionsville at age 60 and was buried next to her sister, Mattie, sister-in-law Nellie, and her father, Webb Rooker, in the Little Eagle Creek Cemetery.

Back row L – R: Fannie McCain Hewett (Sarah’s daughter), Alexander Boyce McCain (Sarah’s husband), rest ?
Front row L – R: Sarah Parintha Ford McCain (Ephraim’s sister), rest ?


1930 – Sarah Parintha (Ford) McCain died June 24 in Buffalo Co., Nebraska, and was buried alongside her husband in the West Lawn Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska.


Sarah Parinthia (Ford) McCain, at the age of 86 years, 11 months, and 1 day, passed away June 24, 1930 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Fannie Hewett of 3467 N. 42nd St., Omaha, Nebr.

Her father, John Ford, and family with two brothers, were enroute with the "Forty Niners" across the continent, but the father, being fearful for the safety of his family, left the caravan when they reached Story County, Iowa, and settled in the new country, when skins were hung for doors.

In 1864 she was united in marriage to Alexander Boyce McCain, a Civil War veteran.

In 1883 they moved with their family of three sons and six daughters to Buffalo County, Nebraska where they were pioneer residents of Pleasanton and Kearney.  Her husband preceeded her in death eleven years ago at the age of 84.

She is survived by two sons, Dode McCain, Hazard; and Dell McCain, Loretto; four daughters, Mrs. Maude Wittlake, Fanwood, NJ; Mrs. Charles Croston, Hazard; Mrs. William B. Rains, Hawk Springs, Wyo.; and Mrs. Hewett; and three sisters, Mrs. Martha Rooker and Mrs. Fannie Lang, both of Indianapolis, Ind.; and Mrs. Effie Rice of Portland, Ore., plus 25 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

She was known for her ever ready aid to those who were in sorrow, need, or distress.  As long as she  was able to be in active service for her Lord and Savior, her standard of living was, "In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me also", John 3:17.  Her ever ready advice was a repeating of the First Psalms.  Interned at the West Lawn Cemetery in Omaha, Nebr.

1932 – Fannie (Ford) Lang died Feb 26 in Zionsville at age 74 and was buried in the Zionsville Cemetery by Paul J. Lang, and near Ephraim Ford, Matt Rooker, and William Dye.

1935 – Matt (Ford) Rooker died in Lafayette, Indiana on Feb 5; buried on a Thursday afternoon in the Zionsville Cemetery near Fannie and Ephraim; reported in the Feb. 7 Zionsville Times:

Obituary - Mrs. Martha S. Rooker, 88 years old, a native of Boone County, died yesterday in a home for the aged in Lafayette.  She had lived in Indianapolis forty years and had spent part of her life in Iowa.  Her Indianapolis home was at 3609 N. LaSalle St.  Funeral services will be held in the McNeely & Sons mortuary, 1828 N. Meridian St. at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon.  Burial will be in the Zionsville cemetery.  A sister, Mrs. Effie J. Rice of Portland, Oregon, survives.

1937 – Effie Jane (Ford) Rice, the last surviving child of John and Elizabeth (Dye) Ford, died Feb 16 in Portland, Oregon.  She died in the Multnomah Hospital of coronary thrombosis and generalized arteriosclerosis, made worse by pulmonary emphycema.  She was 78 years old.  Effie was in the hospital for nine days prior to her death.  She was listed on the death certificate as a widow and homemaker living at 313 NE San Rafael Street.  No family informant was listed on the certificate.


Frances [Fannie] Ford was born in Story County, Iowa and educated at Iowa State College in nearby Ames, Iowa.  She taught for a while in Iowa, then went west to Washington Territory with her younger sister Effie.

Paul Jackson Lang was born near Copenhagen, Denmark.  He came to America with his family and settled in Wyoming Territory, where they were in the dairy business.  Paul was studying to be a Lutheran Minister when he got the urge to go farther west.  He gave up his studies and went to Washington Territory where he met Fannie.  They were married in Kittitas County.  They had daughters Myrtle and Nora, and sons Eugene, Lloyd, and Clyde [the latter dying at age two].

By Myrtle (Lang) Stanley, written Aug-Sep 1972:

Written 1972

I was born in South Prairie, Washington on September 16, 1891. My parents had lived in Wenatchee.  I don't remember that because it was before I was born.  Then we lived in Ellensburg.  The only thing I remembered about that was when we moved from Ellensburg.  Nora and I were in the covered wagon for the night.  I remember my first sense of fear was when I heard the wolves howling.  I heard my father say "We will keep the fire burning and that will keep the wolves away because they are afraid of fire and won't come near it".

When we got to the ranch, there was a log cabin, and that housed us until my father and his friend Mr. Cahill built two or three more rooms with a large stone fireplace in the living room.  Papa cut the logs and split the firewood, and Nora and I helped to carry in the firewood when needed.

Nora and I would go on horse to get cow.  We would lead the horse up to a tree stump, then get on the stump,  and then get on the horse, as it seemed to understand, and we would go for the cow, as we could hear the cowbell she wore.

One day, near forenoon, a young buck Indian came to the ranch.  Papa had built what was then called a shed over the back door and like a roof (more like our patios).  He then put up a rope swing for us.  Our swing board split and broke, and the Indian took out his hunting knife (when Momma saw him take out his knife, she was frightened she admitted later).  He made a new swing board for us and then played with Nora and I pushing the swing.  Momma had him stay for dinner.  I don't remember what we had - probably a meat stew.

There were many wild roses, and Nora and I would pick the pink petals.  Momma told us to put them in bottles and hang them in the sun, and that melted the petals forming as oil perfume, so Nora and I had our own perfume.

Momma was teaching the country one-room school, when one of the big land owners (and also the sawmill) refused to pay his share for school upkeep on what was called Chumstick School that was part of the country where we lived.

Then my parents sold the ranch and homestead, and moved to Leavenworth so we children could go to school, as Momma felt our education was more important than the ranch.  We lived nearer the mountains since that was where the best homes were.  The railroad was between us and the main street of stores, and back of them was the Wenatchee River.

I remember Gene as a baby on the ranch, but I don't think Lloyd was born until we moved into Leavenworth.


  1. Edie Mahaney, Curator of the Patrick Henry Sullivan Museum in Zionsville, and her staff who helped me get started on the history.  And all those who contributed to the files there.
  2. Ester (Mills) Compton, a marvelous lady and a Dye cousin of mine, who mentored me in my early Dye research, and who was a fountain of knowledge about the early days in Zionsville.
  3. Ross and Emily Hewett, who showed me the McCain gravesites in Omaha, and who entrusted to me many old pictures of the Fords.
  4. John Hook of Cicero, who provided the old letters written to John Ford from the western gold fields, the letter from J. Mast of North Carolina, and Myrtle’s memories.
  5. Charlene Shropshire of Carmel, for her help with the George Dye Ford family.

Ephraim Ford and Hattie (Kate) Huson

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


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.

Ephraim Ford and Hattie Huson Ford. Thought to be their wedding photo (Dec 1882).

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.

Buffalo, WY courthouse. This would have been the view from Ephraim’s house. The courthouse was built in 1883 while Ephraim lived across the street. Photo taken in 2000.

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.


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.

Sign in Clearmont, WY with local brands. One brand is similar to Ephraim’s – on far right (WF)…but not exactly…

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.

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.

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.

Remains of “Doc” Huson and Ephraim’s dugouts at Crazy Woman Creek
View of Crazy Woman Creek and “Doc” Huson and Ephraim’s homestead from dugout

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.


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.

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.

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.
BIG HORN, : : : : : : WYO
For a Clean Shave or a Neat
Hair Cut give my shop a trial

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.


Sept. 26, 1885

The wife of J. H. Rice, the barber, gave birth to a son this week in Buffalo.

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.

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.


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.

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.

Feb. 20, 1886

The deepest snow of the season fell Wednesday night.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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>


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.

View of countryside between Buffalo and Big Horn. Photo taken in 2001.
Big Horn, WY in 2001
Big Horn was on the Bozeman Train. Photo taken 2001

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
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.


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.


in Skinner's Hall,

Wednesday Evening

The best of music and a general good
time for everyone.

Feb. 25, 1888


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

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."

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.

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.

L – R: Mabel Ford, Harry Ford, Myrtle Ford

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.


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,

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 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.


In late April, Jim accompanied Ephraim and the children to Zionsville, Indiana.  Ephraim left his livestock, etc., at Jim’s ranch.

Back L – R: Ephraim Worth Ford, William Nineva “Jim” Ford (Ephraim’s older brother)
Front L – R: Harrison “Harry” Ford, Mabel Ford, Myrtle Ford (children of Ephraim)…thought to be taken soon after Hattie’s death.

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.

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.


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.

Mabel “Aunt Matt” Ford Rooker at her home in Indianapolis after husband James died

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.


Myrtle's kiss                                

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.

Harry Ford, Mabel Ford, Myrtle Ford

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.

L – R: Mabel Ford, Myrtle Ford

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 Ford McFatridge, Charles McFatridge

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.  

Mabel Ford McFatridge
L – R: Anna May Gahimer, Mabel Wagoner Gahimer, William “Junior” Percell, Fred Gahimer, Claude Wagoner, Mary Rose Wagoner Percell, Martha Gahimer, Patti Percell, Beth Ann Percell Doddridge, Mabel Ford McFatridge, Huson Wagoner, Myrtle Ford Wagoner, Marjorie Wagoner, baby, Ruth Wagoner (Huson’s wife)

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.

Claude and Myrtle Wagoner  Standing L-R: Nora (Lang) Shore, Mabel (Wagoner) Gahimer, Claude Wagoner, Myrtle (Ford) Wagoner, Herbert Wagoner, Martha “Matt” (Ford) Rooker, Frances “Fannie” (Ford) Lang, John Shore. In front L-R: Mary Rose and Norman Wagoner, John Shore’s daughter by a previous wife. 

Myrtle Ford

For more on Myrtle Ford, see this story.

Harry Ford

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.

1907 Flyer for The Cleo Sisters Vaudeville Act

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.

Harry Ford saved from fire in 1946 by 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)

Harry Ford

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.

Nineveh Ford

Nineveh Ford was interviewed in 1878 about his role in western expansion. He was the brother of John Ford, and uncle of Ephraim Ford.

Nineveh Ford (brother of John Ford, uncle of Ephraim Worth Ford)
Salem, Oregon 1878
Nineveh Ford's narrative
Time & Place: Room 8 Chemeheta Hotel, Salem, Oregon

Monday June 17th 1878
Present: Ford & the writer. AB

Mr. Ford said: I was born in North Carolina on July 15th 1815. Emigrated to Missouri in 1840, and from Missouri to Oregon in 1843. My attention was directed to Oregon by reading Lewis and Clark's journal. The scenery described in that took my fancy; and a desire to see that and to explore the country and return home to North Carolina in 3 years induced me to start. From information from traders and trappers I was confirmed in my intentions.

In the spring of 1843 Peter H. Burnett of Platte County Missouri and other prominent men were making up a company to go [2] to Oregon. It was in my neighborhood in Platte City. I was acquainted with the parties. There was another object: One grand objective we had was the prospect of obtaining a donation of land if the country was worth staying in. That was the object of Burnett and others to come and colonize this country, to take possession of the United States domain west of the Rocky Mountains. It was not at that time settled to belong to the United States. The controversy was up and there was some influence got to bear to induce people to colonize. The question was agitated in relation to the right and title of the United States to the country. I never heard that the government desired to colonize. It was all a private movement and we came on our own responsibility. We hat not any assurance that the Government would assist or protect us in any manner. Freemont Company which fell in after us I understood was [3] employed by the Government. But we did not travel together and we knew nothing of their going when we were making up a company. We rendezvoused at West Port west of Independence Jackson County Missouri. We Started from there in April. There were between 500 & 700 souls in the party and 113 wagons. Our Captain was Peter H. Burnett. He was chosen Captain at West Port. We had as additional officers Nesmith for ordirly (?) sergeant, he kept the roll of the emigrants, list of wagons and so forth. I do not recollect of any other officers. Our Pilot was John Gannt(?). He was a Mountaineer (?) and had been as far as Fort Hall. He engaged to pilot us as far as Fort Hall. I kept a Journal but my house burnt down and it was destroyed. We were not molested by the Indians beyond horse stealing and driving off cattle and having to pay to get them returned. They were friendly generally. We saw but few. They appeared to be wild and shy and afraid of the [4] wagons. Ours were the first wagons they ever saw, and the first that ever crossed the plains from Missouri with the exception of eleven wagons that came out in 1842 to Fort Hall and there stopped. The persons in that train packed through from Fort Hall. We came to the Buffalo Country on the Platte and there we made boats of beef and buffalo hides - putting them around wagon beds; and for some we made frames. We swam our animals from bar to bar where we could get a footing until we could get across.

At Fort Larimie there was a post - there were American traders. There we crossed through the Black Hills to Fort Bridger. There were American traders there. There we crossed the mountains to Fort Hall. It was occupied by the Hudson's Bay Co. I think it was Grant that had charge of that.

All those forts were made of adobe walls like the wall around a lot and inside of [5] that wall were adobe buildings, generally small. The wall around the lot was 6 or 8 feet high, and about 18 inches thick. It could have been knocked down very easily, but the Indians had nothing but arrows and could not shoot through it. They had a few guns but very few at that time.

At Fort Hall we changed our Captain. We got a man by the name of Wm. Martin to pilot us and he acted as Captain a piece. He turned off on the California road with Childs. Dr. Whitman then volunteered to pilot the emigration through to Walla Walla. He lived in Walla Walla. He said he would pilot us there but he could not stay with us. He would leave notices with us how we should travel and we followed those notices till we came to Grande Rounde he went through and sent an Indian back to pilot us through from Grande Rounde to Walla Walla. We had no trouble from Fort Hall [6] to Grande Rounde Valley. It was open country. Sometimes we had to climb mountains and get on the divides and select the main divide that looked in the direction we were going. But in the main it was often enough to drive along without making roads. We came to Snake River. Dr. Whitman was with us there and he advised us to fasten our teams together, the whole train with the exception of my own team. I had a strong carriage and I thought I could drive through separately. I fell in behind and the wagons and teams being angling (?) in the current raised the current on the bank side (?) probably some 2 feet or 18 inches higher than the usual height and it pressed so hard against my team that I was about to go over the shoal where several persons had gone over and drowned before that, the animals they rode over themselves too. Seeing that there was a danger of going over I sprung (?) out of the carriage and ran [7] to the team and pressed myself against the team and held the lead ox to his place until the train went on and the water lowered. I remained in that situation till the whole train got across on the land. Dr. Whitman rode back on a large gray horse and threw a rope to me and told me to put it on the near (?) ox's horns. I did so and he put it around the horse's saddle and he then led the way across and I got into the carriage and drove across. The Doctor towed the team across with his rope. I learned afterwards that one of the oxen which were temporally in the wagon instead of mules was a weak ox. I consider that Dr. Whitman saved my life, and I remembered it when he was massacred. I remembered it in the Cayuse war where I endeavored to redress his wrongs. We all got across safely. There was a Mr. Ayres (?) an Englishman who had a family in his care who came on his mule. He was riding a mule and went over [8] that shallows and into the deep water and drowned he and his mule. This was near the American Falls, the first crossing of the Snake [River]. The second crossing was at Fort Boise. We then blocked our wagon beds up six inches inside of the standards and forded the river - a thing I have never heard of being done before or since. It was a very dangerous way because if we had got into deep water the bodies would have floated off. We succeed in getting across safely, but we considered it very hazardous.

The first salmon we found on our route was at the first crossing of Snake River below Fort Hall. We found a very open country to Burnt River, Powder River, and Grande Rounde Valley. Then we struck the mountains where there was timber.

From Fort Hall to this point there was no road. Doctor Whitman used to put up notices directing us from one notice to another. We traveled by these notices from [9] place to place. We found no tracks. In some places we found an Indian trail and in other places not. The Indians would take a straight course up and down where wagons could not go. We had to go around to get on to divides which we could travel from one place to another. We seldom followed the trail. It was better traveling out of it than in it, it confused our teams. We travelled over a great deal of sage brush which was very hard to get over. We could not stop to chop it out. The wagons would bend it down but the ground was sandy and the wagons would sink deep into the sand and then rise high on the sage brush. The foremost wagons would mash it down. It tired the foremost teams very much. We had to change the foremost teams back every day, and use the strongest teams and the strongest wagons to mash the sage brush down. We could do it however so that the next wagon [10] could follow more easily. Frequently there would be a horseman ahead who rode where the wagons ought to go. If they found any obstacle in the way they would turn back and notify the train and turn them in [the] right direction where they should go.

At Grande Rounde there was a party with the instruction as to whether we had better stop there or not. It was a beautiful country. They would have stopped and colonized it if we had had provisions. We did not regard the Indians at all. Peter H. Burnett was in favor of stopping and locating there but having no supplies we travelled on for the Blue Mountains cutting our way through the fallen timber. We camped many times in sight of our former night's camp. We found it very laborious and very hard cutting that ?????? timber with our dull axes that we had not ground since we left Missouri having no grind stone to grind them & our hands being [11] very tender cutting those dry sticks which shruing (?) the skin loose on our hands. But it was getting late in the season, and it devolved on some 40 persons to make that road. The lazy ones dropped back, not for the purpose of screening themselves, but to rest their cattle, so they stated, but we imputed it to an thin diffidence in regard to the work. It devolved on the 40 persevering men to drive the wagons and cut the roads.

The women frequently would drive the teams and the men would do the work. The most of them had axes. We had shovels but it was rarely that we used them. I recollect we had to dig down the banks to get across the Grande Rounde River. When we crossed the Grande Rounde River the snow had fallen to a depth of two inches but did not lay long. I think it was in September it was an early snow. We travelled under the guidance of an Indian [12] pilot that Dr. Whitman had sent back. Wherever he directed us to go there we went, without searching for any other route since they have changed the road in many places. He found us a pretty fair route for getting through. The Indian did not look about much, he was familiar with the ground. He proved to be a faithful Indian. If I recollect right - he was the very Indian that afterwards killed Dr. Whitman.

In some places the timber was very thick, so that you could not ride a horse through without cutting. After we got on the top of the mountain the timber got lighter and more scattered and we got down the mountain comparatively easy. We got out of the timber when we got pretty nearly down. Went to Umatilla and then across to Walla Walla and to Whitman's station where he had established a mission. It is some 25 miles from Wallula [13] and 5 miles from Walla Walla City down on Mill Creek. At Whitman's station we stopped only a few days.

We went immediately on down the Columbia River. We were 6 months on the road from Platte City to Oregon City. Part of the emigration made canoes on the Walla Walla River above Wallula - ?????? called Applegate's company. Jesse Applegate was Captain; they just placed (?) loads (?) in the canoes and travelled down the Columbia River to The Dalles. They had an Indian pilot and they ran that fleet of canoes into The Dalles, and into those falls and capsized most of the canoes and drowned, I think 5 or 4 persons. They lost the most of their stuff. Some were thrown on the rocks and some went down through the rapids. One man named Doak who could not swim, he was thrown on a feather bed and flung on a rock. He remarked afterwards that he always liked feather beds.[14] They were heavy unmanageable cottonwood canoes. If they had had Indian canoes they would not have had any mishap. They all attempted to go through the rapids. The Indian who piloted them got through. The others did not know what they were going into.

"Dalles" is an Indian name signifying whirls or table rock I don't know which. They were going to all go down towards the Cascades 50 miles below that. I think they got their canoes and made their way down.

I was with the wagons. My wagon was in front of the caravan when it got to The Dalles. The first wagon that landed at The Dalles. There the country would not admit any further travel by wagon. The Cascade Mountains separated us from Willamette Valley. Several of us went into the pine forest there and got dry pine trees and hauled them to the river with our oxen and made rafts of logs; six or eight, one foot to 18 inches diameter, and [15] 20 feet long lashed together. We took our wagons apart and put the bodies on first and put the running gear on the top pieces and the baggage and stuff on top of that and lashed it on. Some would reserved a wagon bed with a cover on for a kind of a cabin for the women and children to sleep in. On one of these rafts there was a wagon with a cover on for that purpose a family occupying it and a woman was confined and delivered a child in the daytime, and the crew that were on the raft knew nothing of the circumstance till it was all over. It was to their great surprise that they heard the cry of an infant. Everything went on finely. They landed at the Cascades all cheerful, the mother and child included. There were some big rocks in the river and not knowing which way to steer our craft we would steer right straight for those big rocks. We did [16] this (?) is that when we got near the main current would carry us to the right side. But if we happened to steer to the wrong side the stronger current might have carried us on the other side and dashed us on the rocks. We went clear and got safely to the Cascades. There we had no more use for our rafts. We landed our things and spent two weeks in making a wagon road around the Cascades to get our wagons around. I had a cousin that brought the long boat of The Peacock. He had packed across in 1842 and heard that we were coming. There were women and children that had no mode of conveyance or transportation and were waiting for some means of getting away. And I prevailed on my cousin to take them. They were strangers to me and in distress and suffering while I could stand it better than they could. I told[17] him I would find my way down by some means. I had made my calculation to buy Indian canoes below the Cascades. I succeeded in doing that and my cousin brought the boat and as many as could get in the boat down. I made a raft of 4 canoes lashing them side by side, taking the wagon beds of 5 wagons to pieces making a platform on top of the canoes, and then taking the running gear apart and putting them on top of the platform; and the baggage on top of the running gears. I lashed it all on securely and hoisted a mast in the center of the craft with a wagon sheet for a sail.

With two Indians and two white men besides myself we set sail for Vancouver. Those were the first wagons brought down the river below the Cascades. It attracted a great deal of attention from the emigrants and others at [18] the time - my fixing such a craft. Some thought it would not bear the trip with 5 wagons and their load of passengers. I have confidence in it myself, and I managed the thing myself, and we sailed quite successfully down to Vancouver. They saw the sail. It seemed to them a very odd craft on the river, and they could not distinguish what kind of craft it was. It was not a canoe; it was not a batteau (?); and they were satisfied it was not a Man of War because they could not see any guns - so they told us after we landed. Many comical remarks were made about the craft when we landed. Dr. McLaughlin the chief factor at Vancouver was on the shore with quite a company of persons that saw the craft coming. Some 75 or 100 persons of the Hudson Bay Co. and round about came to the shore to see our craft landing.[19] Dr. McLaughlin was the first man that met me when I stepped ashore. He introduced himself to me; and he complemented me very much for my perseverance (?). He complimented the Bostons for being so persevering. He said it appeared they had a spirit to travel as far as the could by land; and then invented some way for traveling still further on by water; that they beat army people for perseverance and enterprise that he ever saw or heard of.

We needed supplies and he gave us all the supplies we asked for. If we had money to pay for it he accepted it, and if we had not we got it without a word. He was very generous and kind; and from my acquaintance afterwards, in all my life I never have seen a man who was more noble and more generous and high minded in my judgment than Dr. McLaughlin. Some of the emigrants went to California after that and failed to pay him. [20] Those who remained in Oregon generally paid him, and not withstanding some mistreating him he still was generous to persons who wanted favors. He would let them have seed wheat to sow and would wait for his pay till they could raise it.

Then we sailed down the Columbia to the mouth of the Willamette. After we got into the Willamette there came up a gale of strong wind up the river in the direction we were going and that endangered our craft it finally raised the waves six feet high and they would slush over the entire craft and cargo and over our heads. It required two Indians and two white men to bale out the canoes, a man to each canoe. They found that they could bale it out as fast as it would slush in. I kept the craft as near in the middle of the river because it was smoother there than it was near the shore. Our craft ran very [21] rapidly up the stream until we got to the rapids below Oregon City. There the wind slacked up and we tied up for the night. In the morning we towed the craft over the rapids with ropes 4 men and myself and we got to Oregon City. It was the first cargo of wagons that ever was landed at Oregon City by land or sea. They were landed on the 10th day of November 1843.

At the Cascades there was a Negro woman, and there was a canoe tied up on the shore. The Negro woman went out into the canoe to dip up some water, and the canoe sheered from under her and she fell in and disappeared. She was never seen again. She had been a servant attached I think to Burnett or his brother-in-law's family.

At Fort Hall General McCarver started out ahead of the train towards the Salmon Falls with a few packers, and on approaching Fort Boise on the Boise River, there/they (?)[22] discovered some Indians and he saw a red flag hoisted. He formed his men for battle. They marched up towards the Indians believing that they meant [to] fight. When he got near enough he discovered that the red flag was a salmon split open and spread out as a sign to the packers that they had salmon for sale. So they marched up and bought some salmon. They had a good deal of fun with McCarver because he had agreed to insure the lives of all that had gone ahead with him for a coon skin that they would get there safely.

There were not over a dozen houses at Oregon City when we got there. It was mostly round about near the falls. There were but few people & they were very kind and generous. There was a Missionary store there, there were some packers that had come there with their animals over the Cascade Mountains on the trail, but they lost their animals [23] repeatedly through the Indians and had to buy them back. Some of them had to give the Indians their shirts to have the animals brought back; so that when they got in they had not any shirts themselves - only their coats on. It was a very narrow trail and a rough road to travel. Those that had teams and stock came down the Columbia swam their animals at the Cascades and came down on the north side below the Cascades to opposite the mouth of the Sandy; there they crossed back to the south side. From there they drove them along the shore to Oregon City over a level country. Among those of our party who came over the Cascades by the trail were General McCarver and a man by the name of Chase, two Doughty's and perhaps a dozen others. After we arrived at Vancouver with our wagons, we sent up for the balance of the wagons.

Another party behind me got wind bound behind Cape Horn. [24]???They remained weather bound in a canoe on the rocks for some days and got out of provisions.??? They had raw hide on the boat. They boiled that at times and used it for rations until they used that up. A man by the name of Delaney had a boxful of hemp seed. He ate all that, a small quantity daily to sustain life. One man who remembered that on their way up they had taken breakfast at the same place when he was about famishing thought he could find something that they had dropped. He got down on his knees and hunted in the snow for crumbs that they might have dropped when they went up. They had been to Vancouver and went back to get the balance of their stuff. He wept bitterly at the situation because they thought they would have to perish. Dr. McLaughlin knowing the time that they would be due and satisfied that they were in distress somewhere, [and] sent [and] a boat and a canoe of provisions to them and saved them.. They got [25] there just in time to safe [sic] them from perishing.

The general face of the country appeared to me as if it was not acceptable (?) for the habitation of white people. The country that we passed over, the Walla Walla Country and Eastern Oregon has proved to be a different country entirely from what it appeared to the emigrants at that time. They considered it a desert gotten up expressly for the Indians, suitable for them and nobody else - fit for a wild race of people. That same country has since proved to be one of the finest wheat countries known in the world. It looked barren although it was covered with fine grass, bunch grass with thousands of Indian horses. The Indians were numerous. I was raised in a timber country and this being bare of timber it looked like a barren desert to me. It was only suitably apparently for grazing Indian ponies and for hunting it did not appear [26] delightful (?) to me with the exception of the Grande Rounde Country. I have been back to the Centennial and travelled eleven thousand miles in the United States, and after residing 19 years in Eastern Oregon I find no country that seems to me prettier nor no country that is so fertile nor that I would swap this for. It is the finest land for garden vegetables fruit apples pears plums and peaches and is only surpassed for grapes by California. In Umatilla and the Walla Walla Valley I raised an apple measuring 16 1/2 inches in circumference and weighing 46 ounces avoirdupois. At the Centennial at Philadelphia it was claimed by the showbill as the World Beater (?), the next size at the Centennial was an apple weighing 42 ounces. It is the largest apple on record.

Western Oregon I thought a fine country; it satisfied me when I got there. Aside from Eastern Oregon I know no other such anywhere. This valley was a very desirable country to look at [27] from the first most beautifully diversified with prairie and timber adjacent to each other that I ever saw.

Cal Steptoe first laid off the town of Walla Walla. The troops came there in 1856 or 57. He was the one that was surrounded with Yakima Country and started the Yakima war. They killed the Indian Agent there mid 1855 and Steptoe went out to see about it. There was nothing at the town of Walla Walla then. He camped in (?) the wide prairie. The troops concentrated there after he had made his campaign in to the Spokane Country in 1856. Then they moved down below where Walla Walla is and established what is called Fort Walla Walla. Walla Walla is the great center of Eastern Oregon. It is convenient of access from all points and a fine grazing district. Another thing was that the Indians camped there. We generally found where the Indians camped in the winter was the mildest place in [28] the country. They found the Indians camped there in winter and for that reason concluded it was the best place for white people to camp.

They located the second time a mile lower down on an elevated ridge; a flat ridge having room for the buildings and barracks with water on each side. The first location was torn down. Then at this first camp where there were a few people Steptoe laid out a town. It was called "Steptoe" first. Then they located the County Seat there and called it Walla Walla City. The Fort consisted of dwellings and quarters for the soldiers. They had no palisades (?) nor walls nor log houses. They were plank houses. There is no fort there it is barracks. At the time this was located the Hudson Bay people had all abandoned their forts. Walla Walla was their nearest point as formerly that was (formerly) called Walla Walla, [29] the old Hudson Bay Fort Walla Walla, at the mouth of Walla Walla River. When the Hudson Bay people abandoned that Steptoe established another fort in Walla Walla Valley and called it the same name. The Hudson Bay people having abandoned their fort the owner of the place or the man who kept possession Kane broached the name of Wallulla. There was a man by the name of Ransom Carr (?) who was one of the earlier settlers in that vicinity. He settled there after the troops went there. Then there was Mr. Russell, he settled there to supply the troops. Both these settled there in 1856 or 57. Walter Davis also is an early settler and Sergeant Smith. There is a mile square of reservation laid off with the fort in the center. The town lots of Walla Walla City came down to the line. Between the town and the fort there is about half a mile. While it was Steptoe City I do not think there was a lot laid off. In 1859 it was [30] opened for settlement by Col. Wright. It commenced building up then with canvas houses and shacks (?) and some log houses. There was no saw mill there to get lumber. The settlers coming in farmers stock raisers and traders started the town there. There was no knowledge of gold mining there at the time. In a short time they organized that section into counties. A quarter section was laid off into a town; the Roberts had a quarter section. There is Gaines addition and Roberts addition and still another quarter section Reeses addition. They are all connected now and there is quite a large section of country there two miles which is laid into town lots. The country was settled up by farmers and stock raisers. Merchants went in with stock and supplies. Then when the mines took out the merchants increased their stock of goats and sent them out from there and miners would come to get {31] their supplies.

Fino (?) was the nearest mining district. The mining interest of course benefited the farmers and stock raisers and advanced the farming interest. At this time 1860 there were very few boats on the river. In 1859 there were boats below The Dalles but none above except a very little trial enterprise called the Col. Wright. Everything was hauled above in wagons.

I have been up there 19 years. When the mines were opened it created a big trade in freight grain and stock to supply the mines. When the mines failed there was quite a discouragement of the farmers because they had not the market for their surplus. There was no transportation. So there was quite a stagnation in business and in farming. The O.P.N Co. increased the number of their boats and finally commenced shipping the surplus down, only charging what it was worth to move the freight over the portages. They carried freight [32] much cheaper down the river than for taking it up. This encouraged the farmers to produce. Finally the farmers saw that they could make something that way and they enlarged their farms raised more and finally got to producing a great surplus. It has increased for the last 4 or 5 years very rapidly. They are building still more boats. Last fall they carried freight from Walla Walla to Wallula 30 miles at the rate of 140 tons a day and were not able to get it all out.

Wallula consists of a landing. There are two taverns. Only part of the wall of the old Hudson Bay fort remains. Whitman station is 12 miles below Walla Walla and west of the rail road. There is a farm there and a grave yard in which all the persons who were massacred are buried in one grave. The Indians burnt all the wood of the above house of Whitman's station down. Part of the walls are remaining. The walls of the fort have all disappeared.

Oregon Trail In 1843


Early in the spring of 1843 the emigrants bound for Oregon began to pour into Westport and Independence.After the majority were gathered together and just prior to beginning the journey, a meeting was called to forma set of “traveling” rules and to elect a council of nine to mediate any disputes that might erupt. It was decidedthat it would be best to elect officers when the train reached the Kansas River.

On May 22, 1843 the Oregon Emigrating Company departed with John Gantt as guide. Gantt had attained the rank of Captain in the US Army and had made his living in the fur trade and was more than willing to guidethe train to Fort Hall for $1 per person. At Fort Hall it was hoped that assistance could be obtained from Dr.Marcus Whitman and party on as they returned to the Oregon country from the states.

On June 1, after completing the crossing of the Kansas River, elections were held to determine who the officers were to be. Each nominee moved out with his back to the company. Backers of an individual then lined up behind their favorite candidate creating several lines of men stretching out across the prairie. The leaders, in jest, then proceeded to run across the prairie with their lines of supporters following like a long tail. The strange sight was captured in print by a writer passing by with the Sir William Drummond hunting expedition who remarked that, “Running for office is certainly performed in more literal fashion on the prairie …..” After the merriment, the end result was that Peter Burnett became Captain and James Nesmith was elected OrderlySergeant.

As was true of each emigration, the exact numbers varied from person to person. According to an interview with Ninevah Ford in 1878, “We rendezvoused at West Port west of Independence, Jackson County, Missouri.We started from there in April. There were between 500 and 700 souls in the party and 113 wagons…….”.However, John Arthur in 1887 at an address of the Oregon Pioneer Association, stated that “the emigratingbody numbered over one thousand souls, with one hundred and twenty wagons drawn by ox teams and overthree thousand head of loose cattle and horses.”

The company was soon to be involved in several severe storms that left them waterlogged and axle deep inmuddy quagmires. Adding to the complaints, was the dissatisfaction created between those who had cattle andthose who did not. After much dissension, Peter Burnett resigned. William Martin assumed command of thecompany without loose cattle. Jesse Applegate was elected leader of the “Cow Column”, which consisted ofapproximately 60 wagons and a couple of thousand head of cattle.

Following behind was Joseph B. Chiles, a pioneer of 1841, who was returning to California leading a smallgroup of family and friends.

As with emigrations to follow, these rugged pioneers dealt daily with adverse weather conditions, lack ofprovisions, conflict of personalities and illness. To add to their afflictions, they did not have a wagon trail tofollow. For a more comprehensive study of the emigration of 1843, I recommend reading “Blazing A WagonTrail To Oregon, A Weekly Chronicle of the Great Migration of 1843” by Lloyd W. Coffman.