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This Site is Dedicated to Families who settled in and around James County and Hamilton County Tennessee




Several branches of the Ford family were in Hamilton County at an early day.  One operated the area’s first dairy and another was a liquor and tobacco dealer.  Still another was a newspaper editor before the Civil War, while another branch farmed in the area that later became James County.


Benjamin Ford, who was a native of Maryland, in 1845 bought 90 acres on both sides of the Dry Valley Road from Cavanaugh Boydston.  This was at the present Red Bank on the “road leading from Washington (in Rhea County) to John Brown’s old ferry.”  He paid $200 down and also had a $100 note.  His first wife, Sarah died Sep 3, 1841, and was buried at the Citizen’s Cemetery.  She was 45.  His second wife was Pensacola Hawley, who born in 1805.  She died at the end of the Civil War and was buried at White Oak.  Benjamin Ford had daughters Rachel R. and Sarah and an older daughter, Elizabeth A., who married a Jones.  Rachel married John F. Hamill in 1849, and their children were Samuel, Benjamin, Elizabeth, and James B. Hamill.  Rachel Ford Hamill died in 1864.


James Henry Ford, a son of Benjamin Ford, was born in 1836 when the family was in Sullivan County, Tennessee.  Soon after the Civil War broke out, James Henry Ford enlisted on the Confederate side under J.S. Tyner with the First Tennessee Cavalry.  He served under Nathan Bedford Forrest and then under Joe Wheeler.  James H. Ford served as a member of the County Court.  He was “a man of considerable wealth and in his quiet way was charitable to the poor.”  He had first married Elizabeth Martin, daughter of the Ford neighbor Russell Martin, on Sep 13, 1862.  However, she died in 1864.  James H. Ford married Rhoda T. Thomison at Washington in Rhea County in 1873.  She was one of the loyal Rebel women of Rhea County who organized a cavalry company to carry clothing, food, and “such other necessities and delicacies as able to procure” to nearby Confederate camps.  She and other members of the unit were arrested and marched on foot to Dayton and then taken to Chattanooga on an Army cattle boat.  They were released after being interrogated by a Union general.  James P. Ford, the only son of James H. and Rhoda Ford was born in 1874.  He married Minnie Hartley in 1898.  When James P. Ford died at the young age of 39, he was living at the old Ford homestead on Dry Valley Road and his unmarried Aunt Sally was still with the family.  He was buried at White Oak Cemetery, where his parents also lie.  James H. Ford died in 1913 and Rhoada Thomison Ford died in 1918.


Benjamin Ford died Sep 15, 1861 at the age of 71.  He was buried the Citizen’s Cemetery.


Another Ford who fought in the Civil War was Nathan C. Ford who was in the Confederate cavalry, then transferred to the artillery.  The native of Charlotte County, Virginia came to Chattanooga from Knoxville in February of 1870.  He had married Mary Ianthe Anthony Hancock in 1868.  Her first husband was a Hancock, and she had a son J.D. Hancock.  Nathan C. Ford went into the wholesale liquor business at 717 Market Street with E.R. Betterton, and both resided nearby at Chestnut Street.  Ford later switched to wholesale tobacco.  He was one of the first police commissioners at Chattanooga under appointment from Gov. William Bate.  His sons were W.M., C.L., and F.C.  Nathan C. Ford built a home on the west side of Walnut Street between Fifth and Sixth streets that he sold to John Divine and later was occupied by Summerfield and Mary Divine Key.  Mrs. Nathan C. Ford died in 1898 at their home at Third and Walnut.  She was “noted for her charity and Christian endeavor.”


Coming to Chattanooga near the end of the war was William P. Ford, who was born in 1832 at Windsor, New York.  He had married Maggie S. Bond in 1862, but she was killed by a runaway team of horses on June 2, 1864.  At Chattanooga on June 6, 1875, Ford married Ellen Dady, daughter of John and Fannie Dady.  John Dady was a contractor who was drowned during a flood the same year of his daughter’s marriage.


William P. Ford as a young man had gone out as a surveyor of the “Great American Desert.”  He came to Chattanooga in January of 1864 to assist in rebuilding the railroads into the devastated town.  He was placed in charge of the ox teams that were used to bring in the timber for the project.  Afterward, Ford settled at Sherman Heights – the section of East Chattanooga where General William Sherman had advanced on Missionary Ridge.  There he opened Chattanooga’s first dairy.  One of the main customers was the baker Adolph Tschopik.  The milk was $1 a gallon and buttermilk was half a dollar.  During the great flood of 1867, Ford was not stopped from his milk deliveries – even though much of downtown Chattanooga was under water.  He obliged Mrs. Bishop, the 250-pound hostess of the Crutchfield House, by taking her on a tour of the lower floors of her hotel in his boat.  William P. Ford was one of the first former Union men to denounce the terrorizing of former Rebels and the confiscation of their property.  He was “a Democrat from his youth up,” though in 1896 he split with many in his party by remaining a “gold” Democrat instead of a “silver” one.  Ford was justice of the peace from 1884 to 1888.  He was active in developing the suburbs of Sherman Heights, East Chattanooga, Boyce, and Avondale.  He died December 11, 1900, and was buried at Greenwood Cemetery.  He had a son, William C., by his first wife.  He lived at Princeton, Kansas.  Children by the second wife were Fannie, Sallie, Mamie, Annie, and William P. Jr.


Before the war, John W. Ford was an editor at Chattanooga and his sons, Leonidas N. and Thomas J., were printers.  The daughters were Margaret, Elizabeth, Caroline, and Adelia.  Thomas J. Ford enlisted April 25, 1962, at Chattanooga with the Lookout Artillery headed by Captain Robert Barry.  Thomas J. Ford died of pneumonia at Knoxville on November 2, 1862.  The native of Hamilton County was 31.  His wife, Hetty, filed a claim with the Confederate authorities on pay that was owed.  He had a light complexion and gray eyes and was 5’11” tall.


One of the County’s early settlers was Levi Ford, who has been born at Caswell, North Carolina about 1780.  He and his brothers, Laban, Lemuel, George, Amos, and Pleasant Henry, were sons of Simeon Ford.  Levi Ford was married to Mary Payne in 1814 at Caswell County.  He was a chair maker.  The children of Levi and Mary Ford included Levi Jr., Mary, Susan, and Anna.  Another son was William Daniel Ford, who was born in Caswell Count in 1822.  His first wife was Amy Jane Collins, then he married the much-younger Betty Sparks.  A descendant, Earl Ford, said this line of Fords sought to get some of the river bottom property in the north part of the county, but it was all taken and they had to settle for several hundred acres of ridge land.  The family lived at Friendship, which is between Birchwood and Harrison.  The children of William Daniel Ford included James Henry, John, William Robert, Charles, Amanda Jane, Richard, Elizabeth, Martha, Nancy, Dolly, Thomas, and George.  Amanda Jane married William Monroe Pairett in 1871.


James Henry Ford was in Company B of the First Tennessee Cavalry.  He was hospitalized in May of 1862.  He deserted and took the oath of allegiance at Chattanooga on April 20, 1865.  He lived at Birchwood with his wife, Mary, before the war.


William Robert Ford, who was born in 1847, married Rachel Cooley, William R. Ford was a blacksmith, and he taught some of the sons the same trade.  Rachel Cooley Ford died in 1911 and her husband the following year.  Their children included John B., Mattie J., Jesse Franklin Sim, Noah, and Lena.  Sim was shot and killed in 1902 and John B. suffered the same fate in 1906.  Noah married Ora Maddox.  Lena married Wilson Quinn.  Earl Ford is the son of Jesse Franklin Ford and Nancy Cordelia Hindman.  Though several of the sons of William D. Ford moved to Texas, George Ford remained at Friendship and his descendants still live there Sons of George Ford and his wife, Lucy Hindman, were Arthur Trainer, Alton, Glenn, James, and Lloyd.  Sons of Arthur Trainer Ford are Alymas, Marvin, Arthur Vernon, Bryan, and George.  Earl Ford said one of the Fords who moved to Texas returned to Hamilton County, saying “he could not find a decent woman in all of Texas.”  He located one at Harrison, then returned with her to the Lone Star State.


Wesley Davis


Wesley Davis (1811-1900) moved into the Cross Roads area before the Indian Removal and married Nellie Reed (1818-1858) who was a half-Cherokee.  Family tradition related that they were married first in an Indian ceremony and later remarried by the traditions of the white culture.  Before Nellie died in 1858, the couple had six children.


Wesley Davis married the second time, Mary A. Ford (1829-1903), and they had seven children.


Wesley Davis was buried in the Montgomery Cemetery with his first wife; his second wife, Mary A. (Ford), was buried in the McDonald Cemetery located on Snow Hill Road between Greenwood Church and Mahan Gap Road on land donated to the community by Preston McDonald.  Other families buried in the McDonald Cemetery were Cardin, Cannon, Cooper, Thompson, Wolfe, Forgey, Friddell, Dill, Biggs, Holder, Roy, Padgett, Lee, and Lively.


The first school in James County, Tennessee was the Snow Hill Academy was advertised in 1873 in the Cleveland Banner.  Wesley Davis was on the board of directors.


In 1855 Wesley Davis bought river-bottom land in the area.  Two of his children, L. Davis and Jane T. (Davis) Wolfe, moved to river farms in the Maddux Community, Isaac (1837-1902) and Jane T. (Davis) Wolfe (1840-1894) farmed land south of Denny Hill and north of the Maddux lands.