Sangamon County ILGenWeb © 2000
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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

JAMES S. FORD. - James S. Ford, who is farming on Illiopolis township, where a tract of one hundred and twenty acres yields to him annually good harvests in reward for his care and labor, is numbered among Sangamon county's early settlers, his residence here covering a period of more than half a century. He was born in Marshall county, Kentucky, June 22, 1844, and was, therefore, a little lad of seven summers when he arrived in central Illinois in 1851. His father, Boze Ford, was a native of South Carolina, but spent the greater part of his youth in Kentucky, where he removed with his father, Samuel Ford, at an early period in the settlement of that state.

James S. Ford spent his boyhood days amid the pioneer surroundings of Sangamon county, herding cattle over the broad prairies and dropping grain by hand as he followed the plow across the fields. His experiences were those which usually fall to the lot of a farmer boy living upon the frontier. He pursued his education in the Harristown graded schools and continued his farm work with his father until twenty-one years of age, after which he began earning his own living by working during the summer months as a farm hand. He continued to attend the common and graded schools through the winter seasons and subsequently he engaged in teaching in Christian county, Illinois, for a few terms. Afterward he rented a tract of land and began agricultural pursuits on his own account and he made further preparation for having a home of his own by his marriage.

On the 26th of March, 1872, in Illiopolis, Mr. Ford was married to Miss Mary E. Hampton, a native of this county, born, reared and educated in Mechanicsburg. Her father, John S. Hampton, came to Illinois from Kentucky in pioneer times and was soon recognized as one of the prominent and influential residents of Mechanicsburg and Lanesville townships. After following farming for a number of years he took up his abode in Illiopolis, where he spent his last days. His wife, still surviving him, yet resides in that place. After his marriage Mr. Ford rented a farm for ten years in Lanesville township and then purchased a tract of land with the money that he had earned through his persistent labor and capable management. About 1883 he purchased his present home and since that time has given his undivided attention to the cultivation and improvement of his farm. This he has tiled and the fields are now productive and yield good harvests. Shade and orchard trees are found upon the place and in the winter months the cellar is well stocked with quantities of fruit and vegetables of his own raising. In the barns and sheds are found the products of the fields and in addition to the raising of grain Mr. Ford devotes considerable attention to the raising and feeding of stock for the market. In 1902 he removed to Illiopolis, purchasing residence property there, but while making his home in the town he gives his personal supervision to the control and conduct of his farm.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Ford have been born five children: Horace, a resident farmer of Macon county; Emery, who is married and resides in Springfield; Henry, an agriculturist of Lanesville township; Lenora, at home; and Fannie, who died when about eleven years of age. The parents and children are members of the Christian Church of Illiopolis, in which Mr. ford is serving as deacon, and the cause of the church finds in him an active promoter, being deeply interested in its growth and the extension of its influence. Politically he is a stanch Democrat who since casting his first ballot for General George Be. McClellan in 1864 has never wavered in his allegiance to the party. At local elections, however, where no issue is involved he votes independently. He was elected and served as justice of the peace of Illiopolis for four years, was township treasurer for seven years and has done effective service as a member of the school board for a number of years. For a half century he has lived in this county and seldom has he been absent from it. He made, however, a trip to California, where he spent a few months in visiting his three brothers. His time and energies have been largely devoted to his agricultural interests and in Illiopolis and throughout the surrounding district he is widely and favorably known.

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