Collin Ford (1827 – )


In the days when America was a British dependency the ancestors of Colonel Collin Ford came to the new world. The family is of Scotch origin but for a number of generations has been represented in this land, and Alexander Ford, the grandfather of the Colonel, was a soldier of the Revolutionary war. His son, Uriah Ford, devoted his entire life to agricultural pursuits and died in Williams county, Missouri, in 1887, at the age of seventy-seven years, having for more than two decades survived his wife, who passed away in 1854 at the age of forty-seven years and was laid to rest in the Norwich township graveyard of Huron. The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Duling and belonged to the well known old Duling family of Virginia, where they owned large plantations and many slaves.

Colonel Collin Ford was born in Coshocton county, Ohio, August 29, 1827, and acquired his early education in the public schools of Huron county, Ohio, while subsequently he became a student in the Norwalk Baptist Academy and later studied for a brief period at Oberlin College. An attack of typhoid fever, however, forced him to discontinue his studies. He afterward taught school in Huron county, Ohio, and was called to the superintendency of the schools at Germantown, Montgomery county, where his educational service covered a period of four years. Impaired health caused him to abandon the work of the schoolroom for a time and he resumed his profession at Lebanon, Ohio, where he taught Latin and Greek in the normal school for six months. At the end of that time the superintendent of the public school there died, and when the school board sought a man to fill the place, Colonel Ford was chosen superintendent and principal teacher in the high school, which position he held for two years.

In the meantime the country had become involved in the Civil war and, feeling that his first duty was in support of the Union cause, Colonel Ford enlisted as a private and on the organization of the Seventy-ninth Ohio Infantry was appointed first lieutenant. He participated in all the engagements and services of that regiment from the beleaguering of Cincinnati by Kirby Smith in 1862, to June, 1864, when in the Atlanta campaign he was overcome with heat and sent to the Officers’ Hospital at Nashville, Tennessee. At the end of three weeks he received an order from the war department transferring him to the One Hundredth United States Volunteers, with the rank of major. He organized this regiment and drilled it so perfectly that at the end of a month it was regarded as the best drilled regiment in the vicinity of Nashville. Major Ford remained in command from June, 1864, until late in January, 1865. In the battle of Nashville Major Ford commanded his regiment, holding the extreme left. Charging the rebels at daylight on the morning of December 15. he drove them from their first line of works, and held his position all day. He made the last charge of that battle, on Overton Hill, at 4 o’clock of the second day, and in that charge lost twenty-nine per cent of his command. He was brevetted lieutenant colonel and colonel for faithful services.

After the battle of Nashville and the completion of the campaign against Hood, Colonel Ford’s health was so shattered that he was unfit for field service and General Thomas detailed him as a member of the military commission at Nashville. Shortly afterward the commission was reorganized with reference to Major Ford’s rank, making him its president. As such he tried many cases, of which the most conspicuous was that of the guerrilla chief, Champ Ferguson. This trial continued for forty-two days. General Thomas had refused Ferguson the right to surrender as a soldier under the cartel between Grant and Lee, but sent out and captured him as an outlaw. The man was most ably defended; the leading attorneys being Judge Gill of Tennessee and Captain Goodwin of Indiana. Several officers of the Confederate army were brought before the commission to prove that Ferguson was a soldier, but the attempts utterly failed. The testimony of many witnesses showed conclusively that Ferguson had never been a soldier, but was a freebooter of the boldest and most dangerous type. It was proven that he had committed fifty-six murders, some of them of the most gruesome kind. He was condemned to death. The choice of Colonel Ford as president of the commission was a wise one—knowledge of the law united with his well balanced mind, and an innate sense of justice and love for that which is right, well fitted him for guiding in the deliberations and contests of this famous trial.

Following the war Colonel Ford engaged in the practice of law at Lebanon. Ohio. He served as prosecuting attorney one term. He then came to Cincinnati, where he entered the life insurance field and for the past thirty years has been manager of the Aetna Life Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut. He has his offices in the Commercial Tribune building. He employs a large force of clerks and agents, and has a comprehensive understanding of the business, being regarded as one of the foremost insurance men of the middle west

Colonel Ford has been married twice. In Lorain county, Ohio, he married Miss Mary E. Jameson, who died in 1870, leaving five children, four sons and a daughter: Mary Elizabeth, now the wife of Thomas C. Shipley, a retired business man; Collin, a mechanical and civil engineer, who is now engaged with the Aetna Life Insurance Company; Allen H. and William, who are also connected with their father as partners in business; and Freddie, who died in infancy. Colonel Ford was again married on the 5th of September, 1872, when in Cincinnati he wedded Miss Abby M. Ware, a daughter of Samuel W. and Charlotte Martin Ware, the former one of the pioneer business men of this city. The family reside at No. 248 Ludlow avenue, Clifton.”

Source:  Cincinnati, the Queen City, 1788-1912, Vol. 4, by S.J. Clarke Publishing, Chicago and Cincinnati, 1912, pages 837-9

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