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Re: Ford brothers who killed Jessie James
Posted by: Dorothy M. Lewis Date: March 14, 1999 at 21:34:14
In Reply to: Ford brothers who killed Jessie James by Scott Godfrey of 10224

I too have a link to these Ford brothers. My grandmother, Clemmie May Ford, was supposed to have been the niece of Robert Newton Ford, who shot Jesse James. Her parents were Henry and Martha Ann (McMunn) Ford. However, Robert did not have a brother named Henry, and Clemmie and her parents were all born in Ohio. Does anyone have any information on the Ohio Fords?

In the meantime, perhaps the following, which was copied from Chapter 7 of "Jesse and Frank James: The Family History" written by Phillip W. Steele and published by Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. in 1987, will help others who are also attempting to confirm their link to this family. I found a copy of this book at our local library.

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The decision to include a portion on the Ford family in this James Family study was a difficult one. Many past writers on the James brothers have mistakenly suggested that Jesse James was killed by his cousin Bob Ford. Just where such writers got the impression Bob and Charlie Ford were related to Jesse James is not known. A thorough study of the James and Ford families has not turned up any possible family relationship between them. The reader should, therefore, not interpret the inclusion of the Ford family as a suggestion that there may have been a family relationship.

Because of Bob Ford's assassination of Jesse James and because of his brother Charlie's involvement in the plot, what is currently known of the Ford family is included here. Though it is not nearly as popular as trying to prove a family connection with the James brothers, hundreds of people also seek a family relationship with Jesse's assassin. This writer has received numerous inquiries regarding the Ford family, and the James Farm has many visitors each year making inquiries of the Fords. What is currently know of this family is as follows:

Austin Ford, Born 1790, Fauquier County, Virginia, Died July, 1841, Married Jane Allison (1817 or 1818)

Austin Ford met his wife, Jane Allison, while he was serving in the military and was active in campaigns against the Indians in Florida. Jane was born in Florida in 1794. Austin returned to Fauquier County, Virginia after his marriage and practiced his trade as a stone mason. Austin and Jane Allison had the following known children in Virginia:

James Thomas Ford (born 1820)
John W. Ford
Lucella Ford
Charles Ford (born 1828)
Elizabeth Ford
Mary Jane Ford
William H. Ford
Arthur F. Ford (died 1885)
Robert A. Ford (born March 13, 1840)

In 1840, Austin took his family from Virginia to Clark County, Missouri, where he managed a large farm for a man named Lee. In July of 1841, Ford was killed from a blow to the head in an altercation with Lee. John Wesley Ford then became head of the household. John married Anna Maria Storey and operated Seybolts Tavern in Missouri in 1870. John and Maria's children were William Ezra, Mary Jane, Georginia, John H., Edwin, Luther, and Florida. Georginia and Florida died as children. Austin Ford's widow, Jane Allison, moved to Clay County, Missouri in 1851, where she died in 1857.

Charles Ford married a girl from Tennessee named Martha and spent his life as a farmer near Richmond in Ray County, Missouri.

Robert Austin Ford was born in Virginia on March 13, 1840. He married Mary E. Story, a daughter of Thomas and Luck A. (Baldwin) Story in Clay County, Missouri. Luck was born in Clay County in 1850. Robert A. and Mary had the following children: Oscar A., Jesse James, Ella T., Walter N., Maggie L, Robert A., Flora Belle, and Arthur F. The following children all died young: John T., Flora, and Arthur.

James Thomas Ford was born in Virginia in 1820. He married Mary Ann Bruin, daughter of Elias and Ann Bruin, in Virginia on August 10, 1840. James moved to Missouri along with his father, Austin, and their family. James T. Ford returned to Virginia shortly after his father died and there became a tenant farmer for John A. Washington at Mt. Vernon. In 1843, James T. and his wife returned to Clark County, Missouri, where the following children were born:

Georgia Ford (born 1844)
John T. Ford (born 1846)
Elias Capline Ford
Martha and Amanda Ford (twins--born 1855)
Charles Wilson Ford (born July 9, 1857)
Wilber Ford (born 1860)
Robert Newton Ford (born January 31, 1862)

Shortly after Robert Newton Ford was born, the family returned to Mt. Vernon for a short period before finally settling on a farm in Clay County, Missouri. A well-known student of the Bible, James Thomas pastored a church near their home.

William H. Ford married Artella Cummins on September 21, 1862 and later Amanda Goode on February 27, 1866. William lived near Kearney, Missouri, where his children Fanny and Albert Ford were born.

Charles Wilson Ford, the fifth child of James Thomas ford and Mary (Bruin) Ford, was born on July 9, 1857. Charles had apparently been involved with the James-Younger gang and was accepted by Jesse James. Charles went to St. Joseph some months before April 3, 1882, and because he was wanted by the law he was staying in Jesse's home. While they were planning the robbery of a Platte City, Nebraska bank, Charles Ford persuaded Jesse James to let his younger brother, Bob Ford, age twenty, participate. When bob arrived at Jesse's St. Joseph, Missouri home, Charles and Bob carefully waited for the proper moment to carry out the plot they had previously arranged with Missouri Governor Crittenden and law officials to bring down the notorious Jesse James. After breakfast on the morning of April 3, 1882, Jesse, Bob, and Charles left the kitchen and entered the parlor. Jesse removed his gun belt and laid it on a day bed. Noticing a picture on the wall that needed straightening or dusting, he stood on a chair. At that moment Robert Newton Ford fired his .44 and Jesse James fell dead.

Charles Ford became distraught over the tremendous public ridicule he and his brother received over shooting the famous, unarmed outlaw Jesse James in the back of the head. Charles committed suicide on May 6, 1884, two years after their cowardly deed.

Bob Ford, apparently with a good portion of reward money, journeyed to Creede, Colorado where he established a saloon and reveled in the notoriety he had earned as the man who killed Jesse James. A man named O'Kelley, apparently a fan of Jesse James, became inebriated and walked into Ford's saloon and shot and killed him on June 8, 1892. Buried in Colorado, Ford's body was exhumed a few years later by his family and returned to Missouri.
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