Saturday, May 14, 2016

Plan of Action: Discovering William Preston Ford, Part I

The purpose of this post is to research my paternal great-grandfather, William Preston Ford. I know very little about him or where he came from. His parents have been a mystery. I am hoping that by writing down the bits of information I have, and coming up with a list of questions to guide me, that I can  to begin to unravel this mystery.

This is the information I obtained during family interviews:

  • William Preston FORD was married to Leona Frances SHARP before he married my great-grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth DODD. They had one son, George William Ford. Leona died 8 days after giving birth to George William.
  • My grandmother, Ethel FORD, nee WICKLIFFE, stated that my grandfather was only about 12 years old when his dad, William Preston Ford died.
  • She further stated that William Preston Ford was very young when his dad died. She stated that because my grandfather Arthur Elisha Ford, was one of the youngest children in the family, they never learned much about his father's side of the family.
Records I have uncovered previously:

The transcription:

Application and Affidavits 
Marriage License
     No. 11
W.P. Foard Aug. 20, 1881
Mr. W.P. Foard
Miss S.E. Dodd
This paper must be returned to the office of
Recorder of Deeds before a license can be issued.

The source citation for this marriage record is:

Missouri, Marriage Records, 1805-2002, database and digital image, ( : accessed 08 Jun 2009), W.P. Foard entry, citing Missouri Marriage Records, Jefferson City, Missouri: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm.

Next, I found the 1900 Harris Township, Stone, Arkansas for William and Sarah.

The transcription for this 1900 Harris Township, Stone, Arkansas is as follows:

William Ford, head, white male, date of birth - Jan 1854, 46 years old, married 19 years, born in Arkansas and both parents were born in Arkansas, farmer, can read, write, and speak English, rents farmhouse.

Sarah Ford, wife, white, female, Mar 1865, 35 years, married 19 years, mother of 7 children, 6 of which are still living, born in Arkansas, both parents born in Arkansas, can read, write, speak English

Thomas Ford, son, white, male, Feb 1882, 18 years, single, Arkansas, can read, write, speak English

Mary Ford, daughter, white, female, Oct 1884, 15, single, Arkansas, can read, write, speak English

Jesse Ford, son, white, male, Jan 1889, 11, single, Arkansas, can read, write, speak English

Elisha, son, white, male, June 1894, 5, single, Arkansas, can speak English

Alice G., daughter, white, female, Jan 1900, 4/12, single, Arkansas

The citation for this 1900 Census is:

1900 Census, Stone County, Arkansas, population schedule, Harris, enumeration district 133, page 9B, dwelling 154, family 157, William Ford household; digital image, ( accessed 07 Jan 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 77.

According to this census, Sarah had 7 children, 6 still living, so who would be the 6th child?
 Is Sarah counting George William, her stepson, as her 6th child or was there another child born into the marriage living? That seems doubtful, due to the fact that Thomas, the oldest listed, is 18 and Sarah and William have been married for 19 years. Who was the 7th child?

The last piece of information is William Preston Ford's headstone.

The citation for this headstone is:

Find A Grave, Inc., Find A, digital image, ( : accessed 08 Jun 2009), photograph, “gravestone for W.P. Ford (04 May 1856 - 06 Nov 1908), Memorial No.18069442 , Records of Beech Grove Cemetery, Arkansas.” 

William Preston Ford's headstone in Beech Grove, Greene, Arkansas lists his date of birth as 04 May 1856, which contradicts the 1900 census.

In a review of all the information, I have developed a list of questions to guide my research.
  1. When was William Preston Ford born? 04 May 1856 or Jan 1854?
  2. Who are William Preston Ford's parents?
  3. Were Leona Frances Sharp and William Preston Ford married? If so, where and when?
  4. Where was William Preston Ford living at the time of George William's birth?
  5. Where was William Preston Ford in the 1880 census?

Course of action:
  1. I will send off for the marriage records of William and Sarah to see if that holds any information.
  2. I will look for marriage records of William Ford and Leona Frances Sharp.
  3. I will search for William Ford in the 1880 census. He should be enumerated with either Leona or with George William, an infant.
  4. I will search for death records on Leona Frances Sharp Ford.
  5. Research the 1880, 1870, and 1860 census records to see other Ford families in the area that might be linked to William Preston Ford.

As I uncover information, I will post the news.