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Formation of Marion County, Mississippi
Supplement Interviews on Pioneers - Ms. Mattie Ford

By Oizelia F. Sylverstein
Submitted by Tommie Phillpott

Copy Found in Columbia, Marion County Library, Mississippi.
Marion County, Assignment #2, Historical Research Project, July 29, 1937, County History
Stamped Oizelia F. Sylverstein 
Subject: Formation of County
Supplement: Interviews on Pioneers. 
Interviewed:  Miss Mattie Ford, Rt. __ Columbia, Miss.  Great Grand-daughter of John Ford.  She lives in the old home which belonged to him. 

John Ford, the father of Martin, Calvin and John William, came with his wife Lydia Powell, and their children from Marion District, South Carolina, in 1829.  The family and party, which consisted principally of his wife's people, the POWELLS, made the journey overland.  John Ford's wife was from Pennsylvania, but they were married in South Carolina.  His mother was Virginia Barfield.

They supplied themselves with provisions, travelled by compass and were en route about one year.  To add to the food supply: Coffe, sugar, rice and other farm products, they took advantage of the game which abounded.  Carts were used and bedding was but in hogshead with curb and spindle attachments and drawn by oxen.  The trip was perilous.  It was the day of the roaming Indian, wild animals encountered, streams to be crossed by means of make-sift construction, road-ways to be made in places and besides, the ills which are incident to such living conditions.

On reaching PEARL RIVER, they found the place of their dreams and proceeded no further, locating a few miles south of Columbia.  It was in the spring and when clearing the land, it was found that the beech leaves were very soft and wilted quickly and were suitable for beds, so they were used for that purpose until they could do better.  Their bedding was limited because of the fact they were unable to bring everything with them on account of such crude means of transportation.

The permanent location of John Ford were he and his wife spent the remainder of their lived, is now know as the "BILL FORD" , place four miles south of Columbia.  This site was selected and owned by his brother-in-law, Evan Powell, and on which he had built his dwelling, but in 1939, Evan Powell decided to go to another part of Marion County and sold to John Ford.  This place is on a beautiful little stream.  Here John Ford purchased extensive tracts of land for three sons: John William, Calvin, and Martin where they located near their parents.

One morning the aged grand-father called at his son's house, John William, who married Eliza Rankin, to see their new born babe and said: "Liza, I have come this morning to name the little boy for you."  On inquiring of him what the name should be, he replied: "Jesse Charles."  On their journey from South Caroline, his own three-year-old son, Jesse Charles, was stricken with a sickness to which he succumbed.  He was prepared for burial the very best way of which such circumstances would permit.  Part of one of the carts was used to make a box which served as the little casket and he was placed beneath a large old oak, so that possible they might return in after years for the body and could more easily be found.  by this fine tree-but not so.  still the memory was dear to the father.

The John ford cemetary is near the place of the old home; however, John Ford was not the first to be laid away there.  His wife's sister, MISS NANCY POWELL, one of the belles of the day was the first.  In evening dress, low neck and short sleeves, she attended a dance at one of the neighbors.  Horse-back riding being the custom, she rode her favorite pacer and went in company with her friends.  Not heeding the advice of her sister to take a wrap, on leaving the dance in the early hours of the foggy morn, she contracted pneumonia.  When delirious she spoke frequently of a hold under the big chinquapin tree.  There seemed to be significance to it, so when she died she was put to rest under the big chinquapin tree-the beginning of the John Ford Cemetery.

It has been said that so often there would be a hole in this grave, that there became an uncanny connection with the "hole under the big chinquapin tree." In recent years, one of the descendants while having some negroes working the cemetary, decided to solve the mystery.  Taking a hoe, she commenced digging.  After a few strokes, out darted a scorpion--hereupon the frightened lady gave a scream.  The superstitious negroes not far away, thinking she had seen a ghost, fled frantically, almost out of calling distance.

The home of John Ford is well preserved and is occupied by some of his great grand-children.  He has many loyal and patriotic descendants who are splendid citizens.

Exact copy without correction.

Tommie Phillpott

Mattie M. Ford, b. 17 May, 1879 d. 24 Oct. 1940, buried John Ford Cemetery, Marion County, Mississippi.
daughter of William Joseph Ford b. 4 March, 1843 d. 17 Feb. 1917 and Emma E. Penn b. 11 Dec. 1876, d.27 Oct. 1870.  Buried , John Ford Cemetery.

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