Andy & Jane Ford

Andrew Jackson Ford
27 July 1838 – 25 August 1913

Jane Frances Clore Ford
3 October 1848 – 6 December 1919

My great-great-grandfather Andrew Jackson Ford was the third of ten children and my great-great-grandmother Jane Francis Clore Ford was the youngest of eleven children (though I suspect one of the sisters listed on one census as “Sarah J” – and who keeps turning up in family ancestry chart records without any citations for the info connected to her is actually Jane. Jane is not listed on that same census and she is too young to not be. If my hunch is correct, that would make Jane the youngest of ten children)*.

Unlike the stories of the families of so many of the people I investigate from nearby cemeteries, my family has been in the US for centuries. We don’t have many immigration stories that post-date the Revolution. For relative after relative on both sides of the family, the story is usually about an immigration to the colonies from Great Britain or Germany (and frequently those German immigrants came through Germany from Great Britain due to religious noncomformity), and then in the years after the Revolution, they moved out into the vast wilderness that became the Midwest.

They migrated west variously from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and other newly-minted states, stopping for a time in Ohio, and then for several generations, everyone lived in and around the same area of Indiana (northeast of Indianapolis and Muncie, fairly close to the Ohio border by modern standards) until, in the post-WW2 era, everything changed. Starting with my parents’ generation, pretty much everyone left. I still have a few relatives near the old family homebase but they are at least an hour or two away by car, which in early 1900s terms is a world away from the old home county of Blackford.

My great-great grandparents (my father’s father’s father’s parents) were pioneers of Blackford County, doing the hard work of turning wild territory into farmland. Andy (as his obituary tells us he was known) was the third son (and child) of his ten siblings. In 1850 when Andy is only 12, his father is listed in the census as a farmer in Ohio. We get no more information, but in 1860, the family has moved to Indiana and Andrew’s father is listed as a tenant farmer.

This seems a great step down from having one’s own farmhold, but I imagine the potential of the new land was what lead to the move. Also farming was and is hard work. Maybe their Ohio farm failed, and they were forced to uproot themselves and try again elsewhere. All ten children were still at home in the census following their move to Indiana. The older sons are listed as working as laborers; the older daughters working as seamstresses. Their life sounds very hard even from the brief bits of information given in the census.

In his mid-twenties, things changed for Andy when he was called up to serve in the Civil War in 1863 or 1864 (the records are unclear). I suspect he was either drafted or decided to go volunteer, but he joined an Ohio regiment. Where they were in Indiana is quite close to the Ohio border so it perhaps was a combination of where he had been born and closest location to go sign up since they were taming wild country, or perhaps he returned to Ohio to join up with childhood friends.

After the Civil War, however, he seems to have decided to get on with his own life at last. He married Jane Clore in 1866 when he was 27 and she wasn’t yet eighteen. Her family had also moved to Indiana from Ohio when Jane and her siblings were younger, and Jane was ten years Andy’s junior. Together, they had two children, Emma in 1867 and my great-grandfather John Wesley in 1868 shortly after Jane’s 20th birthday. In 1870, the little family is living on a farm adjacent to Andy’s parents.

Both Andrew and Jane came from enormous and robust families. In both cases, all their siblings lived into adulthood (the date of death for one of Andrew’s brother’s is unclear, but it does appear he grew up and married). Jane’s nearest-in-age older brother Charles died in the Civil War in the Battle of Chicamauga on September 20, 1863.

But thinking of their little family and about how young Jane was when she had her second child, one wonders if growing up in families with so many mouths to feed, and living with any accompanying hardships of being one of many children, they chose to only have two children. Perhaps due to health or interpersonal issues or happenstance, it just happened that way on its own.

In spite of this fact, the descendants of Andrew Jackson and Jane Ford are numerous. Part of this is due to their son having so many children himself (my grandfather was one of many siblings as was my own father). If I get a match notification through my DNA profile or even just from other people searching on, the majority of the time, it relates to a strand of my family that runs through this couple.

RIP Andy and Jane

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(photos from family collection)

*Sidebar on census-reading – I’ve learned over the years to not take census data at face value. You’ll see in my various articles where I point out wrong names, wrong dates, and other issues which could have a number of causes but which make the information good for tracking people over time but less good for absolutely determining correct ages and names. Whether the people themselves forgot or fudged or outright lied for their own reasons or the census-takers made transcription errors, weren’t paying attention, or just misheard the information they were given, there are often wild variations in a family’s record from decade to decade.

For Andy and Jane, my favorite weird census fact is that in their first census together in 1870, Andy is listed as 21 to Jane’s 23. I thought that might be a data error in the digital transcription, but nope – the census clearly says 21 in the transcriber’s handwriting. Did Andy just look really young? Jane old? Did the census-taker fumble when writing their ages down? Because Jane was 22 and Andy 33 at that point so neither number written down is correct. No way to know but a funny mistake no matter how it happened.

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