Today’s post is a reprint from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” from Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VII (1903).
The Ford House
One of the most delightful methods of history study is by acquaintance with old landmarks and buildings, especially the homes. These object lessons illuminate dry facts and bring us face to face with scenes of the past. Patriotic societies, North and East, realizing this fact, are rescuing, restoring, and marking historic sites and buildings. Our own State in taking up this branch of history has found a field rich in homes worthy of preservation.
The old residence of John Ford, twenty miles south of Columbia in Marion county, is one of special interest. John Ford erected this building in 1809. It is on a plateau about a mile from Pearl river. It is modeled after the old Spanish houses of the early days. It is two and a half stories high with thick walls. The lower story is of brick, the upper part of heart pine, hand-cut and dressed, and put together with hand-wrought nails, made at the home forge. Not a drop of paint was ever put on any part of the building. The outside has taken the soft gray shade so often seen on the dead pine monarchs of the forest. The rooms are large, ceiled with narrow plank put on upright; the windows are small and the panes of glass about 8 by 10 inches. There is a little trap door in the ceiling of one of the upper rooms through which a friendly Indian, Tallapoosa by name, who kept the white people posted on the movements of the hostile tribes, used to disappear when an Indian was seen approaching the house. A stockade surrounded the house in early times, and traces of the old lines are still visible. Into that fortified enclosure the neighbors gathered when the alarm of Indians coming was given, every man bringing his trusty rifle in readiness for defense.
This home was distinguished for hospitality. John Ford and his estimable wife dispensed good cheer to all who came to their door, from General Andrew Jackson, who was entertained there in 1814, to the poor Indian whose warning so often saved the lives of the family and neighbors. It was in this mansion that the famous Pearl River Convention was held. Cowles Mead presided over the Convention. Judge Toulmin was sent to Washington to carry its resolutions to Congress. The enabling act was passed, the Constitutional Convention assembled the next year, and Mississippi became a sovereign State.
Two Methodist Conferences were held in this home, one in 1814, the other in 1818, and all the members of both conferences were entertained in the home. The Conference deliberations of 1818 were held in the bedroom of the presiding Bishop McKendren, who was at that time quite feeble.
This historic home now, 1903, belongs to Mr. E.S. Rankin, whose wife is a descendant of the Fords. Athough the original owners have long since passed to their eternal rest, the old home still stands, and preserves its renown for hospitality. The spacious rooms are frequently filled with guests.
The location is identified in many ways with Indian life. A large tribe lived near, and there are still to be found in the fields and woods arrow heads, beads, and stone hatchets, but no longer does the painted warrior skulk from tree to tree seeking the life of the paleface, nor are the sleeping inmates roused from their slumbers by the blood-curdlingwarwhoop. The few red men who remain are peaceable and domestic to a degree once thought impossible. The historic old house with its records of strife and peace, of pain and pleasure, recalls precious memories of the past century.
Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VII (1903), pp. 334-336.
This post is part of a series taken from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” published in 1903. Want to read others in the series?
- Eagle’s Nest
- Mount Salus
- Shirley House (Wexford Lodge)
- Jacob Thompson House
- Blue Mountain