Captain George Ford
Captain George Ford, who was prominent among the old-time lake masters (many of whom make Ashtabula their home) but has long since retired from active duty on shipboard, is a native of New York State, born in August, 1830, son of George and Mary (Cooley) Ford. He removed to Ashtabula with his parents in 1835, thus becoming a pioneer of that now prosperous lake port. Captain Ford attended the schools of Ashtabula and acquired such learning as they afforded in those primitive days, at times working with his father in the harness shop until he reached the age of seventeen years. It is said that when his father set for him the task of making a halter he would content himself by whittling out a boat and rigging it. In the spring of 1847 this inclination was made apparent, as he shipped on the brig Alert with Captain Scoville, and demonstrated that he possessed the qualities which go far toward the making of a good master mariner. The next season he joined the brig Banner, the largest vessel afloat on the lakes at that time, and remained on her two seasons with Captain Scoville, transferring to the George W. Roberts. In 1850 he shipped on the schooner Signal with Captain Harvey Hall and was advanced to the position of mate. In the spring of 1852 he was appointed mate of the schooner Excelsior, passing the next three years in that capacity on different vessels.
In the spring of 1855 Captain Ford was given his first vessel, the schooner Benjamin F. Wade, to sail. The next season he sailed the schooner Carrington, and the spring of 1857 he entered the employ of the Lake Navigation Company as master of the schooner Hurricane. He then purchased an interest in the schooner Sioux, and sailed her with good profit three seasons. In the spring of 1862 he bought an interest in the Bay State, which he also sailed three seasons, in 1865 purchasing the schooner Yankee and sailing her until 1873, when he sold her and retired with sufficient competency to purchase handsome real-estate property and engage in trade, associating himself in the harness and saddlery business with his brother P. C. Ford, under the firm name of P. C. Ford & Brother. The business had originally been established in 1860, and has been conducted successfully ever since. By good business methods the brothers Ford have acquired many valuable blocks of land in and around Ashtabula and the harbor and they carry on a profitable real-estate business. They also own considerable vessel property, being largely interested in the steamers J. H. Outhwaite and Roumania and the schooner John J. Barlum. Captain Ford devotes a portion of his time with his brother in the harness and saddlery business, paying necessary attention, however, to outside interests.
In 1858 the Captain was united in marriage to Miss Amelia Bebee, of Ashtabula, and four children were born to this union: Mary, Hugh, Elizabeth (Mrs. A. Gregory) and Ruth L. The mother died in 1892, and three years later Mr. Ford wedded Mrs. Julia Heath. The family homestead is at No. 13 Park street, Ashtabula. Socially the Captain is a Master Mason of long time standing. He has a genial and hearty disposition, taking pleasure in recalling the episodes of his old life on the lakes with his shipmates.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.