|Andrew Jackson Slept Here: Rev. John Ford's Home
Marion County, MS
|With many thanks to Mary Anne Hammond for sharing this information!
My G-Grandfather's Attic
When Hilda Hoffman of Pearl River County, MS saw the old Rev. John Ford home near Sandy Hook, MS, south of Columbia, MS, it was closed up and not in good repair. The home is about 1.5 miles north of the LA/MS line and about 5 miles from the Pearl River, where Rev. Ford had a wharf for shipping his produce and goods to New Orleans.
Downstairs, there was a small table with an old ledger with entries of what people had purchased, such as piece goods, tar, nails, etc. In the first room, in the left hand corner, was a big cabinet with pigeon holes, which was used when there was a post office there. There was a ladder to the second floor. They could pull the ladder up and be safer in times of danger. Upstairs, there were two bedrooms with two smaller than usual beds in each. The only thing on the wall over the beds was a coat of arms for Ford and one for Ard.
When Mary Etta Moody of Poplarville, MS (and a direct descendant of Rev. Ford's son, Augustus) saw it, there was a barn and smoke house. The church had been rebuilt, but the remains of the fort were gone. The church's wooden shake shingles had been replaced with a tin roof. She said that Rev. Ford, who'd married Catherine Ard in VA, came to this area from Marion County, VA about 1798 and his family joined him about 1802. He bought a home and land for which a Spanish family had previously asked for a land grant, but dropped the request, apparently, upon finding out that it was still a wilderness, with hostile Indian tribes who occasionally attacked settlers.
Rev. Ford was the first circuit preacher (Methodist) in the area, in fact, the first minister of any Protestant denomination. However, there was a Catholic priest who made rounds.
Andrew Jackson asked to stay there when his troops were encamped nearby in 1814, on their way to New Orleans. The story goes that Rev. Ford told Gen. Jackson that he could stay, but that all cussing would have to be left outside the home! One of Rev. Ford's sons went with Gen. Jackson's troops and was killed in the Battle of New Orleans.
Unless chairs were being used for something useful, like sewing, shelling peas, reading, etc., they were hung on the walls. Rev. Ford said that idle hands were the devil's workshop.
Documents pertaining to the establishment of Mississippi as a state in 1817 were in this home prior to Mississippi becoming a state.
It is believed Rev. Ford had hundreds of slaves and thousands of acres of land in Louisiana and Mississippi, but lived in Mississippi because Louisiana had a code decreeing that slaves could not be taught to read or write. He believed that they should so that they could read the Bible. He held church services every Sunday, which many slaves attended, sitting in the balcony. The bricks on the lower part of the home were made by the slaves. When he freed his slaves, they wanted to take his name, but he insisted that they were children of God and St. Peter and that they should take St. Peter's name. Therefore, it is believed that most African-Americans in the Angie area who are named Peters are descendants of Rev. Ford's slaves.
During the Civil War, the Union troops came by looking for an Native American who was a trader and knew the way to New Orleans without having to get boats to cross Lake Pontchartrain. The Ford family hid him in a small room and put the sick grandmother's bed against the opening into that room so that he was not discovered.
Rev. Ford's extensive will is in the courthouse at Columbia, MS. It named every slave, where they worked. He forgave a $1,000 loan to one son. He gave his copper screw (copper tubing for whiskey making still) to one son, his sugar making still to one, his turpentine still to another.