Very Rare 1869 & 1903 Handwritten Diary Augusta Ware Webb Ford Andrews, Kentucky
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Very Rare 1869 & 1903 Handwritten Diary Augusta Ware Webb Ford Andrews, Kentucky:
I was preparing to list thisantique diary - journal - manuscript book without doing any research on it,
as I'm in the process of downsizing my inventory,
but as I glanced through it, I realized that this diary was a very special slice of American history.
So I started to do some research on the two women who wrote it,
and what I found out just blew me away!
The history of this very wealthy American family, their ties to U.S. Presidents,
and the jaw-dropping stories of family members is truly something special.The two women who wrote in this diary were AUGUSTA WARE WEBB FORD,
and her daughter, AUGUSTA WARE WEBB FORD ANDREWS.
They are from a very rich prominent family who had ties to several U.S. Presidents.
There is actually a painting of Augusta Ware Webbat the Smithsonian Museum.
And if yousearch "Augusta Ware Webb" under google images,
many pictures & paintings of her, her daughter, and other family members can be found.Augusta Ware Webb Ford, was the daughter of Dr. Charles Henry Webb & Cassandra Ford Webb.
There is so much written about this very wealthy family on the Internet, but I will share just a couple of the stories here.
Let me start with Augusta Ware Webb'sgrandfather,
who was James Ford, the notorius leader of the "Fords Ferry Gang"
that operated out of "Cave In Rock",
a very large cave hollowed out in a huge mass of rock lying at the junction of where the Cumberland River meets the Ohio River.
Ford was described as "one of the cleverest & most ruthless of criminal masterminds". Here is more of his story:
Augusta Ware Webb Ford's grandfather led a somewhat “double life".. For a great deal of time, nobody connected him with crimes being committed against travelers on the river. He had been elected a delegate to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention in 1795, he was Captain of the Livingston County Cavalry of the 24th Regiment of Kentucky Militia from July 1, 1799 to Dec. 15, 1802, he was justice of the peace of Deer Creek, Livingston Co., Kentucky in 1803, and in May 1809, the acting Governor of Illinois appointed Ford justice of the peace for Randolph County. James had all the appearances of a law-aoffering citizen; greed got the better of him, though.
Ford heard that a man named Sam Mason would lure the flat boats into the cave and then rob the occupants of their wares and kill them. The average flatboat carried 18 people. Since the boats were carried by the river current as propulsion they simply drifted right into Sam’s hands. Ford wanted a piece of the action.
James Ford “was a very large young man, powerful and versed in the frontier. He was over 300 pounds and had a commanding voice that came across very authoritative. He was not a man to argue with and he had quite a little scam going. Not only did he own Hurricane Island and a 500 acre plantation, where he made his home on the river near Kirksville, he also built and maintained a road on either side of his ferry, up-stream from the Cave. When other men would try to operate similar services to cross the Ohio River, Ford eliminated his competition by blocking the road with felled trees and intimidating them through his henchmen. Although he may not have played a personal role in the robberies and murders from the Cave-In-Rock, he undoubtedly was the puppet master.
As recorded in a book about Thomas Jefferson’s nephews: “There was a ferry across the river at Hurricane Island controlled by James Ford, who, by 1808, had been justice of the peace, and had influenced the establishment of ferries and roads that led the innocent to their ruin . . . Hurricane Island was used as a depot for stolen horses and livestock and boats that had been deliberately wrecked and looted there. It soon became known that navigation past Hurricane Island was very dangerous.
The big problem was that by Ford serving as Justice of the Peace and later the sheriff, he represented the ultimate legal authority in the region. He was even generous to those who were needy, so he was well liked by many. He had a wife and three children. Ford would watch travelers coming into the areas and if they had money or goods, he would direct his gang to rob them after he had ferried them across the river at Ford’s Ferry. He was mostly unsuspected as a criminal so the new settlers would report the robberies and murders to him - thinking he was the law.
On one occasion, Ford and his gang caught some travelers and confiscated their belongings. For some reason, they let a young doctor, who was headed for St. Louis to set up practice, go free. They put him in a boat, told him to get down and not raise up until a time specified by the gangsters. Among the things taken from the party was a mandolin belonging to the young doctor. Finally he landed against the Kentucky shore. He started out through the country until finally a beautiful young lady, driving a buggy, came along and insisted she be allowed to help him. He was hungry, tired, and dirty. She took him to her home and the first thing he saw was his mandolin. He was curious, but didn’t ask any questions. Not knowing who he had run into at Cave-in-Rock or really what the situation was, he kept his cool and let things work out themselves. He was treated so well that he stayed around and set up practice at Salem, Kentucky, being the first medical doctor the town ever had. Also, he fell in love with the beautiful young lady who rescued him and they were married. Who was the girl? She was none other than Ford’s daughter, Cassandra.(PLEASE NOTE: Cassandra was Augusta Ware Webb Fords mother, and Augusta Ware Webb Ford was one of the women who wrote in this diary)
Time eventually caught up with James Ford. The locals got tired of the harassment of travelers in the area and it got out who was behind the gang. On July 5, 1833, at his plantation, the Regulators paid James Ford a visit. They ordered him to hitch up his wagon and get to a small house down the road. He knew what was happening but didn’t act like he was bothered by it. He sat in a chair in the dogtrot of the house and a man loaded a gun inside the house and aimed the rifle thru the logs of the wall. Ford made a statement to a slave by saying, ‘I guess I’ll eat my supper tonight in hell’ right before the man with the gun fired. It took 2 days to make a casket to fit his large frame. Slaves were used to build it and also to put him on the wagon to take him to the burial site. There was no funeral. The wagon ascended a steep hill toward the burial site and the coffin slipped out onto the road. With difficulty the slaves picked it up and took it to the grave opening. With the weight they were carrying, it was hard. A lightning storm came up and while the effort was made to get the coffin into the ground, a large clap of thunder hit. The slaves were afraid and dropped the casket headfirst into the grave. They ran away, as fearful of him in death as they had been in life. They later filled in the dirt on the coffin with him being buried, to this day, headfirst. One slave said he saw a vision at the clap of thunder of Ford plunging headfirst into Hell. The community at large breathed a sigh of relief but feared the gang would avenge his death. They did not, eventually breaking up and moving down the Natchez Trace.
Another family story involves Augusta Ware Webb's father, Dr. Charles Henry Webb and two of her sisters,
while they were aboard a steamboat called "Lucy Walker".
The original account was written by Augusta Ware Ford Andrews (who also has entries in this diary)...
She is the daughter of Augusta Ware Webb Ford, granddaughter of Dr. Charles Henry Webb:
“Every year my mother's father, Charles Henry Webb, Jr., M.D., went to visit his mother Polly Todd Ware, (Mrs. Charles Henry Webb, Sr.). In 1844, as per schedule, he took the trip, leaving his wife (who was expecting a child) and the two youngest children at home. He left the two oldest girls in school in Lexington, Ky. He took Cannie (Cassandra) 11, Nannie (Nancy Winifred) 12, his wife’s half brother (Marse Jim Bobby) James Robert, about 14, and two horses on the steamboat Lucy Walker from Cincinnati to New Orleans to visit his mother. His wife, Cassandra, was not making the trip. She was ‘expecting’ and it was not considered proper to appear in public or to make long journeys when you were pregnant. Also, there were two younger children at home to be cared for. The two little girls were in one state room with a servant, and Dr. Webb and his brother-in-law occupied another stateroom. Cannie was recuperating from an illness and her hair had been cut short. Around five o’clock in the morning, the boy woke up and went below deck to check on the horses. That was the last time Marse Jim Bobby was seen. The boiler blew. His body was never found. Dr. Webb rushed out on deck. There was another explosion and a piece of metal hit him in the throat. The riverboat was on fire and sinking. Complete pandemonium set in. A passenger caught the two little girls who were running around the deck in their night dresses. He pushed a mattress in the water and put the little girls on it. The mattress started to sink. Nannie told her little sister that they had to get off the mattress. They could not hold onto the same side because it would tip. They slipped off into the water, one on each corner of the mattress, diagonally. The current caught the mattress as the boats were coming out to pick up survivors.
A mattress floating on the water was of no concern. Two little girls at water line didn’t even show up. The sparks from the fire had ignited the mattress. When the fire had burned to the edge and it was too close to hold on any longer, Nannie said, “Cannie, don’t be afraid; just hold on until I count to three and we will both let go together.” Nannie counted to three; they both let go of the mattress and sank below the water. Nannie struggled to break the surface for air and went down again. Just when she was sure she couldn’t make it to the surface again, a man in a small boat looked down and saw something floating in the water. He reached over and grabbed a handful of hair and lifted a little naked girl out of the water (the current had ripped her thin nightdress off.) They wrapped her in a rough blanket.
She was in shock and didn’t know who she was or where she was from. Someone brought her a dress. She said, “That is a servant’s dress,” so they knew she was from a “well-to-do” family. They had heard about an accident upriver that morning so they took her where the survivors were to find out who she was. She didn’t recognize anyone so they took her where the injured were. Dr. Webb was with the casualties, his throat was bandaged and blood had soaked through. He could not speak and knew he was dying. When Nannie saw him, she shook her head. No! Her father didn’t look like that!
He motioned for paper and something to write with and wrote: “This is my daughter, Nancy Winifred Webb. Please contact my wife, Cassandra Ford Webb.” (He also wrote where to reach her). Word was sent to his home and his pregnant wife rode three days on horseback to claim her child and the bodies of her husband and daughter. The baby was born and named Cassandra; she was also called Cannie for her sister who drowned.”
And a third family story is of the suspicious tragic accident
that took the life of Augusta Ware Webb Ford Andrews sibling, Cannie,
who was the survivor in the story told above:Cannie married William Pitt Trimble in 1897; “a millionaire and one of the wealthiest men in Seattle.”- In a truly bizarre twist of fate, she also died in a drowning accident. She was with her husband and oldest son in their 1929 Pierce Arrow sedan when it plunged into Washington State’s Elliott Bay. William had stopped the car at the end of the pier to check the engine, but had accidently left the car in gear. When it suddenly lurched forward, Cannie was trapped inside the car “as it smashed through a railing and plunged, nose first, into the water. It sank like a stone in 36 feet of water.”
And there is also a remarkable family story of a child being stolen by the Indians:
“The country was still a wild and a dangerous place to live. A relative and his family had headed west, where land was plentiful and possibilities were endless. Small communities formed for protection and help with labor. One afternoon the children were out in the yard while their mothers were doing the laundry. The men were away from the house, clearing land. A small group of Indians suddenly appeared and rode through the yard, pulling the wet laundry down and dragging it on the ground. It was not an attack, just harassment. As they made their final circle of the yard, one of the braves leaned down and scooped up a young child and rode off with her. The girl’s mother ran to ring the bell and summon the men from the fields. When they arrived, she told them what had happened. A group was gotten together to go find the little girl. When they reached one of the camps, the men had the children all line up and they rode down the line. No white child was to be seen. All the children were Indian looking with black hair. The men turned their horses and started to ride out to look for another camp.
They had not gone far when the father of the little girl changed his mind and the others followed him back. He knew his eyesight was failing, so he wanted to double check. He made the Indians line up the children again, but this time he dismounted and laid his hand on each child’s head, pushing their hair back and speaking softly. He would quietly ask, “Is that you, Daughter?” About halfway down the line, he pushed the hair back on another child and asked, “Is that you, Daughter?”
There was a pair of blue eyes looking up at him and a timid little voice answered, “Yes papa.” He picked up his little girl, placed her on his horse, mounted behind her and started for home. He asked, “Child, why didn’t you let us know you were there when we came the first time?” She replied softly, “Papa, I was so scared.” The reason he had not recognized her from the beginning was because her hair had been dyed and cut and her skin stained. Other than that, she was are just a couple of the amazing family stories, and there are so many more!
There is a Ware Genealogy site which has the family history, photographs, and many more stories.This is a large hardcover book & inside the front cover is written "Frances Ford, Chicago April 14th, 1858 - Strickly Private", then two pages later is written "A Diary of Mrs. Frank Ford, commencing July 21st 1869 and ending August 24, 1869". A few pages are torn out, and then after a couple of blank pages there is a handwritten account by Augusta Ware Webb Ford Andrews, (whom was the daughter of Augustus Ware Webb Ford) and she writes of her wedding on January 7, 1903 in Kentucky to William Andrews. She also writes of how she met her husband when General Ransom brought his son & William Andrews to call. This entry is 2 1/4 pages long (the pages are 8" x 10 1/4"). Then in the back of the book are the 10 pages diary entries by Mrs. Francis ("Frank") Ford, from 1869. They tell of her marriage to Mr. Francis Ford (who was her cousin) in Cincinati Ohio, and of the incredibletrip they took afterwards which consisted of going to Buffalo NY, Niagara Falls, Rochester NY, Lake Ontario, Montreal Canada, Quebec Canada, Gorham, Mount Washington, Echo Lake, Littleton, Burlington Vermont, Glens Falls, New York City, and many others. She writes of being on the Steamer "Andirondack" and the "Minnehaha", etc. The remaining pages in the diary are blank. I would love to see this diary find its way back into the hands of a family descendant, because that is where it belongs.
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It greatly saddens me, as I know it does many of you,
when I see these one-of-a-kind American treasures being sent away to other countries.I try to do my part by keeping the diaries and the invaluable historical information that they hold
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