DEATH OF GOVERNOR FORD'S DAUGHTER.
A press despatch from Lincoln (Ill.), dated March 18, 1910, says:
"Mrs. Anne Daviess, formerly a resident of Middletown, but since July 1907, a resident of the Deaconess hospital, died at noon yesterday, of senility, at the age of 72 years. Mrs. Daviess was a daughter of Governor Ford, who occupied the executive chair of the State during the years 1842-46. Her husband at one time was the editor of an influential Democratic newspaper, but died without leaving much property. His widow was employed for a time as matron at one of the State charitable institutions, but later went to the home of Mrs. Gambrel, a daughter, at Middletown. In 1907 she came to the Deaconess hospital and since that time has been a county charge. She leaves a daughter living in Iowa. The father of the deceased wrote a history of the State of Illinois, considered the most authentic for the period of which it treats, and a movement was made recently to have the same republished for the benefit of Mrs. Daviess, but the project failed."
Mrs. Mary B. Watson, only surviving daughter of Mrs. Daviess, and granddaughter of Governor Ford, arrived in Lincoln Saturday morning from Oskaloosa, Ia., where she follows the profession of a graduate nurse, being a graduate of the Presbyterian hospital in Chicago. Mrs. Watson completed the arrangements for the proper burial of her mother in the family lot in the Peoria cemetery, where her illustrious father and mother lie buried. At the head of the grave of Governor Ford stands a monument erected by the State of Illinois, in memory of his great service to the commonwealth, which was built under the administration of the late Governor John P. Altgeld.
Mrs. Davies was the only surviving member of a family of four children, her two brothers, Sewell and Tom, dying in 1871. Her sister, Mrs. John Bailey, died at her home in St. Louis in July, 1909. The mother of Mrs. Daviess died in 1850, following a long sickness with cancer. Governor Ford only survived his wife two weeks, his death occurring in 1850 from tuberculosis, and they were buried side by side in the Peoria cemetery.
Mrs. Daviess was born on Feb. 13, 1838, and was aged at her death, 72 years, 1 month and 4 days. She was a native of this State, and all her life was spent in Illinois, excepting a few years spent with her sister in St. Louis. She was married in 1862 and was the mother of four children, two of whom died in infancy. Her daughter, Mrs. Gambrel, with whom she made her home for several years, died some time ago, leaving a family of six children. Decedent's husband, who was prominent as a newspaper man, and editor of Democratic papers, died 32 years ago. With the passing away of Mrs. Daviess, Mrs. Watson is now the only surviving member of the family of Governor Ford, a man whose services were of untold value to this great State, but whose services never received reward. In order to provide for his family, he with great labor, prepared the most exhaustive and authentic history of Illinois ever written at that time. Having served as both judge of the circuit and supreme courts, he understood much of the inner workings of political life and was in power during the Mormon disturbances. When the manuscripts were turned over for publication owing to the exposures therein contained, over half of the pages were suppressed. Instead of his family receiving the royalty on the history as intended by their father, which would have made them independent, each child received only a paltry one hundred dollars.
There is much obscurity regarding the domestic life of Governor Ford and his family. It is known that he was born in the year 1800, and was brought by his mother to Illinois in 1805 ; that in his youth, when battling with poverty, he served as an hostler and tavern servant; was admitted to the bar in 1823; passed the year 1829 in Galena as an attorney and one of the editors of the Miners' Journal; was appointed by Governor Edwards, in March, 1830, State's attorney of the new 5th judicial district, and reappointed to the same by Governor Reynolds in Feb., 1831. On securing that office he located at Rushville in Schuyler county. He served in the Black Hawk war in 1832, and, while residing at Rushville, was elected, in Jan. 1835, judge of the 6th circuit, which he resigned in March, 1837. He was elected judge of the 9th district in Feb., 1839, and one of the nine justices of the Supreme Court in Feb. 1841. Thereupon he moved to Oregon, Ogle county, where he resided when elected Governor in 1842. Who he married, and when and where that event occurred, are facts in his history not generally known. And the published accounts of his family are conflicting and unreliable.
In commenting upon the above despatch, the State Register of March 19, 1910, said :
"The death of Mrs. Daviess, at the Lincoln hospital, which was chronicled in the press of yesterday, removes the last of the children of the late Governor Ford. * * * *
The husband of Mrs. Daviess was a brilliant man, but like too many others he looked too often upon the wine when it was red. At one time he was editor of the Rushville Times and in that day when he would give attention to his editorial duties his writings were copied all over the state and in other states. He was, when sober and in his right mind, a close thinker and one of the most logical reasoners known to the editorial profession.
The youngest son of Governor Ford was a newspaper man and at one time was employed on the Peoria papers. He was a happy-go-lucky young man without a care in the world. Some years after he left Peoria he was hanged by a vigilance committee for being a horse thief. He was walking along the public highway when the committee overtook him and they at once decided he was the man they were looking for; he begged for time to prove who he was, but they decided to look into the matter after the hanging. After they had investigated the matter they found he was absolutely innocent and was many miles away from where the horse was taken. He was a brilliant young man, but lacked the usual energy of newspaper men else he would have made a great reputation as a writer.
The death of Mrs. Daviess ends one of the saddest chapters of Illinois history. It is not creditable to the State that she was practically allowed to die in the hospital an object of public charity."
A newspaper published in Peoria at the time of Gov. Ford's death, in 1850, and later, stated that "he died at the home of Andrew Gray on North Madison Avenue (Transcriber's note: this is crossed out and "Monroe" is handwritten in) and left two children. One of them, a boy, was brought up by the family of Dr. Dickinson, and went away, and nothing more is known of him. The other, a daughter, was reared by a family named Cooper, and married a wealthy gentleman engaged in the lumber business in Chicago."
The account given by the Register is the generally accepted story of the son's career; but many hints have been wafted from the west to the effect that though young, he was a desperado whose lawless deeds well justified the fate he met.
The discrepancies in the various reports of Gov. Ford's family can be reconciled, and the truth of history known, only by wide-reaching inquiries and patient examination of many old newspaper files. Mrs. Daviess came to Middletown, in Logan county, some years after her father's death, a desolate heart-broken woman, whose past was a sealed book of bitter memories and disappointments. She was morose and reticent, persistently refusing to answer any of the many letters of inquiry addressed to her, or the personal interviewers, seeking information relative to her father's family or her own past life. The years she had lived were full of tribulation and sorrow, and death came to her as a merciful relief.
It is but justice to the citizens of Lincoln to say that while at the Deaconess hospital Mrs. Daviess received many kindly attentions and was made as comfortable as she could have been had she been possessed of unlimited money. We publish a letter from Hon. L. B. Stringer, which describes the care and attention given the unfortunate lady by the people of Lincoln. -ED.
LINCOLN, ILL., March 26th, 1910.
MRS. JESSIE PALMER WEBER,
Sec. Ill. Historical Soc., Springfield, Ill.
DEAR MRS. WEBER :
In reference to the matter of Mrs. Anne Daviess, last surviving member of the immediate family of Gov. Ford, and the newspaper reports concerning her recent death in this city, would say :
That Mrs. Daviess lived for a great many years with her daughter, a Mrs. Gamble, at Middletown, in the extreme western part of this county, near the Menard County line. During all this time the fact of her residence there was substantially unknown to the citizens of Lincoln and those who did know, were not informed that she was the daughter of Gov. Ford. About three years ago, Mrs. Gamble died. The Gambles were in humble circumstances. Mrs. Gamble left six children surviving her and Mrs. Daviess herself was ill. Under these circumstances, Mr. Gamble was compelled to turn Mrs. Daviess over to Logan County. It then became known, for the first time, to the authorities of the county, that a daughter of Gov. Ford had been a resident of the county. Instead of sending her to the County Farm, as is usually done in such cases, she was placed in the Deaconess' Hospital in the city of Lincoln, one of the best equipped hospitals in the State. We have two excellent hospitals in Lincoln, one Catholic and one Lutheran. The Deaconess' Hospital in Lutheran. During Mrs. Daviess' stay at the Hospital, she was given the same attention as other patients; in fact the Deaconesses gave her especial attention on account of her lineage. She received the best medical service the city afforded during her last illness. Upon it being learned that she was a member of the Episcopal Church, the rector of that church in this city, Rev. Wm. N. Wycoff, made regular and frequent visits to her. Various members of his congregation visited her frequently, a number of the ladies of the church taking especial interest in her, sending her books, papers and flowers. Upon her death, it being ascertained that her one surviving daughter, a Mrs. Watson, of Oskaloosa, Iowa, was not in such financial circumstances as to properly provide for her burial, Morris Emmerson, of the Daily News-Herald and your humble servant, went among our business men, who responded liberally, and secured sufficient funds to give Mrs. Daviess such a funeral and burial as befitted the daughter of one of Illinois' most famous Governors. I enclose newspaper clippings of the obsequies.
LAWRENCE B. STRINGER.
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©July 2006 - Transcribed by Kim Torp