Tuesday, February 6, 2018

James Ford, Leader of Ford's Ferry Gang - River Pirates.

James N. Ford (1775-1833), also known as James N. Ford, Sr. the "N" possibly for Neal, was an American civic leader and business owner in western Kentucky and southern Illinois in the late 1790s to mid-1830s
This is an early 19th-century horse-powered ferry boat, the kind used by James Ford.
Ford was a powerful and scheming leader of a ruthless gang of outlaws, owned a ferry that crossed the Ohio River near Cave-in-Rock, Illinois from 1823 to 1833. "Ford's Ferry Gang" helped him acquire a fortune in land, money, slaves, and livestock by robbing and murdering travelers.
Ford was an Illinois associate of Isaiah L. Potts and the Potts Hill Gang, highway robbers, of the infamous Potts Tavern. Ford's Ferry Road was a ten-mile wooded trail from the ferry to Pott's Tavern, where weary settlers who had escaped Ford's gang were victims of the same fate at the hands of owner Bill Potts.

James Ford also had an association with illegal slaver trader and kidnapper of free blacks, John Hart Crenshaw, and may have taken part in the Illinois version of the Reverse Underground Railroad. At one point, they used the Cave-in-Rock as their headquarters, on the Illinois side of the lower Ohio River, which is approximately 85 miles below Evansville, Indiana.

The Ford and Potts era at Cave-in-Rock ended with the murder of Ford in 1833 by another gang member.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

1 comment:

  1. I have been to Cave-In-Rock many times but never heard the story of the Ford gang. Only that the cave was used by robbers of settlers using the Ohio River. Thanks for updating this folk lore and saving history for our children and grandchildren.


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