Walter Sherwood Ford
Contributed by Jymie Carol Ford Inmon
January 3, 2006
Walter Sherwood Ford was born on 28 Jan 1869 in Utica, Hinds Co, MS to George Bryant Ford and Martha Cora (Mattie) Broome. Walter was the eldest child of eight born to that union. He was the only son to live to maturity. He was born during Reconstruction following the War; a time of hardship and upheaval in the lives of those in the South. Walter’s contemporaries were his cousins: the Funchess, Broome, Brown, and Lee cousins.
The Ford family, along with many others, arrived in Mississippi Territory before it was a state. Indeed, some came while it was still a Spanish and/or French possession [before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803]. They came from South Carolina in the westward push to settle the continent, first settling in what is now Marion Co, MS on the Pearl River. That pioneering spirit was still vibrant in many of the Ford men. Consequently, after the misfortunes of War, this branch of the Ford family decided to move to Texas just as many other Southerners had done following the War.
Walter had just turned seventeen years of age when he arrived in Texas with his family. The only schooling he had was in Mississippi. In Texas he became a cowboy, first working in the Trickham & Concord, TX areas; later over much of west Texas including the Colorado City area. He participated in the last of the big cattle drives from the Texas-Mexico border to Abilene, Kansas. Billy Odom, a famed Indian scout, was on these drives. Scouts went ahead of the herd searching for water and Indians.
One drive went over a portion of the High Plains where the grass was up to the stirrups and water was plentiful in the playa lakes.* When thunderstorms boiled up during the cattle drive, lightning would build up electricity and at night sparks would jump from one cow’s horns to another. The cattle would be understandably nervous, so the cowboys would ride herd all night singing to reassure the cattle. Something as simple as a rabbit could start a stampede. It was common for the cook to gather cow chips for fuel to cook on these drives. Walter’s wages on these drives was $15.00 per month plus food.
Walter eventually settled down somewhat and began working on ranches in west Texas. He received $30-$40 per month plus bunkhouse and grub.
Walter married Sophia Katherine Davis (Katie), daughter of Frank Davis and Mary Ann Stubbs, on 20 Dec 1891 in Austin, Travis Co, TX. Katie was born on 15 Aug 1873 in Travis Co, Texas, and died 19 Nov 1936. Katie’s father gave them a 160-acre farm upon their marriage and they lived there the rest of their lives. Walter tried his hand at farming, but their first cotton crop was a failure. They made just enough cotton for Katie to make into a mattress. So Walter turned to alternative ways of earning a living by breaking horses for neighbors at $2.50 per head. He broke 40 head that winter.
The rest of his life was spent as a farmer. He made an average living, but never cared to excel. He was still a cowboy at heart all his life. He hunted for sport using hounds to chase wolves. He caught 16 one winter. His uncles, John and Ollie Davis and Roy Tucker, were his hunting buddies. Like his father, Walter was a good story-teller. After his work in west Texas and the cattle drives, he had plenty to tell about.
Walter and Katie had seven children, six of whom lived to maturity. Walter and Katie are both buried at Trickham, Coleman Co, TX.
Walter’s personal traits: 5’10’ tall; slim, never weighing over 165; his hair was black and he was never bald, even in old age; he smoked a pipe and enjoyed a nip of whiskey.
*Note: Playa lakes are the shallow dips in the terrain which catch rain water.
Page Created January 4, 2006
Copyright 2006 Jane Combs All Rights Reserved
Submission Remains the Property of Jymie Carol Ford Inmon