Smith Thomas Ford

Autobiographical Sketch of Smith Thomas Ford

Submitted by: Nancy Schloss
(Smith Thomas Ford was her great-grandfather)

Nancy Schloss
All rights reserved

Autobiographical Sketch of Smith Thomas Ford

    I was born in Camden, Oneida County, New York in the Third day of February, 1851.  I was the youngest of eleven children.  My father's name was William Ford.  My mother's name was Susanna Hedge Ford.  Both my parents were born in Roade, Northamptonshire, England.  My father came to America before marriage, purchased a small farm in Camden, NY.,  remained there for about six months, then returned to England, married my mother and they sailed immediately for America, settled on the farm my father had purchased and here they both spent the remainder of their lives.  After a short time they professed religion and joined the Baptist church.  My father showed much ability as a speaker, for he had been well educated in England.  He was
licensed and afterward ordained as a gospel minister, Baptist.  Owing to this growing large family it was deemed best for him not to retire from the farm and enter the active pastorate, but he was a most acceptable preacher and continued all his life to preach as opportunity offered.  He was a prosperous farmer, respected by all who knew him.  My mother died in February, 1870.  My
father died Dec. 8, 1882   I attended the district school until 1869 when I began teaching.  A county school.  I taught again the next winter and then in 1871 I began attending Whitestown Seminary, largely supporting myself by teaching country schools and also as janitor of the seminary.  I graduated from that school in 1874.
    I gave my experience and was received as a candidate Jan. 28, 1871 for baptism and membership of the newly organized Baptist church of Camden and was baptized April 30, 1871.  I took my letter to the Baptist church of Whitestown, NY, Nov. 9, 1872.  I was licensed to preach by the Whitesboro Baptist church May 3, 1873.  I preached occasionally and in March 1874 I
became stated supply of the Camden church.  I so continued until in June of 1875.   I entered Colgate, then known as Madison University in September 1874, graduating with honor in 1878.  I became acting pastor in North Bay in June 1875 preaching once in two weeks until 1877.  During my senior year in college I preached in New Hartford, N.Y. most of the time until I accepted
the pastorate of the Baptist church in Greene, N.Y. with the understanding that I should complete my college course and continue as acting pastor and also take my regular work in the Theo. Sem. This I continued to do until after my graduation from the Sem in 1881,

    I married Mary Harrison Grant on the 19th day of Feb. 1879.   It was a triple wedding, her sisters Flora marrying H. H. Scott of New York and Jennie marrying Rev. W. H. Richie of N.Y. a United Pres. preacher.  We started housekeeping in Hamilton, N.Y. while I continued my studies at the Seminary.

    My son, Grant Ford was born in Hamilton, Nov. 25, 1879.  I was ordained in Greene May 1, 1879, Dr. Brooks of Colgate preached the sermon.  My father was one who laid on hands.  My wife Mary was my first candidate for Baptism and was baptized May 3, 1879, with 12 others in the Chenango River in Greene.

    When I graduated from the Sem. in 1881 we moved to Greene, N.Y. where I was pastor of the Bap. ch.

    I accepted the call of the Bap. ch. in Waverly, N.Y. in Oct. 1881 and remained pastor there for three years.

    In 1884 I accepted the call of the First Baptist church of Albany, N.Y.  and remained there three years.

    In 1886 I accepted the call of the Central Baptist ch. of Syracuse and remained as pastor there for ten years.  While there, June 24, 1889, my wife Mary died suddenly of Angina Pectoris.  A beautiful character.

    From that time for two years my niece, Mary H. Ford, kept house for me.  A position she filled with tact, grace and loving devotion to my comfort and that of my son Grant.

    On the 6th of July 1891 I married Myra Louella Palmer of Syracuse, N.Y.

    On June 1, 1896, I began my pastorate of the First Baptist ch. of Lowell, Mass.  A wonderful pastorate.

    On the eighth of Jan. 1897 my son Montague Palmer Ford was born.

    On the first of Feb. 1 1905 I began my pastorate of the Englewood Baptist church of Chicago remaining in that pastorate nearly 15 years.  Remarkably successful.  While in Chicago I was for two years Pres. of the Chicago Church Federation.  I was also elected a member of the Board of Trustees of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, and for about 17 years was the
vice Pres. of the board, resigning when I left Wheaton in 1926.  Also soon after going to Chicago I was elected Pres. of the Central Bap. Children's Home, resigning from that office when I left Wheaton in 1926.

    During the winter of 1919 I was sick for many months (myocarditis). From this, recovered, but was advised by the physician to lessen my work so resigned from Eng. ch., and accepted the pastorate of the First Baptist ch. of Wheaton, Ill.  From this I retired Sept. 15, 1926 in good health but conscious of my advancing years deemed it best to retire from an active pastorate.

    During these years my beloved wife Louella has been my unfailing helper and adviser.  She was elected National Pres. of the Woman's American Baptist Home Missionary Society in Minn. Min. 1916 which office she held with marked ability until my failing health in 1919 she deemed it best to retire.

    Almost immediately on retiring from the Wheaton church I was asked to supply the pulpit of the Baptist church in Penn Yan N.Y.  during the severe illness of the pastor Rev. Mr. Whitley.

    While serving there I was invited by the First Baptist church of Fall River through Dr. E. C. Herrick who had retired from the pastorate of the church to become President of the Newton Theological Institution, to become interim pastor of at Lowell.  Here I served for three months, living at the hotel in Fall River.

    When the Fall River church secured a pastor I was invited at once to become interim pastor at Tarrytown for the First Baptist church, living in the parsonage, a very large and beautiful one.  Louella and I remained there ten months and asked to be released that we might have a rest.  At once we were asked to serve the church in Medford Mass.  in the same capacity.   After a month in Florida we went there and served as acting pastor until a permanent one was secured, a period of eight months.

    Directly from Medford we went to the First Baptist church in Springfield as acting pastor.  We remained in Springfield Mass for three months, or until that church had secured a permanent pastor.  While acting as pastor there we lived in Newton Center, in the Bradford Court Apt.  A very pleasant and charming one.  I went to Springfield for mid week service and for Sundays.

    Again we were immediately invited to serve the church at Brockton, Mass. in the same capacity, a fine church.  We still lived in Newton Center, but going to Brockton as occasion required.

    In passing I would say in the spring of 1928 Louella was elected President of the New England Distr. of the Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society.