Biography of Orrin Howard Ford

Orrin Howard Ford is probate judge of Saline County. His election to that office shows the confidence the people of the county have in his probity, ability and conscientious devotion to his every public or private responsibility assigned to him. Mr. Ford had a very creditable record as a farmer in Saline County, was born in that county, and his record is consequently an open book to his many friends and political associates.

He was born on a farm seven miles northeast of Salina, July 8, 1876, a son of Orrin James and Minerva (Armstrong) Ford. His father was born in Ohio October 31, 1835, and spent all his active career as a farmer except during the Civil war, when he was a teamster in the Union army. He was a Kansas pioneer, having come in 1864 and taking up a homestead on what was then the western frontier in Saline County. It was difficult to make a living by the simple pursuit of agriculture in those days. He raised some cattle, hunted buffalo, which had not yet been driven off the plains, and he endured all the hardships of pioneer life, living in a rude and simple dwelling and waiting patiently for the tide of civilization to catch up with him. On one of his excursions in a severe winter he had his feet frozen. He also proved a helpful man to others who followed him to Saline County, and his name should be honorably mentioned as one of the pioneers of that part of Kansas. He was one of the five persons who organized the First Christian Church in Salina. His death occurred on his original homestead August 20, 1876, when his son Judge Ford was only a few weeks old.

On April 21, 1870, in Saline County, Orrin J. Ford married Miss Minerva Armstrong, who was born May 6, 1847, in a log house on a farm in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, a daughter of George and Ruth (Woodward) Armstrong. Her father was a native of Virginia and her mother of Pennsylvania. George Armstrong died in Ohio in 1864 and his widow passed away in Saline County, Kansas, February 24, 1897. In the Armstrong family were seven children, four daughters and three sons, namely: Mary E., deceased; William K., who was killed while a soldier in the Union army; Davis W., now a farmer in Oklahoma; Minerva; Martha Ann, wife of Henry A. Northrop, of San Gabriel, California; Matilda, wife of R. D. Calkins, a farmer in Saline County; and Joseph W., also a Saline County farmer.

Judge Ford was one of the four children of his parents. They were all born in Saline County, and their names are as follows: Arthur Francis, who was born February 6, 1871, and married April 21, 1912, Mattie Highsmith; Josephine, who was born September 6, 1872, now resided with her mother and is first reader in the First Church of Christ, Scientist, at Salina; and James Wilbur, who was born May 1, 1874, and was married June 4, 1908, to Mary Spohn. Judge Ford’s mother married for her second husband on February 4, 1879, Thomas Conway, who died May 25, 1905, leaving his widow and three sons, Clarence C., Walter M. and William B.

The early life of Judge Ford was spent on his father’s farm in Saline County. He had the advantages of the district schools and also the old Salina Normal, and with the class of 1898 graduated from the Kansas Wesleyan Business College. On account of his father’s early death he had little capital to go on when a boy, and in fact earned practically all the money needed to complete his higher education. He turned his serious attention to farming and occupied and operated his father’s original homestead until 1908. He then retired from active farm work and had since lived in the City of Salina.

Always a factor in public affairs in his home township, his name had become more and more widely known over the county and that section of Kansas. In 1910 he was nominated and elected on the republican ticket as clerk of the District Court of Saline County. He was re-elected to that office in 1912, and held it four years. In 1916 came his present honor in election as probate judge. He had many splendid qualifications for that office. He knows the people of Saline County, they have confidence in his judgment, and his administration of probate affairs had been marked by great tact and absolute impartiality.

Judge Ford is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America, and he and his family belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church. On December 24, 1914, at Salina, he married Miss Florence May Bailes, who was born August 4, 1891, in Pennsylvania, a daughter of John K. and Jessie M. (Medlicott) Bailes. Her father was born at Steubenville, Ohio, September 13, 1856, is an architect by profession and since 1910 had practiced that art in Salina. Mrs. Ford’s mother was born in England November 7, 1854, and came to America with a brother when she was eighteen years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Bailes were married in 1879. Their eight children, five sons and three daughters, are named as follows: Jennie E., born May 7, 1880, and died January 10, 1882; Charles H., born April 23, 1882; George M., born August 10, 1884; the fourth in the family, a son, died in infancy; Earl Alexander, born August 21, 1889; Mrs. Judge Ford, who was the sixth in order of birth; Agnes M., born November 11, 1893; and Harry Gilmore, born March 11, 1896.

Judge and Mrs. Ford have one child, Glenn Edwin, born February 4, 1916.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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