Thomas Ford (missing)
Courthouse, IL 2 & 64, Oregon (missing)
No coordinates identified
Illinois Department of Transportation and The Illinois State Historical Society
Thomas Ford, eighth governor of Illinois, was born in Pennsylvania in 1800 and came to Illinois in 1805, with the aid of his half-brother, George Forquer. He received some advanced education and studied law. He practiced law at Waterloo and, in partnership with Forquer, at Edwardsville. From 1829 to 1835 he served as prosecuting attorney for all of the state west and north of the Illinois River. On January 14, 1835, the state legislature elected Ford judge of the sixth judicial circuit, which then included all counties in the northern quarter of the state. Soon after that date and until he was elected governor, Ford made his residence here in Ogle County. He became judge of the Chicago Municipal Court in 1837. In 1839 he was elected judge of the ninth circuit, comprised of nine counties between the Rock and the Fox and the Illinois Rivers. In 1841 a Democratic-controlled state legislature enlarged the Supreme Court to nine men, who doubled as circuit judges. Ford was named to the court and reassigned to the ninth circuit. He sat on the bench in Oregon during the last days of a band of outlaws called the Banditti of the Prairie. Ford was elected governor as a democrat in August 1842. When he took office in December, he faced a critical state debt and the Mormon troubles. He refused to repudiate the debt and secured adoption of a plan to liquidate it. Both before and after the murder of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, Ford called out the militia to preserve order between Mormons and their foes. At the end of his term Ford resumed the practice of law in Peoria, where he died in 1850. His History of Illinois was published posthumously.
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