Uriah E. Ford and His Family
Uriah E. Ford was the patriarch of the Ford family in Brown County, Indiana. He was a short man, 5 foot 5 and ½
inches tall. He was very frugal. He also was of a quick temper when things did not go his way. Some said that he
kept his money very close to his chest. He and his family lived off of the land. His wife Catherine was of Indian
descent and knew the many wild fruits and vegetables that were edible. She also was the family and community
doctor since she was familiar with many natural Indian remedies
Uriah was the oldest son of Alexander Ford Jr. of Hunterston, Adams County, Pennsylvania. Alexander had a shoe
and boot shop there and taught Uriah the trade of shoe cobbler. Uriah also became proficient in other skilled trades
such a furniture making and carpentry work.
He married Catherine Schissler (Catarina Schufsler) around 1845 in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Catarina was the
daughter of Jonnahes Schufsler and Catarina Bollinger. Jonnahes was a tradesman of German origin. Catarina
Bollinger was a second generation German/Indian of the Lenni-Lennape Indian Tribe. Catarina left Jonnahes when
Catarina Schufsler was about a year old and returned to her tribe.
Jonnahes changed the spelling of his name to Schissler married Lydia Scheinberger who raised Catherine Schissler
to adulthood. Catherine and Uriah E. married in Hannover, Adams County, Pennsylvania. The Fords had two sons in
Adams County before moving west to Belmont County, Ohio. The family was increased by eight more children born in
Belmont County. Uriah was a shoe cobbler and tradesman there making boots, shoes and furniture for the pioneer
families of the area. Some families in the area did not like Uriah and his family as they lived more like Indians in less
than desirable conditions.
Word came to Belmont County that Kansas was opening up to settlers and land was being given away by the
government. Many families started moving west over the National Road and trail that was being built to the west. Uriah
and his family placed their tools and belongings in a covered wagon, teamed up with other families of German and
Irish descent and started west. About the area of eastern Indiana rumors of Indian uprisings reached the wagon train.
Uriah and families that already had families in Indiana west of Edinburgh, Indiana such as the Waltz, Cordray, Coy and
other families, turned south into Brown County. Uriah moved on past the homesteads of Milnes, Raper, Curry, Wirey,
Stillabower, Anderson, Taylor, Taggart, and Hamblens into Taggart then west and north on Three Notch Trail. Fall
was closing in so Uriah found a building site in a hollow east of Three Notch Trail where he could build a temporary
winter shelter for his family. The land was owned by Eliakim Taylor. Uriah agreed to work for the Taylors to pay for the
use of the land. There was much wild game where he could harvest and keep them for the winter months. Catherine
and the children harvested wild fruits and vegetables for the coming months. The Ford Family carried flour with them
along with seed corn and seeds for squash and other vegetables. Uriah and the older boys started building a log
cabin that would house them through the many hard times ahead. They cleared the land and prepared logs for the
cabin. The two oldest boys started splitting the logs into panels for the upper level. They also made clapboard
shingles out of the ample supply of yellow popular that had a straight grain for the roof. The older girls collected
leaves prairie grass and Sage to keep out the snow under the roof. They also collected the cotton from Milk Pods for
bed ticks. Bed ticks were also made from the tops of water plants such as Cat Tails and other sources that grew in the
The first winter was hard but the family survived with their skills learned from their mother and their heritage. Only
the bottom half of the cabin was built before winter. A temporary roof was installed. As soon as the weather
improved, the cabin was completed with a second story. The family made furniture for the cabin from timber and
limbs of the trees that they had used to build the cabin. The younger children pounded the soft soap stones from
the creek east of the cabin into a powder and mixed the powder with clay and water to make a mortar for the
fireplace and chimney. Flat sand stone was taken from the creek to cover the lower part of the fireplace. The hides
of the animals that were harvested were tanned and used as covers and clothing. Glue was made from animal hoofs
and ligaments that were collected from the harvested wild animals. That glue was used to make furniture and tools.
The children cut wood for the fireplace for heat and cooking. A fire was started in the fireplace to season the mortar
into a hard surface. Benches were made from the slabs of the logs that were split for clapboards. A very primitive
table was also made from other slabs and clapboards. Uriah and Catherine’s bed was made from a split log with
deer skins as a base for the sleeping surface. The children’s beds were made from rough split logs with clapboard
slats over which they placed the bed ticks that they had made from natural cotton like fibers.
In the first spring time Uriah and his family tilled the land and planted a very large garden. They had brought starts
for apple trees with them. Uriah grafted the apple tree starts to wild crab apple trees. He also traded for other apple
and peach tree starts from neighbors around the village of Taggart.
Uriah was soon to meet the Mead family and became friends with them. After about 3 years in the log cabin Uriah
moved his family to just north of the Zion Church site in a clapboard home that was much larger where his family
could live in more comfort. Uriah agreed to work for James Mead to pay for the land. The orchard was moved to this
new location. The sons experimented with trees and a very large size orchard was developed on that land. More
vegetables were also planted and were traded to other pioneers of the area.
Uriah and the McIllvain brothers built the Mt. Zion Church which still stands today. Later the land that Uriah lived on
was sold to the Ford Family. The sons as they married lived for awhile in the log cabin to the north that Uriah and his
sons had built in the first fall and winter that they were in Brown County. James Edward was the last son that lived in
the cabin having three sons born there before James Edward moved to Monroe County. Several local families had a
dislike for James Edward because of his likeness and actions linked to his Indian heritage. The cabin burned under
questionable circumstances after James Edward moved out. James Edward moved back to Brown County, and lived
in the clapboard home that his family had lived in for many years.
Catherine lived in the area of Walker Creek near the foot of Taylor Hill just east of the Walker Trail on a road going
east toward Three Notch Trail after Uriah passed. Uriah, Catherine and many of their children are buried in the Mt.
Zion Church Cemetery.
Many of the descendants of Uriah E. Ford still live in the area. Many of his descendants became professionals in
Education, Engineering, Medicine, and Science along with many skilled trades. The many descendents live across
America with many serving their country in the wars with honor. The sons and daughters of Uriah’s descendents
have been very creative having a long term memory with excellent detail. From time to time they have accounted for
many of the successful inventions and creations to make life easier. The first hip roof on a home in the area was
created by one of the sons of Uriah. With their heritage the descendants walk to their own drummer and answer only
to their own great spirit.
Walker Creek is now known as Upper Salt Creek. Walker Trail is now known as Upper Salt Creek Road. Taylor Hill
was that hill from Upper Salt Creek Road on what is now Sprunica Road about 2 miles east of the Sprunica
School. The road that Catherine lived on is no longer in existence. It extended just north of Sprunica Road east to
what is now Bates Lane and on east to Three Notch Road. Three Notch Trail became Three Notch Road. The
Three Notch Trail ran from the Ohio River north through Brown County and on north to South Bend, Indiana.
Log Cabin Model: Jacob Ford
Historical research and guidance: Denzil Ford
Educator Sprunica Elementary School Brown County Indiana:
Photo Credits http://www.frogmajikmusic.com