Sometimes there is no question that an event is a God thing. Mom (Lora Disque) and I were traveling in Wabash, Indiana. We had stayed overnight at the lovely Herrold On Hill Bed and Breakfast, and went downtown to tour whatever historic sites we could see before noon. At Herrold on Hill, our hosts had told us about the wonderful Dr. James Ford Historic Home, but mentioned that it was closed on Tuesday so we had put touring it out of our plans.
Instead, we went to the courthouse to see the lamp that lit up Wabash, Indiana, the first electrically lighted city in the world! Next was the Honeywell Center http://www.honeywellcenter.org/), which is ran by the Honeywell Foundation, a public charity whose mission is to provide artistic, cultural, social and recreational opportunities for all. The Honeywell Center is the home of the foundation and features a 1,500 seat theater, art gallery, banquet facilities and restaurant. I would love to go back to see some of the wonderful acts that are coming to town.
We stopped at the Center to see the beautiful building and the art on display. The art was an exhibit by local high school students. We stopped to admire the pictures and talk to the young woman putting the pictures up and we asked her about local sights. She mentioned the Dr. Ford Historic House, which is part of the Honeywell Foundation. We said we wanted to see it, but realized it was closed. Well, the woman we spoke to, Michele Hughes, happened to be the Manager of the House and she said she would open it for us! God at work we are sure.
Michele hopped in the car with us and we traveled to the house to visit the home of this Civil War surgeon. Dr. Ford and his wife, America Holton Ford, among the first 24 families to arrive. “Dr. Ford visited in 1838 and he liked the area and moved here in 1841,” Michele shared. “They bought three plots of land and started a one-room brick house.”
As their family expanded they would add to this lovely home over the next 35 years. We were amazed by the talented Dr. Ford who besides being a doctor, also was an amateur architect, pharmacist, writer, agronomist, inventor and Civil War surgeon.
Loving farming and hearing stories about farming inventions, I was excited to learn that Dr. Ford invented a grain drill. He was a large farmer, farming 300 acres in Wabash County, and 540 acres in Blackford County. In 1854 the grain drill he invented was patented. However, while serving in the Civil War, his invention was copied so he never gained any income from this agricultural endeavor.
During his second tour of duty in the Civil War, Dr. Ford contracted Malaria. While home recuperating, he served as the unpaid editor of the Wabash Plain Dealer. “He opened a nursery here and also did land surveying. He helped Northwestern Christian University (Butler University today) get started and served as the architect for the Wabash Christian Church,” Michele shared.
The home was a joy to tour. Besides the house itself, there is a graphic display of what medical treatment was like during the Civil War period.
Outside there is a lovely backyard garden and we enjoyed immensely the carriage house with a replica of his faithful traveling companion, his horse Barney. The carriage house had tools and items that everyone would love to see.
Open Friday and Saturday from 11-4, and Sunday – Thursday by appointment, call 260-563-8686 for more information. You can also log onto https://www.drfordhome.org/ for more information as well.
Thank you Michele for opening up this wonderful home for us!