Guide to the Ford Family Papers
1871-1998

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Ford family
Title: Ford Family Papers
Dates: 1892-2003 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 2 linear feet of shelf space
Location of Collection: MC 380
Collection Number: MC 380
Summary: Sam (1882-1961) and Mary (1885-1982) Ford were governor and first lady of Montana from 1940-1948; other members of their family, also represented in the collection, were similarly active in Montana political life. The collection includes audio materials, audiovisual materials, correspondence, financial records, press releases, speeches, duplicates of state records, writings, and miscellany created or gathered by members of the combined Ford, Jackson, James, Leslie, and Christopher families.
Repository: Montana Historical Society Research Center
Archives

225 N. Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT 59620-1201
(406) 444-2681
mhslibrary@mt.gov

Languages: English 

Biographical Note

Sam Ford (1882-1961) was born in Albany, Kentucky. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in law, and in 1906 he moved to Montana, where he met Mary Shobe (1885-1982), also of Kansas, who had come to Montana in 1887 with her family when her grandfather, Preston Hopkins Leslie, was appointed territorial governor. In 1908, Sam Ford was appointed assistant United States Attorney; he was elected Attorney General for the state of Montana in 1916 and Associate Justice of the Montana Supreme Court in 1928. Ford was elected governor in 1940, and served two terms. He and his wife had four daughters together; later in life, Mary Ford was a member of the original restoration committee for the original governor’s mansion in Helena, Montana.

Betty Ford Jackson was born Clara Elizabeth Ford, to parents Sam and Mary Ford in 1921. She was the second youngest of four daughters. She married Melbourne Jackson (b. 1915), with whom she had four children. She gathered genealogical materials on the Ford-Shobe and Leslie-Hopkins families, from whom she was descended.

Ted James (1918-1995) was born in Sand Coulee, Montana, where he worked in area coal mines before attending the University of Montana. He practiced law in Great Falls after graduating in 1943, and was elected in 1950 to the first of two terms he would serve as Cascade County attorney. He was elected lieutenant governor of Montana in 1964 and served with Governor Tim Babcock. He competed with Babcock for the governorship in 1968, and lost. He was appointed chairman of University of Montana board of regents in 1973, from which he resigned in 1982. James married Mary Margaret Ford in 1945; they were divorced in 1972. He married again in 1973, this time to Lois Davenport, who survived him along with several of his siblings, children, and step-children.

Preston Hopkins Leslie (1819-1907) was born in Kentucky. He began practicing law in 1840, and served as a county attorney, legislator, president of the state senate, and finally governor of Kentucky. He served twice in the latter office between 1871 and 1881. In 1887, he was appointed territorial governor of Montana, and later United States district attorney for Montana from 1891 to 1898. He married Louisa Black in 1841; after her death in 1858, he married again to Mary Kuykendall (d. 1900). At the time of his death, he was survived by five of his children.

John Christopher was born in Austria in the 1860s, and lived in Sand Coulee, Cascade, Montana in the early 1900s. He and his wife, Annie, had seven children, six of whom survived to adulthood. Their grown sons John, Joseph, and Andy Christopher fought in World War I; of the three, only John survived the conflict. John and Annie Christopher’s daughters were named Elizabeth, Susie, and Catherine. Elizabeth Christopher grew up to marry Theodore James, and was the mother of Lieutenant Governor Ted James.

Content Description

The collection consists of six subgroups: Sam Ford; Mary Ford; Betty Ford Jackson; Ted James; Preston Hopkins Leslie; and the Christopher family.

The Sam Ford subgroup consists of general correspondence (1920-1952; n.d.); financial records (1912), consisting of one receipt for furniture; speeches (n.d.); and miscellany (1906-1907; n.d.), consisting of certificates authorizing Ford as an attorney, as well as Sam Ford’s Spiritual Will.

The Mary Ford subgroup consists of general correspondence (1904-1963; n.d.); writings (n.d.), consisting of Mary Ford’s illustrated autobiographical manuscript, titled “History of My Life”; and miscellany (1892-1900), consisting of a good luck album containing handwritten messages.

The Betty Ford Jackson subgroup consists of writings (n.d.; 1940), including “Peggy,” and “Dad’s Wedding Suit,”; and miscellaneous genealogical and biographical materials (n.d.; 1998) gathered by Jackson, which reflect the history of the Ford-Shobe and Leslie-Hopkins family trees.

The Ted James subgroup consists of audio recordings (n.d.); audiovisual recordings (n.d.); general correspondence (n.d.; 1964, 1968), including both personal correspondence and campaign correspondence; financial records (1964), consisting of correspondence and records regarding contributions to James’s campaign fund; press releases (1964-1968; n.d.); speeches (1966; n.d.); writings (n.d.), consisting of an autobiographical manuscript; and miscellany (1964; n.d.), including an army airbase badge, political literature, and campaign literature, ephemera, and clippings.

The Preston Hopkins Leslie subgroup (1871-1875) consists of a subject file, which contains duplicates of the state papers of Leslie from his time as governor of Kentucky in bound form.

The Christopher family subgroup consists of general correspondence (1918-1919) of John Christopher and his sons, John, Joseph, and Andy Christopher, from the period in which the three brothers fought in World War I.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation :  

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Arranged by subgroup and series

Acquisition Information :  

Acquisition information available upon request


Detailed Description of the Collection

Sam Ford
Container(s)
Description
Dates
General Correspondence
Box/Folder
1 / 1 General Correspondence 1920-1952; n.d.
Financial Records
Box/Folder
1 / 2 Receipt (Wahlgren Furniture Co.) 1912
Speeches
Box/Folder
1 / 3-4 Speeches n.d.
Writings
Box/Folder
1 / 5 Spiritual Will n.d.
Miscellany
Box/Folder
1 / 6 Certificates 1906-1907
Oversize 1 Certificates 1906-1907

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Mary Ford
Container(s)
Description
Dates
General Correspondence
Box/Folder
1 / 7 Mary Shobe at the St. Louis World's Fair 1904
1 / 8 Leslie Shobe to Mary Ford 1957-1963
1 / 9 Mary Ford to daughter Judy n.d.
Writings
Box/Folder
1 / 10 "History of My Life" n.d.
Miscellany
Box/Folder
1 / 11 Good Luck Album 1892-1900

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Betty Ford Jackson
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Writings
Box/Folder
1 / 12 "Peggy"; "Dad's Wedding Suit" n.d.; 1940
Miscellany
Box/Folder
1 / 13 Genealogy: Ford-Shobe, Hopkins-Leslie n.d.
1 / 14 Genealogical research by Betty Ford n.d.; 1998

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Ted James
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Audio recordings
Box/Folder
MM82 / 1 "Ted James special tape 2 cuts"; "James master tape odell-" n.d.
MM82 / 2 Magnetic tapes ("Ted James for Lt. Governor"; "TS14961 Ted James"; "James TV-64-VWX-10"; "Ted James H. Aronson") n.d.
MM82 / 3 Cassette tape ("Station RIGLER" n.d.
Audivisual recordings
Box/Folder
MM82 / 4 VHS (Ted James and Hugo Aronson) n.d.
MM82 / 5-6 16mm film rolls (Ted for Lt. Governor 5 minute spot) n.d.
General correspondence and campaign materials
Box/Folder
1 / 15 - 2 / 1 Correspondence, certificates, and speeches n.d.
2 / 2 Campaign correspondence (also includes campaign literature) 1964, 1968
Financial records
Box/Folder
2 / 3-4 Contributions 1964
Press releases
Box/Folder
2 / 5 Press releases, clippings, and photos 1964-1968
2 / 6 Press releases ("updating legislature, cooperation, fair campaigns, six mile levy, tap stand, corporation tot, board of education") 1964-1968
Speeches
Box/Folder
2 / 7 Untitled speeches 1966; n.d.
2 / 8 Speeches (untitled; "Philosophical and Spiritual Aspects of Republicanism") 1960's
Writings
Box/Folder
2 / 9 Autobiography of Ted James n.d.
Miscellany
Box/Folder
2 / 10 Miscellany (army airbase badge; campaign literature; clippings; parole board and prisons; lawyer humor) n.d.
3 / 1 Brochures (and other campaign materials and ephemera) 1964

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Preston Hopkins Leslie
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Subject file
Box/Folder
3 / 2 State Papers of Governor Preston Leslie - Kentucky 1871-1875

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Christopher family
Container(s)
Description
Dates
General correspondence
Box/Folder
3 / 3 Christopher family (John, Joseph, John, and Andy) 1918-1919

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Subjects

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the Montana Historical Society Archives catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search under these terms.

  • Personal Names :
  • Ford, Sam C. (Sam Clarence), 1882-1961  ( creator)
  • Personal Names :
  • Ford, Mary, 1885-1982  ( creator)
  • Personal Names :
  • Christopher family
  • Personal Names :
  • Jackson, Elizabeth (Betty Ford), born 1921  ( creator)
  • Personal Names :
  • Ford, Mary, 1885-1982  ( creator)
  • Personal Names :
  • James, Ted, 1918-1995  ( creator)
  • Personal Names :
  • Leslie, Preston H. (Preston Hopkins), 1819-1907
  • Subject Terms :
  • Campaign paraphernalia
  • Subject Terms :
  • House furnishings--Prices--Montana
  • Subject Terms :
  • Governors
  • Subject Terms :
  • Governors’ spouses
  • Subject Terms :
  • Lieutenant governors
  • Subject Terms :
  • World War I
  • Geographical Names :
  • Montana--History

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