Hon. J. J. Ford, attorney at law, was born in Dekalb (then Smith) County November 22, 1822. He is one of ten children of Daniel and Mary (Fite) Ford, the former of Irish origin. The father, born about 1794 in South Carolina, was the son of Daniel Ford, Sr., of Virginia, who became one of the earliest settlers of Tennessee, when Daniel, Jr., was but a small boy. He settled in Smith County near what is now Temperance Hall, where he remained until his death. With ordinary education in his youth, Daniel, Jr., married about 1818 and spent his life in Smith and Dekalb Counties. He was an able man and served as magistrate and constable several years. He died in 1864. The mother, a native of Tennessee and of Dutch decent, died in 1836. She was a daughter of Rev. J. Fite, an early Tennessee settler from New Jersey, who spent the early years of his settlement in a cane tent on Smith Fork, and who with his brother cut a road through the cane to Nashville. He made some money by dealing in the skin and flesh of bears. He was a Baptist minister for nearly sixty years and a historic character of early Tennessee.
With no educational advantages our subject began the blacksmith trade when fifteen years old, and, when of age, purchased the property of his overseer and continued until 1859, having in the meantime served as magistrate six years. He was elected to the memorable General Assembly of 1859-60, in which he so distinguished himself that Judge R. Caruthers and other able jurists persuaded him to enter his present profession, in which he has since so well succeeded. He is the oldest practitioner in Alexandria. He again represented Dekalb County and in 1877-78 Dekalb, Wilson and Trousdale Counties, making in all seven sessions. He is one of the foremost criminal lawyers with a practice second to none, extending into all the adjacent counties, Nashville, Tuscumbia, Alabama and Cincinnati, Ohio. For eight years he was an equal partner with Judge Cottrell, of Lebanon, and is an able and honorable man.
In March 1846, he married Mary E., daughter of Aaron and Sarah M. Botts, natives of North Carolina and among the earliest settlers of Tennessee. Mr. Ford, although sixty-five years of age, has the vigor of his earlier life, a fact which he attributes to his care of himself and abstinence from liquor and tobacco. Always an active Democrat, his first vote was for Clay. Of considerable wealth, he owns 500 acres, 100 of which are in Wilson County. Mrs. Ford is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.