From the History of Crittenden County Series comes another interesting story about the Fords Ferry area. First printed in August 1954. Written by Mr. Hollis C. Franklin, one of Crittenden County's best writers.
The Road Led Out From Fords Ferry.
Such is life; we think of things when it is too late.
There was a time when Fords Ferry was one of the many thriving and prosperous towns along the Ohio. It had a good wharf with good wharf facilities, a good hotel, a drug store, a post office, two or three good stores which sold everything from talcum powder to plow points, a blacksmith shop, a fish market and a school. It even, at least for those days, had a good road to it, but, like many other small river towns, the time eventually came when the road led out of town and not into it; and when such conditions came about, the inevitable happens- the town vanishes- to where, we have never been able to find out.
Fords Ferry, Kentucky, now is only a name and a memory, but what a name it had one hundred years ago and what memories cluster, even now, around that name!
The one who writes these 800 or so words, was born and raised in that section of the county which, some fifty years before his birth, had been the home of the most notorious river pirate who ever infested an American commonwealth and who lived at Fords Ferry. It wasn't exactly by chance that this notorious character was also, according to the legends handed down by my forefathers and by other of old Fords neighbors, a good neighbor, a gracious host and often a friend in time of trouble.
In those days, the little river town Fords Ferry, Kentucky, happened to be on the wagon trail from Tennessee to Illinois along which during the late summer and early fall seasons and even in the winter time and in spring time, too, covered wagons by the hundreds rolled along the rough and rugged road.
Some of the owners of these covered wagons crossed the river. Others did not. Some of them, the stories relate, crossed the river, returning from Illinois en route to Tennessee and to other points South, but many, many times the owners of these covered wagons, together with their possessions, were never heard of again after they were miles South of Fords Ferry.
As to what happened to them – well, that has been through the years, left largely to surmise and conjecture. The writer of these few paragraphs recalls how that when he was a boy he and other boys of the community and, often, boys who were visiting in home of that community, never tired of going to the old bluff which is located on the farm owned by Miss Atrel Vaughan (now owned by the Flanary family) and by the Jerry Belt heirs, where, underneath the cave in the sand, the depth of which we were never able to determine, we often amused ourselves by digging out human bones, including human skulls, which we took to be Indian skulls, and trying to piece them together as we would a skeleton in Physiology class. Today such a practice might appear gruesome. Possibly it was gruesome then but it never occurred to us boys who tried to fit "toe-bones, ankle-bones, knee-bones, thigh-bones" as the song says together was anything out of the ordinary.
I recall how Clyde and Walter Green, playmates in the days of the long ago, on one occasion brought a human skull to Marion and that same skull, for many, many years reposed in a Marion physician's office.
As to whether there was any connection between those bones and the river pirate whose home was at Fords Ferry – Oh, well, that's just another one of the riddles of the past which has never been and likely never will be solved.
In the old days there was a story which went the rounds, even into distant states that wherever old Ford buried a body, within fifty feet of said body he always buried sums of money which was left there until the body had been in repose in that particular resting place for a certain period of years. As to the authenticity of that statement, we do not know. That is just one of the many, many legends which cluster around the Fords Ferry that was and is no more.
(Mr. Hollis Charles Franklin's obituary, Dec. 4, 1958. Hollis C. Franklin was born Ooct 15, 1899. His parents were Elijah T. Franklin and Mattie Love. He was married to the former Nina Jane Paris. Two daughters, Miss Martha Elizabeth Franklin and Mrs. Helen James. He was widely known as a speaker, often filling pulpits in churches, at banquets and meetings. His dry, humorous style of delivery was a distinguishing feature of his talks. He also wrote poems and stories about Crittenden County. He was born and raised in the Fords Ferry community on the Ohio River.)