Moosehead’s Deacon Ford: Mayfield to Kokadjo

A few histories of the Moosehead region mention Deacon Enoch Ford as the first permanent settler at Roach River, also called Kokadjo.* He went to Roach River as a logger by at least 1841, traveling up from his home in the town of Mayfield.

Enoch was born in Jefferson (Balltown), Maine about 1801, a son of Abner Jr. and Susannah (Fowles) Ford. By 1820, the family moved to Township 2 Range 2, East of the Kennebec River in William Bingham’s Kennebec Purchase. This is now the unorganized township of Mayfield, which was known as Fordstown in its earliest days, where a pond bore Ford’s name well beyond his residency.

Ford Pond

Detail of Ford Pond, Mayfield, ME 1870, Maine Archives

Enoch married Jane Gahan Smith in Brighton on July 24, 1824. She is said to have been born in Appleton about 1801. They had the following children born in Mayfield:

  • Enoch L. (1829-1902); married Abigail S. Pennell
  • Benjamin F. (1830-1895); married Deborah Ann Ward
  • Permelia Jane (1935-1911); married Stephen Hall
  • Olinda (1836-1917); married William B. Wright
  • Ruth (1839-1909); married William Davis, second Aaron Knowlton
  • John F., (1842-1921); married Lottie Pillsbury

Enoch Ford was appointed the first postmaster of Mayfield on December 17, 1832. He was a deacon in the Mayfield Freewill Baptist Church, and was chosen as town selectman and constable in 1836.  He served in town offices regularly until about 1841, at which time he probably began more regular stays at Roach River.

The Old Canada Road Historical Society is fortunate to have a copy of the records of Mayfield’s church, donated by Myron Miller, a descendant of Enoch’s sister Susan. The notes made by Enoch and others in the church records give evidence of his early activity in the “logging swamps” at Roach River.

1841:

  • Second Saturday in June. Chose Enoch Ford Church Clerk…
  • Second Saturday in Sept, but a few met had a good time but no business done. Met on Tuesday following and done the business: Voted to request Brother Hayden’s ordination. Enoch Ford, Roach River.
  • Second Saturday in October. Had a comfortable season. Jane Heald (or Hall), Roach River Maine.

1842:

  • 2nd   Saturday in January. Absent from home in the loging [sic] swamp.
  • 2nd Saturday in February I was also absent.
  • 2nd in March had not returned.
  • 2nd Saturday in April I was at home. Had a good time in conference with the brothers and sisters.
  • I was then absent till July conference.

An article that appeared in the Portland Daily Advertiser in 1863 described a tragedy near Deacon Ford’s home. The paper names Deacon Thomas Ford, but it is likely an error and should have been Enoch, who did not die until 1868, and was still at Roach River in the 1860 census.

Fatal Accident.—We learn from a letter from Roach River, to M. D. Ward, Esq., of this place, that another of those fatal accidents from the careless use of firearms, occurred a few days ago. Two men by the name of Garland, father and son, were engaged in hunting on Roach River, and that they started out to examine their traps, taking opposite directions, and agreeing to meet at the house of Dea. Thomas Ford. The farther [sic] arrived at Dea. Ford’s first, and after waiting an hour or two, started in pursuit of his son, taking with him Mr. Frank Ford.**—After traveling about eight miles, they found him dead. It appears that he had arrived within a mile and a half of Dea. Ford’s when he slipped and fell on the ice, accidentally discharging the gun with fatal effect upon himself. His name was Thomas Garland.—Skowhegan, Clarion.

Enoch Ford died on May 16, 1868 and is buried in Levant. Jane’s death date has not been found.

There was a period of time after Enoch’s death that the Roach River property was managed by other families. By 1870, Reuel Keene and his family from the Augusta area, were managing it for a lumber company. Their only daughter, age nine, died there in a tragic accident in 1868, when she fell while swinging on a pole in the barn.  In 1880, Levi Davis and his family, of Athens, were on the farm. Eventually, another Ford appeared to run the Roach River House.

Fords Tavern map

Location of Ford’s Tavern, Roach River, 1882 Map of Piscataquis County. digitalmaine.com

Enoch Ford’s sister, Eliza Jane, married John Morrison, a well-known lumberman of Corinth. Their son, Abner Ford Morrison, with his friend Elbridge Hunting, took up the lease on the Roach River House in the 1890’s. Morrison’s father and brother had a large lumbering operation in the area. Abner and his wife, Blanche McGregor, moved to Bangor by 1910, and the long Ford association with Roach River came to an end.

  • *See: Parker, Everett L., The Moosehead Lake Region 1900-1950, (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2004), Section Five, and Pinkham, Steve. The Mountains of Maine, (Versa Press, 2009).
  • ** This may have been Enoch’s nephew, Frank M. Ford, of Sebec, or perhaps his own son, John F. if he went by Frank.

Sources:

  • Records of the Mayfield Freewill Baptist Church, copy at Old Canada Road Historical Society, donated by Myron Miller, a Ford-Ellis descendant.
  • Map of Mayfield, 1870. Maine Archives.
  • Newspaper research. genealogybank.com.
  • Vital records, images. Ancestry.com.

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