James Ford Wreaks Havoc

james ford cave in the rock true west

James Ford led a double life in the early 1800s.  He was a landowner, businessman and civic leader in western Kentucky and southern Illinois. He also led a gang of robbers and cutthroats that robbed and killed hundreds of travelers in the region, especially out of Cave-in-Rock.  Ford also kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery in the South.  There were rumors about his criminal activities, but nothing of substance.

Ford got away with it for more than three decades—until someone got tired of the act.  He was assassinated, supposedly by vigilantes, in 1833.

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Mark Boardman

Mark Boardman is the features editor for True West Magazine as well as the editor of The Tombstone Epitaph. He also serves as pastor for Poplar Grove United Methodist Church in Indiana.