In 1875 he settled in Santa Barbara, California, where he would live out his days. Ford traveled by horse and buggy to each of the twenty-one Spanish missions in California, where he created a historically important portfolio of watercolors, oils, and etchings. His depictions of the missions were (in part) responsible for the revival of interest in the state's Spanish heritage, and indirectly for the restoration of the missions themselves. In 1883, Ford published his Etchings of the Franciscan Missions of California, and exhibited his works at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The hallmarks of Ford’s images are exquisite brushwork and tonal mastery in all mediums, which make his works highly prized. Ford died in 1894 in Santa Barbara.
^Bells and crosses of the Mission Inn and the Ford Paintings of the California Missions [1908?], OCLC276859296 – available as a digitized version, and which includes a reference to the paintings of the California Missions done by Ford.