Tirey L. Ford

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Tirey Lafayette Ford
Tirey Ford.jpg
18th California Attorney General
In office
GovernorHenry Gage
Preceded byWilliam F. Fitzgerald
Succeeded byUlysses S. Webb
Sierra County, District Attorney
In office
California State Senator
In office
Personal details
Born(1857-12-29)December 29, 1857
DiedJune 26, 1928(1928-06-26) (aged 70)
San Francisco, California
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Mary Emma Byington
ChildrenByington Ford, Mary Relda Ford, Tirey Lafayette Ford Jr.
ProfessionAttorney, Politician

Tirey Lafayette Ford (December 29, 1857 – June 26, 1928) was an American lawyer and politician who served as a California State Senator and the 18th Attorney-General of California. He was known in California politics and for his Republican speeches for "A Tribute to William McKinley" and "Speech on National Issues."


The Ford family came to America in 1650 by French Huguenots, who located in Virginia. One of the earliest Fords was Daniel Isaac Faure. His great-grandfather, Jacob Lafayette Ford, was with General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia when the surrender of Lord Cornwallis occurred during the American Revolutionary War. His grandfather, Pleasant Thomas Ford, was with General William Henry Harrison in the Indian campaigns which made the Battle of Tippecanoe famous.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Ford, was born in Monroe County, Missouri, the son of Jacob Harrison Ford and Mary Winn Abernathy. In 1877, at the age of 19, Ford came to Colusa County, California. For three years, he worked on his uncle (Hugh J. Glenn)'s ranch; Hugh Glenn was a Democratic candidate for Governor. Ford became a student in the law office of Colonel Park Henshaw in Chico, California.[3]

Ford was admitted to the California bar in August 1882.[4]

Ford moved to Oroville to practice law, but after about three years moved to Downieville, the county seat of Sierra County. On February 1, 1888, he married Miss Mary Emma Byington, sister of Lewis Francis Byington in Downieville, They had three children, Byington Ford, Mary Relda Ford, and Tirey Lafayette Ford. Mary Relda Ford married Samuel Finley Brown Morse on February 18, 1919.

Political life[edit]

Tirey L. Ford

District Attorney[edit]

In 1888, Ford was elected as District Attorney of Sierra County on the Republican ticket by the largest majority than any candidate for that office in 17 years. He re-elected in 1890 to the office without opposition, the Democrats making no nomination against him.[5]

State Senator[edit]

Ford became Republican State Senator in 1892 and 1895 for California's 3rd State Senate district, Plumas, Sierra, and Nevada Counties.[6] On March 23, 1893, Senator Ford introduced two bills known as the Ford's Mining Bills, Senate Bill No. 50, which would allow hydraulic mining where it can be done without material injury to the navigable rivers, and Senate Bill No. 389, which would appropriate $250,000 for building restraining dams, provided by the United States Government.[7]

State Board of Harbor Commissioners[edit]

He was appointed attorney to the State Board of Harbor Commissioners in 1894, which office he held until elected Attorney General for the state of California in 1898.[8] Ford solved a difficult legal dispute over ownership of an area known as Channel Street located in the San Francisco's harbor leading to the bay. A judgment gave this land for public use to the city of San Francisco.[9]

Union League Club President[edit]

In 1898, Ford was elected president of the Union League Club in San Francisco. The Republican club extended fellowship to distinguished guests of the city. Annual meetings were often held at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.[10]

California Attorney General[edit]

He served as the 18th California Attorney General 1899-1902. He resigned as Attorney General in order to become General Counsel for the United Railroads (URR) of San Francisco.[11]

State Board of Prisons[edit]

In 1905, Governor George Pardee selected Ford to be the State Prison Director. Ford wrote a book called California State Prisons: their history, development and management, published in 1910.[12]

Private life[edit]

California Miners' Association[edit]

On March 7, 1892, Ford was elected President of the California Miners' Association. He was a successful mining lawyer in Downieville that was engaged as counsel by the Miners' Association to conduct important cases.[13] Ford went to Washington in January 1896 to expedite the passage through Congress for bills to appropriate money for the construction of works to protect the rivers and streams of California.[14]

United Railroads[edit]

A United Railroads of San Francisco standard car circa 1905

In August 1902, Ford was appointed general counsel for the United Railroads of San Francisco.[15] "His knowledge of railroad law as of other departments of jurisprudence is comprehensive and accurate, and he stands to-day as one of the foremost representatives of the legal interests of California."[16] As attorney for URR, he was involved in a bribery scandal in 1906, but was later found to be innocent. The bribery scandal was one of the many San Francisco graft trials.[17] Adolphus Frederic St. Sure joined Ford's law firm in San Francisco.

During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, he became a member of Mayor Eugene Schmitz's Committee of Fifty.

Ford was a member of the Pacific-Union Club, Bohemian Club, Union League Club of San Francisco, Commonwealth Club of California, Press, Transportation, Merchants Institute, Amaurot, and Southern Clubs, and as a Knight Templar. He was also a golf enthusiast and belonged to the Presidio Golf Club.[18]


After his retirement, Ford took up historical studies and literary pursuits. In 1926 he published the well-received novel, Dawn and the Dons: The Romance of Monterey, with vignettes and sketches by artist Jo Mora. The book was reviewed in the California Historical Society Quarterly, which said: "It is a pleasure to read a book which has been a labor of love for the author. His sketches are finely artistic and, further, they are correct historically." [19] [20]


On June 26, 1928, Ford died at the Pacific-Union Club in San Francisco, aged 70. A funeral service was held at 10 o'clock at Gary's Chapel on Divisadero Street at Post. He was interred at the family mausoleum, at Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, San Mateo County, California.[21]


  • Dawn and the Dons; the Romance of Monterey [22]
  • California State Prisons, their history, development and management [23]


  • The Lamp of Experience. Its Light on the Political Situation, 1896 [24]
  • The Law and the Miner, 1896 [25]
  • A Tribute to William McKinley, 1896 [26]
  • Speech on National Issues, 1900 [27]
  • The City Imperishable, 1917" [28]


  1. ^ History of the New California, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905, pg 470.
  2. ^ American Biography and Genealogy California Edition, Robert J. Burdette
  3. ^ A History of the New California by Leigh Hadley Irvine. The Lewis Publishing Company. 1905. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  4. ^ "The State Bar of California". the State Bar. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  5. ^ Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 84, Number 144, 4 February 1893
  6. ^ California State Capitol Museum
  7. ^ Sacramento Daily Union, Vol. 85, No., 26, March 23, 1893
  8. ^ San Francisco Newspaper, June 26, 1928
  9. ^ The Pacific Reporter, Volume 62, September 6 – Dec. 27, 1900
  10. ^ "TIREY L. FORD TO LEAD THEM". San Francisco Call, Volume 83, Number 43. 12 January 1898. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Tirey L. Ford Resigns and US Web Will Succeed Him" (PDF). San Francisco Call. September 12, 1902. Retrieved 2013-04-07.
  12. ^ Los Angeles Herald, Volume 33, Number 20
  13. ^ The Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 83, Number 13, March 7, 1892
  14. ^ The San Francisco Call, Volume 79, Number 13, 22
  15. ^ Press Reference Library, 1915, INTERNATIONAL NEWS SERVICE
  16. ^ History of the New California - The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905: and the article: "Attorney-general Resigns Position", Sept. 12, 1902, San Francisco Chronicle
  17. ^ Bean, Walton (1974). "The Trials of Tirey L. Ford". Boss Ruef's San Francisco: The Story of the Union Labor Party, Big Business, and the Graft Prosecution. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 240–255. ISBN 9780520000940.
  18. ^ Notables of the West, International News Service, 1915, page 125
  19. ^ Purdy, Helen Throop (1927). "Dawn and the Dons. The Romance of Monterey by Tirey L. Ford, Jo Mora". California Historical Society Quarterly. California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Jun., 1927), pp. 195-196. 6 (2): 195–196. JSTOR 25177883.
  20. ^ WorldCat Reference: http://www.worldcat.org/title/dawn-and-the-dons-the-romance-of-monterey/oclc/19969865
  21. ^ The Political Graveyard
  22. ^ Tirey L. Ford (March 1, 2007), Dawn Of The Dons, Kessinger Publishing, LLC, ISBN 9781432516307, 1432516302
  23. ^ Tirey Lafayette Ford (1910), California state prisons, San Francisco: [The Star Press]
  24. ^ Tirey L. Ford (December 1, 1896), The Lamp of Experience, San Francisco: Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine
  25. ^ Tirey L. Ford (1896), The Law and the Miner, San Francisco: Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine
  26. ^ Tirey L. Ford (1896), Notable speeches by Notable Speakers of the Greater West, San Francisco: The Whitaker and Ray Company
  27. ^ Tirey L. Ford (1900), Notable speeches by Notable Speakers of the Greater West, San Francisco: The Whitaker and Ray Company
  28. ^ Tirey L. Ford (1917), The City Imperishable, San Francisco: Western Press Association

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
William F. Fitzgerald
California Attorney General
Succeeded by
Ulysses S. Webb
Preceded by
California's 3rd State Senate district
Succeeded by