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Andrew Russell, who organized the Ford Town Company in 1885, platted the town site on May 15 of that same year. It was named Ford because of it being the site of the only ford on the Arkansas River within the eastern part of the county.
Just to the north of Ford, another town sprung up across the river. It was called Ryansville, after Pat Ryan, an early settler in the area, and was platted in September 1885. There was a rivalry between the two towns and due to some land dealings with the railroad, Ford got the right-of-way from the Rock Island Railroad, which ultimately led to the demise of Ryansville.
The newspaper, two hotels, a drug store and a lumber yard were among the business that moved from Ryansville to Ford. Eventually, the two towns formed the Union Town Company, and 30 blocks were annexed to Ford's existing blocks. The first train came through on November 25, 1887.
The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.
Ford County Historical Society. Dodge City and Ford County, Kansas 1870-1920: Pioneer Histories and Stories.Dodge City, KS, 1996.
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