Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Elizabeth (Mrs. Robert D.) Ford, 1869-1954
By Jodi Oaks, Librarian, Mohawk Valley Community College
Elizabeth Best was born in December 1869 in Pennsylvania to Valentine Best and Alveretta Jane Feister. She had an older sister named Margaret, two younger sisters named Christiana and Mary, and a younger brother named Walter. Her father died sometime between 1875 and 1880, and her mother was listed as widowed in the 1880 U.S. Census. Elizabeth married Robert Dale Ford, a teacher from Waddington, a village in St. Lawrence County, N.Y. She lived for many years at 58 Park Street in Canton, N.Y. Her husband was eventually a mathematics professor at St. Lawrence University, serving as head of the mathematics department for 41 years.
Elizabeth participated in women's club work, serving in various positions in the New York State Federation of Women's Clubs (NYSFWC). In 1911, she was district chairman of the fourth district of the NYSFWC. Around this time, she was also active with the Woman's Library Association of Canton. From 1914-1916, she was a corresponding secretary for the State Federation. Elizabeth was also active in the suffrage movement in northern New York. In May 1914, a women's suffrage convention was held at the Universalist Church in Canton. Contemporary news articles reported the event as the first women's suffrage convention held in St. Lawrence County and that at the convention, Carrie Chapman Catt conducted a school of methods for the upcoming suffrage campaign. One of several addresses given at the convention was by Elizabeth's husband on educational interests. Elizabeth herself was elected leader of the second assembly district at the convention. Later, Elizabeth was elected chairman of the fourth campaign district at the November 1916 convention of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association held in Albany. After women obtained the right to vote, Elizabeth was active with the League of Women Voters, and was elected a regional director at a January 1923 convention of the League held in Albany.
Elizabeth left Canton sometime after the death of her husband in 1934, and by 1940 she was living in Orlando, Florida with her sisters Margaret and Christiana. She died in 1954 in Florida. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Canton, New York.
For her suffrage work, see "Suffrage Meetings in St. Lawrence County," The Northern Tribune, May 20, 1914, 1; "Suffs Hold a Convention at 'County Seat,'" St. Lawrence Republican, May 27, 1914, 3; The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI, ed. Ida Husted Harper (National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922), 476; The Chat: Flatbush Edition, January 27, 1923, 6. For her club work, see "Club and Social Matters," The Post-Star, April 26, 1911, 4; "Federation of Women's Clubs is well Represented at the Annual Meeting of 4th District Members, The Post-Star, April 27, 1911, 4; "Nominating Committee Reports to Convention," Press and Sun-Bulletin, November 11, 1914, 3; Club women of New York, 1914-1915 (New York: Club Women of New York Company, February 1916), 13; Official Register and Directory of Women's Clubs in America (Shirley, Mass.: Helen M. Winslow, 1916), 147; "Girls Dance at Dinner To-Night, For Entertainment of Officers of Federation," Democrat and Chronicle, November 13, 1916, 12.
On her husband, see "1934 Gridiron to be Dedicated to Professor Robert D. Ford," Hill News, September 27, 1933, 3; United States Census, 1880, "Robert D Ford in household of Robert Ford, Waddington, St Lawrence, New York, United States."
For New York State and United States Census records, see United States Census, 1880, "Bessie Best in household of Aferetta Best, Danville, Montour, Pennsylvania, United States;" United States Census, 1900, "Elizabeth Ford in household of Robert D Ford, Canton Township Canton village, St. Lawrence, New York, United States;" New York State Census, 1905, "Elizebeth B Ford in household of Robert D Ford, Canton, A.D. 02, Canton Village, E.D. 01, St. Lawrence, New York;" United States Census, 1910, "Elizabeth Ford in household of Robert D Ford, Canton, Saint Lawrence, New York, United States;" United States Census, 1920, "Elizabeth B Ford in household of Robert F Ford, Canton, Saint Lawrence, New York, United States;" United States Census, 1930, "Bessie Ford in household of Robert D Ford, Canton, Saint Lawrence, New York, United States;" United States Census, 1940, "Eliz Best Ford in household of Margaret Best, Ward 3, Orlando, Election Precinct 16, Orange, Florida, United States." Her death certificate can be found in Florida Death Index, 1877-1998, database accessed via FamilySearch.org.
Image of Elizabeth (Mrs. Robert D.) Ford, 1869-1954:
Image of Elizabeth (Mrs. Robert D.) Ford
"Girls Dance at Dinner To-Night, For Entertainment of Officers of Federation," Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY), November 13, 1916, 12.