Rose Garden PhotographsClara (Beauchamp) Ford was born in London, England, on September 6, 1849, the daughter of Anne (Foxe) and Frederick Beauchamp. She lived in Australia where an uncle raised her until she joined her brother, Frederick, in San Francisco, California, in the 1870s. After his death in July 1877, she answered an advertisement placed by General O. B. Wilcox who was seeking a person to help with his invalid daughter and two sons. Thus, she came with the Wilcox household to Fort Whipple, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory, in April 1878.

During the journey, she became acquainted with George William Ford, a commissary sergeant. On November 10, 1878, Reverend A. Gilmore, a chaplain in the U. S. Army, married Clara and George at General Wilcox’s home. Shortly after, they moved into Prescott, homesteading near Granite Creek. Later, the young couple opened their own store on Montezuma Street across from the courthouse in 1882.  The citizens of Prescott referred to store as the Ford’s, which sold a variety of fruits such as oranges, lemons, figs, dates, along with candies, nuts, smokers’ supplies and other items.

Their children were George Frederick (1879-1889) who died of typhoid fever a few days before his parents’ eleventh wedding anniversary, Florence (Mrs. Maurice) Tribby (1882), Elsie (Mrs. William Gaskarth) Greenwood (1885), Arizona (Mrs. Harry) Goodwin, and Anna (Mrs. Emil) Michel.

George died July 24, 1903, after a few days of heart disease; however, he had suffered with mental illness for over ten years, and at one time had been confined to the asylum. After his death, Clara took in sewing at her residence at 238 North Montezuma Street and rented rooms to provide for the girls. Her newspaper obituary published in the Prescott Evening Courier dated June 10, 1946, characterized her as, “Quiet and unassuming, Mrs. Ford devoted herself to the rearing of her family.”

Clara moved into the Arizona Pioneers’ Home on June 5, 1946, for treatment of a broken hip and died June 8, 1946, with burial in the Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Dr. A. W. Bork wrote an article published in The Courier June 4, 1986, where he recalled, “To me, Clara Ford was a sweet, kindly old lady, much like my own grandmother, and I never knew the story of her adventures and precarious living until I read the biographical sketch prepared at her own request by her daughter Anna and granddaughter Catherine Tribby to be deposited in Sharlot Hall Museum’s collection.”

Sharlot Hall Museum Archives has the collection Ford-Tribby Family Papers & Photographs with additional information.

Donor: Elsie Greenwood, daughter
Photo Located: PB-159, F-3, I18 – Ford-Tribby Papers Collection
Updated: 8/21/2015; D. Sue Kissel