Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum: 1-35 and University Parks Drive | PO Box 2570, Waco, TX 76702-2570 | (254) 750-8631
Ranger Hall of Fame
The HALL OF FAME is the State designated memorial of the Texas Ranger service, commemorating the service and sacrifices of 30 Texas Rangers who gave their lives in the line of duty or made significant contributions to development of the service.
John Salmon Ford
1815 - 1897
John S. Ford was born in South Carolina on May 26, 1815. He grew up
on a plantation in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Ford was a good student
and by the age of 16 was qualified to teach, but instead he went on to
study medicine. He moved to Texas in 1836. Joining the Texas Army he
served until 1838. Ford settled in San Augustine and practiced medicine
for eight years. During this time he also studied law and passed the
In 1844 Ford was elected to the Texas House, where
he introduced the resolution to accept annexation to the United States.
This was the beginning of a long career of public service. Ford relocated
to Austin in 1845 and reported on the activities of the annexation
convention as a reporter for the Texas National Register. By the end
of the year he had purchased the paper and changed the name to the
Texas Democrat. During the Mexican War he served as regimental adjutant
under Jack Hays. It was as adjutant that Ford earned his nickname "Rip." One of his main duties
was to report on men killed in action. He completed each report with
the words "rest in peace" after his signature. As the number
of fatalities increased he abbreviated the phrase to "R.I.P." Soon
the men were calling Ford "Old Rip."
In 1849 Ford made an exploration of the country between San Antonio
and El Paso, publishing a map of what became known as the Ford and Neighbors
Trail. He was also named captain of Ranger company stationed between
the Nueces and Rio Grande. In 1858 he accepted a commission in the state
troops and defeated the Indians in two battles near the Canadian River.
IN 1859 he and his troops were sent to the Rio Grande. Here they spent
many months trying to quell the activities of Juan Cortina. During the
Civil War Ford was elected colonel of the Second Texas Cavalry, with
a command in the Rio Grande District. In May of 1865 he led the Confederate
troops in the battle of Palmito Ranch, the last battle of the Civil War.
In the years following the War, Ford continued his work as a newspaperman
and politician. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1875
and served in the Texas legislature from 1876 to 1879. In his later years,
he wrote his reminiscences as well as several articles on Texas history.
He died in San Antonio on November 3, 1897. He was buried beside the
San Antonio River.
Suggestions for further reading:
John S. Ford, Rip Ford's Texas, Austin: UT Press, 1963
Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas, Chicago, 1889
>William J. Hughes, Rebellious Ranger: Rip Ford and the Old Southwest,
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964
The John Salmon Ford Papers, Center for American History, University
of Texas, Austin Vertical Files
Texas Ranger Research Center, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum,