John Baptiste Ford is known as the "father of the plate glass industry" in the United States and ultimately founded the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company which became PPG industries. During his long career, he had many business interests including an early glass making company, Star Glass Works, in New Albany, Indiana where he was partners with Washington C. DePauw, his cousin, and the Michigan Alkali Company. The story of his life, family and career are reported in two very interesting books which show a genuine industrial entrepreneur of the nineteenth century.
John Baptiste Ford was the father of Edward Ford who founded the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company in Rossford, Ohio (Toledo) which subsequently merged to become Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF).
Time does not permit a more extensive narrative of the history, career and achievements of John Baptiste and Edward Ford, so these abbreviated notes will have to suffice for now.
The family and business history of John Baptiste Ford of which his founding of the Michigan Alkali Company is just one part.
This book includes some information about the early history of John B. Ford, but is mostly about the plant and people at the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company (later Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF) at Rossford (Toledo), Ohio.
Frank A. La Forge (1879-1953) was a well-known pianist, accompanyist, composer and teacher of music during the 1920's through the early 1950's and this book is his personal memoir of his associations with musical celebrities of the day including Lily Pons and Andre Kostelanetz. Frank's wife was Laura Ford MacNichol (1902-1993), a granddaughter of Edward Ford (1843-1920). She completed and published the book in 1993. An interesting read about a bygone era with anecdotes about the family. Includes family photos.
See Loon Bay Lodge History for a brief note.
A wooden container about three feet tall
from the J.B. Ford Company at Wyandotte, Michigan was recently found.
The label was beautifully restored and picture can be seen at:
J.B. Ford Co. "Wyandotte Steri-Chlor" Label
John Baptiste Ford links:
"Captain J.B. Ford, pioneer industrialist was involved with the manufacture of plate glass in the United States. During the decline of the Eureka Iron Works a new and cheap fuel source was being sought to fuel the Works blast furnaces. Drilling in the Wyandotte produced no fuel; however, a large bed of salt was discovered. Captain Ford, upon hearing of the salt bed, knew that salt was an important ingredient in the manufacture of soda ash which was used to make his plate glass. This lead the way for his chemical industry. Begun in the 1890's the Michigan Alkali Company produced a wide variety of chemicals. In the 1940's the name changed to the Wyandotte Chemicals Company and cleaners, soap and other detergents were shipped world-wide. The industry still exists today, but under the name of BASF."
"On October 17, 1890, Captain John Baptiste Ford (1811-1903) purchased this property along the Detroit River. He established the Michigan Alkali Company here in 1893. Ford had financial interests in several glass companies, and he chose the site for its proximity to resources needed to produce soda ash, a primary ingredient in the manufacture of glass. The deep strata of pure salt beneath the site was most important. Water from the Detroit River was used to extract the salt in solution form. The salt was used with limestone to produce a variety of sodium-based industrial and consumer products. The limestone was shipped from company owned quarries near Alpena. In the early years, Michigan Alkali's products included soda ash, baking soda and lye.
Since incorporating as the Michigan Alkali Company in 1893, these chemical works have played an integral role in the development of Wyandotte. The founder of the company, John Baptiste Ford (1811 - 1903), believed in corporate benevolance and generous donations were made to the city. The corporation continued this practice after Ford's death. One contribution was the first Wyandotte General Hospital, erected in 1926. In 1943, Michigan Alkali consolidated with the J.B. Ford Company Glassworks to become the Wyandotte Chemical Corporation. In 1969 it became part of the BASF Group of companies, headquartered in Germany. BASF continues to use this Georgian Revival administration building, designed by the Detroit firm of Chittenden and Kotting and completed in 1907."
John Baptiste Ford founded the town of Ford City, Pennsylvania (Armstrong County) in 1887.
Edward Ford was son of John Baptiste Ford (1811-1903); grandson of Margaret Bapiste (1791-1840) and Jonathan Ford; great-grandson of Hannah Shuck (1756-1832) and John Bapiste; great-great-grandson of Andrew Shuck. Edward Ford founded the Edward Ford Plate Glass Company in 1898 in Rossford, Ohio (Wood County), a suburb of Toledo (Lucas Co.), which subsequently merged in 1930 to become Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF). Libbey-Owens-Ford (LOF) was bought out in 1986 by a British company, Pilkington.
Edward Ford links:
University of Toledo Boxed Archives of voluminous L-O-F records; Ward M. Canady Center for Special Collections.
Brief chronology of Toledo, Ohio industralization including mention of the glass companies created by Libbey, Owens and Ford.
George Ross Ford Sr. (1882-1938) was son of Edward Ford (1843-1920) and Caroline Ross. When Edward Ford died in 1920, George Ross Ford took over as president and treasurer. Home is located Perrysburg, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo.
Constructed in 1897-1898 on Biddle Avenue at Wyandotte (Wayne Co.) Michigan by Edward Ford and wife Carrie who lived there only briefly. Used as year-round address by their daughter Mary Ford Bacon and son-in-law Mark Reeves Bacon until 1927. (They moved to Los Angeles.) In 1942 it was deeded to the Wyandotte Board of Eduction to be used as a public library where it is currently (2002) known as the "Bacon Memorial District Library"; 45 Vinewood; Wyandotte MI 48192 (Wayne County); 734-246-8357.
The pertinent part reads:
"Got $22.5 million?" [originally published 10 February 1998]
For the first time in more than 60 years, a 42-acre Montecito [Santa Barbara Co., California] estate has been placed on the market for an asking price of $22.5 million. The property has been owned by the Bacon (as in John and Heloise Bacon) family since 1932. The Los Angeles Times reports that the seller is a trust for John and Heloise Bacon estate. John, who died in 1964 in his 70s, was the grandson of John Baptiste Ford, founder of the Libby-Owens Ford Company. Heloise died last year [3 January 1997].
So what do you get for $22.5 million? An 8,000-square-foot main house built in 1957 that contains three bedrooms (including a master suite and two guest bedrooms), a library, office, butler's pantry, servant's quarters, and an additional two-bedroom downstairs suite. In the entry of the main house are glass doors that lead to a vista to the nearby ocean.
Sitting in its own meadow on the south side of the property is a 4,000-square-foot, six-bedroom guest house built in 1912. The Craftsman-style house formerly served as a retreat for the Bacons until they built their main house on a knoll on the property in 1957. The couple decided to retire at the estate in 1960.
In addition, the estate's grounds include a barn, picnic area, gatehouse, herb and flower garden, orchard, two ponds, and a lake. ...
Published: February 10, 1998"
[Note: The above is wrong: John Baptiste Ford founded PPG, Edward Ford was a founder of Libbey-Owens-Ford. John Bacon was son of Mary Ford Bacon (1864-1950) and Mark Reeves Bacon (1852-1941).]
New: 02 May 2002
Updated: 21 Sep 2002
Updated: 15 AUG 2007
Updated: 03 MAY 2014