Rancher, founder of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and savvy business man in Great Falls Montana.
1842-1914 | Artist: Othmar J. Hoffler (1893-1954)
Impact & Accomplishments
Along with Conrad Kohrs and Dan Flowerree, Robert S. Ford was one of the first men to drive cattle into Montana Territory, in 1870. Born in Simpson County, Kentucky, Ford moved to Montana Territory in 1864, as a freighting wagon master.
In 1871, he established one of the largest ranches in the region, near Sun River Crossing, with cattle from Texas. He was a founder of the Montana Stockgrowers Association in 1879, serving as its first president. He also was a member of the controversial Sun River Rangers, a group of men who combated cattle rustling, sometimes with violence. Ford sold his holdings just before the devastating winter of 1886-1887, when many ranchers lost their herds.
In 1891, he moved to Great Falls and established Great Falls National Bank. Robert Ford was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners in 1958.
Did You Know?
Robert Simpson Ford was a rancher-turned-banker and Great Falls developer. The R.S. Ford Block, built in 1892, was his first investment. During the early years, it housed a liquor distributer, law office, and dentist. In 1931, The Club Cigar store and bar moved into the R.S. Ford Block. Lena Ford, a notorious and business-savvy Great Falls madam owned and ran The Club Cigar for 40 years. Photo courtesy of City of Great Falls, Montana.