Captain Samuel Wesley Fordyce

Photo from Find A Grave (John Ferguson)
 Union Captain, Businessman in Arkansas

Born:February 7, 1840, Senecaville, Ohio
Died:August 3, 1919, St. Louis, MO or Washington, Pennsylvania
Buried:Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri
Residence:Fordyce-Ricks Estate - Home in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Father of:Col. John Rison Fordyce
Husband of:Susan Elizabeth Chadick Fordyce


•  Son of John Fordyce (1808-1882) and Mary Ann Houseman (1817-1899) -

•  Union Col. in the American Civil War. - Editor's Note

•  "Captain Fordyce had resigned his commission on December 24, 1863. His military career included surviving malaria, being captured three times, and getting wounded three times. Fordyce stood six feet tall and had steel-blue eyes." - Chadick & Rohr

•  "On this date, still suffering from his previous war injuries, Federal Capt. Samuel Fordyce of the 1st Ohio Cavalry submitted his resignation to General Crook. Fordyce stayed at the Huntsville Hotel when he became quite ill. Somehow during this time he had become friends with Confederate Capt. Charles Mastin. The two men could not really mingle socially with one another in town, but Mastin invited Fordyce to his father's plantation while he recovered. At the plantation north of town, Fordyce was introduced to Sue Chadick." - Chadick & Rohr

•  "Miss Sue Chadick, while visiting there (512 Eustis, Huntsville, AL), concealed Union officer Samuel Fordyce in the cellar so that he could evade capture. After the war, he returned to Huntsville and married her. Captain Fordyce later helped form the Rison Bank." - AAUW

•  May 1, 1866: "Captain Samuel Fordyce and Miss Sue E. Chadick, daughter of Colonel W. D. Chadick, were married at her father's home. The newlyweds left on the evening train on a Northern tour and a visit to his relatives." - Pruitt

•  Samuel W. Fordyce and Susan E. Chadick married May 1, 1866 in Madison County, AL - MCRC

•  "It is said that Huntsville's 'real love story of the War Between the States' was centered in this house (512 Eustis Avenue). When visiting in the Mayhew home, Miss Sue Chadick, daughter of Confederate Colonel William D. Chadick, concealed Captain Samuel Fordyce, a Federal officer, in the cellar. Thus she helped him escape capture, and at the end of the war he returned and married her. Captain Fordyce, with W. R. Rison, formed the Rison Bank. Later Captain and Mrs. Fordyce moved to Arkansas, where he was instrumental in establishing the town of Hot Springs." - AAUW

•  Children of Samuel Wesley Fordyce and Susan Chadick Fordyce:
     Jane Dorthy "Jennie" Fordyce (1974-1939) was the wife of Colonel D. S. Stanley, of the quartermaster general's department, U.S.A.
      Col. John Rison Fordyce (1869-1939), was a prominent engineer of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
     Mary Alice Fordyce (Nov. 25, 1867 - died June 21, 1869) Buried in Huntsville, AL in Maple Hill Cemetery with the phrase on the tombstone "Our first born."
     William Fordyce (1871-1966) was a banker and financier.
     Samuel Wesley "S.E." Fordyce, Jr. (1877-1948) was a member of the St. Louis bar. - Arkansas Ties

•  "Fordyce and Rison Banking House opened in 1866, to remain a potent factor in local community affairs until 1948, when First National Bank acquired it." - Record

•  Huntsville treasurer 1869-1873: Fordyce & Rison - Record

•  "Agriculture interests had for a long time wanted a county fair, and got their wishes in 1872, when the first fair in the county's history was held in October. Merchants and farmers in 1871 had organized the Agricultural and Mechanical Association and in April, 1872, had acquired 51 acres from W. W. Darwin, near what is now Seminole Drive, for the purpose of holding a fair. The organizers consisted of S. W. Fordyce, President; J. N. Matthews, Vice-President; and William Mastin, General Superintendent, to mention a few." - Record

•  December 27, 1871: "Due to the depressed condition of the agricultural interests in North Alabama and the resulting injury to all other branches of industry, The Huntsville Agricultural and Mechanical Association was incorporated to improve and develop agricultural and mechanical methods. Association members included James M. Hutchens, Frank Gurley, S. W. Fordyce, James Hamilton, John H. White, and John D. Carter." - Pruitt

•  Fisk, in her fictional story, made a mention of Fordyce planning to leave the Fordyce & Rison Bank at the beginning of the 1876 year. Fisk based her stories on well researched history. Some have said that her fiction is more factual that much non-fiction. So, this might be true. - Fisk

•  "Multimillionaire capitalist. Soon after the Civil War, Fordyce established the bank Fordyce & Rison in Huntsville, Alabama. Ten year later, he got involved with the railroads. He helped reorganized the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company in 1885 & was named its president. He is credited with constructing over 24,000 miles of railroad tracks throughout Missouri & Arkansas. He became director of the St. Louis Union Trust Company & founded one of the largest health resorts in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Good friends with Presidents McKinley & Grant, Fordyce became active in Democratic politics in Arkansas & Alabama." - Find A Grave

•  Susan Elizabeth Chadick married the former Union Captain Fordyce of Ohio. He wrote in his autobiography, 'I was in the Federal service during the War and have been in the Confederate ever since.' Fordyce certainly proved to be exciting to trace. Their life together was perhaps the most prosperous of all the family and is well worth the telling.
     Samuel Wesley Fordyce was born February 7, 1840, the second oldest son in a family of eleven in Senecaville, Ohio. His childhood was not marked by the signs that might have indicated the trailblazer he would become. In fact he was considered to be one of the worst boys in town. Mrs. Gibbons, a neighbor, predicted he would be hung before he reached 21. He began school at the age of four and always was in trouble. The whippings he received produced welts that lasted months. At sixteen he went to the Methodist College at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, but was expelled for taking a fireplace poker away from his schoolmaster. It did not help that the master was going to punish Fordyce with it, and he knocked the teacher down. In disgrace Fordyce returned home to be admitted at Northern Illinois University.
     With the outbreak of war Fordyce, 21, offered to raise a company of cavalry that led to the formation of the 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Those twelve companies trained at Camp Chase, a location young Eddie Chadick became familiar with later. Fordyce was a member of the cavalry attacking Winchester, Tennessee, as Sue Chadick fled Mary Sharp College. His men had fired into the caboose of the train as she and other students left the station.
     If Mrs. Chadick's account in the journal of October 1863 about the events when Sue shot herself in the hand seems stilted, there were apparently different versions of the story later. Mr. Fordyce always said he was not in command of the Northern Cavalrymen trying to capture Colonel Chadick that day. Like the gentleman he was, Fordyce never said what he saw or did, or even if he was actually there when the event occurred.
     Clearly the romance between Sue and Samuel had already begun in Huntsville, but Fordyce, like many men, first tried business ventures to advance his prospects before settling down. In partnership with a friend, he first opened a commission house in Savanah in September of 1865. The two men, along with an ex-Confederate associate, chartered a broken-down schooner in New York that they loaded with cotton, hides, and turpentine from the backcountry and sold. The two netted about $90,000 but lost much of that when the new associate wrecked the ship on a trip to Havana without them. The partners next opened a small hardware store in Minneapolis in the early spring of 1866. However, Fordyce returned to Huntsville because he said, 'affairs of the heart know no North or South.'
     On May 1, 1866, Samuel Fordyce and Susan Chadick married. The long-time Chadick family friend, Rev. M. B. DeWitt, performed the ceremony in Huntsville. Not only were some local acquaintances dismayed at the marriage, but Susan's aunt, Jane Fulton in Fayetteville, turned the pictures of Confederate heroes to the wall when she heard that Susan had married a Yankee. The couple went to Ohio to meet his family and then to Niagara Falls. They visited in Minneapolis and from there hired a carriage and toured to the very edge of the hostile Sioux country before returning.
     The Fordyces settled in Huntsville, and he decided that those who thought poorly of Sue for marrying a Yankee would just have to be won over. He also found many friends, former foes, who remembered his acts of kindness while he had been stationed there. During the War Fordyce often had obtained food from the army commissary for families with no food and sickness in the house.
     He entered the banking business with John Rison who had been a bookkeeper at the old Northern Bank of Alabama. Fordyce furnished most of the capital of about $50,000. At first few townspeople banked with them, choosing to go with the completely Southern owned National Bank. As he told the story, Fordyce threw out a rude Inspector for the Internal Revenue Service who cursed and swore at him about releasing customer information. The Inspector next asked a United States Marshall to collect the books and papers of the Bank. Fordyce threatened to open fire on anyone with the Inspector who set foot inside the Bank, and he proposed to die right there defending the rights of the Bank and his customers. Meanwhile the Inspector fined customers at the National Bank for various violations after seeing their records. Subsequently, business at Rison and Fordyce's bank picked up with depositors who wanted to do business with men who would protect them and their accounts. Fordyce was later taken to court, defended by Leroy Pope Walker and his brother Richard Walker, and acquitted. Deposits at the Bank really began to increase as citizens made a hero of him for winning against the Federal government
     Fordyce purchased a house and acreage in March of 1867 about four miles from town. He bought the property of the unfortunate widower Jesse Jordan who then left for Aberdeen, Mississippi, with the remaining members of his family. Trying to use the example of Northerners' farms that he was familiar with, Fordyce stocked a more select variety of cattle, hogs, and poultry than traditional Southern fanners maintained. Personally Fordyce found it offensive that many of his investors were moneyed men who hired blacks to do all their farm labor. He felt they thought it beneath them to work or to associate with the small-time white farmers, it was not dignified. With this in mind, in 1870 he helped organize the 1st Huntsville Agriculture Fair and Mechanical Association, a county fair. Fordyce was elected president.
     Unfortunately the first Fordyce baby, Mary Alice, who was born in November of 1867, died in June of 1869. The next child, John Rison was born November 7, 1869, at the house on Madison Pike. As business at the bank picked up, the young couple moved to town and lived in the former Chadick house on Randolph Street with the baby by 1870. Fordyce served as a member of the Democratic State Central Committee in 1874. That he was not a Republican served him well in those Reconstruction days. Three more children were born to them, William Chadick and Jane in Huntsville and later Samuel Wesley Fordyce, Jr., in Arkansas.
     In the autumn of 1872 Fordyce suffered again from his old War injuries and seemed to be in constant pain, his weight down to 120 pounds. Under advice from his doctors who suggested he only had six months to live, Fordyce went to 'take' the waters at Hot Springs, Arkansas, in April of 1873. He was so ill that he rode in the train car on a pallet and the last 25 miles into the town by the only available means: propped up by pillows in a stagecoach. Once there he recovered in a second-rate hotel that had meager supplies because everything had to be hauled into the village from Little Rock over 60 miles away. He made a second trip, again for his health, in 1874. Still not a well man, Fordyce recognized the effect of the waters and the climate. He decided to sell out his interests in Huntsville and move in January of 1876 with his family to Hot Springs. Many tears were shed at leaving the Huntsville family and friends.
     Fordyce discovered on his previous visits to Hot Springs the healing value of the Springs but the inaccessibility of getting people or supplies there. He invested and rebuilt the major hotel, Arlington House, and created Fordyce Bath Houses. At the same time he began building a railroad to bring people and supplies there. He became involved with public utilities so needed in this mainly rural state. The county seat for the newly formed Dallas County became Fordyce, Arkansas. He helped establish Hot Springs National Park and the Army-Navy Hospital there. He continued to spread his interests and eventually "promoted, financed, and built over 10,000 miles of railroads in the southwest." His many pursuits led him to mingle with industrial giants such as Jay Gould, Harriman, and Carnegie. Fordyce declined to be minister to Russia when asked to by his friend, President McKinley.
     An older Fordyce, who as a young man had fought in the mud at Shiloh and spent the night between the furrows in a cornfield with broken ribs after the battle at Murfreesboro, donated money for Civil War monuments for both President Lincoln and President Davis. The Fordyces raised the four children in Little Rock. (Jane Fordyce later married Col. David Sheridan Stanley, son of Gen. David S. Stanley who commanded the forces that had invaded Huntsville again in 1863.) Many years later Fordyce wrote, 'To my mind, as it should be, this dear girl was then and is now one of the loveliest women in the world. For more than 53 years we have enjoyed a happy life together.' The Fordyces maintained the house at Little Rock and one in St. Louis, Missouri. They were in St. Louis when Samuel Fordyce died in 1919 and was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery. Susan Chadick Fordyce died in 1935 and was buried beside him." - Chadick & Rohr

Related Links:

•  AAUW - Glimpses Into Antebellum Homes of Historic Huntsville, Alabama, Ninth Edition, by American Association of University Women, Huntsville Branch, Huntsville, Alabama, 1999, page 50.

• - Page owned by betsysecond and can be viewed only with an paid subscription. (Originally found at

•  Arkansas Historic Preservation - Biographical background information for their home in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Originally found at

•  Arkansas History - The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, bio with photos

•  Arkansas Ties - Biographical information mostly focusing on his time in Arkansas (Originally found at

•  Arlington Hotel - Fordyce built two hotels in Hotsprings; the Arlington was one of them. It was replaced in 1892 and then destroyed by fire in 1923. According to a YouTube video and a haunted places website, the third generation of the Arlington Hotel is in poor repair and may be haunted. (We are not including those links because this hotel has nothing to do with our Fordyce founding.) This is a link to the picture of the original hotel.

•  Biography - Information centering on his career successes.

•  Chadick & Rohr - Incidents of the War: The Civil War Journal of Mary Jane Chadick, by Nancy M. Rohr, 2005, pages 129, 131, 188, 218, 261, 262, 263, 266, 271, 272, 279, 297, 300, 305, 306, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 328 329, 333, 356, 357 (Photo on 130) Anyone with special interest in Capt. Fordyce needs to read the entire book. His story is woven into the story of the Chadick family through his love of Susan Chadick, a young woman living in Huntsville (daughter of the author of this diary). The diary offers many references and Nancy Rohr offers important context and supporting information.

•  Eastman Hotel - Fordyce built two hotels in Hot Springs and the Eastman was one of them. It no longer stands, but pictures can be found here.

•  Events Location - The Fordyce home is now being used as an events location. This is the website. (Originally found at

•  Find A Grave - Bio by Connie Nisinger, Photo by John Ferguson, page maintained by Find A Grave.

•  Fisk - Built Upon the Fragments In 1880's Huntsville, Alabama, by Sarah Huff Fisk, 2001, page 14.

•  Fordyce Notes - Misc. notes for autobiography, Special Collections Division, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas, MC 1311, Box 7, folder 6.

•  Fordyce, the town - Webpage for the town named after him.

•  Google Images - Pictures of Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor's Center

•  Hot Springs Home - Real Estate page, Home for sale. (Originally found at

•  MCC - A Walking Tour of Huntsville, Alabama, by Madison County Commission #48.

•  MCRC - Madison county Records Center

•  Pruitt - Eden of the South: A Chronology of Huntsville, Alabama, 1805-2005, by Raneé G. Pruitt, Editor, 2005, pages 59 & 70.

•  Railroad Museum - Bio with focus on the Railroad (Originally found at

•  Real History - Madison County history bio. (Originally found at

•  Record - A Dream Come True: The Story of Madison County and Incidentally of Alabama and the United States, Volume II, by James Record, 1978, pages 3, 24, 381.

•  Stone Bridge - The stone bridge at their Hot Springs home is on the list of "Classified Structures" and information about the bridge and house can be found here. Photos 40, 41, 42 are also from the Fordyce Estate. (Originally found at

•  Train Robbers - A story told about Fordyce and an attempted train robbery.

•  University of Arkansas - Fordyce Family Papers: a listing of items to be found in the collection.

•  Waterworth & Reedy - The Makers of St. Louis by Edward B. Waterworth & William Marion Reedy 1906, page 43.

•  Wikipedia - A short entry.

•  Williams & Whayne - Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives by Nancy A. Williams, Jeannie M. Vhayne, 2000, page 110.

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  Chadick & Rohr
•  Col. John Rison Fordyce
•  Fordyce-Ricks Estate
•  MCC
•  Pruitt
•  Record
•  Susan Elizabeth Chadick Fordyce