At this point, I have satisfied myself that John W. Ford is the son of Zachary Daniel Ford and Mary Polly Gordon of Smith Co., TN. In his Smith County History articles, Dr. J. W. Bowen writes: "J.W. Roulstone sold [the Carthage Gazette] to John W. Ford, who had learned the printers' trade in the office at Carthage, and he took it first to Sparta, and from thence to McMinnville, where he published a paper for many years. Ford was a brother of C. C. Ford of Snow Creek." Since Dr. Bowen married the first cousin of C. C. and J. W. Ford, I think he is a reliable source.
To my knowledge, neither Zachary Ford nor his father Christopher had a son named Stephen. I am hoping to identify some of the other Fords in Tennessee as I wonder if some of them are cousins of some degree.