Fordland was platted in 1882. The community has the name of J. S. Ford, a railroad official. A post office called Fordland has been in operation since 1882.
Fordland is located at 37°9′26″N 92°56′26″W (37.157342, -92.940689). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.11 square miles (2.87 km2), all of it land.
Due to favorable geographical conditions (e.g., altitude—Fordland is approximately 300 feet higher in elevation than Springfield), numerous Springfield-based media outlets, such as KYTV, KOLR, KOZL-TV, KGHZ, and others, have located their transmitting towers in or near Fordland.
As of the census of 2010, there were 800 people, 312 households, and 205 families residing in the city. The population density was 720.7 inhabitants per square mile (278.3/km2). There were 343 housing units at an average density of 309.0 per square mile (119.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.3% White, 0.4% African American, 1.0% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.1% of the population.
There were 312 households of which 37.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.3% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.3% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.20.
The median age in the city was 34.2 years. 28.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.8% were from 25 to 44; 22.6% were from 45 to 64; and 13% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 684 people, 287 households, and 196 families residing in the city. The population density was 771.9 people per square mile (296.7/km²). There were 326 housing units at an average density of 367.9/sq mi (141.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.78% White, 0.29% Native American, 0.15% Asian, and 2.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.61% of the population.
There were 287 households out of which 32.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.4% were non-families. 27.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.87.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $3,042, and the median income for a family was $472. Males had a median income of $26,447 versus $2,059 for females. The per capita income for the city was $676. About 4.8% of families and 11.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.4% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.
Although the community's downtown business district has been in decline for several decades, the community's population has continued, due to its proximity to Springfield, which is just 20 minutes west of Fordland.
Academically, the district has earned "Blue Ribbon School" status, an honor reserved for less than 10 percent of Missouri's public schools. The Fordland R-III School District, which has about 600 students in grades kindergarten through 12, has a solid graduation and MAP test score rates. In fact, the school district's K-12 testing numbers annually are among the highest in the Summit Conference.
Athletically, the Fordland boys' basketball team won the Class 1 Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) state championship in 1998. The Eagles, led by Andy Underwood, finished with a 24-7 record, as the team won its final 12 games en route to the Class 1 state title. The next year, Fordland posted a perfect 31-0 record until falling 48-46 to New Haven in the Class 1 championship game. The team's 31-1 record is the best in school history. Then, from 2001 through 2004, Fordland teams won 63 games while losing only 20, winning a pair of Summit Conference championships and a Class 2 district championship in 2003. The Fordland boys' team also won Class 1 district titles in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1995. The school also has won district championships in baseball, girls' basketball, cross country and volleyball. Most recent successes athletically have included a 2010 baseball district and conference championship and a 2011 girls' basketball run to the state quarterfinals. The 2011 girls' team finished 26-4 and lost to eventual state champion Purdy.
Fordland has also found recent success in MSHSAA Scholar Bowl competition, qualifying for state competition three times (placing 3rd in both 2005 and 2011 in class 2), winning multiple district titles (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, & 2011), and winning several conference titles (2005–2009, & 2011). The scholar bowl team also qualified for National tournament invitations in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2011.