JOHN W. FERGUSON, one of the wide-awake, enterprising and prosperous merchants of Smith township, is a representative of an old pioneer family who trace their genealogy from one John Ferguson, who was born July 5, 1766, in County Down, Ireland, and was reared to agricultural pursuits. In 1793 the good ship "Wilmington" (commanded by Capt. James Jeffries, with John Magee as first mate) sailed for America. Among the passengers bound for the New World were John Ferguson and a neighbor family by the name of Warnock. They landed at Philadelphia, where the friends parted, the Warnocks remaining in that city, while young Ferguson went further west. He invested his small savings in a peddler's pack, and with this meager provision for the future started on his lonely journey of exploration. But among the members of the Warnock family was a daughter Jane, born October 23, 1772, in County Down, Ireland, to whom he had plighted his troth, promising to return and claim his bride when success should reward his efforts. He journeyed along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, trading on the way. From Pittsburgh, Penn., he made a trip to New Orleans, walking the entire distance on the return journey. He made various other expeditions, finally realizing enough money to enable him to fulfill his long- cherished plans, and return to his love in Philadelphia, who was patiently awaiting his arrival. In 1795 they were made one, and immediately went to Washington county, Penn., locating as tenants on part of a tract of 1,000 acres in Smith township, near the Hanover township line, which had been patented by Capt. Daniel Bavington. The young couple began life in their frontier home, enduring many inconveniences and dangers, and, as was then necessary, he was often obliged to cross the mountains to get salt and provisions. On one of these occasions the young wife was left alone in the cabin, and the wolves (which were at that time very numerous) surrounded it. Unable to keep them outside, the helpless woman fled to the garret, leaving the lower room to the mercy of the brutes, thus escaping with her life. Some years after this, John Ferguson purchased the land on which he resided, and later an adjoining tract, where the rest of his life was passed. He was a representative citizen, possessing good judgment; in politics he was a Democrat, and was often sought for advice on questions of moment, while his wife was no less a valued member of the community. She was a famous nurse, being more successful with her patients than the majority of physicians, and both Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson were members of the old Seceder Church. Their children were Elizabeth (wife of James Smith), born July 7, 1798, who died in 1871, in Beaver county, Penn.; Anne, born December 17, 1801 (deceased in 1819); Mary, born September 5, 1805 (was fatally burned in an accident, dying November 4, 1887, unmarried); and John, born December 14, 1807. The father died February 22 1842, and November 24, 1850, the wife and mother passed away.
John Ferguson was born on the home farm in Smith township, near Bavington, being reared to agricultural pursuits, and receiving a country-school education. On October 23, 1851, he was married to Martha C. Kryster, who was born January 25, 1825, in Stark county, Ohio, the ceremony taking place at North Springfield, Summit Co., Ohio. She was a daughter of Isaac and Frances (Fraker) Kryster, the former a member of an aristocratic family of Philadelphia, Penn., the latter born near Greensburgh, Westmoreland Co., Penn. They were early settlers of Stark county, Ohio, and parents of seven sons aud six daughters.
John and Martha C. (Kryster) Ferguson settled on the home farm in Smith township, and four children were born to them, viz.: Jennie A. (wife of William Beal, a farmer of Beaver county, Penn.), Isaac C. (an agriculturist of Smith township), John W. (whose name opens this sketch) and May F. (wife of F. B. Stewart). Mr. Ferguson was an eager reader, a practical scholar, and one of the most influential citizens of the community. In early life he gave some attention to dentistry, but never learned it as a profession. In politics he was a Democrat, and served as justice of the peace under the old constitution (which elected for life or good behavior), also serving two terms after the present laws were introduced, filling the position in all for twenty-one years. Being a very careful business man, he was often called on to transact important affairs for others, and among the estates which he settled were the Garrett Van Emman, the Calvert, the Free Crafford, the Samuel Clokey, the James Brimner, the Samuel Neil and the James Stephenson estates, and was also associated with Squire Pollock in settling up the extensive Bavington estate. He held various township offices, was school director for eighteen years, serving as president of the board, and acted as guardian for many children and minors. In religion Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson were members of the U. P. Church at Burgettstown, of which he was an elder over thirty years, and was also a member of the building committee when the second building was erected. His useful life closed January 31, 1882, and Mrs. Ferguson resided on the farm some time after his death, but afterward removed to Bavington, this county, where she is now living with her children, May and John W., enjoying the affection and respect of all who know her.
John W. Ferguson was born January 1, 1858, on the old place in Smith township, where he passed his youth working on the farm and attending the schools of the vicinity. He resided with his parents until twenty-eight years of age, then began clerking for John McBride, a merchant of Bavington, and two years later became a partner. In 1892 he purchased the entire business, which has virtually been under his control for several years, Mr. McBride having devoted his attention principally to other interests. Mr. Ferguson is a progressive and thoroughly competent merchant, and enjoys a large custom. In politics he has for several years been a leading figure in the Democratic party, and has held various township offices with credit to himself. Of late he has been obliged to partially retire from political life, to meet the increasing pressure of his growing business. In religion he is a member of the U. P. Church at Robinson.
Text taken from page 815 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed March 1997 by Neil and Marilyn Morton of Oswego, IL as part of the Beers Project.
Published March 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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