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James Ferguson

Third Generation

From New York to Nebraska

                                                                                          Birth 4 JUN 1835 in Andes, Delaware County, New York

Death 23 NOV 1912 in Gering, Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska


Spouse & Children

  Isabella Gertrude Anthony 1842 – 1907

•        Charles D. FERGUSON 1859 – 1929

•        William Edward FERGUSON 1865 – 1943

•        Fannie Jane FERGUSON 1867 – 1921

•        Mary Delilah FERGUSON 1871 – 1930

•     James Harvey FERGUSON 1875 – 1948

•     Courtland Blaine FERGUSON 1877 – 1963  (Claude Ferguson family line)

•        Minnie Bell FERGUSON 1882 – 1955


•       John D FERGUSON 1794 – 1883

•       Delilah ELIJAH 1802 – 1880


James Ferguson was born in Andes, New York.  He was raised on the farm that his father John D Ferguson homesteaded along with his father David Ferguson. He had many siblings from John D ‘s first and second marriage. His mother is of the second marriage Delilah. He went to the local one room public schools of the time along with his siblings and neighboring farm children.

While he lived in Andes he was a photographer in the early day. His occupation in a census of 1865 is listed as a photographer. Some of these pictures of siblings and family believed to be of his work.  He also is said to have been a drummer. Family members have said he had double teeth that could crack a walnut, and he wore a beard to cover his cheeks from protruding out due to his teeth.

About 1877 James moved his family to Gering Nebraska, what was then Cheyenne County in the Panhandle of Nebraska. He was among the first settlers in area by homesteading 160 acres of land, and putting a sod home on the property. He likely traveled the Oregon Trail from Iowa. Past family members say he traveled in a wagon and a pair of mules. He came with his son Willie from Kenasaw, Adams County Nebraska that is west of Hastings 1886 first before moving the rest of the family.

Notes from Steve Hall state that James Ferguson was called the “Potato King”. He raised early Ohio potatoes. He also had seed corn. He may have been the first farmer to irrigate in the Scottsbluff Gering valley.

When you see the Nebraska State quarter of 2006, then you could see the resemblance of James Ferguson and his family nearby Chimney Rock near Bayard Nebraska. Chimney Rock is only 20 miles from his homesteaded land in Gering, Nebraska.

James and Isabella

James married Isabella Gertrude Anthony on 12 Jan 1859. She was from another local town called Boniva near Andes, NY in Delaware County. Together they had 7 children.

 Together they left Andes, New York about 1770 and moved to Iowa first with their first three children; Charles, Fannie, and William. Along with them were his father John D and mother Delilah and his grown siblings of Delilah children. While they were in Clarence, Iowa, they had four more children; Mary, James, Courtland, and Minnie.

Although photography is listed in an 1865 census as James’ occupation, they probably were enticed to move west by Homestead Acts such as the poster shown below.


In the Federal census of 1870, James Ferguson along with his young family and including father, mother, brother, sisters were living in Clarence Iowa. Their real estate was valued at 5600 and the personal estate was 1600.  John D, the father, looks to be the head of the household here.




The Home in Nebraska

The first home that James built was a sod home and a temporary home until he could manage to get a framed wood house built. He took advantage of the Homestead Act which allowed him to have 160 acres of land.


Here is a picture of what a sod home looked like. This is not known to be of James Ferguson place but probably quite similar. This sod home picture was taken 1901 on the prairie. The sod home was on the northwest side of his property.

Here is a picture of the James Ferguson farm and home he once had. Date unknown but likely about 1910. The directions were south on 7th street from Gering to Nursery Road and then turn east ½ mile on south side of road in NW corner of Ό section. The sod house was east of the bridge Ostenburg Drain Ditch.


A Biography in Western Nebraska History

James Ferguson, along with his son is highlighted in HISTORY OF WESTERN NEBRASKA & IT'S PEOPLE, VOLUME III.  This is its contents.




In according recognition to the early settlers of Scottbluff (sic) county, mention should be made of J. H. Ferguson, for while he came here as a youth, he has been a resident of the county for nearly thirty-five years and has not only been an eye witness of the great changes that have taken place but with his father has been an important factor in the development of the industries of the valley.
   Mr. Ferguson was born near Clarence, Cedar county, Iowa, in 1875, being the son of James and Isabella G. (Anthony) Ferguson, both natives of the Empire state, where they were reared and received their education advantages before coming west. James Ferguson learned the photography business in his youth, a vocation he followed several years before he determined to avail himself of the
cheap land to be had in the states of the west and emigrated from New York. The family first located in Iowa where the father engaged in general farming operations, but in 1886 they came to the Panhandle, becoming pioneer settlers of Scottsbluff county, as James Ferguson located on a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres in old Cheyenne county. He began to raise potatoes, being the pioneer man in this enterprise of the upper valley. Later he disposed of the home farm and bought other land where he engaged in general farming and stock-raising. Mr. Ferguson and his wife were members of the Wesley Methodist church, he was a Prohibitionist in political belief and a man who took active part in the affairs of the community, having been precinct assessor at one time. There were seven children in the Ferguson family: Charles D., a real estate dealer of Scottsbluff; William E., a railroad man located in San Francisco; Fanny, the wife of James McKinley, of Scottsbluff county; Mary D., married F. G. Fanner, a farmer near Scottsbluff; J. H., of this review; C. B., a contractor of Minatare, Nebraska; and Minnie the wife of C. F. Shawver a farmer near Glendale, Arizona.
   Mr. Ferguson was reared during early boyhood on his father's farm in Iowa, he attended the common schools of his district and accompanied the family to the Panhandle when he was eleven years old, then attended school in old Cheyenne county. After finishing school and when he had acquired sufficient capital Mr. Ferguson purchased three hundred acres of land near Gering in section twenty-four, township fifteen, most of which is under ditch. He has devoted considerable study to intensified farming under irrigation and has adopted modern methods and is well equipped with the latest type of machinery for his business. He now raises varied farm products and also is becoming a well known stock-raiser of his district. Mr. Ferguson is one of the progressive men of the Gering community who takes an active part in county affairs, he is a Republican in politics, served as county clerk from 1912 to 1916, and then assumed the office of register of deeds in 1917, serving one term and established a fine record as a public official.
   In 1897, Mr. Ferguson married Miss Edna A. Lovelace, a native of Wisconsin and to them one child was born, Ruth, deceased.




James died on Nov 23, 1912 and Isabella died on Sept 7,1907. Both are buried in the West Lawn Cemetery in Gering Nebraska. The two pictures are the last known pictures taken.




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