JAMES FERGUSON. - A native of New York state, James Ferguson has been a resident of California since 1869, and
is today one of the honored citizens of Arcata and a prosperous farmer of this community. He spent many years in
the employ of the various lumber companies of the county, but in the end he chose the occupation of dairy farming,
and in this line he has been very successful.
Mr. Ferguson was born in Rochester, Monroe county, N. Y., September 1, 1849. His father was Robert Ferguson, a
native of Scotland, who was engaged in farming during practically his entire residence in the United States. It
was after coming to this country that he was married to Anna (Backs) Ferguson, also a native of Scotland, and of
this union were born nine children, six sons and three daughters. Of these James was the fifth in order of birth.
His childhood was saddened by the death of both his parents when he was in his tenth year, and he was forced to
leave school and start out in life for himself. He therefore received little schooling from books, but has accumulated
a vast store of knowledge from personal observation, from reading and from talking with persons of education and
information. His practical education was commenced when he was a mere lad, and that in itself was of great importance.
He first secured employment with E. J. Hill, driving a milk wagon, and remained with him for a period of nine years.
At the end of that time he was filled with a great desire to come to California, and accordingly, in the fall of
1869, he left Rochester and started for the land of promise. The trip was made by steamer down the coast to Aspinwall,
thence across the Isthmus of Panama, and up the coast by the steamer Guatemala to San Francisco. About ninety miles
below Acapulco the ship on which he had taken passage was wrecked, and the passengers, some one hundred forty seven
in number, were cast ashore. They walked over the rugged country to Acapulco, and there they had to wait for a
month before another vessel came to take them on to their destination. They arrived in San Francisco in December
of that year.
From San Francisco Mr. Ferguson went at once to Petaluma, Sonoma county, and there found employment on a ranch,
where he remained until April of the following year (1870), when he went into the Russian river country and secured
employment in the woods, driving an ox team. Later he rented land and engaged in farming, but was not successful
in this undertaking, and shortly afterward gave it up. In 1885 he came to Humboldt county and went to work in the
woods for W. Murphy, at Fortuna. After remaining a few months he accepted a position with the Korbel Redwood Company,
continuing with them for six years, driving seven or eight yoke of oxen hauling a string of logs, from seven to
fifteen, strung out some three hundred feet. Although this was dangerous work he never had a serious accident.
From Korbel Mr. Ferguson came to Arcata and rented a forty acre ranch near Alliance and engaged in dairying and
general farming. In this venture he was very successful and remained on this place for three years, at the end
of which time he purchased his present home place, three miles north of Arcata, and on which he has since that
time made his home. The property consists of fifteen acres of highly improved land, which Mr. Ferguson is devoting
to dairying and general farming.
Aside from his business interests Mr. Ferguson has always been keenly alive to all matters of interest to the general
public, and on all questions that have affected the welfare of the community. He is road overseer for the fifth
district, having been appointed in 1902, and having held the position continuously since. One of the best known
pieces of work under his direction was the building of the Fieldbrook road. He has been actively interested in.
the political affairs of the county, and favors the Republican party, although he is an independent thinker, and
always holds the best interests of the community at heart, regardless of party affiliations. He has been honored
by the confidence of his constituents on many occasions, and has represented his district at party conventions
on frequent occasions during the past ten years. He is also a prominent member of the Redwood Lodge, I. O. O. F.,
The marriage of Mr. Ferguson occurred at Alliance November 24, 1890, uniting him with Miss Nancy B. Nicks, a native
of Illinois, born at Springfield, October 5, 1857. She was the daughter of Thomas and Nancy (Hall) Nicks, and came
to California with her parents in an early day, locating in Humboldt county, where they were esteemed pioneers.
Mrs. Ferguson died at her home February 27, 1906, leaving the family to mourn the loss of a faithful wife and loving
mother. They were the parents of five children, one daughter and four sons, all of whom were born in Arcata, where
they are well known. They are Pearl, Marvin, Ralph, Eugene and Lester. They have all been well educated in the
public and high schools, and have received many other advantages which their father was forced to forego, but which
he has steadfastly striven to provide for his children.
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915
Humboldt County, CA
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