Placer County









            This prominent citizen of Dutch Flat came to California in 1849, arriving in San Francisco July 28.  He was born in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on the banks of the Red River, June 11, 1831, and is of Scotch descent.  His grandfather, William Ferguson, emigrated from Scotland and located in Chesterfield County, Virginia, on a farm adjoining the one on which George Washington was born.  General Ferguson, who was killed during the Revolution, was our subject’s great-uncle.  Mr. Ferguson’s father, William Ferguson, was born on the Virginia farm where the grandfather had settled.  He married Miss Marsalete LaFever, daughter of August LaFever, who fought under Jackson at the battle of New Orleans and was also United States Indian agent for some time.  This union was blessed with six children, five of whom are living.

            In 1849 the family started for California.  While on the Isthmus of Panama the father was stricken with cholera and died, at the age of fifty-two years.  He was buried there and the distressed family was compelled to make the journey to California without the aid and protection of the husband and father.  Mr. Ferguson, then eighteen years of age, made the coffin in which his father was buried.  This was the first American family that crossed the Isthmus.  To Mr. Ferguson’s knowledge there are but few survivors of that perilous journey.  The company numbered ninety-two; of this number five are living, Mr. Ferguson, his three sisters and one brother.  His mother lived to be eighty-four years of age and is buried at Fresno, California.

            After his arrival in San Francisco, Mr. Ferguson mined and did carpenter work. Later he, with a company of sixty, mined on the Mokelumne River and when settlement was made received five thousand dollars as his share of the profits.  He then turned his attention to farming, but soon became interested again in mining and was thus occupied at Woolsey’s Flat, in Nevada County.  He was later a second superintendent of a mining claim at a salary of six dollars per day.  In 1862 he came to Dutch Flat, where he has been engaged in mining for many years.  He has been deputy sheriff and constable.  As an undertaker he has met with satisfactory success.  At present Mr. Ferguson is the owner of a number of buildings, the large opera house at Dutch Flat being among them.  He is a trustee of the public schools and takes an interest in everything designed to benefit his town and is liberal, public-spirited and esteemed as a citizen.

            November 28, 1865, Mr. Ferguson was married to Mary Eliza DuFour, who was born in New York City in 1848.  She was the daughter of Antoine DuFour, who came to San Francisco in 1854 and to Dutch Flat in 1857. Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson have had ten children, only three of whom are living:  Mary Helena, the widow of William Niles; Lucy Lucretia and Alice Arabella.  His son-in-law, William Niles, died in Alaska.  The Knights of Pythias packed his body sixty miles and Mr. Ferguson had it interred at Dutch Flat.

            Mr. Ferguson is a veteran Odd Fellow, having joined the order November 19, 1856, and has passed all the chairs in both branches.  He is now (1900) the grand guardian of the grand lodge of the state.  In other orders, K. of P., Improved Order of Red Men, A. O. U. W., he has filled all the chairs.  Politically he is a staunch Republican.  Mr. Ferguson’s parents were among the country’s early defenders; his father fought under General Harrison at Tippecanoe and his mother cast bullets which were used in the battle of New Orleans.  As a patriot Mr. Ferguson enlisted in the California Volunteer Infantry and served over a year in the state, receiving an honorable discharge, and now considers it his high honor to be a veteran of the Grand Army.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 312-313. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




Placer County Biographies

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