Page 619-621, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


Thomas L. Ferrier.—Closely interwoven, is the romantic and thrilling story of the great West and the lives of its pioneers. To the intrepid spirit of these men and women who came to conquer, and to whose determination, failure was an unknown quantity, we owe our present advancement. The word, fear, was not of their vocabulary. And, in the winning of the West, the race was to the strong, and life in those days was the survival of the fittest.

In the varied career of Thomas L. Ferrier, we can read the development and growth of a State; for as the individual develops, so does the country which he inhabits. Before he was of age, Thomas L. Ferrier saw life in many of its phases, and in his early life saw much of the glamor and romance of the old West. He was born near Bowling Green, Kentucky, May 30, 1845. While yet a child, with his parents, Thomas H. and Catherine (Lewis) Ferrier, he moved to Andram county, Mo., where he lived until he was sixteen years old. At that time, 1863, he joined a party of freighters who were crossing the plains from Westport to Salt Lake City. Arriving there, he found employment as a cook on a steamer plying on Great Salt Lake. To the adventurous spirit of the boy, this employment soon grew monotonous, and he turned to the mines at Silver City, Idaho, to seek his fortune, and to satisfy that irresistable desire for adventure. After a considerable time in the mines, he made a trip into Oregon, and finally drifted back to Salt Lake City. The adventurous and dangerous life of the West appealed strongly to one of his nature, and his next employment was that of a stage driver, between Salt Lake City and the Black Hills. In this employment, he spent several months, and again became a miner.

While engaged in this occupation at Silver City, he received a letter, telling of the fatal illness of his mother, at her home in Missouri, and he prepared to go to her side. After reaching Salt Lake City, he took the stage to Omaha. For some reason, no ferryman could be found to pilot him across the river at Omaha. It was the month of March, and the turbulent Missouri was full of floating ice; the prospect of swimming the muddy, rapid stream was anything but alluring, but Tom Ferrier had inherited from his French ancestors not only a love for adventure, but a will that was unconquerable, and a delay of any kind, and from any cause, was not included in his plans for the trip to the bedside of his mother. He swam the river and proceeded on his journey. After no further adventures, he arrived at the home of his parents, where he remained for some months.

But the "spirit of the West," and the "call of the wild" had taken firm hold in his nature, and the spring of 1865 found him with the outfit of a hunter and plainsman, traveling again towards the setting sun. Journeying southwest from Westport, he became more and more impressed by the charm of the country, over which he rode day after day,


with its limitless undulating expanse of tall, blue stem, as far as the eye could reach, unbroken except by narrow belts of small timbers along the streams. He was imbued with the spirit of the prairie and the desire to possess some of his land as his own, became so strong that when he reached the region of the Whitewater in what later became Clifford township, he decided to stake his claim and build a home. Here in this great open space and great distances, near the banks of the Whitewater, he built his lonely cabin. The spirit of the pioneer, the call of the wild, was a dominant feature of the Ferrier blood, and the great, unfenced country that was before him, appealed strongly to his imagination, no doubt, but he could see the wonderful future of this, as yet, almost unpeopled land. The rank growth of prairie grass, ten feet high in the draws, indicated the richness of the soil and his dream of a home and of many broad acres with himself as the owner, was not without foundation.

It is truly said, that men who attain much are dreamers, so to speak, as the attainment of their desire first takes place in the mind of the dreamer. His dream of a home and a large acreage of this fertile region became a reality. Many years before his death, Mr. Ferrier was the owner of 1,400 acres of this well fenced and well improved land—of fertile fields of corn and alfalfa. From 1865 to 1868, settlers were few, in fact, until 1868, his only neighbor was John Adams, whose cabin was five miles down the Whitewater. During those years, nature, in her wildest form, offered the only means of a livlihood, and to these few first settlers, the gun and the trap were the main dependence. One winter Mr. Ferrier shot and trapped over 600 dozen prairie chickens, which he shipped to Westport. From 1869 to 1872, settlers came rapidly. In 1871, Mr. Ferrier was married to Mrs. Jennie B. Borbridge. She was born in Indiana, her parents, Benjamin and Jennie Ferguson, came to Butler county in 1870. They settled on a farm in Clifford township, coming from Carroll county, Indiana, of English extraction. Mr. and Mrs. Ferrier shared, alike, the life of the early settlers, and were happy and contented with their lot. They were the parents of three children, the youngest of whom was two years old, at the time of the mother's death, November 29, 1884.

Taking up the cares of business and looking after his orphaned children, to whom he was now both father and mother, Mr. Ferrier, as was his nature, put his best effort into the task before him. And in the decade following his wife's death, he added considerable to the building of the fortune for which the foundation was laid, and the little log cabin was erected on his lonely claim in 1865. In 1895 he was married to Katie Block, the second child of David and Katherine Block. She was born in Russia in 1874. Her parents, both natives of Germany, immigrated to Russia and shortly after the birth of Katherine, came to America. They settled in Florence, Kans., in 1874, and after four or five years' residence there, and at Hillsboro, they settled in Butler


county. Mr. Block died in June, 1912. The mother's death occurred in the same month, two years later, (1914.)

By his first marriage, Mr. Ferrier was the father of three children, two of whom are living: Lewis W. Ferrier, who lives in Searchlight, Nev., where he is superintendent of the Red Wing Mining and Milling Company of Nevada; Mary J. (Ferrier) Liggett, the deceased wife of J. M. Liggett, and Wm. J. Ferrier, a successful farmer and business man of Clifford township, whose home is not far from where his father settled a half century ago with a pony, a shot gun and $26 in cash. By his second marriage, Mr. Ferrier was the father of nine children: Nellie E.; Harold H.; Leonard L.; Ida M.; Fred T.; Iva L.; Edna R.; Emma K., and Theodore L.

Thomas L. Ferrier died December 19, 1914. Thus briefly sketched is the life and career of a remarkable man. He was of the type who have truly been called empire builders.

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