Captain J. M. Ferguson, who celebrated his eighty-eighth birthday by selling the farm home near Ashland, where he has lived for 40 years, has precipitated a storm that bids fair to tear up the entire city--and all unknowingly
Captain Ferguson is a native of Wayne County and has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances here. As a Civil War veteran he has been prominent at many confederate reunions which have been held in this county. He is a brother of the late C. W. Ferguson, known throughout the county as "Uncle Charley."
All his life Captain Ferguson has been opposed to gambling. Yet, when a big real estate man came to him with an offer of $100,000 for his farm and 300 acres, which nestles in the hills of northeastern Kentucky, and now in the corporate limits of Ashland, the old soldier snapped it up.
The secret is this: The real estate man is said to have told the captain that he intended to cut the land up into lots and sell them to accommodate the rapid growth of the town.
Captain Ferguson has been a life-long Methodist and opposed to gambling in any nature--and the Puritanic town of Ashland is now "sitting up to take notice," as the word has gone out that this beautiful farm is to be converted into a race track that will not be second to Churchill Downs at Louisville, Latonia or the Lexington track. The city is stirred from center to circumference, and the ministers in all churches preached last Sunday on the subject, "Shall Ashland Surrender to Race Track Gamblers?".
But it seems the die is cast, for there is nothing that can be done, so far as anyone has been able to discover.
In the meantime, those followers of racing who are jubilant at the prospect are enumerating the cities from which they expect to draw great crowds. They point out that in five minutes, an Ashlander can set foot in three states--West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. They plan to draw crowds from Ashland with its 25,000 inhabitants; from Ironton, whose 15,000 residents live just across the river from West Ashland; from Portsmouth, 30 miles down the river, a city of 50,000; from Huntington and its 50,000; from Wayne county and Charleston, from Point Pleasant, from Parkersburg and from many others situated in the three states.
While all this is being planned by the big horsemen of Kentucky, Captain Ferguson is sitting quietly at home, thinking of the past and explaining how he made his $100,000.
Captain Ferguson was born in Wayne County, West Virginia, and he takes great pride in telling how he made his first money. His first 10 cents was made by gathering a quart of turnip seeds. He had no land to cultivate, so he was given permission by an old farmer to cultivate the corner made by a "stake and rider" fence. Here he planted Irish potatoes, and when they matured he sold them for a dollar. Then he dug 32 pounds of ginseng for which he was paid $4. All this time his mother was his banker. He had about $6 now, and he bought two calves and sold them for $8 and bought a heifer. When the heifer had grown into a cow, he sold her for $12.
Later he found himself the possessor of about $16, and he found a piece of land containing about 120 acres. He borrowed sufficient money from his mother to make up the deficit and bought the land.
When he was 15 years old, he had more than enough money to go to school, and he entered a little academy at Ashland, known as Conductive seminary, where he studied about three months, his earlier education being in the hands of his mother.
At 19 he married to Miss Susan Cannon. They bought a few acres of land and went into housekeeping at the forks of Twelve Pole in West Virginia, and from there, in the spring of 1857, they moved to Lewis County, Kentucky. They moved to Ashland in 1873, buying the farm on which he has lived all these years for $16,000, which he paid in trade and cash.
His first wife dying some years ago, he married a Mrs. Dickenson of old Virginia. His only surviving children are two daughters, Mrs. ? N. Pollock of Ashland and Mrs. Charles Smith of California.
Captain Ferguson is possibly one of the best known men in Kentucky and West Virginia, as he has attended all Methodist conferences for years. He served in the Civil War on the Confederate side.
Wayne County News Wayne, West Virginia May 11, 1922
In accordance with a law enacted by the last legislature providing for the erection of suitable memorials for men who gave their lives in the World War, a monument has been ordered to commemorate the memory of Wayne County boys who made the supreme sacrifice while in service.
The monument for Wayne County soldiers will be placed on the courthouse square in Wayne. The costs of approximately $12,000 is covered by the special levy provided by the legislature.
Rev. W. H. Beale of Wayne is in charge of the erection of the Wayne County monument and announces that he hopes the memorial will be ready for unveiling by July 4th. It is planned that the program for the dedication will include addresses by prominent men in addition to the impressive ceremony which will attend the unveiling.
The name of every Wayne County soldier, sailor, or marine who died while in service during the World War will be inscribed on the monument. So far Rev. Beale has received the named of twenty- nine men who died in service. He believes there are others from Wayne County whose names have not been reported to him. We are publishing herewith a list of the names received so far. If any reader of Wayne County News knows the name of any Wayne County man who died in service whose name is not included in this list, kindly forward the information at once either to this newspaper or to Rev. Beale at Wayne. Our readers are earnestly requested to co-operate with us in order that not a single name may be lacking when the Wayne County Memorial is unveiled. The work of placing the names of the men on the monument will be begun in a few days, which makes it necessary that the information requested be sent in at the earliest possible date. The names of the men received to date who died in World War service are as follows:
Harry Adkins, Fort Gay
Lindsey Adkins, Wayne
Van Bradshaw, Wayne
William Crum, Jr., Crum
William H. Damron, Dunlow
Roy Davis, Lavalette
Emery Dean, Fort Gay
Scott Hamm, Fort Gay
Lee Hooser, Fort Gay
Charlie Johnson, Kenova
Mason H. Keister, Fort Gay
Clyde L. Lester, Fort Gay
Roscoe Lynch, Kenova
Ransom Marcum, Crum
Patrick Milum, Genoa
Thomas Muncy, Ceredo
William S. Napier, East Lynn
William H. Payne, Ceredo
Claude W. Pogue, Ceredo
Merton M. Postle, Ceredo
Wayne Sellards, East Lynn
Thomas P. Smith, Quaker
Charlie A. Stone, Ceredo
Minville Thompson, Fort Gay
Smiley Wellman, Ceredo
Andrew J. Wellman, East Lynn
Kelly Williamson, Dunlow
Otto Jackson, Wayne
Allen Tabor, East Lynn
Transcription by June White
Wayne County News