John Ferguson
The "Squire"of Iberia

 

John Ferguson was born on Dec 25th 1838 in the village of Dumfries. As an 8 year old he started work as an apprentice shoemaker, but he didn't enjoy this work, so he left and became apprentice to a painter. He served his time until he was 14 years old. From the age of 6 he had been receiving some schooling but this was mainly Biblical and not much else, this being mainly due to the church and schools in Scotland being under the control of the Government.

At the age of 14 his father William Ferguson decided to leave Dumfries and take his family to America, they made their way to Liverpool and in September 1852 the sail onboard the "Colonel Cutts". John's father did not complete the journey, he died during the passage and was buried at sea. Isabella Hunter Ferguson and her three children, John and his sisters Martha and Elizabeth, arrived in New Orleans in October 1852 but they didn't stay long , they boarded another boat "The Sovereign of Pittsburgh" and went up the Mississippi to St Louis where the stayed with Isabella's sister and brother in law William Dunlop.

Dunlop was a riverboatman and he hired John to work for him on the river. He worked at this for the next 9 years until the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. During the war he was witness to the Camp Jackson skirmish which took place near St Louis, saying in a interview in later life-"if it had not been for the loyal German regiments. I believe St Louis would have been captured by General Jackson and his Confederate forces".

In June 1862 he married Miss Dorcas D Shelton a native of McMinn County Tennessee, they were married by Rev Abraham Castlemann, a Captain of Confederate troops. In order to get him to come and marry them John rode 15 to 20 miles to get him and then accompany him back, there were "bushwackers" seeking him and he was in fear of his life.

During the War he joined Colonel McLurg's Osage Regiment at Linn Creek and later enlisted in the regular service - Co M 3rd Mo Cav. Volunteers where he served the Union army until the close of the war. An interesting note is that his wife's relatives were from the south and her uncle William R Wright was a Lt in the Confederate Army. John and his wife Dorcas had 14 children . After his discharge in New Orleans in 1865 the family made Miller County their permanent home.

Over the next 74 years, John Ferguson was a prominent figure in the Iberia area. Finally 1939 Iberia lost one of its most respected citizens "Squire" John Ferguson aged 101