Page 747 History of Vermilion Co.
Jacob S. McFerren, Hoopeston, banker and real estate broker, was born in Warren county, Ohio on the l St of October, 1845. His parents were William and Eliza (Snyder) McFerren. He received a business education at Bartletts Commercial College, Cincinnati. His father having always followed the mercantile business, he was reared to the same pursuit. At the age of fifteen he quit school to take a half interest with his uncle in a store at Level, Ohio, the latter furnishing the capital, and he conducting the business and sharing one half the profits, the style of the firm being, A. S. McFerren & Co. Two years later his uncle formed another partnership, and commenced operating in grain: but a heavy decline and other speculations caused the firm to suspend with heavy liabilities, which so affected the firm of A. S. McFerren & Co. That the quite expensive business which the subject of this sketch had built up was discontinued, and their affairs were settled up, and all their debts paid in full. In his short, independent business career Mr. McFerren had made a clear profit of $3,000; but by the unfortunate speculations of his partner he lost all but $800, which he reduced his capital that he was obliged to begin on a salary. So, in August, 1865, he started west, and located at Paxton, Illinois where he took charge of the books of J. W. Scott, of that place for a short time, and afterward found a permanent situation with R. Clark, one of the oldest merchants of Paxton, as book keeper. At the end of the year Mr. Clarks health failing, he offered to turn over his stock of goods to his nephew, A. L. Clark, and Mr. McFerren, and loan them all needed capital. The proposition was accepted, became Clark & McFerren. This partnership and enterprise proved highly fortunate. Their trade suddenly attained a basis of substantial prosperity, and their capital steadily and rapidly increased. Mr. McFerren at length determined to embark in banking and real estate brokerage, and accordingly associated with himself T., W. Chamberlin under the style of McFerren & Chamberlin,. They opened a bank in Hoopeston on the l St of August, 1872, and did a remunerative business, passing safely through the panic of 1873, keeping their doors open throughout that trying period. Early in 1874, owing to ill-health, Mr. Chamberlin retired from the partnership. Mr. McFerrens bank is one of the most safely conducted institutions of the kind in the country, and its credit is deservedly high. The business transacted by it has constantly augmented in volume. Maintaining his working capital at a uniform figure, he has judiciously invested the profits in first-class farming lands in Vermilion, Iroquois and Ford counties, which are now valued at $60,000. He attributes his success to careful economy, keeping his own books, and maintaining a close, personal supervision over the details of his business, and to strictly living up to his contracts, and compelling others to a like exactness in discharging their contracts with him. In the spring of 1877 Mr. McFerren was elected first Mayor of Hoopeston on the temperance ticket. The town had always been controlled by the liquor interest, but at the end of his term of two years it was cleared of every saloon and groggery. It is not the least of his merits that he has been a consistent and earnest laborer in the temperance cause, and has thus assisted largely in building up the city, infusing life into it, rendering it respectable and contributing to its good name and reputation. He has been treasure and director of the Hoopeston District Agricultural Society, and is at present school treasurer of town 23, range 12. He was one of the original projectors of the Ford County Agricultural Society, and is still a stockholder in it. Having a taste for travel, Mr. McFerren has satisfied it by an extensive tour of the United States, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the British provinces to the Gulf of Mexico. He was married on the 4th of April, 1871, to Miss Susie P. Clark, daughter of R. Clark, who died on the 28th of July, 1871. His parents have been life-long members of the Universalist church. He is a republican in politics.