HISTORY OF MACOUPIN COUNTY, ILLINOIS
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS DESCRIPTIVE OF ITS SCENERY,
AND

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF SOME OF ITS PROMINENT MEN AND PIONEERS.

Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia 1879



Page 132

HENRY J. FERGUSON is of Scotch-Irish descent. He was born in county Derry, Ireland, near the city of Derry, on the 27th of April 1803. His ancestors had come over to the North of Ireland with King William, and one of them was in the siege of Derry, and also the battle of the Boyne. His father, James Ferguson, was a farmer and mechanic, and made spinning wheels for the dames of those days who industriously manufactured the flax into Irish linen. Mr. Ferguson was the youngest of a family of eight children. He was raised in the neighborhood where he was born. He staid at school until about sixteen, and then until he was twenty, was clerk in a large wholesale store in Dungiven, in the county Derry. He found that city life not agree with his tastes, and so went back home, where he began farming on a piece of land he received from his father's estate. In January, 1835, he married Sarah Swan, who was also a native of the county Derry, and was born in the year 1806. He lived in Ireland till 1839, at which time four children had been born, the eldest of which died in the old country. He sailed for America that year, and after a voyage of six weeks and three days, landed at Philadelphia.

The fame of Illinois had reached him in Ireland, and he had set out with the expectation of coming to Macoupin county, where George Caldwell, and William Patterson, who were from the same part of Ireland with himself, had settled a few years previously. He accordingly proceeded at once to the neighborhood of Staunton where he bought forty acres of land, on which stood a log house, and there entered one hundred and twenty acres more. He was a man capable of doing a large amount of hard work, and possessed considerable energy and determination. He went to work improving his 160 acres and making a farm. He says the country was then covered with snakes of every description. The first post office at which he got his letters was a box made in the end of a hollow log. The town of Staunton at that time, was composed of a single log house, in which the post office above mentioned was kept. A stage coach once a week passed through from Hillsboro to Alton. He gradually got his farm into good condition, and worked steadily at its improvement. Only three of his eight children are now living. Their names are David Ferguson; Susannah, who is now the wife of Archibald Burns, and Henry Ferguson. David and Henry are both living near their father, and are now among the enterprising farmers of Staunton township. He was originally a strong democrat in politics, and cast his first vote for president, for Van Buren, in 1840. During the war of the Rebellion he saw that the election of Lincoln was necessary to the preservation of the Union, and accordingly voted for Lincoln in 1864. He has since supported the doctrines of the republican party. He has had a long and active life, has been an earnest, hard-working man, an enterprising citizen and a good farmer.




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