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Biography of William Alexander Ferguson
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The younger of two sons, only children of James B. and Martha Byrd Ferguson, William Ferguson was born in Bertie County, North Carolina, June 9, 1819.
Grandparents on maternal side were John and Elizabeth Byrd. He married Margaret Ann Lee, December 16, 1836, whose early ancestors were from Virginia.
She received her education from private tutors and Chawan College, Murfreesboro, N. C.
Her father was William Henry Lee, her grandfather, Henry Lee. Her mother was Nancy Horne Lee, her grandmother, Annie Lee. Maternal side, her grandparents were Turner and Margaret Horne. Eight children were born to William and Margaret Ferguson. Six reached maturity: James, Annie, Julius, Margaret, Walter, Lula, Sidney, and Birdie.
His education was from private tutors and schools nearby. He conducted a dry goods business in Windsor, North Carolina. He also owned and operated a large tobacco plantation. He was a loyal Democrat, and his political career took him to the Governor’s staff.
The original of the following letter of introduction of Mr. Ferguson to the Governor of Virginia from the Governor of North Carolina is in possession of the family (1935)
Windsor,. No. Ca. May 13th 1861.
Allow me to introduce to your acquaintance, William A. Ferguson, Esq. Mr. Ferguson is well known to me as a highly respectable gentleman, is a member of the Council of State of No. Ca. and a warm and devoted and efficient friend of our Government
Any attention which you may spew him will confer a personal obligation on
Your Obt Sert.
His Excellency, John Letcher, Richmond, Va.
(Copied from the original)
He was not the only member of his family being honored as to political standing. Later a cousin, J. T. Winston, of Windsor, was Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina.
Mr. Ferguson came to Georgia in the sixties, locating in Hawkinsville. Here he engaged in the mercantile business, conducting a dry goods business in the first brick store in the town, under the name of Ferguson & Co., the “company” being Mr. J. O. Jelks. Another business was Ferguson & Parsons. He made semi-annual trips to New York and Baltimore for thirty-five years.
For many years his business was, as an old friend said, “the leading dry goods house of all this section, and no merchant has left a better record for strict, honest and fair dealings than he, and it was the splendid reputation that he builded for himself that gave him access to the public confidence, so when he offered in 1883 for the treasurership he was elected, and except for two years he had been kept in this office without opposition for twenty years.”
He served in the War Between the States, was a Mason, and a consistent member of the Baptist Church.
He had a deep interest in his town, standing for pure, noble and practical principles.
A remark made by a friend of long acquaintance at the close of his life, February 14, 1912, was: “He goes out of this world leaving a clean record.”
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