Biography of Hon. Emory C. Ferguson
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HON. EMORY C. FERGUSON. – Mr. Ferguson, whose portrait is placed in this history, was born on a farm in Westchester county, New York, March 5, 1833, and is the son of Samuel S. and Maria (Haight) Ferguson. He resided in his native county and learned the trade of a carpenter until reaching his majority. April 5, 1854, he with his brother Yates (who came to California in 1849 and had returned East) started via the Isthmus of Panama for the Golden State, arriving in San Francisco in May. Our subject immediately proceeded to the mines on the middle fork of the American river, where he followed merchandising and mining until 1856. He then embarked in the sawmill business in Greenwood valley, El Dorado county, which he conducted until the Frazer river excitement in 1858. He then came north, but a short time in the mines convinced him of their worthlessness; and he began to retrace his steps. Coming down the Sound, he located in Steilacoom, where he followed his trade until 1860.
He then conceived the idea of cutting a trail across the Cascade Mountains to reach the Rock creek and Smilikamun mines, he locating on the present site of Snohomish city, where he built a log cabin which he used as his headquarters, and also kept a small general merchandise store. The cutting of the trail proved disastrous to Mr. Ferguson, as he put all his money into the enterprise, and a short time after his completion the mines proved a failure, all that he had left being his homestead on the Snohomish. With his own hands he slashed and cleared what now comprise the principal streets of the city; and the best years of his life were spent there with the chopper’s axe, an army musket, and with no company outside of the savages, who were quite numerous in those parts at that time. As the county became settled, Mr. Ferguson would dispose of small pieces of his property; and at a date when he saw that a city at that locality was assured he had his homestead platted, and became, as now, the principal townsite proprietor.
From his first location in Snohomish until 1879, Mr. Ferguson was engaged in merchandising, the latter years on a large scale, and did the principal business of the town. Since retiring from the store, Mr. Ferguson has given attention to real estate, and is now owner of many of the finest buildings in the city, together with landed property in Snohomish county sufficient to place him at the head of the list as the largest taxpayer in his county.
Mr. Ferguson in politics has been a Republican all his life, and has ever worked for the best interest of his town, county and the territory of Washington. He has filled every county office in Snohomish county, and served seven terms in the territorial legislature, five terms in the council and two terms in the house, serving his last term as speaker of the house.
In 1884 he was appointed Commissioner to represent Washington Territory at the world’s exposition held in New Orleans. He also was a member of the convention held at Ellensburgh that formulated the proceedings that secured the admission of Washington Territory as a state. Few men have been more active; and a still less number have conducted industries so varied.
Mr. Ferguson possesses that admirable faculty of adapting himself to the occasion and the work, whatever it might be. He is a staunch Republican, a good debater, and is thoroughly versed in parliamentary rules; and the community that numbers among its inhabitants such a man as E.C. Ferguson is to be congratulated.