Ancient History of The Clan Ferguson

Ferguson Clan of Laramie County Wyoming

My Version of their Story  

William Mathew and Martha McKerley
Ferguson Clan

For more information on this clan,
contact Marylou Anderson


   William Mathew and Martha Ferguson
   arrived in Wyoming in the later part of the 1800's...
   They were to establish the Ferguson Clan
   of Laramie County Wyoming.
   Hard times and a mixture of blessings
  were theirs as they started to
   carve out a piece of history in the early west.

   There are probably as many versions of
   their story as their number of children.
   I wrote a version when I was in High School,
   and revised it again when I was in college.
   My version came from information
   from my dad, and his sister, Martha.
   It was fun sharing the story with the
  University of Wyoming's
   Dean of Agriculture
   at that time, an old friend of my grandfather,
   Walter C Ferguson, Sr.
   He said enjoyed going down
   memory lane via my essay on
   our family history.
  It starts out like this:
   William Mathew and Martha McKerley Ferguson,
   both from Abbottsford, Canada, along with their
   two little girls, Clara and Eva, moved in the early
   1870s. Mathew had hopes of becoming a minister.
   However, six months short of becoming an ordained
   minister at a Congregational Seminary in or near
   Boston, Massachusetts, *Mathew Ferguson came
   down with a severe attack of asthma. He was told
   the Colorado Rockies had an ideal climate for
   his condition. Mathew** packed up his family;
   wife, Martha and daughters, Clara and Eva; and
   headed west on the train. Upon reaching Cheyenne,
   Wyoming, he ran out of money. The year was 1873.

   He opened the first bakery in Cheyenne that same
   year. He also supplied yeast for the people of Cheyenne.
   At least, we understand this was the first bakery
   in Cheyenne. They ran it out of their house.
   In 1876, their first son, William Wallace (Bill) was born.

   To make extra money, and supply his own needs
   and the needs of Cheyenne home owners and businesses,
   Mathew chopped wood in the forest land west of town.
   While gathering wood, he fell in love with a
   beautiful mountain property, 29 miles west of
   Cheyenne. It is where Granite Springs Reservoir is
   now located. Mathew worked hard on the property,
   cutting wood and hauling it back to Cheyenne.
   There was an old trapper's sod hut, and he was
   delighted with the idea of moving Martha and
   the two small girls and two month old baby boy
   out to this soddy. He felt such peace in this land,
   and could not wait to share it with his beloved wife,
   Martha. He did not think that maybe she would
   appreciate the cabin having windows, a floor and a door....

   They left early one August morning for their new
   home in the wilderness. By the time they got there,
   it was dark. They only unpacked the bare necessities,
   and hung some blankets over the door opening.
   After eating, they threw their scraps out the door.
   Mathew went out for firewood, and while he was
   gone, the coyotes and wolves began to howl.
   Their eerie sound frightened Martha and she began
   to cry. When Mathew returned with the wood, he
   found Martha crying and she begged him to go
   back to Cheyenne in the morning. About that
   time they heard noise outside the house, and looking out saw a
   mountain lion eating the scraps they had thrown
   out. Mathew said they could leave in the morning
   if she still felt the same by then. He was sure she would
   change her mind once morning came.

   The sun rose with all the majestic beauty of a
   golden August morning. The beautiful songs of
   the Meadowlarks filled the air as Martha stepped outdoors.
   She could only fall in love, as had with their new
   home. Martha later told family members that
   on that morning when she saw the beautiful valley,
   painted in purple, yellow, white and orange flowers,
   beautiful quaker and pine trees, sage brush and
   choke cherries, she wanted only to live in that
   beautiful place God had given them. She said
   she had never seen such beautiful grass, wild
   flowers and trees and rocks as she saw
   that wonderful morning.

   Not only did Martha have the three little ones
   to care for, she was also pregnant with child number
   four. Though it was too late to start a garden,
   they had plenty of provisions for the winter, and
   Martha worked hard keeping house and chasing after
   her three little ones. The Middle Crow Creek was
   right near the house, and there was lots of
   wildlife activity in the area. Martha got a dog, a
   St. Bernard they named Buck to protect her and the
   children when Mathew was not nearby.

   Mathew did attach a door to the soddy, and
   began to build a nice cabin in which to live. ***
   He continued to haul fire wood to people in
   Cheyenne. The winter passed, and an early spring
   was a great promise for the young family.
   Or so Martha thought . . .
   March 15, 1878, **** was an unusually warm day.
   Family members remember Martha
  telling this story:

     "The weather was so hot that day,
      I remember sitting in the shade of the
      trees and actually perspiring. As
     the morning turned to afternoon
      I knew I was about to give birth.
      Mathew was about to send a
      friend who was staying for the purpose
      of getting a mid wife when the time
      came. On stepping out, the wind had
      become so cold and shrill he couldn't
      breath With it came the freezing,
      blowing snow of a Wyoming Spring
      blizzard. There was no possible way
      anyone could leave the cabin that
      night. I had to give birth on my own.
      Mathew sat nearby, unable to do
      anything but wring his hands. I had
      to take complete care of myself and
      the baby. That was a night I will never forget."

   Because of the severity of that storm; worst in
   known history before the 1949 blizzard, the Fergusons
   were unable to get help and Hattie Maude died
   after only a week. It is reported she died due
   to an inability to urinate. The death came as
   quite a blow to Martha and Mathew.
   Their cabin was covered completely with snow.
   They had to place the baby on top of the house until
   snow cleared enough to bury her. When the snow
   did clear enough, they buried her on the top of
   a hill, and Mathew marked the spot as best he could
   under those conditions, but once the snow melted
   completely away, they were unable to find the grave site.

   On May 14, 1879, Martha and Mathew were blessed
   with the birth of their fifth child, Walter Chester.
   When he was about one year old, his older brother
   Bill decided the baby needed branding. He had
   seen men branding their horses and cattle, and
   he did not want to loose his little brother any
   more than the cowboys wanted to loose their stock.
   He heated up the poker in the fireplace until it was
   glowing red. He grabbed up Walter's nightshirt
   and branded him on the right hip. Walter always
   said, "I don't remember it, but I've heard it more
   than once from Maa. Guess Bill was worse off than
   I was when Maa saw the brand."

   In the succeeding years, the Fergusons had four
   more children, Edwin in 1881,
   Maude in 1884,
   Everett in 1886
   and Wesley Wyoming in 1889.
   But their lives were touched by more tragedy .
   In 1887, their oldest daughter, Clara died of Typhoid.

   Mathew and Martha and their children worked hard,
   and grew a wonderful garden. Their efforts to
   make what they could of their lives, helped them
   to develop a great work ethic.
   From Ft Laramie, army pay filtered out to area
   businesses, and contracts to supply the posts with
   wood, beef, and hay were staples of local enterprise.
   Nor, was it uncommon by the 1880's for small ranchers
   or homesteaders to sell vegetables, milk, and
   eggs to company messes. From the produce of
   their garden and hen house, Mathew would haul
   produce along with wood to Ft Laramie,
   many miles to the north. On one such trip in 1879,
   Mathew heard that the Cheyennes were on the warpath.
   He was so worried about his young family back
   home that he literally ran his team of horses to death
   trying to get home to them.
   The Northern Cheyennes, who had been removed
   to the foreign environment of Indian Territory,
   did not long remain there. Their people sick and
   malnourished, Dull Knife and Little Wolf led the survivors
   on an epic journey all the way back to northwest
   Nebraska, with troops in hot pursuit the entire way.
   Even though they were finally arrested near Camp
   Robinson in early 1879, the determined Cheyennes
   eventually won a concession to live in their traditional
   homeland on Rosebud Creek.

   One day, while Martha was working in her garden,
   she got a very eerie feeling and she looked up
   and saw a pack of wolves completely surrounding her
   with their teeth barred. She stopped her work
   and called in her loudest voice for her dog, Buck.
   He came running, and his fierce barking and huge
   size apparently scared the wolves because they
   took off
   on the lope. From then on she made sure Buck
   was nearby whenever she or the children went
    out to work or play.

   Since moving to the country, Mathew had become
   quite interested in mining. He had in fact, developed
   "gold fever" and spent long hours in the mines in
   search of great riches. In 1886, in order to be closer
   to the mines, he moved his family to Dry Bone Gulch,
   a few miles east of the original place at Granite Springs.
   Mathew opened up the King David Mine which was later
   renamed the Comstock Mine. This was their home
   for several years. At that time it was a mining camp
   in the Silver Crown Mining District. Mathew had
   his own ore smelter at this location. Later he
   moved the smelter to Hecla, Wyoming where the
   water supply was more adequate. There was
   an added advantage to this move. They were only
   two miles from the Hecla school, and education
   was very important to Martha and Mathew.

   Mathew was able to enjoy his mining and his home
   in the country, for several more years. But health
   problems of former times finally caught up with him.
   Mathew was caught in one of those spring blizzards,
   and came down with a bad cold. He lapsed into
   a "sick spell" which developed into pneumonia.
   William Mathew Ferguson died on March 18, 1891.
   William Mathew Ferguson was only 48 years old
   when he died. Mathew had, during his years in
   Wyoming preformed many weddings and funerals.
   He was respected as a "man of the cloth."
   He instilled great values and a good work ethic
   in his children, and was a man to be looked up to.
   To be continued with the story of Walter Chester Ferguson, Sr., my grandfather...........


Ferguson Rites to be Saturday

Mrs. Martha Ferguson, 95, a resident of Cheyenne since 1875, died at her home,
2018 Seymour, Wednesday evening.
Born, Nov. 11, 1848 at Montreal, Canada, she came to Cheyenne with her husband,
the late William Ferguson, 68 years ago. Later the couple moved to Silver
Crown valley where they started a ranch. Following her husband's death,
Mrs. Ferguson operated the ranch with aid of her five sons, Will, Walter,
Ed Everett and Wesley and two daughters Eva and Maud. The ranches are still
owned and operated by Ed, Walter and William, Jr.

Mrs. Ferguson was a member of the Congregational Church and the Pioneer Club.
Until her health failed she had taken an active interest in community affairs.

Mrs. James Morton, a daughter and William, a son, preceded her in death.
Three children in infancy.

Survivors include one daughter, Mrs. George H. Kingham, and three sons,
Everett, Walter and Ed, all of Cheyenne, and a sister Mary McKerley,
of Granby, Canada; 18 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at the Schrader Funeral Home at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Rev. Veit will officiate and burial will be in Lakeview.
Pallbearers will be six grandchildren, Martin, Walter Jr., Harry Jr., Ed Jr.,
William Jr., and Herbert Kingham.

*I could never find any Congregational Seminary in or near Boston
during the 1870s I continue to search.

** (Mathew is what my Aunt Martha told me his wife Martha called him)
*** We have pictures somewhere of the foundations of their homestead.
The Granite Reservoir dried up in the mid 1970's, and we took the
opportunity to see the place that is usually under water.
**** Conflicting stories tell the date
differently, but either March 15, 1878,or April 13, 1878, was an
unusually warm day. Research for the Wyoming Spring blizzard of 1878
confims the date of March 15 to be correct. Here are two excerps from a
couple of biographies of that time:
Albany County, Outside of Laramie Wyoming, 1878. Five men frozen to
death in a March blizzard while elk hunting. Joseph Connoy(this spelling
from Laramie paper) H. J. McCann, Charles Wilson and two men with no
first names, Card and Kuntze or Kountze. Newspaper has Card in one
article and Brown in the other.

The Colonel was the only man who succeeded in making the journey between
Deadwood and Lead during the memorable and terrific snow blizzard of
March 12-15, 1878, in which so many sacrificed their lives. The snow
was five feet deep on the level and he broke the trail and carried
through his papers.



[Mary McKerly]
[Wallace History]
[My Version of their Story]  
Other related stories and those told by
Willaim Mathew
Martha McKerly Ferguson's

children and grandchildren:
Article in American Angus Journal
More Articles about the Ferguson/Anderson Legacy








Article in WREN

LT Livestock Hobby Farm

Photos of the ladies

Pappa & Gramma

Anderson LT Livestock


Have a great day!