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John H Ferguson

With Thanks to Patrick Brennan and Mary Lou Little

Photograph of John Ferguson with Lawn Bowling Men.

The Ferguson Plot in Blenheim's Evergreen Cemetery.

John H Ferguson.

Veteran of Fenian Raid and US Civil War. Said to have been in the Honour Guard on the day of surrender of General Lee though this may have been more that he was in the right place at the right time to do it rather than anything else.
Mayor of Blenheim and Councilman of Kent.

The Following is from the Blenheim News Tribune on Wed March 28 1934

Soldier, Business Man, Ex-Mayor Passes Away

John R Ferguson was in Northern Army Sixty-Nine Years Ago. Had Occupied Many Positions in Public Life of Blenheim.

John H Ferguson, known to three generations of our citizens as one of the very remarkable men of the town died at his home. Talbot Street, on Sunday afternoon. He was 91 years of age.

He was a pensioner of the American Civil War, having allied himself with the Northern Army; and for many years he was prominent in the business and civic life of Blenheim. He never lost his soldierly bearing, and as the years advanced and he continued with such a smart stride, square shoulders and straight figure every day on our streets, it seemed impossible that he was old enough to have been a soldier as long ago as the civil war. At the time of his death it was 69 years since he had been in the army.

Mr Ferguson ("Fergie" as he was familiarly known in town)was one of ten men who escorted General Lee from the battle field of Richmond, the last engagement in the Civil War. His parents came from the highlands of Scotland and settled at Montreal. In 1861 or 1862 he enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry at Boston under General Ben Buller's division of Sheridan's mounted troops and he fought through seventeen battles of varying importance, some major and others minor. His brother William, fighting beside him was shot and killed at Gettysburg. For six months after the war he served rations to slaves who had been freed.

For services in the Civil War he won several military distinctions. But with the modesty for which good soldiers are noted he never had very much to say of his war-time deeds, and there will be intimate friends of his leaning as much as is published here for the first time in their lives.

He returned from the United States to Montreal, and later saw actual fighting in the FEnian Raids near Ormstown Quebec where he was stationed.

In his elderly manhood he married Elizabeth Tate McArthur of Cardinal, Ont. and came to Blenheim, where for a long time he operated a cooper shop at the corner of John and SAndy street on he site of he residence now occupied by Mr C F Tumelty. Those were the days of stave and lumber mills when many men found employment here in those industries. He long supplied all the barrels for the Rugherford flour mill in the days when flour and feed was handled and shipped that way instead of the now modern way of in paper and cloth bags; and one of he most intimate memories a host of people have of Blenheim of those days was the regular travelling of the barrel wagon of "Sammie" Crosby between the cooper shop and the flour mill.

He was enthusiastic in giving his services to the town in which he lived. For many years he was chief of the Fire Department away back in the days when fire protection was given by a hand-pumping engine, when the fire-hall was in the building now occupied by Harry Bowne for his shoe repair business, and when the chief had dictatorial power, if need be to commandeer men on the spot to serve as pumpers; and had on occasion exercised this power. He was enthusiastic for the advent of the steam fire-engine which came from Ronald's in the early nineties and startled the whole town that turned out to see it in its first trial, throw water over the top of the five story elevator at the flour mill. When he felt he had served his time in that capacity he surrendered the duties to men of a younger generation.

He had served also in many capacities in the town council as councillor, reeve and mayor, several times being the town's representative at the county council. Not all of his elections were easy ones, but indeed some of them were famous encounters, usually returning him victor but not always, 'tis true.

He was mayor at the time the town hall was constructed. He was on the managing board of the Presbyterian Church when it was built, was chairman of the Blenheim Public School Board when the present structure was erected, and the chairman of the Library Board when the old Blenheim power house was transformed into a library and memorial hall.

He was a member and elder of the Presbyterian Church.

In politics it is scarcely necessary to say he was a Liberal, a devoted follower of of the chieftains of that party and an active campaigner in every provincial or Dominion election.

He formeded one of the most indelible connection links beteen the several generations of his time that we have ever had in Blenheim. He was possessed of a happy, genial nature, and was always pleasant to meet.

He continued in comparitively good health until a year or two ago since which time he has been "Going down hill" to the sorrow of all the town. Mrs Ferguson survives, but has been in poor health for some time. Their only daughter Elizabeth, is also left.

The funeral service was held Tuesday afternoon at the family residence, Rev J M McCurlie, his pastor, and Rev Dr Barnett of Goderich a former pastor officiating. Interment was at Evergreen Cemetery.

Mrs John H Ferguson

The death occurred Monday morning of a well known resident of Blenheim at her home, Talbot Street, West, at the age of 84 years. Mrs Ferguson had been in failing health for the past several months, and the end was not unexpected. Mr Ferguson passed away only a few weeks ago.

For many years Mrs Ferguson had been a prominent and active citizen in the town, having conducted a millinery business until a few years ago in the business block now occupied by (Stoner?) Bros' Jewelry. After building their fine residence on Talbot Street several years ago Mr and Mrs Ferguson retired from business activities. In their declining years they have been most devotedly attended by their only daughter Miss Elizabeth, to whom in their sorrow the sympathy of many friends is extended.

Mrs Ferguson was born in the eastern town of Cardinal but came in early life to this district. She was an active member of long standing of the Presbyterian Church and also took a keen interest in politics being president of the Women's Liberal Association in her home district for a number of years.

Mr Arnold McArthur of Windsor, is a brother and Mrs George Foxton of Merlin a sister of the deceased. Mrs S F Ballachy (Brooks McArthur), of Paisley, is a niece and is well known here in Blenheim where for some time as a young lady she made her home with her aunt.

The funeral service will be conducted at the family residence on Wednesday afternoon, (today), at three o'clock b....................