A HISTORY OF FERGUSON KENTUCKY
TAKEN FROM AN EARLY ARTICLE WRITTEN BY JERRI BROWN
Long-time Volunteer, Board Member and Past President of Pulaski County Historical Society
I have often wondered why after Luretha, Kentucky received its name that it was later changed to Ferguson. I was referred to a lovely lady, Mrs. W. L. (Faye) Waddle. After telling me what she knew, she said “”Why don’t you call Luretha and talk to her?” The lady was Luretha Wynn Cross. I was so excited to talk with someone who made history by having a town named after her when she was only two years old. Mr. Robert C. Ford and Mr. Jerry Holman had done research on the town and were generous to let me include these findings. This is the story of Ferguson from Mr. Ford, Mr. Holman and Mrs. Cross.
Some ofthe old families were Saunders, Colliers, Buster, and Gover according to the stones in the old cemetery located on Jacksboro Street. In 1815 the first death was recorded in the Cemetery. Later the Taylors, Cundiffs, Jones’s, Gragg·s, and Gibson’s settled in the area.
Around 1906 the Cincinnati and Southern Railway System purchased land and located their steam locomotive repair shops to service these engines. Families employed by the railroad located here and soon it became a thriving community, in need of a city government, a school system and a name. Attorney Edward Ferguson was a Founding Father ofthe railroad, so the shops were named in his honor, The Ferguson Shops.
The community had one store, ran by Ned Kelley. There was not a post office. The community did not have a name. The people had to go all the way to Station A to pick up their mail. This was housed in Mr. Welsh’s Grocery Store, located on a hill overlooking the Somerset (train) Depot. A young enthusiast decided the people needed a better store. He took it upon himself to get one. He built it next door to this house. This young man was George A. Wynn, the father of Luretha mentioned earlier. He was the son of James L. and Elizabeth Andrew Wynn. This store was located on the west side of what is now Jacksboro Street across from the present First Methodist Church, third door from the north end of the block. Wynn’s father, James, lived on the comer.
Mr. Wynn decided the people needed a place closer to home to get their mail. He established the first Post Office for this community and became the first Postmaster. All Post offices had to have a name. The town’s people, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Cowan, Mr. Woods, Mr. Waddle, Mr. Lee and possibly others got together and agreed to name the community and Post Office “Ferguson.” Mr. Wynn submitted the name to Washington but was rejected because there was already a Ferguson, Kentucky located near London. They had to find another name. The men decided that Mr. Wynn should name it after his oldest daughter, Luretha, who had been names for her great grandmother, Luretha Sandusky Andrews. Luretha was only two years old at the time.
The name was submitted to Washington and was accepted. Now the community had a new store, a new post office and a name for their community.
After a few years, Mr. Wynn decided that he wanted to move to a farm so he sold his store and post office building to a Dr. Farmer around 1919. Dr. Farmer became the second postmaster of Luretha, Kentucky. The people never gave up on the idea of naming their town Ferguson.
According to Mrs. Faye Waddle, an unidentified soldier in WW II became embarrassed when ask where he was from, since people found it unusual or amusing. When he returned home, he made an all-out effort, along with the citizens, to change the name. In the meantime, the other Ferguson was no longer in existence. Washington granted permission for the town to use the name of “Ferguson, Kentucky.”
People needed a place to worship in the community. An organizational meeting held October 10, 1908. The charter members were Phoebe L. Ford, Loretta Cameron, Lizzy Hudson, Lucy Lee, Lizzie Trimble, John A. Ford, Z.M. Ford, and Mr. A.C. Cameron. The first service held in the new building was in May, 1911. It was names Ferguson Baptist Church.
The school of the community was an elementary school only until 1927. If a higher education was desired, they had to attend Somerset High School. One source states that the elementary school was held in a small frame building on Garrett Street next to the home of Phoebe Ford and later moved near Elihu. On August 3, 1908, the Trustees, H.V. Cundiff, William Hudson, J.F. Cowan, Pate Nelson, and A.J. Litton acquired land from Mary A. Price, Violetha Price and Eva Taylor, which was part of the Elihu Tract. In 1909, construction began on the new brick structure.
The first graduating class was in 1927 which consisted of four girls and one boy. They were Elsie Benge, Margaret Mason, Martha Loveless, Myrtle Smith, and Joe Beckham Brown (an uncle of my husband, Robert Brown.) Joe was class valedictorian. At this time a new addition had been added, plus a gymnasium and the school had gained status as Independent School District #76.
In May 1941, the Southern Railroad placed in service its number 6100, the world’s first diesel railroad freight locomotive ever built. September 19, 1941 Number 6100 crossed the Cumberland River in Burnside. This was the beginning of the replacing of the steam locomotives which rendered the Ferguson Shops useless. Once almost one thousand men were employed there and down to a skeleton crew of less than 100 men, the shops permanently closed in 1952. After closing of the shops, the town and school were greatly affected. The last graduation class of the high school was in 1968. For a few years, the elementary school continued to exist until finally closing the doors permanently. The old school is now used as a community center and park.
A small cemetery is located in Ferguson on Old Jacksboro Street, which runs alongside the railroad tracks. It has been abandoned. It is recorded in the Pulaski County Tax Records as the Gover Cemetery. This cemetery is surrounded by property of Robert Copenhaver on the south side. Mr. Strunk borders the north and the railroad on the west. Seven grave stones are listed as George W. Saunders born 30 Sept. 1762 and died 7 Apr. 1815; Martha Ann Saunders died 17 Sept. 1837: Elizabeth 0. Saunders born 13 Aug. 1792 died 8 Apr. 1874; Elizabeth J. Collier born
16 Apr. 1838; Bary F. Buster born 29 Jul. 1853 died 23 Jun. 1854; Mary A. Buster born 2 Dec.
1836 died 11 Nov. 1837; C.V. Buster born 29 Mar 1847 died 10 Oct. 1848. Information copied by Robert C. Ford September 1992.
At one point in time Ferguson had its own hotel known as the ”Yellow Dog Inn.” I have only heard of this place. It was supposed to have been located across the tracks from the Woods home at Woods Crossing. It was a large yellow building.
About 1916 or 1917 J.C. Anderson
About 1916 or 1917 J.C. Anderson came from Tennessee and built a large two story building at the edge of Ferguson. He designated this as a sanatorium, and with a corps of nurses operated it for several years. He was not a registered M.D., but had a reputation for effecting many cures. People from far and wide came to him to be treated for various ills. After he left, the building he erected was used as a tuberculosis hospital for many years. There are few people who remember this doctor, although he made a great impression on the community. The above article was taken from “A History of Pulaski County Kentucky” compiled by Alma Owens Tibbals page 158.
Ferguson is a fifth-class city located in Pulaski County, Kentucky. It had a population of 934 residents based on the 1990 census. It is located just adjacent to the southern limits of Somerset. In the beginning, it was primarily a residential community for the railroad workers who worked in the shops.
Written by: Jerri Brown