Tom Ferguson, Growing Up in Bourbon County, Kansas

The fourth of five children, Thomas Carrol Ferguson was born on July 23, 1880 to Thomas Bunn Ferguson and Mary Elizabeth Baker Ferguson. The family resided in the Fort Scott, Kansas area. At the age of three Tom’s father died leaving his mother to raise five children who ranged in age from ten months to eleven years of age.

 The 1885 Kansas census shows the family still in Scott Township. They most likely continued to live and work on their farm with the help of James C. Ferguson, their uncle, a farmer and living with the family. Mary, their mother, was a housekeeper. Tom’s sisters Rebecca Adaline and Sophia, and his brother Walter, attended school. Sammie, the youngest, was two. The Pope family lived close by.

 By 1895 uncle James was no longer listed as living with the family. The Kansas census shows that Sophia, Tom, and Samuel attending school. Rebecca (Ada), married to Charles Clary, lived nearby. At the age of twenty, Walter lived at home. No record remains but I believe that Tom and Lola knew each other from a very young age and both attended the same school. A friendship most likely developed that led to their marriage in 1901.

Ferguson, Tom Woodmen Association

Tom Ferguson in his Woodmen Association Uniform

Tom was a handsome fellow. His World War I draft registration paper shows he was slender, of medium height, and had blue eyes and  dark brown hair. He was a joiner. This is evident from records of the Kansas Odd Fellows Lodge No. 395. He joined the Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal benefit organization formed to protect the financial well-being of families after the death of the breadwinner. “Members were protected with life insurance and also enjoyed fraternal benefits …”¹. The Modern Woodmen of America organization still exists today. In researching the organization I found that many men belonged to drill teams. There were pictures of the drill teams on their website wearing the uniform that Tom wears in this picture. I wonder if it is possible that Tom belonged to a drill team?

 

¹From the website of Modern Woodmen Association, https://www.modern-woodmen.org/AboutUs2/History/Pages/Timeline.aspx

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