Hardin County

James P. Ferrill

JAMES P. FERRILL, a farmer and stock raiser, of Elizabethtown, Ill., was born in that County, Dec. 30, 1847. His father, John H. Ferrill, was born near Chapel Hill, Tenn., April 15, 1823, and lived there until he was about sixteen years of age. About the year 1839 his father, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, died. Soon after his death the widow, with her two sons, John H. and Charles M., came with one wagon containg all of their earthly possessions to Illinois and located near Furnace, in Hardin County. The two boys worked on the farm in the summer time, at the iron works in the winter, cut cordwood, and did various other things to assist their widowed mother.

In 1843 John H. Ferrill was united in marriage to Nancy Pillow, a niece of Gideon Pillow, who won distinction as a Confederate general during the Civil war. To this marriage there were born the following children: James P., the subject of this sketch; Marths, who died at the age of two years; John C., now living in Los Angeles, Cal.; Ann, who died in childhood; Josie, now living at Elizabethtown, and Nellie, who died as the wife of James B. McFarland.

About 1851, John H. Ferrill went to California and remained there for about two years, prospecting and mining, but at the end of that time returned to Hardin County, making the trip by water both ways. From that time until the war he was engaged in steamboat navigation on the Mississipi, the Ohio and Cumberland rivers. He was the owner of the steamers Winneford, Kate French and Governor's Island, and was doing a good business when the war broke out.

In 1861, he enlisted as wagon master in the Twenty-ninth Illinois infantry, but was tranferred to the navy by General Grant and made a master pilot, serving in that capacity during the entire conflict. He was the volunteer pilot on the board the monitor Neosho and in one of the engagements her colors were shot down. Assisted by a German soldier he raised the flag while the fight was still going on and received a medal from Congress for his bravery.

After the war he returned to his old occupation and continued in the river traffic until 1878. He was a charter member of the Grand Army post at Elizabethtown. His death occurred on April 17, 1900. His widow is still living, being now about eighty years of age.

James P. Ferrill began working his father on the river just at the commencement of the war and remained associated with him until 1878, both giving up the river at the same time. After that he lived in Metropolis until 1882, when he located on the farm where he now lives. This farm, which is known as the "Colonel Ferrill farm," contains 440 acres. It formerly belong to Charles M. Ferrill, who raised Company D, of the Twenty-ninth Illinois infrantry, and was mustered in as captain. He took part in all the engagements in which his command participated, among them Fort Donelson, Shiloh, the siege of Vicksburg, and the military operations about Corinth.

After the war he engaged in mercantile pursuits at Elizabethtown until 1872, when he retired. He was one of the prominent and successful men of the County; a member of the Grand Army of the Republica; the Masonic fraternity, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; represented Hardin County in the legislature; served as County commissioner, County judge, and some other local offices, and died in July 1901.

James P. Ferrill and Miss Mary Heyden were united in marriage on June 15, 1872, and to this marriage there have been born the following children: Charles F., a merchant; E. R., engaged on the river; Nellie, wife of Samuel Hosick, of Elizabethtown; James, at home. Those deceased are Rillie, Benjamin and John Henry.

[1905. Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley. Madison, Wis.: Federal Publishing Company. II:396-397]

Submitted by Jon Musgrave


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