Mission to India

Maharajah of Kohlapur visiting the British residency in 1894

Photograph of the 19-year old Maharajah of Kohlapur visiting the British residency in his state, 1894. He is shown here with the Resident and his staff. British residents had ruled the state from 1884, when the Maharaja ascended the throne. British Library photo in the public domain.

This is the story of the Rev. George Henry Ferris (1853-1894) and his wife, Lucy Hall Ferris (1854-?). The Rev is the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Jeffrey Ferris through his son, James. Like his fifth cousin, once removed, Dr. Phoebe Annie Ferris

, he was called to minister in India.

This Ferris was born amid a cluster of Ferris kin in Hillsdale County, MI, in 1853. He married Lucy July 2, 1878.

Ferris attended Princeton College and graduated in 1874. He went on the Auburn Theological Seminary and graduated in 1878.

In 1879 he and his wife arrived in India where he would serve for the rest of his life. After the 1880 rainy season, the couple was sent to the Presbyterian mission at Panhala. The community, today, is 18 km northwest of Kolhapur, in Kolhapur district in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

There was no doctor or hospital at the Panhala mission but a stockpile of medicines of the time were kept on hand for distribution. “Mr. Ferris estimates that during 1883 he gave medicine to about 2,000 persons.”

Ferris’s biography is found on page 99 of the above book.

In Indian Notes for April, which by the way is an interesting little native paper, there is an account of Mr Ferris who died at Poona March 7 1894 by Emma Stewart. He was born at Hillsdale, Mich, December 1853 and was a graduate of Princeton College and of Auburn Theological Seminary. He offered himself to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church and was appointed to Kolhapur, Western India, which he joined with his wife in 1879. Mrs Ferris is supported by the Presbyterial Society of New Castle Presbytery. His death occurred suddenly after a short illness and away from home as he had gone to Bombay on business connected with his office as treasurer of the mission and falling ill while there was unable to go further than Poona on his way home. He was buried at Kolhapur in the Mission cemetery. July 24, 1894

History of Auburn, NY

During their sixteen years of service to the mission at Panhala, about 300 miles southeast of Bombay, Rev. and Mrs. Ferris learned Marathi, an Indo-Aryan language of the Marathi people of western India. They translated leaflets, tracts and portions of the Bible into that language.

On only one occasion did the Ferrises return to the United States for a visit. “The distance from home and the dangers to which she had been exposed in a land so full of injurious climatic influences, noxious reptiles and beasts of prey, made her return in the summer of 1889, with her husband and four children [Chauncy, Ralph, Herbert and Phoebe Ruth], born in India, all in safety and good health, an event of sufficient importance in the family to be celebrated in some special manner,” according to a printed remembrance of the event.

Rev. and Mrs. Ferris returned to India, leaving their three sons in the care of Rev. and Mrs. E.M. Wheny


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  1. Temple Ferris Smith

    My grand father was Ralph Hall Ferris, so of George H. Ferris. Four years ago my family, Karen, Ellery and Adler visited
    Panhala India and walk the olde mission grounds, including one of the buildings in front of which I have of picture of
    Lucy Hall Ferris with Phoebe Ruth. My mother Ruth Ferris was Ralph’s only daughter.


  2. Cynthia J. Frederickson Herron

    Herbert was my Great Grandfather, his daughter Lucy was my Grandmother. My dad was Carl Frederick Frederickson

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