Leaves From the Ferris Family Tree

The lineage of Jeffrey Ferris in America

Two Remarkable Ferris Women

While continuing my research into the Jeffrey Ferris lineage in America, I came across to Ferris women who struck me as unique and quite remarkable. They have nothing in common but their first name, Phoebe. I thought you might find them as interesting as I have.

Dr. Phoebe Annie Ferris (1868-1945)
This Ferris woman was one of a number of Ferrises who made their homes in the Syracuse, NY. area. Her gravestone reads “Annie”.

In 1902, Annie received her medical degree from Syracuse University and undertook a one year internship at New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston.

In 1905, she moved to Butte, Montana, and established a medical practice. There were a number of other Ferrises living in the Butte area at the time. She practiced there until about 1918.

A Methodist, as so many Ferrises were, she heard the call to mission work from other Methodist women. She volunteered and was accepted to a medical position at the Mrs. William Butler Memorial Hospital, located in Baroda, Gujarat, India. Other than for furloughs, she spent the next 18 years serving the people of India. She was instrumental in improving nurses training and in having living quarters built for the nurses at the hospital.

In 1931, she retired and went to live with her bachelor brother, Charles, in Los Angeles. Annie never married. Her years toiling in the vineyard for the Master makes her a remarkable Ferris woman.


Phoebe Ferris (1826-1896)

This Phoebe was part of the Ferris clan who settled in and around the area that would become Cincinnati, Ohio, shortly after the Revolutionary War. I haven’t found much about her life. In her later years, she lived with her brother, Andrew’s, family on the family farm in Madisonville. The farm was quite large and at some point Phoebe inherited some or all of it.

On that farm was an area that the locals called “the pottery field”. In and around the farm were earthen works, mounds, that clearly pre-dated the arrival of Europeans in the area.

In her will, Pheobe left about 25 acres of that site to Harvard University, for their study. It was a gift of immense value to archeologists.

In History of Hamilton County, Ohio, beginning at page 264, is a discussion of the finds made at the site. The author also notes, with the same amazement I had on reading, the size of trees found in the site. Why? The trees began to grow after the original natives abandoned the place, and their size is an indication of the time that had passed since that event.

Two hundred yards no’rth of the Pottery field are several small tumuli. The largest has a circumference at base of about one hundred feet, height five and one-half feet; this mound has been dug into, but not yet explored. The Pottery Field, and also the tumulus, are situated in sections nine, Columbia township, in what is known as Ferris’ woods, in ‘Still Home Hollow.’ The largest trees on the Pottery Field measure as follows: A walnut, fifteen and one-half feet in circumference; an oak, twelve feet in circumference; a maple, nine and one-half feet in circumference, and an elm twelve feet in circumference.

The dig site is called the Madisonville Site or the Mariemont Embankment and Village Site. The site is the ruins of a Fort Ancient community, called “mound builders”. The culture existed in the Midwest from about 1000 to 1600 A.D. It is believed that military activity by the Iroquois destroyed their civilization.

Wikipedia has this to say about the Madisonville Site.

Researchers found a large amount of goods of non-local materials and design, indicating the villagers were connected to a large exchange network, with items identified as from the St. Lawrence River region, eastern present-day Iowa, and northern Alabama, as well as Tennessee. The size and limited range of European goods indicated they came from an indirect network at this time, rather than in direct trading. People at Madisonville made distinctive snake-shaped ornaments, which have been found at other sites as distant as Iroquois settlements in Ontario, Canada and western present-day New York.

Through her donation of land to Harvard, Phoebe Ferris opened the door to an extraordinary chapter in Native American history. How she came to do this remains unclear, but that she did makes her a remarkable Ferris woman.

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