John Ferguson was born circa 1730 in Prince Georges County, Maryland. To date I have found no records to indicate the name of his father or his mother's maiden name, however there is a court record of a deed dated June 27, 1774 that a widow, Catherine Ferguson of Prince Georges County, Maryland sold to Catherine Lanham wife of William Lanham and granddaughter of said Catherine Ferguson one negro girl named Lucy who was 2 years old. Catherine Ferguson Lanham was the oldest daughter of John Ferguson, so one can conclude that Catherine Ferguson, widow, is John's mother. There is an additional Maryland record that gives William Lanham as ďa well beloved friendĒ of Catherine Ferguson of Frederick County, Maryland power of attorney to collect debts. Of note in Bernard L. Butcher's book, "Genealogical and Personal History of the Upper Monongahela Valley," is a story that the Ferguson's are direct descendants of Alexander Ferguson, laird of Craigdarrock, Scotland and Annie Laurie of the Maxwellton House who is celebrated in the Scottish song, "Maxwellton Braes are Bonnie" or more commonly known as "Annie Laurie."
In 1755 John Ferguson married Bathsheba (Basheba, Bersheba) Griffith and began to raise a family in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Bathsheba was born circa 1734 and was also from Prince Georges County. Her parents were Samuel and Anne Skinner Griffith. Both the Griffith and Skinnner families trace back to the mid 1600's in Maryland.
John was a farmer with considerable property and slaves. The Ferguson's raised seven known children that were listed in Johnís will. There is a possibility of another son, William. He is not named in Johnís will, but there are Monongalia County records of him. He is listed as ďliving out of state.Ē
Records of the Revolutionary War indicate that John Ferguson served as a private with the Maryland militia. He would have been around 50 years old at the time of the war. There is no other information regarding John's service in the Maryland militia since John and Bathsheba both died before the 1832 Act of Congress granting Revolutionary War veterans pensions. He does have a record for 1776 in the Maryland census, so he did not begin his service until 1777.
In 1777 the three oldest daughters married and by 1783 only Margaret and John were living at home with John and Bathsheba.
The Ferguson's decided to move west in the mid 1780's and by 1786, "John Forgoson" had purchased 400 acres on Decker's Creek in Monongalia County, Virginia. This area is located in present day Morgantown, West Virginia. In addition to the this piece of property, John also owned 200 acres ďeast of his landĒ, 440 acres on Three Fork Creek, 100 acres south of Deckerís Creek extending from Deckerís Creek to Aarons Creek, and a tavern on Lot 11 in Morgans Town owned jointly with his son in law, Farquier McRa.
Four of John and Bathsheba's married daughters and their families also relocated in Morgantown. These were the families of William and Catherine Ferguson Lanham, William and Rebecca Ferguson Wilson, Joseph and Ann Skinner Ferguson Wilson and Farquier and Susannah Ferguson McRa. Only one daughter, Vialindo Ferguson Beall (Bell) stayed in Maryland.
The Ferguson's farm was considered a plantation and according to the 1787 tax return for Monongalia County, John had 6 black slaves working for him. He also owned 5 horses and 7 cows.
There are no other records of the Ferguson family until John's death in 1796. In a will dated December 4, 1793, John left all his worldly goods to his wife and children. This included a plantation on Decker's Creek and three slaves. It is presumed that he his buried in Morgantown. The exact location of his grave is unknown and with time the stone has probably been destroyed.
Bathsheba continued to live on the plantation with her daughter Peggy and son John. In 1798 a male slave belonging to Bathsheba was involved in a court case which lead to the first hanging in Monongalia County. A slave girl was found guilty of burning her master's barn along with a male slave named Will, who was owned by Bathsheba Ferguson. The girl was hanged and Will, who was accused as an accessory to the crime, was burnt on the hand and received thirty lashes.
Bathsheba died at about the age of 66 during 1799 or early 1800. Monongalia County court records show many entries concerning the will and dissolution of the Ferguson estate. It should be noted that Bathsheba signed her own name to her will in 1799 which was certainly not common for women in the late 1700's. William Lanham and Farquier McRa, two of Bathsheba's son-in-law's, were the executors. The first court document was recorded in 1802 and claims continued to be filed for and against the estate until after 1807.
Children of John Ferguson and Bathsheba Griffith:
Ferguson Dress Tartan
Motto--Sweeter after Difficulties
Thank you to Robert Poole Wilkins who shared his family research.
Check out the lyrics of "Annie Laurie"
Clan Ferguson Site #1 and Clan Ferguson Site #2
Updated: March, 2011
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