John F. Ferrell

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
“John “Bill” Wheeler”
December 6, 1999

The History of West Virginia. Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume ll.,
pg. 111

John F. Ferrell. An interesting example of the power of hard work and
continuous energy in molding the destiny of the individual and also of other
persons and affairs around him is the career of John F. Ferrell, of Logan. The
sphere of his activities has been the timber and lumber industry. There was
probably no part of the heavy labor involved in logging among these West
Virginia hills which escaped his early experience. It is literally true that he
has come up from the ranks to the present responsibilities as general manager
and one of the owners of the Logan Planing Mill, one of the largest industries
of its kind in this part of the state.
Mr. Ferrell was born at his father’s farm at Chapmanville, April 28, 1878,
son of B.C. and Sarah (Dingess) Ferrell. His mother, who is still living, at the
age of sixty-six, was born on Crawley Creek, six miles from Chapmanville,
daughter of John Dingess, a native of the same locality who died while a soldier
in the confederate Army. At one time the Dingess family owned all the land from
the present location of Logan to the mouth of Big Creek. B.C. Ferrell, who died
in January, 1909, at the age of fifty-five, was born at Chapmanville, son of
Samuel Ferrell. who came from Russell County, Virginia, in 1841, and acquired a
large amount of valuable land in these valleys. The original homestead of the
Ferrells is still owned in the family. Samuel Ferrell was opposed to slavery,
was a consistent member of the Christian Church, and the camp meeting grounds
of that denomination were on his land. He was a strong republican. B.C. Ferrell
was a farmer, stock raiser and dealer. and before the days of railroads he
drove his stock over the mountains to market in Roane County. He was a member of
the Christian Church and was a democrat. Samuel Ferrell had a family of five
sons and one daughter. Besides B.C. another son, Squire died at the age of sixty
years. The three living sons are O.F.,L.B., and R.L., and the daughter, Nancy
Jane, is the wife of John Godby, all prosperous farmers. B.C. Ferrell and wife
had a large family of sons and daughters; John F., the oldest; Roxie, wife of
O.C. Winter of Huntington a traveling salesman; W.V., at the old home place;
Sarah Ann, who died at the age of fifteen; Wallace E., traveling representative
for the Logan Planing Mill and a resident of Huntington; Mary, wife of A.S.
Christian, living at the old Dingess place at the mouth Crawley Creek; Belle,
wife of Kyler Porter, an operator for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad at
Chapmanville; Peter M., living with his mother at Chapmanville; and Julia, who
died at the age of three.
John F. Ferrell grew up at Chapmanville, acquired his early schooling there,
but his better education has been achieved since he married and is due to his
application to business and also to studies taken up and carried on in the
intervals of other work. He was only fifteen when he went to work in the timber,
felling trees, sawing the logs, and his own labor has helped remove the timber
from extensive portions from Elk Creek and Big Ugly Creek. Mr. Ferrell has
owned probably twenty saw mills, and during the period of the great war he
operated five mills of his own. The company owning and operating the Logan
Planing Mill was organized January 11, 1916, and acquired the property formerly
known as the Lawson Planing Mill. Mr. Ferrell from the first has been active
manager of the plant. They are manufacturers of building material, consisting of
yellow pine from the long leafed district of the South, fir and fruit from the
Northeast, and also native timber. While much of the output is consumed locally,
this is one of the firms that do a heavy export business, selling export as far
away as Australia.
Mr. Ferrell while a member and chairman of the School Board in Chapmanville
District was certainly responsible in no small degree for the fine schools
established and maintained there. On May 9. 1899, at the age of twenty-one, he
married Miss Dekia Garrett, daughter of Rev. W.G. Garrett, who was a widely
known minister of the Christian Church in this section. Mr. and Mrs. Ferrell
are the parents of eight children. The daughter Garrett is the wife of Walter
T. Mitchell, an overseas veteran, and they are now in Prescott, Arizona, where
Mr. Mitchell is recovering from illness contracted during the war. The other
children are all in the home circle and their names are Jane, Ruth, Eloise,
Sarah, James, John and Iola. An adopted son, Roy was killed on the battle front
in France, November 9, 1918, just two days before the signing of the armistice.
Mr. and Mrs. Ferrell are members of the Christian Church and he is a past
grand of the Independent Order of the Odd fellows at Logan, belongs to the Elks
and is a democrat. He resides at 825 Ninth Street, West Huntington, West
Mr. Ferrell at the time of his marriage had a cash capital of $7.55. Out of
this he paid five dollars to the minister for performing the ceremony. They
bought their housekeeping outfit on credit, and restricted themselves to the
essentials, buying only half a set of knives, forks, plates and cups and
saucers. Their bedstead cost $2.50, and it was equipped with a shuck mattress,
while his mother gave them a feather bed. Mr. and Mrs. Ferrell have been real
partners in every phase of their married life. For two years Mr. Ferrell did
the heavy manual toil of the timber work, also worked inside. At that time he
owned four mules, and he would get into the timber with his teams before
daylight and continue until long after dark. Mrs. Ferrell fed the team when he
returned home and also the following morning before he started out. It was as a
result of such co-operation that they got their start.