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Woodbridge Nathan Ferris

woodbridge nathan ferris président, woodbridge nathan ferris
1 Helen Frances Gillespie

2 Mary Ethel McLoud Alma mater Oswego Normal Training School
University of Michigan

Woodbridge Nathan Ferris January 6, 1853 – March 23, 1928 was an American educator from New York, Illinois and Michigan, as well as Democratic statesman and the 28th Governor of Michigan 1913–1917


  • 1 Early life in New York, Michigan and Illinois
  • 2 Life and politics in Michigan
  • 3 Death
  • 4 Additional reading
  • 5 See also
  • 6 External links

Early life in New York, Michigan and Illinoisedit

Ferris was born to John Ferris Jr and Estella Reed Ferris in a log cabin near Spencer, New York and attended the academies of Spencer, Candor, and Owego see autobiography posted on Ferris State University Webpage Owego and Oswego are frequently confused, and the Oswego Normal Training School now State University of New York at Oswego from 1870–1873 He went to the medical department of the University of Michigan from 1873–1874

In April 1874, Ferris returned to his home state and on December 23 in Fulton he married Helen Frances Gillespie born September 7, 1853 The couple had three sons; Carleton Gillespie 1876–1961, Clifford Wendell 1881, died just after three months, and Phelps Fitch 1889–1935 Ferris taught at Spencer Academy from 1874-1875

He then moved to Freeport, Illinois and became principal of the Freeport Business College and Academy from 1875–1876 and then principal of the Normal Department of the Rock River University, 1876-77 Then he taught in Dixon, Illinois where he was also co-founder of the Dixon Business College and Academy, 1877-1879 Ferris then became superintendent of schools in Pittsfield, Illinois from 1879-1884

Life and politics in Michiganedit

Ferris then settled in Big Rapids, Michigan, where in 1884 he established the Ferris Industrial School which became Ferris State University There he received the nickname The Big Rapids Schoolmaster, and served as president until his death He was also president of the Big Rapids Savings Bank

In 1892, he was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate from the 11th district to the 53rd Congress to serve in the US House, being defeated by John Avery In 1904, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Michigan against Republican Fred M Warner In 1912, he was a delegate to Democratic National Convention which nominated Woodrow Wilson for US President

Ferris was elected Governor of Michigan in 1912, becoming the first Democratic governor of that state in twenty years, and served from 1913–1917 During his tenure, a farm colony for epileptics was established, as well as the Central Michigan Tuberculosis Sanatorium, and the bitter Copper Country Strike of 1913-1914 occurred In 1916, he was again a delegate to Democratic National Convention which nominated President Woodrow Wilson for re-election He also received the nickname, Good Gray Governor On March 23, 1917, less than three months after leaving office, his wife Helen died after 43 years of marriage

In 1920, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor, being defeated by Alex Groesbeck On August 14, 1921, he married Mary E McCloud 1882–1954

In 1922, Ferris was elected to the United States Senate; he served alongside Republican James Couzens beginning March 4, 1923 As a senator and former teacher, Ferris supported the establishment of a federal Department of Education In 1924, Ferris was again a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and was, for the first time, named by his fellow delegates as a candidate for the presidential nomination After receiving 30 votes on the first ballot, which placed his candidacy in eighth place, Ferris's prospects faded and his delegates turned to other candidates The Convention eventually nominated John W Davis, who lost to Calvin Coolidge


Exactly eleven years after his first wife died, Ferris died in office in Washington, DC at the age of seventy-five and is interred at Highlandview Cemetery of Big Rapids along with his first wife, Helen, and his 2 sons Carleton and Phelps He died from complications of pneumonia on March 23, 1928

Additional readingedit

  • Fuller, George, Ed, Messages of the Governors of Michigan, Volume 4 East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press ISBN 0-87013-723-9; ISBN 978-0-87013-723-5

See alsoedit

  • List of United States Congress members who died in office 1900–49

External linksedit

United States Congress "FERRIS, Woodbridge Nathan id: F000092" Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 

  • National Governors Association
  • Political Graveyard
  • Find a Grave
  • Autobiography at Ferris State University
  • Biography at Ferris State University
Political offices
Preceded by
Chase Osborn
Governor of Michigan
Succeeded by
Albert Sleeper
US Senate
Preceded by
Charles E Townsend
US Senator Class 1 from Michigan
Succeeded by
Arthur H Vandenberg

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