James B. McFerran came from a long line of paternal James’, his grandfather emigrating from Ireland in 1761. In the 1870 Census of Boyle County, James, 28, was living with his parents, James M. and Ruth Brown McFerran. He is listed as a lawyer, as well as his 24-year-old brother, William. In the 1880 Census, four years after his marriage to Mattie Davis, the couple are listed as boarders in a hotel in Danville, run by J. P. Thorel, and with them lives their 3-year-old daughter, Lela B.
Our story takes a sad turn as James B. McFerran died in Louisville, May 26, 1893, from hydatid cysts of the liver and spleen. This was a parasitic infestation that is rather rare, especially to form in the spleen, as only 4% of cases do. This is endemic in farming areas, and we know he came from a large farming family, as did his wife’s family. Wife Mattie lived another 57 years. She died May 22, 1944, and is buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Danville, Section 4, Lot 13, with her husband and other family members.
Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, 1887
Boyle County, Kentucky
James B. McFerran was born September 17, 1841, in Boyle County, Kentucky, and is the third of six sons and four daughters born to James M. and Ruth (Brown) McFerran. James M. McFerran was born November 26, 1809, two miles south of Danville; was a large farmer and trader in stock; served as justice for twenty-four years, and represented his county one term in the lower house of the Kentucky Legislature, and died September 17, 1884. He was a son of James McFerran, who was born in Ireland, July 16, 1757, and came to the United States with his parents when a lad of four years, and settled in Botetourt County, Virginia; when a young man about eighteen or twenty, he migrated, and located four miles south of Danville and became a substantial farmer and slave owner. He married Elizabeth Young, of Lincoln County, and died in 1835, aged seventy-eight years. He was the son of Martin McFerran, who came to Virginia from Ireland with his three sons, John, James and Martin, before the war for independence. His religion was Presbyterian. Mrs. Ruth (Brown) McFerran was born in Franklin County, Kentucky, in 1811, a daughter of Scott and Lucy (Monday) Brown, of Scotch descent. She died September 26, 1855. Scott Brown was a large farmer, and served as magistrate and sheriff of Franklin County.
James B. McFerran graduated from Centre College in the class of 1862; was a trader until 1867, when he began the study of law. In the winter of 1867-1868 he attended the law school at Louisville, and was soon after admitted to the bar at Danville, where he had an excellent practice. He has served as master commissioner four years, and also represented his county in the Kentucky Legislature in 1873-1874. In 1883 he located on a farm of 200 acres, two miles south of Danville. He was married May 17, 1876, to Miss Mattie Davis, daughter of James H. and Mattie (Alexander) Davis, the former a native of Garrard, and the latter a native of Mercer Count, Kentucky. James H. Davis located in Boyle County about 1852, and became a leading farmer and breeder of shorthorns. He had the reputation of having the finest herd of shorthorns in the state, realizing fabulous prices, but paying as high as $5,000 for a single bull. He was a son of Asel and Sarah (Tucker) Davis, from Virginia.
Mr. and Mrs. McFerran have one bright daughter to bless their home. In politics he is a Democrat, and is now engaged in the practice of his profession at Danville.