W.N. Ferris Chronology

1853 - 1928

January 6, 1853
W.N. Ferris born in a log cabin four miles southeast of Spencer, Tioga County, New York. Son of John Ferris, Jr. and Stella Reed Ferris.

September 7, 1853
Helen Frances Gillespie, first wife, born in New Haven, New York.

November 15, 1869
W.N. Ferris begins teaching at a country school. He makes what he later called the greatest speech of his life: "I have come here to help you, boys and girls, if you will let me."

April 1870
W.N. Ferris begins attending the Owego Free Academy, Owego, New York.

February 14, 1871
W.N. Ferris enters Oswego Normal and Training School, Oswego, New York.

Autumn 1872
W.N. Ferris meets Helen Gillespie at Oswego.

Fall 1873
W.N. Ferris enters the medical school at the University of Michigan for one years' series of lectures.

April 1874
W.N. Ferris becomes principal of the Spencer Free Academy.

December 23, 1874
W.N. Ferris and Helen Frances Gillespie are married at her home in Fulton, New York.

September 1875
W.N. Ferris and N.B. Sherman open the Freeport Business College and Academy, operating it until April 1876.

April 1876
W.N. Ferris joins Dr. McKendrie Tooke's Rock River University as principal of the Normal Department.

September 18, 1876
Carleton Gillespie Ferris born in Dixon, Illinois.

September 1877
W.N. Ferris organizes, with Professor J.L. Hartwell, the Dixon Business College and Academy.

September 1879
W.N. Ferris begins work as superintendent of city schools of Pittsfield, Illinois, where he remains for five years.

June 3, 1881
Clifford Ferris born in Pittsfield, Illinois.

 September 20, 1881 
Clifford Ferris died in Pittsfield, Illinois.

 May 14, 1883
W.N. Ferris visits Big Rapids en route to Traverse City, looking for a place to start a new school.

May 16, 1884
W.N. and Helen Ferris with son Carleton arrive in Big Rapids.

September 1, 1884
The Big Rapids Industrial School opens in temporary quarters in the Vandersluis Block on South Michigan Avenue.

January 1885
The Big Rapids Industrial School moves to a permanent home at the northwest corner of Michigan and Maple streets.

April 16, 1889
Phelps Fitch Ferris born in Big Rapids, Michigan.

1890
W.N. Ferris begins giving lecture entitled "Making the World Better."

1892
Democrats of the Ninth Congressional District nominate W.N. Ferris for Congress; he is defeated by Dr. John Avery of Greenville.

Spring 1893
Work begins on a new building for the Ferris Industrial School on the southwest corner of Ives and Oak streets. The Northern National Bank of Big Rapids fails, taking money for the building with it. W.N. Ferris forced to borrow money to complete the building.

January 1894
The new building is dedicated.

1894
Ferris Industrial School incorporated.

1896
W.N. Ferris adds a heating plant. The Mecosta County Savings Bank fails, taking the money for the plant and money deposited by Ferris students with it. W.N. Ferris forced to borrow money to complete building.

1898
The name of Ferris Industrial School changed to Ferris Institute.

(Note: Re. Page 141, the Annual Report signed by W.N. Ferris June 30, 1898 states that the name was changed in 1898. The Big Rapids Pioneer of October 20, 1898 stated We like the new name "Institute." Incorporation occured in 1894.)

1901
Work begins on a pharmacy building. Helen Gillespie Ferris retires from teaching at Ferris Institute.

May 1, 1902
W.N. Ferris becomes president of the Big Rapids Savings Bank.

1904
W.N. Ferris nominated for Governor; he is defeated by Fred M. Warner of Farmington.

1908
W.N. Ferris refuses Democratic nomination for governor.

1912
Received honorary Master of Pedagogy, Michigan State Normal College/Eastern Michigan University.

November 5, 1912
W.N. Ferris elected Governor of Michigan.

January 1, 1913
W.N. Ferris inaugurated Governor of Michigan.

June 1913
Received honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Michigan.

November 3, 1914
W.N. Ferris reelected Governor of Michigan.

January 1, 1915
W.N. Ferris inaugurated Governor of Michigan for a second term.

March 23, 1917
Helen Gillespie Ferris dies.

1920
W.N. Ferris nominated for Governor by the Democrats; he is defeated by Alex Groesbeck of Detroit.

August 14, 1921
W.N. Ferris marries Mary Ethel McCloud of Indianapolis, Indiana.

November 7, 1922
W.N. Ferris elected United States Senator from Michigan, defeating incumbent Charles Townsend of Jackson.

June 15, 1924
Received honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Notre Dame.

March 23, 1928
W.N. Ferris dies in Washington, D.C.

March 28, 1928
W.N. Ferris interred, Ferris Mausoleum, Highland View Cemetery, Big Rapids, Michigan.