During the two months preceding Oct. 28, 1896, more than $80,000 was withdrawn from the Mecosta Savings Bank, and the second Big Rapids bank failed.
He handled the students' money as if the students were his own children, doling it out as their parents was fit.
Following the news, the citizens of Big Rapids began to question the effect the bank failure would have on Ferris' school. It was well known that Mr. Ferris was a heavy depositor. Actually his total deposit amounted to slightly less than $3,000, about $350 of which was student money. Mr. Ferris handled the students' money as if the students were his own children, doling it out to each as their parents saw fit. Because Mr. Ferris was not overly generous, the parents liked his system.
Mr. Ferris called a meeting of the faculty, telling them frankly of the condition of affairs and asking each to act as he or she must. Without exception, all pledged themselves to stand by him, even though it meant they might not get paid for a while.
Then he went to the students explaining the situation. He asked all those who would pledge their support to rise. The report of the incident says: "Every student sprang to his feet." He promised he would make good every dollar entrusted to him by the students, but no student pressured him to collect. He also explained that he had made his last deposit in the bank the afternoon before the failure.
Before the end of the year, W.N. Ferris was writing all the bank examiners he knew asking that he be given an accounting of the Mecosta Savings Bank.