WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
JOHN SOLOMON FERRIS
BIOGRAPHYJohn Solomon Ferris was born August 5, 1840 in Bellville, Richland County, Ohio. His family moved to Chequest, Van Buren County, Iowa and lived there until the 1860s.
In 1860, John's father deeded him 147 acres of wild land in Clark County, Iowa and John started farming. In 1861, he married Nancy Adelaide Salladay in Davis, Iowa.
In 1862, John started west, arriving in Salt Lake City in July of that year.
He went on to Nevada for six months and then returned to Iowa. He served in the Civil War as a private in Captain T.O. Norris' company of the Iowa Home Guards.
In 1868, Nancy left John and took their two children and went to live with her parents. John was very ill at the time. He went to see his wife and children and found she was engaged to remarry. Their divorce charged inhumanity.
In 1869, John left for Utah, arriving in November 1870. The next year he was baptized into the Mormon Church.
In 1875, John and Elijah Thomas of Leeds discovered silver in sandstone on the Buckeye Reef at Silver Reef. They staked a claim and started the Leeds Mine. But Pioche miners, knowing more of mining ways than locals, "jumped" the claims and John lost his rich Leeds claim.
In 1879 and 1880, John was involved in mining around Marysvale, Piute County, Utah Territory. After serving a mission to New Zealand from 1880-1883, John was involved with mining in Sevier and Iron Counties. Later, he had mining interests in Beaver and Piute Counties. He was an ardent student of geology and was one of the best known prospectors in the Utah Territory.
In 1889, John married Mrs. Martha Catherine Frederick Shoemaker Stoker Stevens as her fourth husband; they had three children together. Martha had divorced her second husband (Stoker) on grounds of desertion (but really her husband divorced her due to her corporal punishment of the children). Stoker took the older children and she kept the six-month old baby girl. When Martha died in 1896 (leaving John with three young children, soon adopted to other families), Mr. Stoker visited John and forced him to give up Martha's 13-year old girl.
John continued his mining interests in Washington County. On the 1900 census, John is a miner living in Springdale, boarding with Andrew Gregersen and his family. In 1902 he described finding a monster vein of uranium, gold, lead carbonides, and iron. Then in 1903, he discovered diamonds in the Bull Valley mountains in Washington County. He described stones as large as partridge eggs; he was working with a prominent jewelry house in Chicago.
In 1929, John retired as a prospector and geologist.
John suffered heat stroke in July of 1931 and died in Beaver on July 27, 1931.
REFERENCESJohn Solomon Ferris
A research report by Elaine Young, PhD.