THOMAS HORNSBY FERRIL AND FAMILY PAPERS
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The series are arranged chronologically by family member. Within each series, arrangement of material varies according to the type of material. For example, financial papers are arranged chronologically and correspondence is arranged alphabetically. Research notebooks containing numerous scattered entries are arranged chronologically while papers relating to speaking engagements are arranged alphabetically by the names of the institutions.
As publicity director for Great Western Sugar Company for over forty years, Ferril produced many company publications, artwork, articles and much correspondence. This series contains correspondence mostly dated after his retirement in 1968 as he tracked happenings at his former company.
Thomas Hornsby Ferril as a speaker is evidenced by the correspondence, programs, speech transcripts and flyers concerning the institutions that requested his services. Correspondence and newspaper clippings indicate that he also attended sessions presented by other speakers and participated in the proceedings.
Ferril kept personal diaries for sixty-six years that contain entries scattered throughout the volumes. Although not every page has an entry, there are considerable writings chronicling his life, providing a picture of life in Denver from the 1920s though the 1980s. Some of the major topics and people described in the diaries are included in the descriptions. Visits from notables like Dorothy Parker, Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost and Thomas Wolfe receive mention and are indexed on note cards prepared by Ferril.
Two 16mm films comprise a portion of the series providing examples of the works written, filmed and produced by Thomas Hornsby Ferril for the Great Western Sugar Company. A 33 1/3 sound recording includes Four Pastorales, music produced by Cecil Effinger for symphony orchestras based upon Thomas Hornsby Ferril poems. One 33 1/3 sound recording is unidentified.
An "intermittent switching" device, likely developed by Thomas Hornsby Ferril himself, is included and was used to make The GW Story, one of 16mm films.
Most negatives correspond to the photographs, but many images are different and unique as negatives. The PhotoEnvelopes contain nitrate negatives that are stored in the freezer to prevent deterioration. Access to them requires permission of an archivist and advance notice.
Thomas Johnson Ferril was married three times. On February 14, 1854, he married Minerva Hornsby (1832-1861), daughter of Brinkley Hornsby (1801-1877) and Esther Ann Falls (1800-1843) whose son, Columbus Hornsby, partnered with Ferril in the store near Lawrence. The Ferrils had two surviving children while living in Kansas: William Columbus Ferril and Mary Alice (Allie) Ferril (Trice, Coffin, Trice), born about 1857 and died in 1948. Minerva Hornsby died in 1861. Thomas Johnson Ferril married Cleopatra E. Lynch (1837-1877) on November 30, 1863 and Sallie T. Woodson Cleaver (1840-1905) in 1887. He died January 29, 1906 in Kansas City at the home of his daughter, Mary Alice Trice.
William Columbus Ferril was born August 28, 1855 near Lawrence, Kansas. After 1867, he resided in Missouri. He attended Lewis College in Glasgow, Missouri, and North Missouri State Normal, Kirksville, Missouri, graduating in 1876. Obtaining a position as a school principal in Bentonville, Arkansas from 1876-1877, he studied law in his spare time. Admitted to the Missouri Bar, he moved to Kansas City to practice law in 1878. Concerned about his health, he moved to Colorado in 1879. In Silver Cliff, Colorado, he mined and then became a reporter and editor for local newspapers: The Miner, Prospect and Republican. For a time, he was editor and part owner of Silver Cliff Daily Herald. Eugene Field, who wrote for the Denver Tribune, convinced him to move to Denver, Colorado, in 1883. Ferril was city editor and wrote news articles for the Denver Republican, The Denver Times, Colorado Sun, Sun-Times and the Rocky Mountain News. He wrote independently for the Kellogg and Bacheller Syndicates, publishing articles nationally and was a correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Kansas City Journal, the San Francisco Call, the Helena Independent and the Portland Oregonian.
In 1896, the Colorado Historical Society (then called the State Historical and Natural History Society) hired Ferril as their first curator. He held this position until 1910, gathering plant specimens, noting bird observations throughout the state, giving talks to students and acquiring historical collections. He subscribed to many Colorado newspapers, creating a collection of early Colorado publications. Ferril served as secretary of the Colorado Academy of Sciences from 1898 to 1909. In 1911, he edited and published a book, Sketches of Colorado. In 1912, he bought The Rocky Mountain Herald, a local paper that published all required legal advertisements, thus assuring income without having to cater to either advertisers or readers. This allowed Ferril to write about what he most cared about, local history. Ferril remained editor until his death on August 16, 1939. The paper featured regular columns by Ferril and poetry and artwork by his wife, Alice, and son, Thomas Hornsby. During the last two years of his life Ferril worked on an unpublished novel.
A lifelong genealogist, William Ferril collected information about his family history. He took notes from various family Bibles and wrote his relatives to gather stories about ancestors. William Ferril married Alice Lawton MacHarg (1867-1962) of Rome, New York, December 12, 1888. They first lived in Denver at 6 La Veta Place, then at 1550 Lafayette Street, moving to 2123 Downing Street in 1900 to live with Alice's Aunt Joanna MacHarg Palmer, wife of mining engineer, John Palmer. Alice and William had three children; Lucy Brainerd Ferril Ela (1890-1991), Harriet Peckham Ferril Potter (1893-1935) and Thomas Hornsby Ferril (1896-1988).
Born May 27, 1867, Alice MacHarg Ferril was the daughter of fly fishing equipment manufacturer John MacHarg (1823-1899) and Susan Noble MacHarg (1879-1923) of Rome, New York. She first came to Denver in 1886 to visit her aunt Joanna Palmer (1834-1922). After her marriage and permanent move to Denver, Alice Ferril wrote poetry and created artwork, winning the University of Denver Margaret Evans prize in 1889 for charcoal drawing. Many of her illustrations and poems were included in The Rocky Mountain Herald. Alice Ferril had two sisters, Cora (Tenie) MacHarg Jarvis and Susan MacHarg, and a brother, John B. MacHarg, who taught in high schools, at Hamilton College in New York, and at the University of Wisconsin. John B. MacHarg later acted as consultant for Eastman Kodak. He was credited with developing a cardboard frame for slides. Alice Ferril died June 3, 1962 at her home on Downing Street in Denver.
The most prominent member of the family, Thomas Hornsby Ferril, was born in Denver, February 25, 1896. In 1900, he moved with his family to his Great-Aunt Joanna Palmer's house at 2123 Downing Street where he remained for the rest of his life, except during college and World War I military service. Attending school at Whittier Elementary and East High School, Thomas Hornsby Ferril was a good student, though distracted by a desire to write poetry. His first published poem was in a New York newspaper when he was nine years old and he was known to write poetry on scraps of paper. Even while attending Colorado College, he scribbled poetry in the margins of his textbooks. His poems were regularly published in his father's Rocky Mountain Herald. By the beginning of World War I, Ferril was also publishing poems in Literary Digest. He continued his writing of poems during his stint at the U.S. Army Artillery Radio Training School from 1917 to 1919.
Thomas Hornsby Ferril completed training in 1918 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He returned to Denver where, in 1919, he worked as a police reporter for The Denver Times. He became Dramatic Editor in 1920. He submitted weekly poems to the Rocky Mountain News. In 1921, he was hired as a movie and play critic by the independent Bishop-Cass Theatres Company.
Unsure of his future, Thomas Hornsby Ferril searched for employment that would provide enough income to support his family. A Cactus Club friend, William Lippitt, hired him to work for Great Western Sugar Company as publicity director from 1926 to 1968. He wrote, published and edited newsletters and yearbooks as well as filmed, produced and wrote the scripts for numerous motion pictures to promote the company.
In the meantime, Thomas Hornsby Ferril continued to write poetry. His first book, High Passage, was published by Yale University Press in 1926. In 1927, he won The Nation's poetry prize. Ferril published five more poetry books: Westering (1934), Trial by Time (1942), New and Selected Poems (1952), Words for Denver (1966), and Anvil of Roses (1982). He also published two prose books: I Hate Thursday (1946) and The Rocky Mountain Herald Reader (co-authored with Helen Ferril) in1966.
Thomas Hornsby Ferril taught
The Writing and Appreciation of Poetryat the University of Denver from 1935 into the 1940s. He wrote a column entitled
Western Half-Acrefor Harper's in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1973, the Rocky Mountain News hired him to write occasional columns.
When William C. Ferril died in 1939, he left The Rocky Mountain Herald to Helen Ferril, Thomas Hornsby Ferril's wife. She managed the legal advertising and wrote columns and articles for the front page. Thomas Hornsby Ferril wrote a weekly column under the pen name "Childe Herald" and numerous articles for the publication from 1939 until 1972. As the paper's main source of income was legal advertisements, Ferril was free to write about whatever interested him at any given point of time. He called his columns "time capsules" and many became journalistic classics.
Thomas Hornsby Ferril received wide recognition for his poetry and for his columns and articles. His play in verse, ...And Perhaps Happiness, received a $10,000 Denver Post prize in 1957. It was produced (though partially rewritten by others) as a play at the Central City Opera House in 1958. In 1960, he received the first Robert Frost award for poetry from the Poetry Society of America. In 1979, Governor Richard Lamm appointed him Poet Laureate of Colorado. He was sought after as a speaker as well as a poetry teacher. His home at 2123 Downing Street was designated a Denver Landmark in 1973 and a National Historic Landmark in 1978. After Ferril's death, his daughter sold his home to Historic Denver for one dollar. (In 2011, the Ferril House was owned by Colorado Humanities who explored selling the building.)
Thomas Hornsby Ferril married Helen Drury Ray October 5, 1921 in Granville, Ohio. They had one child, a daughter, Anne Milroy Ferril (Folsom), in 1922 in Denver. Thomas Hornsby Ferril died on October 1988 at the age of 92.
Helen Drury Ray Ferril was born October 31, 1897 in Columbus, Ohio to Franklin A. Ray (1862-1938), professor of Mining Engineering at Ohio State University and Pauline Ray (Zaugg) who trained as a nurse. Helen Ray Ferril attended Denison University at Granville, Ohio, majoring in voice (light opera). After graduation, she attended Nursing School at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago, graduating as a Registered Nurse in 1920. After her wedding with Thomas Hornsby Ferril, she resided in Denver, joining many local organizations until she became owner and editor of The Rocky Mountain Herald. In addition to co-authoring The Rocky Mountain Herald Reader in 1966, Helen Ferril published two editions of The Indoor Bird Watcher's Manual illustrated by her daughter, Anne Ferril Folsom. After a series of strokes and many years of ill health, Helen Ferril died February 22, 1978 in Denver.
Lucy Ferril Ela, Thomas Hornsby Ferril's oldest sister, was born in Rome, New York, in 1890. She attended Denver's East High School and Colorado College. Lucy Ferril married Wendell Dennett (Dent) Ela (1890-1959) on June 15, 1914 in Denver. They lived in Grand Junction, Colorado where "Dent" Ela managed a bank and served as Mayor for one term during the 1950s. Their sons were: Dennett Keith Ela (1915-2005); Wendell Phillips Ela (who died while serving during World War II in 1945 on Okinawa, Japan); Thomas F. Ela (1917-2003); William M. Ela (about 1924- ) and Charles S. Ela (about 1929- ) . Wendell (Dent) Ela died in 1959. Lucy Ela died in 1991.
Thomas Hornsby Ferril's other sister, Harriett, was born in Denver in 1893. She attended East High School graduating in 1909 and graduated from Colorado College in 1915. She married George Potter (1891-1979) from Lafayette, Indiana April 9, 1918. George Potter's parents were wealthy, but never trusted their only son to manage money. George and Harriet Potter had three children, Patricia, William and Frances. George Potter's father, William Potter, died in 1929. He appointed George as his executor. Frances Potter, George's mother, entrusted him briefly with her fortune, but George angered her by denying her personal use of her money. When Frances Potter died in 1932, she left her fortune to her daughter-in-law, Harriet, and the children. George sued to break the will. He did not succeed legally, but weakened Harriet's health. She died on February 11, 1935 in Lafayette, Indiana. Afterwards, the three children struggled to continue relationships with their uncle, Thomas Hornsby Ferril.
Anne Milroy Ferril was born August 12, 1922 in Denver to Thomas and Helen. She attended Graland School, Kent Academy and the University of Colorado, graduating in 1942. She married MacGregor Folsom in 1941 while attending the University of Colorado.
MacGregor Folsom was born in Denver March 4, 1919 to Harold Folsom (about 1876-1931) and Priscilla Violet Pilgrim Folsom (1895-1968). The couple moved to Colorado after a scandal of an illegitimate baby and his divorce in New Hampshire where Harold Folsom had been rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Portsmouth. Harold Folsom became a teacher at West Denver High School. MacGregor Folsom had three brothers, Robert Brayman, Thomas Folsom and Morrill (Junie) Folsom.
MacGregor Folsom attended East High School, graduating in 1936. He worked for a year and attended the University of Colorado, graduating in 1942. During World War II, he served in India, Burma and China as a Medical Administrative Captain in the Army Air Corps. After the war, he worked for The Rocky Mountain Herald. In 1946, he moved to New York City where he worked on the editorial staff of the Publishers' Weekly and the American Publishing Council from 1946 to 1950. He also received a Master's Degree and studied for a Ph.D. in American History at Columbia University. In 1951, he moved to California. In Berkeley, Folsom worked for the Industrial Insurance Company. He retired at age 55 as a vice-president. He wrote five unpublished books; Strike Through the Mask; Ishmael's Journey, semi-autobiographical fiction; The Historical Imagination; High Road to Chittagong; and An Almanac of Endings.
Anne Ferril Folsom illustrated her father's I Hate Thursday in 1946. She collaborated on the two editions of Indoor Guide to Bird-Watching, published The Care and Training of Husbands in 1950 and, in 1976, published The American Bestiary. She also had numerous exhibitions of her artwork and jewelry and frequently sold illustrations and articles to journals.
Anne and MacGregor Folsom had two daughters, Cameron Folsom (Olen) and Dana Folsom (Milton). They divorced in 1982. Afterwards, Anne Folsom lived with Garth Hite. MacGregor Folsom returned to Denver in 1981. He married Else Willett on March 12, 1983. They lived in Evergreen, Colorado, moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1998. MacGregor Folsom died October 31, 2007 in Santa Fe. Anne Ferril Folsom died June 18, 2008 in Berkeley, California.
11 OVBoxes, 8 OVFolios, 3 OVFF
3 AVBoxes, 1 AVEnvelope
10 PhotoBoxes, 5 PhotoOVBoxes, 2 PhotoOVFF, 35 PhotoEnvelopes
5 reels ilm (Mflm 206)
Language of Materials
Other Finding Aids
Oversize: 11 OVBoxes, 8 OVFolios, 3 OVFF
Audio-Visual: 3 AVBoxes, 1 AVEnvelope
Photographs: 10 PhotoBoxes, 5 PhotoOVBoxes, 2 PhotoOVFF, 35 PhotoEnvelopes
Microfilm: 5 reels (Mflm 206)
- American poetry -- Colorado. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Business records. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Correspondence. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Family papers. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Ferril, Alice Lawton McHarg, -- 1867-1962 -- Archives.
- Ferril, Alice MacHarg, -- 1867-1962 -- Archives.
- Ferril, Helen Ray -- 1897-1978 -- Archives.
- Ferril, T. J. -- (Thomas Johnson), -- 1831-1906 -- Archives.
- Ferril, Thomas Hornsby, -- 1896-1988 -- Archives.
- Ferril, William Columbus, -- 1855-1939 -- Archives.
- Folsom, Anne Ferril, -- 1922-2008 -- Archives.
- Folsom, MacGregor, -- 1919-2007 -- Archives.
- Great Western Sugar Company.
- MacHarg, Susan, -- 1879-1923 -- Archives.
- Manuscripts (document genre). Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Newspaper editors -- Colorado -- Denver -- 20th century. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Photographs. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Poets laureate -- Colorado. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Poets, American -- Colorado. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Potter, Harriet Ferril -- 1893-1935 -- Archives.
- THOMAS HORNSBY FERRIL AND FAMILY PAPERS
- AUGUST 2012
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