James Fergus

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James Fergus
James Fergus, ca 1885[1]
Born Lanarkshire, Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Occupation Businessman, Cattleman, Miner, Politician

James Fergus (October 8, 1813 – June 5, 1902) was a miner, rancher, businessman and politician in Minnesota and Montana.

Early life[edit]

Fergus was born in 1813 in Lanarkshire, Scotland. He immigrated to the United States via Canada in 1835. He was one of the founders of Little Falls, Minnesota and later founded Fergus Falls, Minnesota[2] and Fergus County, Montana.[3][4]


James obtained his citizenship in October, 1842.[5] Soon after this, he became further interested in politics. In 1856, he was elected Judge of Probate for Morrison County, Minnesota Territory (home to Little Falls), and two years later, he served a two-year term as Morrison County Treasurer.[5] In 1869, Fergus was appointed to a vacant seat as county commissioner of Lewis and Clark County, Montana. In 1873 and in 1875 he served as a precinct chairman for the Republican Party.[4] In 1879 he represented Fergus county for the Territorial House of Representatives.[4] Fergus was instrumental to the Republican party in Montana, as chairman and through his writings in local newspapers.


In 1895, James Fergus and Andrew Fergus expanded their business operation and created a family corporation named Fergus Livestock and Land Company, which became one of biggest ranching operations in central Montana.[3] Their ranch was located on Armells Creek in northeastern Fergus County. Untimely deaths of James and Andrew, plus the Great Depression, caused the sale of this exceptional ranch.


Fergus died June 5, 1902.[4]


He was posthumously inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame (District 6).


  1. ^ Leeson, Michael A. (1885). History of Montana, 1739–1885. A History Of Its Discovery And Settlement, Social And Commercial Progress, Mines And Miners, Agriculture And Stock-Growing, Schools And Societies, Indians And Indian Wars, Vigilantes, Courts Justice, Newspaper Press, Navigation, Railroads And Statistics, Histories Of Counties, Cities, Villages And Mining Camps; Also, Personal Reminiscences Of Great Historic Value; Views Of The Territory In Our Times, And Portraits Of Pioneers And Representative Men In The Professions And Trades. Chicago: Warner Beers and Company. p. 134.
  2. ^ Upham, Warren (1920). Minnesota Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance. Minnesota Historical Society. p. 394.
  3. ^ a b Guide to the James Fergus Papers at the University of Montana
  4. ^ a b c d James Fergus: The Grand Old Man of Montana
  5. ^ a b James Fergus