Hempstead Co., Ark.
Excerpts from the Washington Press.
Washington, Hempstead Co., Ark. Sat. 20 Feb. 1886

     The author of this column was John Williams, a grandson of the
John Williams who came from Cumberland Co., Ky. to Hempstead Co., Ark.
with Elijah Ferguson in 1830. Elijah was a brother to Henry Wood and
Ellis Ferguson and a son of William and Judah (Wood) Ferguson, as can
be determined by evidence here and elsewhere in these books.

     These papers embrace an account of an encounter between a brother
of the late Elijah  Ferguson and a rabid panther, written from the dim
recollection of the story as I had heard it many years ago. As I
suspected it contained some inaccuracies and I am indebted to A.B.
Williams of Washington for a correct version of this account.

Corrected Version of the Panther Story.
     It occurred in 1832-33 in Sevier Co., now Howard Co., at a place
called by many the Saline Lick, and by others the Saline Salt Works.
The property was owned at that time by a Col. William Hickman, a man
of considerable wealth. He came to Hempstead in 1819 or 1820 and
subsequently removed to La. Col. Elijah Ferguson came to Hempstead Co.
in the year 1830 from the state of Ky. Elijah was employed by Hickman
to oversee slaves in the process of manufacturing salt, this from deep
wells in the area.

     At the time of the tragic accident, Ellis Ferguson, a younger
brother to Col. Elijah Ferguson, had just arrived in the country from
Ky. and was on a visit to the salt works, this having been the first
that the brothers had met since the elder brother had left the old
home. They had fired the furnaces and gone to the cabin for the night,
having much to talk about and relate to each other about the folks at
home. This relation had carried them past the normal bedtime and
suddenly they were drawn from their pleasant conversation by a negro
boy who appeared, the boys task being to watch and keep the mule going
at propelling the pumps, which worked night and day. Something at the
well had jumped on the mule and was tearing it to pieces.

     The night was quite dark and they groped their way along as
rapidly as they could in the darkness, the younger brother being in
advance. Suddenly without a note of warning the infuriated panther
Jumped upon Ellis, alighting upon his broad shoulders. To any without
undaunted courage and nerves of steel, such an attack would have been
sufficient to produce syncope, but not so with the brave and daring
young man.

His first impulse was self defense. He was of stalwart build wit
sinews of iron, he grappled with the infuriated beast and there began
a struggle for life and death. He grabbed the monster by the throat,
at the same time exclaiming to his brother, don't try to shoot, you
may hit me, I can manage it. And so by blows, kicks and choking he
brought the monster to the ground, and there held it until his brother
could get exact position of man and beast, holding a rifle to the
panthers head and shooting into its brain.

     Ellis was not greatly harmed by the beast, suffering a few bites
to the head and being clawed some by the panther, but unfortunately
the panther was rabid. The mule that it had attacked and other animals
that it had bitten, all died of rabies. Ellis recovered from his
wounds but some six months or more later was a victim of the rabid
panther and died a terrible death from this disease.

     Ellis is said in this article to have been about 21 at the time
this occurred, and was raised in the mountainous regions of Ky., and a
tremendously strong man. Considerable adjectives were used concerning
his strength and build, but I have condensed this to the basic story.

     Note: From the 1800 and 1810 census reports of SC, we can
determine by sex and relative ages given in these census reports, plus
having better information as to dates of birth for other children of
William and Judah Ferguson, that Ellis was born in SC, this after the
1807 birth of Elijah, but prior to 1810.

Excerpts from the Washington Press.
Washington, Hempstead Co., Ark., Sat. 20 Nov 1886.

     Elijah Ferguson came to Hempstead Co., Ark. from Cumberland Co.,
Ky. with the family of John W. Williams. He was unmarried and
industrious, accumulating considerable wealth before his death. Late
in life he turned to the practice of law and was a partner of D.W.
Mitchell, father of his son in law. Col. Elijah Ferguson passed away
on 13 Feb. 1875, and is buried in the cemetery at Washington.

     Elijah Ferguson was found in Hempstead Co., Ark. due to information within the family legends of Henry Wood Ferguson. See Hamilton Co., Tenn., Fentress Co., Tenn., Morgan Co., Mo., Taney Co., Mo., Scott & Logan Co., Ark., for Henry Wood Ferguson and family. Data within the legend stated that Elijah, brother to Henry Wood Ferguson, resided in Washington Ark. This also explains why Henry Wood was some 35 miles East of where he should have been if on a route from Taney Co., Mo. to Texas, he had taken an alternate route South of Siloam Springs, Ark., this route passing through Booneville, Ark., which was then in Scott Co., Ark., and continuing on to Washington, Ark. where it met with the Military Road. I think it obvious that Henry Wood Ferguson had taken this detour in order to visit his brother Elijah, intending then to pick up the Military Road and follow it into Texas, but as an ox became ill and liking the area he was in, Henry Wood Ferguson opted to remain in that part of Scott Co. that was cut off into Logan Co., Ark. in 1870.
There is a great deal of strong circumstantial evidence to show
Henry Wood Ferguson to have been a son of William & Judah (Wood)
Ferguson, but finding Elijah by information contained within the data
in the line of Henry Wood Ferguson, much of this recorded years ago,
and as Elijah can be shown to have been a son of William and Judah,
proves Henry Wood Ferguson was also a son. See 1880 Logan Co., Ark.
census, William L. Ferguson, proven son of Henry Wood Ferguson, census
gives SC as birth state of father, see Ark. cemeteries for date of
birth of Henry Wood, also see 1800, 1810 SC census.