Hon. Edwin P. Ferris,
In placing before our readers
biographies of a few of the leading citizens of Shelby Co., we have believed it our duty to write nothing but plain
facts, giving the simple events in the lives of each, without praise or coloring in their behalf.
in the make-up of men differ widely, and if in any case we should err in our judgment, we trust our critics will
credit us with doing so unknowingly. The subject of this sketch is a man, beneath whose cool exterior burns the
latent fire of an honest ambition---that which is necessary to success in every calling or profession. Edwin P. Ferris was born in Little Falls, Herkimer Co., N.Y., July
13, 1829, and is the son of Sylvester and Rhoda (King) Ferris, natives of New York State.
was a minister of the Baptist Church, and, in 1835, he, together with his family, moved to Chilicothe, Ohio, and
the following year removed to Dearborn Co., Ind., where they remained until 1846, when they moved to Ripley Co.,
Ind., where he and wife resided until death. Edwin P. was the youngest in a family of eight children, and the only
son. His boyhood days were passed in Dearborn and Ripley Cos., attending the common schools as much as was possible
for a farmer's boy who worked on a farm, until his 21st year. Shortly after reaching manhood, he began attending
the County Seminary at Versailles, the county seat of Ripley Co.; but at the end of two weeks, the teacher of the
public school fell sick, and the trustees put Mr. Ferris in charge of that institution in which capacity he taught
one year, afterward teaching a year in Dearborn Co. He then entered Franklin College, where he remained as a student
until 1854, when, on account of the sickness of his mother, he was compelled to return home, thereby forfeiting
his early cherished hopes of one day being a college professor. In 1854, he was elected Surveyor of Ripley Co.,
serving two years with honesty and capability. He was married in Versailles Dec. 31, 1854, to
F. Stevens, daughter of Jefferson and Harriet Stevens. Mrs. Ferris was born in Ohio, and has had eight children, six of whom are living.
During his term
as Surveyor, he turned his attention to the law profession, and the following two years, while farming, kept diligently
at his studies every moment he could spare from his farm duties. In 1858, he began practice in partnership with
Judge A. C. Downey, of Rising Sun, locating his office at Versailles, which continued three years. In the fall of 1862,
he was elected, from Ripley Co., to a seat in the State Legislature, which
position he held two years. He
still devoted his time to his profession, and in the election of 1876, was the Tilden and Hendricks Elector from
the district. In April 1878, he removed to Shelbyville and formed a partnership with Alonzo Blair, which continued
until the death of the latter, July 19, 1879. In the fall of that year, he took in partnership Albert Wray, and still occupies the same office as formerly with Mr.
Blair. He and wife are members of the Presbyterian Church and politically he is a "dyed- in-the-wool"
Democrat, firm and unyielding in his attachments to his party, spending his time freely in its service, and on
the stump or rostrums is considered a formidable antagonist. As a lawyer, he is a hard student and faithful to
his client; is a fluent, fair argumentative speaker, never digressing from his case for the sake of oratorical
display. He always discourages a multiplicity of suits, advising many clients to a private settlement of their
cases instead of resorting to the law, thereby often losing a prospective fee.
He is one of the most charitable
lawyers to opposing witnesses, covering with the mantle of charity, contradictions in their testimony which makes
a friend of one who might otherwise be an enemy. His long professional experience and practice before the Supreme
Court have made him familiar with the decisions of that tribunal of justice, which generally helps him in every-day
practice to lay his hand upon the decision he desires to use, without often referring to digest, text-book or index.
He never gets excited in the trial of a case, always keeping cool and collected; and, by the fairness with which
he presents the evidence on both sides, has immense weight with a jury. Mr. Ferris in his social life is charitable
and kind, giving freely of his means to aid every worthy object; is plain, blunt and unostentatious in his manners,
and since his coming to Shelbyville, has made many friends, who speak of him in the warmest praise.
Atlas of Shelby County, Indiana, Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co, 1880, page 27.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming
Note: Page 107 of the above Atlas:
Business Directory, Addison Township, Shelbyville, lists Edward P. Ferris, Attorney at Law.
the Brant & Fuller History, page 573, lists Judge
Ferris as Edwin P. - PMF
Hon. Edwin P. Ferris
was born July 13, 1829, at the
town of Little Falls, Herkimer County, N.Y., and is the youngest son of a family of eight children. His parents'
names were Sylvester and Rhoda (King) Ferris, natives
of the Empire State. The father was a Baptist minister. The family moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1835, and during
the following year they came to Hogan Hill, Dearborn County, Indiana, and resided there until 1846, when they removed
to Ripley County, and located about seven miles from the county seat. Here he assisted his father in clearing a
small farm, and during the winter attended the common schools. About the time he became of age he went to the county
seat to attend the county seminaries, but in a short time was promoted to beone of the teachers. He afterward attended
a Commercial College and received a diploma therefrom. He also began attending Franklin College, where he remained
until 1854. During the same year he was elected County Surveyor of Ripley County, serving two years. December 31,
1854, Mr. Ferris was married to Miss Sibyl F. Stephens,
who was born in Ohio. They have had eight children, six of whom are now living, two boys and four girls. After
Mr. Ferris' term as Surveyor had expired, and while working on the farm, he spent all of his spare time studying
law. He began the practice thereof in 1858, with Hon. A.C. Downey. He soon secured a good practice. In 1862, he was elected representative in the State Legislature,
and had the pleasure of voting for Hon. David Turpie,
for United States Senator, vice Hon. Jesse D. Bright,
expelled, and also voted for Hon. Thomas A. Hendricks,
for a position in the same august body. In the canvass of 1876, Ferris was one of the Democratic electors, and
again voted for Governor Hendricks for Vice President. In April, 1878, Mr. Ferris removed from Versailles to Shelbyville,
where he has since resided. The subject of this sketch and his family are members of the Presbyterian Church, and
the former has been for many years a faithful and earnest Sabbath School worker, meeting two classes each day,
one in the morning at the Christian Church and one in the evening at his own. Mr. Ferris is a prominent and influential
History of Shelby County, Indiana, Chicago: Brant & Fuller, 1887, pages 483-4.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming
Per Chadwick's History of Shelby County, Indiana,* page 199, Edwin P. Ferris was admitted
to the Shelby bar in 1860.
* Edward H. Chadwick, B.A., assisted by well known local talent, B.F. Bowen & Co,
Publishers: Indianapolis, IN, 1909.