Article on Col. Ferebee

This information is contributed by Bob Stokley

Col. Ferebee

(Correspondence of the Economist).

					Rideway, N.C. June 20, 1884

Having seen in a recent number of the “economist”, and abituary (sp) notice of the death of Col. 
Ferebee, which occurred on Sunday, April 19, 1884, in the 70th year of his age.  I have thought 
it not out of place to commit to paper some reminiscenses (sp) of that estimable gentleman.

In the January of 1833, when I was a pupil at the school of the late William Bingham, at the 
academy  in Hillsboro, N.C. at the commencement of the session, a youth of the name of Dennis 
D. Ferebee joined the Institution.  He became a boarder at Mr. Bingham’s as well as a pupil at 
his school.  He was from Indiantown, from the county of Currituck, N.C. He was gentle in his 
appearances and manner and neat in his apparel.  He was in the 18th year, if I may infer from 
the obituary in the Economist.

A school boy’s intimacy sprang up between him and myself soon after our first acquaintance, 
although he was several years my senior; whilst we were fellow students at the University of 
North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, whilst we were members of the State Convention in 1861-62, and 
to the end of life - extending over a period of fifty years.

I left Mr. Bingham’s school in June of 1833 for the Round Hill School at North Hampton, M
assachusetts, while he remained two years longer; during which time we corresponded.  In 
August of 1835, he joined the University in the August of 1834, and left there in the June of 1837.  
I became a planter, and he became a student of law under the late Judge William Gaston, at 
Newberne.  When we were in the State Convention of 1861-62, I frequently heard him speak of 
Judge Gaston in the terms of great respect and affection.  He said that the Judge would be 
occupied during the day (while he was a student in his office) with his professional duties, but 
that he invariably spent his evenings after supper in the parlor with his family.  His daughter, Miss 
Eliza and Miss Kate Gaston, were then living with him in Newberne.  The judge’s social gifts 
were not inferior to his legal and political.

Soon after young Ferebee became a law student, he made a visit to the north, and while in New 
York he heard a great speech on Mr. Webster’s on a financial question of that day, which he 
greatly admired.  The weather was pleasant, and Webster spoke in the open air before and 
immense assemblage at the city hall, with great power.  Not long after this he was returning to 
North Carolina, when, on the train from New York among the passengers was Mr. Webster.  
The weather had become cold and Mr. Webster was dressed with thick overcoat and furred cap, 
looking very differently from what has been his appearance when speaking in New York in milder 
weather, scarcely resembling the same grand looking personage.  He was reading a newspaper.  
Mr. Ferebee was not personally acquainted with him.  But he took the liberty to offer a paper that 
he had been reading; which Mr. Webster accepted, and thanking him for it in return offered him 
the paper that he had been glancing over.

This conversation soon sprang up between them.  Mr. Webster was on his way to Washington, 
and learning Mr. Ferebee was a law student under Judge Gaston, his countenance immediately 
brightened, and he asked many questions as to the great North Carolinian with whom he had 
served in Congress and the House of Representatives in their early life.  He expressed the 
greatest respect for the virtues, and admiration for the ability and learning of Judge Gaston.  
When Mr. Ferebee arrived in Newberne he mentioned to Judge Gaston his interview with Mr. 
Webster, repeating to him the many inquiries that he had made of him, and the replies that he 
had made to them which was very pleasant to the listener.  One of the facts which impressed 
itself most upon the mind of young Ferebee was the admiration that these great men had for each 
other and their appreciation of mental respect which they expressed.

As an evidence of the esteem in which Judge Gaston held his law pupil, when his studies were 
completed, he said to him, “Now I would be glad for us to keep up a correspondence.  I would 
like for you to write to me once a month, and I will write to you once in two months”.  This 
arrangement was made between them, and complied with for several years.  Judge Gaston died 
in 1844 at the age of 66.  Many years afterwards, Mr. Ferebee related this circumstances to me 
with great pleasure; saying, that he had in his possession a number of the Judges letters, which 
he highly prized regarding them not only as evidence of his friendship for him, but also as an 
evidence of laborious and systematic habits, which could enable him, not withstanding his 
advanced years and professional duties, thus to correspond with a young man, with whom he 
was allied with no ties other than those of friendly interest.  Mr. Ferebee became a successful 
and wealthy planter, and, for many years a prominent member of the State Legislature before 
the war.

In May of 1861 I met him in Raleigh at the State Convention which had been called to determine 
that North Carolina was to assume the approached conflict between the Northern and Southern 
states.  We had not met since we had separated at Chapel Hill in the summer of 1837, 24 years 
had passed away, and the friends of boyhood and youth had met again.  We sat side by side 
and acted side by side in that Convention - a body that had among it’s members perhaps a 
larger amount of ability than had ever before, or has ever since assembled within the limits of the 
State of North Carolina.  It in unnecessary to mention their names: the state knows their history, 
their patriotism, their sacrifices for their county.

Mr. Ferebee and myself had been Henry Clay Whigs.  We had loved the Union as our great 
leader had loved it.  But we loved the south and her Institutions also; we had never forsaken her.  
One morning during the first session of the Convention, we were standing near the gate of the 
Capitol Square as Captain Ramsour’s Artillery Company were marching up Fayettesville Street 
from the Camp of institution, when I remarked to him, “what a painful thought it is, that the day 
may come before this war is ended, when the enemy will march along this very street, and we 
become a subjugated people”!  To which he replied, “We must not had such gloomy forebodings”.  
During the fist session of the Convention, we occupied the same room at the Yarboro House; and 
our estimate of men and measures in those momentous days did not differ.  He took an earnest 
part in the proceedings of the Convention, occasionally speaking and always sensibly and well.

The fourth and last session of the Convention adjourned sine die in May of 1862.  Mr. Ferebee 
then became the Colonel of a Regiment of Calvary, which he lead with ability and bravery through 
hardship, danger and battle, until the close of the war and the final surrender of our armies and 
the subjugation of the country that he had served so faithfully and loved so well.

He was twice married.  First to a Miss McPherson and afterwards to Miss Davenport.  By his first 
marriage he leaves one son, Dr. Ferebee, a surgeon in the United States Navy; by the latter 
marriage he leaves a daughter.  His wife survives to lament his death.  He made a profession of 
religion at a Revival in Hillsboro in the summer of 1873 under the preaching of Rev. Dr. Baker.  
A few months after which he united himself with Episcopal Church, whose pastor, at that time 
was the Rev. William M. Green, the present venerable and honored Bishop of Mississippi.  He 
remained faithful to his early vows, and we humbly trust has gone to a better and brighter world.  
May he rest in peace after the toils of a long and useful life.  An old friend, who lingers yet behind 
him places upon the green hillock that covers his grave these withered leaves of the past, which 
serve to remind him of its individuals and events that are to been no more on earth.

(Extract from the Economist, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, July 1, 1884)

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