John Whitney Ferverda (1882-1962) and the Body in the Garage – 52 Ancestors #6

John Ferverda

My grandfather’s name was John Whitney Ferverda.  I’ve always wondered about that middle name, with no idea where it came from.  It does not appear to be a family name.

He was born on December 26, 1882 in Plain Township, Kosciusco County, Indiana, on a farm to Hiram B. (probably Bauke) Ferverda and Evaline Louise Miller Ferverda.  He died on June 9th 1962.  I was 7 and I remember him, albeit somewhat vaguely.  His wife. Edith Barbara Lore Ferverda who he had married in Rushville, Indiana in 1908 had just died 18 months before, so it had been a rough couple years in the family.  With John Ferverda’s death, the homeplace had to be sold, the furniture divided, and all of those things that signal the end of an era and what we’ve come to know as closure needed to be done.

John and Edith had two children, my mother, Barbara, and one son, Harold Lore Ferverda, known by the family as Lore.

I think I’ll let Mom introduce you to her father, in her own words.  I gave my Mother a book called “Grandmother’s Memories” to complete for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She did, at first in her own hand, and then later, as her handwriting became more difficult to read, she would tell me the answers and I would write them for her.  The book asked questions or gave topic suggestions.

My Father’s name was John Whitley Ferverda.  He was born in 1882 and died in 1962.  He had blue eyes.

My Father’s most precious memory:

When I was so sick with rheumatic fever, every morning he carried me downstairs to the davenport and every evening upstairs to bed.  He always had time to read to me.  I was too sick to read for myself.  I was 7 or 8 and he read everything to me I could get my hands on.  He worked at the Ford Agency in Silver Lake selling cars and trucks.  When I went to school, we walked and went the next half block further to the Ford Agency and asked Dad for a nickel.  When he gave it to me, I promptly went to the drug store and bought a Hershey bar, which Dad knew I’d do.

My Father’s best story about growing up:

He was one of 11 children.  From their farm they walked over to Tippecanoe Lake to swim which was about a mile.  He took enough schooling to be a teacher, but never secured a position with the school. Instead he started with the railroad and was sent to Rushville where he met Mother.

John Ferverda against car

Here’s a bit more info from the “History of Kosciusko County, Indiana” 1919:

John Ferverda is a merchant of successful experience and has been identified with the hardware trade at Silver Lake for a number of years, being one of the live and enterprising business men and citizens of that locality.

He was born in Plain Township of this county Dec. 26, 1882, a son of Hiram B. and Eveline Miller Ferverda, both of whom now reside at Leesburg.  John Ferverda grew up on his father’s farm in Plain Township and was liberally educated.  He attended both the common and high schools of Oswego, being a graduate of both, and also was a student in the Tri-State Normal at Angola.  For his scholarship he was granted a license to teach, but never used it in that profession.  His life was spent largely at home until the age of 22.  Having mastered the art of telegraphy, he entered the service of the Big Four Railway as an operator, and was assigned at different stations along that system and remained in that service about 10 years.  In 1916, Mr. Ferverda left the railroad to take up business and is now a member of the F. and F. Hardware Company of Silver Lake.

John is shown in front of his hardware store, below.

Ferverda and hardware store cropped

In 1907 he married Miss Edith B. Lore, a native of Rush Co., Indiana and a high school graduate.  They have one son, Harold L., born November 24, 1915.  Mr. and Mrs. Ferverda are members of the Lutheran Church and he is affiliated with the Denning Lodge No 88, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at North Manchester, and of the Knights of Pythias Lodge.  In politics, he is a republican.

Was he ever a Republican.  I remember Mom talking about her father quizzing potential suitors.  The first question he would ask them is whether or not they were Republican.  Mom said she knew better than to bring home a Democrat!!!  For years Mom had a small ivory elephant watch charm about an inch long that was his that I suspect was meant as the symbol of the Republican Party.

At some point, before his marriage, probably while in college, John was in some sort of a play.  He is the front row, bottom left corner.

ferverda and play

John studied to be a teacher, but for some reason, after graduating, never pursued that avenue.  Instead, he joined the railroad as a telegraph operator and station master.  He was assigned to Rushville, Indiana.  We don’t know exactly when he went to Rushville, but in an article in the Rushville paper, dated January 25, 1907, John was a pallbearer for Miss Maude Foust who died of typhoid.  We also know he sang tenor in a quartet at the Presbyterian Church in Rushville, based on a November 1908 news report .

While in Rushville, John met and married Edith Barbara Lore, daughter of Curtis Benjamin, known as CB, Lore and Ellenore “Nora” Kirsch Lore. She too attended the Presbyterian Church.

Ferverda - Lore marriage license

Ferverda-Lore marriage license

Rushville Republican Newspaper, Jan. 3, 1910 – John Ferveda who was recently transferred to cashier at the local office has been given the agency at Silver Lake in the northern part of the state and will leave here in the next few weeks.

John and Edith moved back to Silver Lake where John served as the station master and where they spent the rest of their lives.

While their immediate family was small, John had many siblings in the area.  He was one of 11 children born to Hiram and Eva Ferverda.  One of his siblings, Roscoe, lived across the street from him in Silver Lake, Indiana.

ferverda family original photo

Ferverda family description cropped

John Ferverda’s parents were Brethren, although it appears that not all of the family continued in that faith which prohibited military service, among other things.  John broke with the Brethren faith by marrying Edith who was a Lutheran, and Roscoe broke with the Brethren faith by serving in WWI.  In fact, four of John and Eva’s sons, in total, served in the military, Ira in the Spanish American War and then Donald, Roscoe and George. Those three sons are standing together in the middle row, with George, on the right, in uniform.

John and Roscoe were close their entire lives, even though there was 9 years between them, Roscoe having been born in 1893.  In fact, when Roscoe returned from military service, he too worked at the station with his brother for the railroad until the depot in Silver Lake closed in 1958 due to declining business.

silver lake depot

John and Edith bought a house in Silver Lake that was located right by the railroad tracks, which were across the field to the right of their house in the photo below.  I loved the large screened-in front porch on this house.  The screens were painted yearly to keep them from rusting, and rocking chairs resided on the porch in warm weather.

One time, Lore was painting the screens and my mother was bothering him in her sisterly way.  He decided to paint her cat’s nose, which infuriated my mother, so he then painted mother’s nose black too….except he “missed” and got her entire face with the side of the large brush he was using.  Mother was scheduled to perform in a dance recital later that day on the courthouse square in Wabash.  I’m sure you can imagine the drama and hullaballoo that results from that little incident.  Paint then was not water soluable and required turpentine and scrubbing to remove.  This was always one of mother’s favorite stories about her brother.

silver lake house

Roscoe bought the house right across the street.  Roscoe and John were thick as thieves.

Roscoe's house

Old newspapers can be a lot of fun.  In the local paper I found some tidbits that give us hints about John’s life.

July 31, 1910

Ferverda news 1910 cropped

Donald Ferverda is visiting with his brother John Ferverda and wife at Silver Lake.

Don was one of the three Ferverda sons who served in the military in WWI.  After returning, he was a cashier at the bank in Leesburg and died relatively young of cancer.

February 5, 1911

Ferverda news 1911

Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake visited with Hiram Ferverda and family over Sunday.

Visiting your parents hardly seems like a newsworthy event.  It wasn’t far from Leesburg to Silver Lake – about 18 miles.  However, it’s a lovely tidbit.

July 30, 1912

Ferverda news 1912

Mrs. Gertrude (her name was Nora, not Gertrude) Lore of Rushville is here at present visiting with her daughter, Mrs. John Ferverda and husband.  Mrs. Lore’s two daughters (Mildred, 13, and Eloise, 9) have been here for the past several weeks visiting at the Ferverda home.  The garage building is nearing completion.  The metal ceiling is completed and is now ready for the paint.  The building will be ready for occupancy within a short time.

I originally didn’t think the second paragraph was relevant to the Ferverda family, but with all those females visiting “for an extended period”, maybe my grandfather was taking up residence in the garage:)

October 11, 1912

Ferverda news 1912 - 2

Mr. and Mrs. John Ferverda of Silver Lake are here for a two weeks visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Ferverda.

October 19, 1912

Ferverda news 1912 - 3

H. L. Anderson of Westport who had been here as a relief agent for Mr. Ferverda during his absence went to Leesburg yesterday where he will be for 15 days while the Leesburg agent takes a trip.

Agent here refers to railway agent.

December 22, 1912

Ferverda news 1912-4

Paul Ferverda of Leesburg is here visiting with his brother, John Ferverda and wife.

John had brothers Ira, Irvin, Ray, George and Donald who lived outside of Silver Lake, but no Paul.  Roscoe lived in Silver Lake across the street from John.

April 19, 1913

Ferverda news 1913

We understand that Ray Ferree who recently was bumped off of the Big Four at North Manchester by one who was older in the service will apply for the station here and if he applies it will almost be sure that the company will award him the position.  The family will then move here and occupy the Mrs. Metzger property near the depot and Mr. Ferverda, the agent, who resides there at present will go to Markleville.

The family never went to Markleville.

February 16, 1914

Ferverda news 1914

H.P. Rager, John Ferverda and Dale Homman were down to North Manchester last evening taking the first steps in the degree work of the Masonic order.

November 13, 1915

Ferverda news 1915

Ray Feree is here this week as relief agent for John Ferverda at the Big Four.  Mr. Ferverda is taking a vacation and will also have his eye operated on upon during his vacation.  He went to Cincinnati the first of the week for that purpose.

This is a week before John Ferverda’s son, Lore was born, on November 24th.  I wonder what kind of eye surgery he had performed, and for what condition.

November 27, 1915

Ferverda news 1915-2

John Ferverda, our genial agent at the Big Four station and wife and Percy Helser the drayman, and wife, are the proudest people in the whole community and passed the most enjoyable Thanksgiving of any.  The stork came to their homes Wednesday afternoon and left a bouncing boy baby at the Ferverda home and at the Helser home he left a sweet little girl.

Rushville Republican Newspaper, Jan. 8, 1916 – J. W. Ferverda, Big Four agent at Silver Lake and well known here has purchased a hardware store there in partnership with R. M. Frye.  He has resigned his position with the railroad company.

January 22, 1916

Ferverda news 1916

J. W. Ferverda has returned home from a trip to Rushville where he was for a couple of days visiting with his wife and son.

September 10, 1916 – Silver Lake News

Ferverda news 1916 - 2

John Ferverda is going about bandaged up on account of a broken rib received a few days ago when he was assisting in unloading some machinery.

In 1918, every man had to register for the draft.  WWI was upon us.  John Whitney Ferverda registered, said that his occupation was in retail hardware and as an implement merchant.  He was described as short, of medium build with light hair and gray eyes.  I never knew he had grey eyes.

John Ferverda WWI draft

February 28, 1918

Ferverda news 1918

Friends and relatives here had just learned of the marriage last month of Roscoe Ferverda, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Ferverda of Leesburg and Miss Effie Ringo of North Vernon, Indiana.  Mr. Ferverda who was a telegrapher at North Vernon enlisted in the signal corps and just before being called for examination was taken sick with measles.  He came home for two weeks and immediately upon his return to North Vernon was examined and sent to the training camp at Vancouver, Washington.  The wedding took place while at North Vernon for the examination.  The bride is expected here tomorrow for a visit with his parents.

So it seems that not only did Roscoe join the military, he married a non-Brethren wife as well, without telling his parents.  Those Ferverda boys, renegades all of them….

In the 1930 census, we know that Roscoe is an agent for the Big 4 Railroad, almost the last person enumerated in the village of Silver Lake, in Lake Township, in Kosciusko County, Indiana.  John Ferverda was the first household enumerated, living directly across the street from Roscoe.  In 1930, John was a salesman at the Ford garage.  With the decrease of rail shipping, jobs with the railroad evaporated.

Below, both the new and old garages in Silver Lake.

Silver lake garages

At some point, and I believe it was before or during the Depression, John Ferverda owned a hardware store in downtown Silver Lake.  The problem was that people couldn’t pay their bills.  Eventually, that business would close, and John would raise chickens in the chicken house behind the house and sell eggs.  There may have been a Depression, but everyone still had to eat.  Eggs and chicken were relatively cheap protein and both eggs and hatchlings were shipped as far as New York.  John loved his chickens, and this one was his favorite and according to the back of the picture, his best producer.

John Ferverda and chicken

Mother remembers cleaning chickens as a child during the Depression, and not fondly, I might add.

Sometime, about this same time, when Lore was a late teen, it seems that he “borrowed” the family car without permission, and managed to get it stuck in the snow.  I don’t know how he managed to get ahold of his father, but he did.  If he thinks he was in trouble with his Dad, he hadn’t seen anything yet because his mother, Edith, relied on that car to get her to the job that supported the family during the Depression.

Ferverda 1937 storm

So off John and Lore set to get Lore unstuck.  I’m not sure who went with them, but I’m guessing it was Roscoe.  The photo above is labeled 1937 in Mom’s photo album.  There is another photo also of a sleigh with a horse pulling it that looks to be about the same time.

Ferverda fam 1937 cropped

Mom kept a photo album, thankfully, and this was labeled as 1937.  Left to right John Ferverda with Buster, Edith Lore Ferverda (John’s wife), Eva Miller Ferverda (John’s mother), Chloe Ferverda Robinson (John’s sister), Charlotte Robinson, Raleigh Robinson (Chloe’s daughter and husband.)

Ferverda fam 1937-2

Two houses down the street was the Methodist Church where the Ferverdas were members.  I have vivid memories of this church when I was little, sitting on the small child sized chairs and belting out Jesus Loves Me at the top of my lungs in Sunday School, which was through the side door on the left and downstairs.  I can still hear it….

“Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so….”

silver lake methodist church

On the 1940 census, Roscoe and John are shown with 4 residences between them.  Roscoe is still an agent for the railroad and now John is an “owner and overseer” on a chicken and fruit farm.

I had entirely forgotten about the apple orchard and the raspberries.  The entire “back yard” was apple trees and behind the orchard, the property terminated in a huge mass of brambles which they called raspberries.  All I know is that I avoided that area because no matter what I did, they always stuck me, one way or another.  I can’t imagine how they picked those berries, but obviously they did.

My grandparents had a back porch with a hand pump where they washed and processed the apples.  That same pump pumped the water for the kitchen and bathroom, both of which were adjacent to the pump room.  This WAS considered running water at that time.

In 1941, John Whitney Ferverda registered for the WWII draft, even though he was 59 years of age.  His signature is beautiful.

John Whitney Ferverda draft

Silver Lake, where they lived was a small town, but it was not incorporated, so they were part of Lake Township, although Silver Lake made up the most populous part of that township.  From 1943-1950, John Ferverda was township Trustee.

Silver lake 1945 chemistry class

In 1945, the newspaper reported that , “Trustee John Ferverda provided a fully equipped chemistry lab and the course in chemistry was added in the high school.”  John’s son, Lore Ferverda, had graduated from Silver Lake High School in the class of 1933 and went on to become a chemist, eventually holding several patents.

John Ferverda alseep

I do believe this was before recliners had been invented.  I remember my grandmother starching those chair arm and back covers.   My grandfather did this every afternoon.  I think I inherited the propensity from him!  Must be genetic.

Speaking of genetics, we have been fortunate that one of Roscoe’s sons volunteered to take the Y-line DNA test as well at the autosomal test.  Roscoe’s daughter, Cheryl, has taken the autosomal test as well.  In fact, these folks were some of the first testers at 23andMe and are now participating in projects at Family Tree DNA.  There is a Ferverda DNA project, but needless to say, with a name like that, it’s not very large.

Cheryl, and I are in the final stages of planning a trip back to the Ferverda homeland in 2014.  We can hardly wait and I’ll be sharing that with you too, but for now, back to John Ferverda.

John and Edith Ferverda 1959

John and Edith Ferverda with their first great-grandchild, Bruce, born on the 4th of July, 1959.  The family referred to him as “the firecracker with a short fuse.”  I believe this photo was taken at Christmas, 1959.  Edith passed away, a few days later, in January of 1960.

John and Edith 1959 standing

I don’t know where this photo was taken, but it wasn’t their house.  This is a great photo and is exactly how I remember Edith Lore and John Whitney Ferverda.

By the late 1950s or early 1960s, John had tuberculosis.  They believed it had been dormant for decades.  Edith’s father and sister both died of TB in 1909 and 1912, respectively.  He went to the tuberculosis sanitarium where he was treated for several months.  After returning home, he became ill again in 1962, except this time it was inoperable liver and pancreatic cancer.   He passed away on June 9, 1962.

John Ferverda obit

Mom and lore at grave

This photo is of Edith and John’s two children at their gravesite.  Stopping at the cemetery became a regular occurrence anytime we were in that vicinity, or could be without a huge detour.

Since neither of their children lived in Silver Lake, after John passed away, they put the house with the chicken houses and apple trees and raspberry bushes up for sale.  I remember Mom talking about how difficult it was to go through their things.  I also remember finding money hidden in the most unusual places.  I suspect that was a relic of the Depression years when life was extremely difficult.  One time, I picked up a powder box and a false bottom fell out, along with some cash hidden there.  I wonder how much was inadvertently given away, secreted away like that.

Mom and Uncle Lore sold the property, and the new owners turned it into a funeral home.  My mother was utterly mortified.  They enclosed the front screened in porch with plywood painted white, turned the dining and music rooms into viewing parlors (the large window grouping on both sides of the house) and processed the remains in the kitchen and on that back porch.  I would hope they installed a better water system.  The garage, seen behind the house is where the hearse was kept and the bodies loaded, unloaded and well, um, stored.

silver lake house as funeral home

My mother, for years, when someone died in Silver Lake just prayed that the funeral was at the “other” funeral home.  She was utterly mortified that her family home had become a funeral home, and she said she simply could not go inside.  Finally though, someone died, and she had to find a way.

silver lake house as funeral home front

silver lake house as funeral home 2

That someone was Roscoe.  He died, as luck would have it, 36 years ago this week, on the morning of the epic blizzard in Indiana, January 25, 1978.  And when I say epic, I mean epic.  We have photos of family members on drifts level with the roof.

1978 blizzard

These are just the kinds of things the Ferverda family did, especially these two brothers!  Both John and Roscoe would have found that immensely humorous.  Everyone else, not so much.

The roads were closed, for days.  Finally State Road 14 was opened, one way, through snow tunnels.

1978 blizzard snow tunnel

Roscoe’s funeral was held, such as it was, and then, because the snow was too deep and the ground too frozen for too far down…Roscoe got to spend the next several weeks in his brother, John’s, garage.

Gone, But Not Entirely

John and Roscoe may be gone, but their DNA isn’t.  Roscoe’s son provided his DNA, quite graciously, as part of a DNA presentation at the Allen County Public Library a few years ago for Y chromosome testing.  Because of his generosity, we know that the Ferverda men fall into haplogroup I1, and their DNA is quite unusual.  At 25 markers, only 2 matches, and one of those is a Scherp from Germany.

We’ve tested several downstream SNPs as well, to see if we can refine his haplogroup further, but so far, he has tested negative for all of the SNPs tested.

He is a member of the haplogroup I project, where the administrators have grouped him in the I1 generic group.  Each project is grouped differently, according to the project goals and the administrators, but in this case, his grouping tells us that he does not match the other groups, such as “AS” for Anglo Saxon or “N” for Nordic, or Balkan or Iberian, for example.

ferverda dna map

For as unusual as his markers are in the second testing panel, at 25 markers, providing only 2 matches, his 12 marker matches are extremely common in haplogroup I, providing him with 1028 matches.  His 12 marker matches are shown on the map below.

Ferverda 12 markers

Clearly these 12 marker matches don’t hold at 25 markers, and most of these people did test at 25 markers. This is the best example I can think of as to why testing at higher levels is so important.

Edith and John Ferverda stone



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32 thoughts on “John Whitney Ferverda (1882-1962) and the Body in the Garage – 52 Ancestors #6

  1. Loved your story and it made me remember that my daughter-in-law bought me one of those books after my first grandson was born and I filled it up. Now I will go find it and see what all I wrote there 16 years ago.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story and photos. It is not often that I hear about the Brethren. My maternal family surname is Miller and they were also Brethren. Their story is interesting and one of strong beliefs, especially during the Revolutionary War.

      • Yes, it is. Johann Michael Miller (Mueller) is my 6th great grandfather. Through his son, Philip Jacob Miller, his son David, Jacob Miller, John Jacob Miller, Jacob Rohrer Miller, Charles Omer Miller, and, my mother, Mary Ellen Miller.

        Maternal line haplogroup: H1e2; Paternal: R1b1b2a1a1

  3. Interesting about the Whitney name and Kosciusko IN. My grandfather was born in Kosciusko CO IN and his grandmother Sarah “Sally” Whitney, wife of James Chaplin, died there in 1858. I’ve found some other Whitneys in the area that I suspect may be related to Sarah Whitney Chaplin. And no doubt the John’s are only a coincidence but Sarah Whitney Chaplin’s father was John Whitney. Your grandfather even looks like he could be related to my Chaplin/Whitney relatives.

      • I don’t think I have a Whitney/Miller marriage but I’m not sure I have some of these Whitney’s in my tree because I couldn’t figure out how they fit in. My 2nd great-grandmother Sarah Whitney was born in Harvard, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA on 3 Sep 1787 daughter of John Whitney and Hannah Atherton. Both the Whitney and Atherton lines had been in MA since the 1630’s. Sarah married James Chaplin 11 Nov 1807 likely in VT. They moved to NY then OH before settling in Whitley CO IN by 1835 and finally Kosciusko CO IN in the fall of 1838. Sarah Whitney Chaplin died there on 31 Dec 1858. I bet my Whitney’s are related to you in some way the question is how? Sarah only had one sibling that lived past infancy, John Whitney who was born about 1792 MA and was living in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in 1821. Then I don’t know what happened to him. Interestingly, tho I have no record of Sarah and her husband James Chaplin ever living in MD, James Chaplin served there in the War of 1812. I’m guessing he may have gone down and joined with his brother-in-law.

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  5. That blizzard kept us out of school for at least two whole weeks when I was eleven. We did indeed have 10 foot snowdrifts down here in Muncie. Three feet covered the driveway, and the windchill was 50 below. We’ve had a lot of snow this year, but I’ve yet to see a dump like that one. It is a big reason my mother decided to leave the state for 21 years. Thanks for sharing. I love your stories. I wish we had photos of that blizzard, but taking pictures was the last thing on our minds. I don’t think we could afford film that winter.

  6. i took the ftdna family finder test and i matched as a 4th cousin to a person with last name ringo-my realatives were from north vernon indianna the shorts and edwards some of my shorts relatives married millers hones denton giddings-i was hoping someone could helpme wiyh the connection thank you reply to

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  8. Looking at the DNA links I could not help but notice Trondheim, Tromso, Porto, and Valadolid.

    I know those places well having traced a single line of the family to ALL of them ~

    The common connection is to a Portuguese trader in the 1500s who opened up a fatoria in Norway where he’d buy fish brought in by Norwegian/Swedish, Breton and English fishermen. Those would be shipped South to Portugal where their own fishing fleet was disappearing rapidly as better and more lucrative opportunities were opening up for Portuguese men in the Ultramar Portuguese (a string of outposts extending from Norway to the African Coast to Nagasaki Japan.

    I know his ancestors just a generation back lived in those places……

    Been at this 40 + years. Went to school with a Mary Ellen Ferveda BTW, but that was Indianapolis. Otherwise this family does seem to use the same set of first names ~

    One of that trader’s descendants sold ALL the sites named in the Swamp Lands Books ~ an original settler, he and his relatives filtered into Indiana between the early 1600s and then made a big push to get all their cousins out of Europe and New York.

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  25. Bobby:
    what a terrific Blog and pictures. I remember the old silver Lake house so very well and spent so much of my boyhood there.
    Regards and thanks.
    Michael Ferverda

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