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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Colonel Alonzo Ferguson

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[This information is from pp. 183-184, 187 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Colonel Alonzo Ferguson, of Cobleskill, N. Y., secretary of the Schoharie and Otsego Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and a veteran of the Civil War, was born in the town of Nassau, Rensselaer County, this State, on March 19, 1820, son of German and Elizabeth (Sliter) Ferguson. His parents were both natives of Nassau. One of his great-grandfathers, a German of the name of Sornberger, was a pioneer settler of Dutchess County. His paternal grandfather was Jeremiah Ferguson, and his maternal grandfather, John Sliter, both of Nassau, and the latter a Revolutionary soldier and pensioner.

In 1826, about three years after the death of his wife Elizabeth, which occurred when their son Alonzo was only three and a half years old, he came to Cobleskill. Here he spent the rest of his life, and died at the age of seventy-six. In religion he was a Methodist.

Colonel Ferguson was only six years old when his father came to Cobleskill. Here, up to his fifteenth year, he received what little education the common schools of that day afforded in winter, and in summer he was employed on farm work. At the age of seventeen he was apprenticed to learn wagon-making, and for the succeeding nine years he worked at that trade. At twenty-six he entered a village store at Carlisle as clerk, and there remained for a year. In the spring of 1847 he became a partner of the late Charles Courter at Cobleskill, continuing the connection until 1851, when he engaged in the hardware business at Cobleskill on his own account. This he carried on for four years, and at the end of that time sold out to the late Charles H. Shaver. In 1850 and 1851 he was Clerk of the town of Cobleskill. In 1855 he removed to the city of Buffalo, and in 1862 entered the government service in the commissary department of the army.

He was ordered to duty in Kentucky, and followed the army to Pittsburg Landing. Having contracted a fever, he was obliged to return north about the first of June, but shortly after was commissioned Adjutant by Governor Morgan to organize the quota of the Twentieth Senatorial District of New York under the call of President Lincoln for three hundred thousand volunteers, and he immediately reported to Colonel Richard Franchot at Mohawk, Herkimer County, where camp was established. This was early in July, 1862, and of the twenty third of the following month the One Hundred and Twenty-first Regiment went to the front with one thousand and ten men. A second regiment being needed to complete the quota, at the earnest request of the war committee, he was again assigned by the governor to the task, and on October 15, 1862, the One Hundred and Fifty-second Regiment was mustered into service, thus completing the enlistment of more than two thousand men within the space of three months. Governor Morgan commissioned him Lieutenant Colonel of the One Hundred and Fifty-second Regiment, and on October 21 he left with his command for the front. In January of the following year he was promoted to the rank of Colonel. He was with his regiment at the siege of Suffolk, Va., under General Peck, in April and May, 1863, and from there was ordered to the Peninsula, thence to Washington, and thence, in July, on to New York to suppress the draft riots. His was the first volunteer regiment to arrive in that city. Order being restored, he was directed by General Canby, who was in command at New York, to proceed to Schenectady and be present there during the enforcement of the draft. He was then ordered back to New York, where his command remained on detached duty until October, when he was ordered to join the second corps of the Army of the Potomac. About the first of December the Colonel was obliged to resign on account of impaired health, not being willing to remain in the service unless he could perform active duty.

Returning North he engaged in business in the city of New York, and subseqently in the State of Florida. In 1876 he served as a member of the State Senate of Florida, being sent from the first district of that State. He was at the capital when the arguments on the Tilden and Hayes returns were made, knew the officials who canvassed the returns, and learned from the lips of the Secretary of State all that related to the question. Returning in 1879 to his old home, he here engaged in the hardware business, but later sold out and started an insurance business. In this line he has been very successful, having been agent for most of the standard companies. In October, 1895, he organized the fire insurance company of which he is now secretary. During his recent residence here he has been chairman of the Republican county committee for four years, and for two years he was a member of the state committee.

Colonel Ferguson was married in March, 1847, to Mary Courter, of this town. She was born in Schoharie, and died in 1859, at the age of thirty-two, leaving two children Charles, who is now a travelling agent in the West; and Sarah, who died at the age of thirty-three. The latter was the wife of Frank M. Goodrich, and the mother of two children, one of whom is living. The Colonel was married in April, 1865, to Libbie M. Pegg, a native of Springfield, Otsego County, and daughter of George A. Pegg, a well-known hotel-keeper of that town. By this marriage there is one son, Howard P., who is now in business with his father. He was for six years in New York as a hotel clerk.

The Colonel is a member of Cobleskill Lodge, No. 394, F. & A. M., having joined in 1865. He takes an active interest in town affairs. Colonel and Mrs. Ferguson are members of the Lutheran church, of which he has been an Elder for a number of years, being also treasurer of the society.

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