Located in Dresden TN, Moran Place was built by J.W. Moran for his wife Sophia Reilly Gunn. The house is a modified design of George Barber's Cottage no. 36 from Book No. 2. Construction began in early 1895 but put on hold when Sophia became Ill and died Oct 7 1895. Construction resumed a few months later.
Most of the photographs we found at Moran Place were not in photo albums. They were in boxes,
steamer trunks, and drawers. From the first floor to the attic we never knew when we would come across a stash of pictures.
In the search for ancestors we did find two very old photo albums which aren't in the greatest condition but at least they were there! It's apparent that other people through the years had found them too as many of the photo slots were empty.
This particular photo album contains names like Collier, Harris, Cowardin, Scott, Edwards, Eastman, Morehead and Caldwell. Many I've identified as Moran relatives but some people I haven't been able to connect to the family tree yet. My gut tells me the names will be connected on a distant branch with time.
One of these photographs is of a young woman who is identified as "Kate Ferris." It was taken by C.C. Giers in Nashville, Tennessee about 1864-1866. The 3 cent tax stamp on the back helps pin down the date it was taken. Those are the facts. From there it's simply a guessing game as to who was Kate Ferris. So keep that in mind because this is merely my own ramblings about Kate.
As I began my search I realized the task would be difficult since the surname Ferris can be seen in a variety of forms: Ferriss, Farris, Faris, Phares, Faeries and so on. Also, just because a photograph was taken in Nashville is no guarantee that the subject of the photo lived in Nashville. But I stayed optimistic.
FIRST SEARCH---MARRIAGE, A CHILD, and ADULTERY?
I have to admit that my first search for Kate Ferris happened in 2011. At that time I didn't pursue the story very much but this summer I decided to go back and follow though.
So once again I googled "Kate Ferris" Nashville 1860 and immediately came up with the same entry on the genforum site dated Dec. 2004. The subject was "Kate Ferris married to John Mortimer Harrell." This caught my attention right away because of the name Harrell. There are Harrell's in the Moran tree! I was also delighted to see that a Kate Ferris actually lived in Nashville, the daughter of notary public Josiah Ferris and his wife Mary Penn. Kent's great grandmother, Sophia Gunn, was from Nashville and would have been a contemporary of Kate Ferris. A quick search of the census showed that in 1860 they even lived in the same ward, ward 5, and Sophia's father, Lyman Taft Gunn, was a dentist and a professional like Josiah Ferris. In the 1860 Census the family name was Ferriss.
However, it was sad to see that according to the 2004 post that the marriage of Kate Ferris to John M. Harrell wasn't a happy one. They had removed to Hot Springs Arkansas after their marriage in Nashville in 1876. It seems that Mr. Harrell thought his wife was having an affair and that the daughter, Mary Ethel Harrell, was the child of another man. The post on genforum indicated that there was some thought that John Harrell may even have murdered Kate since she seemingly disappeared from the Census after 1880.
I don't believe he murdered Kate and it's my belief she went back to Nashville with her daughter, who changed her name from Mary Ethel Harrell to Mary Penn Thompson, and that Kate lived with/married a man named James H. Thompson. Whether or not she committed adultery will probably never be known but a contributing factor to the unhappy marriage may have been the age disparity. Kate was just 24 while John Harrell was 48 when they married.
And now I'd like to insert here, that after writing my own theory about Kate Ferriss in the above paragraph I came across a court case, Davis et al. v. HARRELL in the Southwestern Reporter, vol. 142 which confirms the parentage of John Mortimer Harrell, the divorce, Kate's remarriage to James H. Thompson, and Mary Ethel's name change. But more about the case later.
THE FERRISS FAMILY, NASHVILLE CITY CEMETERY
When looking back in time the death information is sometimes the first thing you stumble across so keeping with that theme here is what I found. Like the Gunn family, the Ferriss family's final resting spot, for the most part, is historic Nashville City Cemetery. The cemetery card records the name as "Farriss" but I choose to use "Ferriss" as that's how it's seen most often in newspapers, census records and other sources.
Frances Penn "Fanny" Ferriss, died Nov 21 1916, cause unknown, Married William H.P. Jones a dentist (another similarity to the Gunn family since Lyman Gunn was one of the first dentists in Nashville). Fanny and William had a daughter named Effie L. Jones about 1865.
Kate Ferriss, died Dec. 3 1909, In death records she is listed as Mrs. Kate Thompson, daughter of J. Ferriss and Mary Penn. Cause of death differs. One source says "don't know" another says mitral disease of the heart. Some sources say she was married, others say widowed. Place of birth most often said Tennessee but one said Ohio. She was a teacher, 57 years of age, born about 1851-1853.
WHAT ABOUT THOMAS B. FERRISS?
Josiah and Mary had another child, Thomas B., age 13 in the 1850 Census. I haven't located what happened to Thomas and continue to search for him.
THE HARRELL FAMILY, CEMETERY INFORMATION
Rev. Samuel Harrell. Died about 1834 in North Carolina, burial unknown. Father of John M. Harrell
Ellen Catherine Collins, born 1812 - died July 31, 1864. Mother of John M. Harrell. Interred Mount Holly Cemetery, Little Rock Ark.
Josiah Ferriss was the son of Josiah and Mary Stovall Ferriss. I believe they originally lived in Virginia and later moved to North Carolina before coming to Nashville.
1834-Death of Rev. Samuel Harrell a Methodist Minister, North Carolina
1840 Census, Nashville TN-Josiah Ferriss is living in Ward 1 with a total of 63 people! Too bad the census was so barebones at that time. There were a total of 36 free white persons, 2 free colored persons and 25 slaves.
1840 Census, Rutherford TN-Ellen C, Harrell. Total number of free white person: 4. One free white male age 10 -14 (John), two free white females ages 5-9 (Ellen and Mary), one free white female ages 20 -29 (Ellen). In addition there were three slaves: one male under age 10, one female under age 10 and one female age 10 - 23.
1842-Harrell Family Moves to Nashville
After she was widowed, Ellen Harrell moved to Nashville with her son, John M., and two daughters, Ellen and Mary Eliza. She founded a young ladies academy which she operated for six years. John graduated from Nashville University in 1847 while the daughters graduated from the Nashville Female Academy. In 1849 the family moved to Little Rock. (Centennial History of Arkansas, vol. 3 , page. 414, by Dallas Tabor Herndon, 1922)
1847-John M. Harrell Graduates From the University of Nashville
(Source: Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates of the University of Nashville, 1850)
1850 Census, Nashville TN-Josiah Ferris, age 49, and his family are living in Nashville. His wife Mary is 40. Gabriel is 21 and a clerk. P. Ferriss is 18 and female and would actually be Fanny P. Next is Thomas B. Ferriss age 13 followed by William age 8 and Mary A. (Alice) age 5.
1850 Slave Census-Josiah Ferris owns four slaves: three females ages 60, 50 and 20 and an 18 year old male.
1856-Frances (Fanny) P. Ferris married William H.P. Jones, Nashville TN, January 22 1856.
1860 Census, Nashville TN-Josiah Ferris and his family are living in Nashville, Ward 5, in 1860. He was a Justice of the Peace. He was 60 years old. His real estate was valued at $1200 while his personal estate was $1500. His wife, Mary Penn, was 55. Their son Gabriel was a clerk, age 30 and had the tremendous amount of real estate valued at $20,000 (possible due to the number of slaves owned?) with personal estate at only $500. His brother William was 19 and also a clerk. Next in the list is W.H.P. Jones, age 30, physician with a personal estate valued at $1000. William, a dentist, had married Josiah's daughter Fanny on January 22 1856. In the Census Fanny is age 28. Next in the list appears Kate, age 7. At first you might think Kate is the daughter of Fanny and William Jones because her name is listed just after Fanny but that wouldn't be possible. William and Fanny had only been married for four years and Kate was listed as 7 so she is the daughter of Josiah and Mary Ferriss.
CIVIL WAR- John M. Harrell has his own Arkansas Battalion which is attached to the Texas Brigade of William Lewis Cabell. Harrell has the rank of Lt. Colonel.
1868-John M. Harrell, Little Rock was elected to the National Democratic Executive Committee for the state of Arkansas.
1869-Kate Ferriss graduates from Ward's Seminary School for Young Ladies in Nashville
(Source: Announcement 1875-6 W.E. Ward's Seminary for Young Ladies, 1876)
1870 Census, Nashville TN-Josiah Ferriss is now 69 and living in District 10. He is a Notary Public and his real estate and personal estate are valued at $9000. His wife Mary is 62 and keeping house. His son-in-law, William Jones, is 40 and a physician but the census taker fails to record his last name, Jones, so it appears that he is a Ferriss. Fanny, William's wife, is 36 and at home. William Ferriss is now 26 and a book-keeper. Kate Ferriss is 17. Effie, the daughter of William H.P. Jones and Fanny, is identified correctly as Effie Jones, age 6. In addition Alfred Williams, a black male age 17, is listed "at home." I wonder what his connection to the house might have been? If he were a servant it should have been listed that way as in the case of the "house girl" in the house next door.
Notary Stamp and signature of Josiah Ferriss
1870 Census, Little Rock, Arkansas-John M. Harrell is listed as a native of Virginia, an attorney, age 39. His personal estate is $500.
1871-John M. Harrell returns to Nashville
Col. John M. Harrell of Little Rock is at present in the city. This is the first time he has put in an appearance since he left Nashville in 1849. His associates of the olden time will give him a cordial welcome to his old stamping ground. (Source: Nashville Union and American May 19 1871, page 4) Col. John M Harrell of Little Rock, former editor of Little Rock Gazette, now a prominent lawyer of that city and an old Nashville boy makes a personal appearance at the Nashville Industrial Exposition in May. (Source: Nashville Union and American, May 19 1871, page 1)
1872-John M. Harrell, delegate, attends the National Democratic Convention in Baltimore July 9 1872. (Source: The Spirit of Democracy, May 14 1872, page 2)
1875-Gen. Cabell's Old Brigades. Proposed Reunion of the Surviving Members of Gen. Cabell's Brigade, C.S.A.Colonel John M. Harrell, who was with the brigade from first to last, and is now editor of the Hot Springs Telegraph, thus speaks of the project: We publish the call for a reunion of Cabell's brigade on the 20th of October, at Lewisburg,on the Little Rock and Fort Smith railroad. By Cabell's brigade is meant the brigade. The best of any brigade consists of the soldiers, the boys that "did the work," really. And therefore, both rand and file are expected to be there. We hope to be there. We are persuaded that nothing but death will keep "Old Tige" away. The noble town of Lewisburg tenders its hospitalities, and the hospitable doors of its citizens will be wide to all who attend...(Source: The Dallas Daily Herald, August 22 1875, page 4)
1876-Kate Ferriss married John Mortimer Harrell. Nashville Daily American, Jan. 23 1876. Colonel John M. Harrell married Kate Ferriss in her father, Josiah Ferriss' residence near Nashville, January 20 1876. (Source: Nashville Daily American, Jan. 23 1876)
1877-Arkansas News- Colonel John M. Harrell and Judge T. C. Peck, of Little Rock, have opened law offices at Hot springs. (Source: Public Ledger, May 10 1877, image 2)
1878-Harrell purchases property from Carter Brutus, Garland County Arkansas.The property was purchased when Mary Ethel was an infant. In Davis et.al v. Harrell it says "Col. Harrell purchased the property from one Carter Brutus in the year 1878, when appellee was an infant of tender years, and, as a gift or advancement to his daughter, he caused the conveyance to be made to her by Brutus." In addition, Harrell builta large house and other buildings on the property. He, his wife and daughter lived in the home.
1880-Census, Nashville TN-Josiah is listed as J.I. Farriss, age 80. He's still a notary public. This is the last Census for Josiah as he dies in 1883. His wife Mary is 70 and his son William is 35 and it looks like his occupation says merchantile (sic) agt. His son-in-law the dentist, W.H.P. Jones is 49 and his wife Fanny is 45. Their daughter Effie is listed as E.L., age 15 and is the grand-daughter to the head of household, Josiah.
1880-Census, Hot Springs, AR-John M. Harrell, age 49. John is an attorney. Kate is 27 and keeping house. Their daughter Ethel is 3 years old.
1882-John M. Harrell, Representative to the Grand Council, American Legion of Honor held at Dallas Texas
1883-John M. Harrell, Author. The Brooks and Baxter War: A History of the Reconstruction Period in Arkansas
1888-Separation of Kate Ferriss Harrell and John M. Harrell. At some point an "estrangement grew up between Col. Harrell and his wife." Kate moved back to Tennessee, taking Mary Ethel with her and they never returned. John Harrell continued to reside in the home until he sold it in 1903. (Source: Davis et al. v. Harrell)
1892-Two Divorces and One marriage- The Tennessee Courts granted a divorce to Kate and in 1892 she married J.H. Thompson. At about the same time Kate was marrying J.H. Thompson, John Harrell was busy obtaining his own divorce in Garland County, Arkansas. After the divorce the records say that the estrangement between Harrell and his wife and daughter was complete. No further support or communication occurred after she married Thompson. Although Mary Ethel testified that she did send her father letters, but he never responded. It did say his last correspondence to Mary was January 30, 1891 when he sent her $35 for board, she was 14 at the time. It was also around this time that Mary Ethel changed her name. She replaced Ethel with her grandmother's maiden name of Penn and she took the last name of Thompson becoming Mary Penn Thompson. (Source: Davis et al. v. Harrell)
1900 Census, Nashville TN-The census records show that James H. Thompson was born Oct 1845 in Mississippi, was 54 years of age and had been married 28 years. His occupation was secretary of the Ancient Order of the United Workmen.
Kate was recorded as Kate H. Thompson, wife, born Nov. 1851 in Tennessee, age 48, married 28 years with one pregnancy and one living child.
Mary Ethel appears ad Mary Thompson, daughter, born Jan 1878 in Tennessee, age 22.
Well obviously James and Kate had not been married for 28 years. Most likely this was their attempt to wipe from the record Kate's marriage to Harrell.
1900-Census, Hot Springs, Arkansas-Like Kate, it appears that John Harrell wanted to wipe the marriage away as well because he listed his marital status as widowed. His birth was listed as Dec. 1828 in North Carolina, age 71, occupation was lawyer. He was living with his sister Mary Eliza Harrell, born Aug 1835, age 64, single, born in North Carolina. Mary Eliza died a year later on April 2, 1901. In an earlier census he listed his native state as Virginia. His sister other sister, Ellen Maria Harrell, was born in Virginia in 1833 according to the Centennial History of Arkansas, vol. 3. It's possible that all three Harrell children were born in Virginia, later moving to North Carolina.
1901-Mary Penn Thompson earns Language Degree. e"Miss Mary Penn Thompson is from Tennessee. She has been in the College four years, and has done efficient work. By her pleasant face and affable manner she has won the good will of the entire class and the student body. She has chosen the languages for special study, and will, therefore, be graduated with the A.B. Degree. (Source: V. 9, May 1901, Pamphlets & Articles about Payne by William Harold Payne, Chancellor of the Univ. of Nashville, Pres. of the Peabody Normal College.)
1901-John M. Harrell elected as an alderman for Hot Springs Arkansas. (Source: St. Louis Republic February 21 1901 page 14)
1903-Death of James Harvey Thompson, Nashville, Tennessee. eAccording to the Death Certificate he was born May 12 1845, Mississippi and was 57 at the time of his death on April 7, 1903. He was interred at Mt. Olivet in Nashville. His marital status was married and his occupation was Grand Recorder of the Ancient Order of the United Woodmen. His parents nativity was listed as Virginia. Last known address, 438 Park Place, Nashville, TN.
1905-Kate Thompson and Mary Penn Thompson, Residents of Pensacola Florida. They were boarding at 409 Hayne. Mary was teaching at City School No. 1
1905-10th Annual Convention Florida Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Kate Ferriss Thompson appeared in an article in the Pensacola Journal, May 4, 1905. She was listed as a chapter member of the Pensacola Division of the UDC. To my knowledge her father did not particpate in the Civil War although her brother William did and her husband James Thompson also served in the war, Co. F 1st Tennessee Infantry (Turney's).
1906-Kate and Mary Return to Nashville. Kate was working as a bookkeeper at the Tennessee Blind School and was living there as well. Mary P. Thompson was living at 114 6th Ave N. and was a student at Peabody College.
1907-Death of John Mortimer Harrell, San Antonio, Bexar, Texas
1909-Death of Kate Ferriss Harrell Thompson, Nashville, Tennessee
1911-Appointed Critic Teacher. Miss Mary Penn Thompson has been appointed critic teacher for the eighth grade at the State Normal School. She is a graduate from the University of Nashville and has been for three years a teacher in Winthrop Trining School of Peabody College. (Source: Richmond Times Dispatch, June 25, 1911.)
1911-Davis et al vs Harrell. Mary unsuccessfully sued to get property/money that she felt was hers from John M. Harrell's estate. The opinion states that Mary Ethel Harrell was the only child of John M. Harrell and talked about the "hostile relations" between father and daughter. I've included a few excerpts from the opinion:
"She (Mary) testified that she resented her father's attitude of hostility toward her mother and lost all affection for him. She took the name of Thompson, and bore that name ever afterwards, which, of course, incensed her father very greatly and added fuel to the flame of his indignation. Before that time Mrs. Harrell had caused a slight change to be made in appellee's name at her christening from what Col. Harrell had intended it to be, and he seems to have laid considerable stress upon this wrong which he conceived had been done him."
"There was a complete and final separation of father and daughter. She had abandoned him for good and knew that he had renounced her as his daughter. The attitude of each towards each other was one of the utmost hostility, and they made no further claim to each other's affection. She states in her testimony that her feeling of resentment toward her father was so pronounced that, if she had heard that he was in a dying condition, she would not have gone to him."
1912-13-Assistant Supervisor of Eighth Grade. Mary Penn Thompson, L.I. Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville, Tenn.: B.A. University of Nashville, Summer Course at University of Chicago, and at Teacher's College, New York. (Source: State Normal School, Farmville VA., Undergraduate Catalog 1912-1913.
Supervisors in the Training School are on duty from 9 am to 4 pm. Miss Mary Penn Thompson, asst. supervisor in eighth grade, salary $800. (Source: Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia House, Doc. No. 7.)
1917-Suffragette. "It is a principle of democracy that the governed shall have a voice in the government. No country can call itself a democracy if half its citizens are a disenfranchised class." Quote by Mary Penn Thompson in a 1917 Tennessee newspaper. (Source: No Weapon Save Argument: Strategic Frame Amplification in the U.S. Woman's Suffrage Movements by McCammon, Hewitt and Smith. The Sociological Quarterly, v. 45, no. 3, 1004)
1917-World War I. Mary Penn Thompson was a charter member of the Centennial Club Auxiliary of Nashville, TN. "The Centennial Club Auxiliary was organized during the campaign in June 1917, with Mrs. R.H. Lacey as Chairman. This club raised $2,203 for the campaign. Two groups of club women sewed on hospital garments at headquarters; one group served under Mrs. M.C. McGannon as Captain, and the other, under Mrs. Walter Stokes as Captain." Mary was among the 20 charter members listed. (Source: Davidson County Women in the World War, 1914-1919)
1918-Mary Penn Thompson President of the Nashville Business Women's Equal Suffrage League
1939-Death of Mary Penn Thompson. Mary Penn Thompson died August 11, 1939 at the age of 62 years, 6 months, and 21 days. Her date of birth was given as Jan. 20 1877, Hot Springs, Arkansas. She was a retired school teacher. Her father was listed as James F. (rather than H.) Thompson, birthplace unknown. He mother was Kate Ferris of Davidson Tenn. Cause of death was myocarditis and arteriosclerosis. Her last known address was 1900 E. Belmont Circle in Nashville.
The informant was Mrs. Iola Vess of 215 Twenty-second ave. I wondered if there was a family relationship between Iola Vess and Mary Penn Thompson What a surprise to discover that she was the daughter of Mary A. Ferriss and James S. Ferrill. If my consanguinity calculation is correct Iola and Mary Penn Thompson were first cousins twice removed. They share the same maternal great-grandparents, Josiah Ferriss and Mary "Polly" Stovall. Iola married William F. Vess. She died in July 1973 at Hermitage, Davidson County Tennessee.
I learned a lot about the Ferriss family during my research. What I haven't discovered yet is the connection to the Moran family. There's also no way to prove that the picture we have of Kate Ferris is THE Kate Ferriss I've detailed here. It could just be a matter of time though since we still have many many letters and documents to go through. Maybe somewhere in there is a letter from Kate or her daughter Mary. I remain hopeful!