We continue our week-long stay in Massachusetts, traveling from Hampshire County to Worcester County to profile the life of Clarentine Ervin Ferson, a little known resident of the city of Fitchburg who served two terms in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives beginning in 1894. Mr. Ferson served in the same legislative session as Alvertus Willard Morse, who was profiled yesterday, and one can wonder if these two oddly named legislators ever worked together on legislation passed during their respective terms!
Clarentine E. Ferson was born in Francestown in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire on May 19, 1845, one of six children born to Levi Ferson (1805-1863) and Prudence Phelps Colby. The Ferson family is recorded as removing from New Hampshire to Lowell, Massachusetts when Clarentine was two, and he and his siblings were educated in the public schools of that city. In February 1862 the then sixteen-year-old Ferson joined in the ongoing war effort, enlisting in Co. L. of the 1st Regiment Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was promoted to Sargent in May 1864 due to his "bravery and meritorious conduct" during battle and was honorably discharged from this unit in February 1865 after three years of service. He is also noted by the 1895 History of Francestown, N.H. as "having participated in twenty-one engagements with the army of the Potomac."
After returning home from the army Ferson married Clara A. French in July 1869 and had one daughter, Aimee Colby Ferson, born in December 1878. Ferson and his wife resided in Greenville, New Hampshire during the mid-1870s before removing to Fitchburg, Massachusetts in October 1879. Following his resettlement he found employment as a blacksmith by the Fitchburg Machine Works, holding the position of foreman. Ferson first became active in Fitchburg politics during the late 1880s, serving as a common councilman for the fifth ward from 1888-1889.
In 1893 Clarentine Ferson began a campaign for a seat in the Massachusetts General Court and on election day emerged victorious, defeating his Democratic opponent John Heagney by a vote of 2,114 to 1,225. Ferson was named to the house committee on labor during his service, and in November 1894 won re-election to the legislature with a vote of 2075. He continued to serve on the labor committee during his second term and is remarked as taking an active part in ongoing legislation during that year's session.
Following the conclusion of his second term, Ferson returned to Fitchburg and maintained memberships in the American Order of United Woodmen, Masons, and Odd Fellows lodges. Ferson died on his 53rd birthday, May 19, 1898, and was later interred at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Fitchburg, which is also the resting place of his father, mother and two of his siblings.