Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Arris Idyl Ferree (1890-1965)

From the 1943 edition of the North Carolina Manual.

    It's not often that the same legislative session in a particular state produces more than one or two oddly named political figures at a time. With that fact in mind, this author can state with the utmost certainty that the 1943-44 session of the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives takes the cake when it comes to oddly named public officials, as there were a grand total of nine men serving in that session with strange names! Among these curiously named legislators were Fleetus Lee Gobble (1890-1961), Ippie Purvis Graham (1890-1962), Coble Funderburk (1905-2000), Erasmus Alston Daniel (1911-1948), Junius LeRoy Allen (1894-1970), Sumter Coe Brawley (1878-1961), Lorrimer Willard Midgett (1911-1980) and Gurley Stewart (1911-1996). Arris Idyl "A.I." Ferree (a two-term representative from Randolph County) was amongst this motley crew of strange names and has the honor of receiving a write-up today here on the site.
   This prominent son of Asheboro, North Carolina was born in that city on October 9, 1890, a son of local farmer and merchant Arris Mebane and Sarah Harrelson Ferree. Arris attended the Gold Hill School and Asheboro Academy and went on to study at the Guilford College from 1907 to 1908. He later enrolled at Wake Forest College and graduated in 1914 with a degree in law. In the following year, Ferree established a law practice over a jewelry business in Asheboro and at the dawn of American involvement in WWI signed on for service in the Army, becoming a First Lieutenant of Field Artillery.
   After returning stateside Ferree reentered the practice of law, moving his office in 1922 to an area called "Lawyer's Row" in Asheboro, where he operated until his decease in 1965. In 1925 he won election as a Republican to the North Carolina State House of Representatives, and after taking his seat proved to be busy as a first-term legislator, being named to the committees on Agriculture, Education, Election Laws, Journal, Judiciary (No. 1), Penal Institutions, Privileges and Elections, Public Roads and Turnpikes and Public Welfare.
    At the conclusion of his term in 1927, Ferree returned to practicing law in Asheboro for a time. In the following year, he launched a campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina, running against three term Democratic incumbent William Cicero Hammer (1865-1930). On election day 1928 the contest proved to be a close one, with Ferree losing to Hammer by a vote of 39, 106 to 41,124. Despite losing by a slim margin, the undeterred Ferree went on to mount another campaign for Congress eight years later, running against Harold Dunbar Cooley (1894-1970) of Nash County. On election day 1934 the electoral results were clearly in favor of Cooley, who bested Ferree by a vote of 56,703 to 17, 179. Cooley would go on to serve a total of thirty years in Congress (retiring in 1967) and chaired the House committee on Agriculture for a record sixteen years.
   In February 1936 Arris Ferree married in Asheboro to Mabel Parrish (1905-1993), and the new couple is recorded as later honeymooning in Florida. A notice on their wedding is provided below, as it appeared in the February 13, 1936 Spartanburg Herald.

   Following his nuptials, Ferree continued to be politically active, both at the local and state levels. In 1940 he was an unsuccessful candidate for North Carolina Secretary of State and in 1941 was elected to serve on the Asheboro Board of Commissioners. In 1942 he was elected to a second term in the North Carolina State House of Representatives and served during the 1943-44 legislative session. Ferree was named to the committee on Roads during this term and in 1944 launched a run for the United States Senate, campaigning against former North Carolina Governor Clyde Roark Hoey (1877-1954). A notice on Ferree's Senate candidacy (shown below) appeared in the High Point Enterprise on November 2, 1944, and touted that Ferree "stands for world cooperation to preserve peace, also preparedness. His election would give North Carolina recognition nationally". Despite aspiring to such lofty goals, Ferree was defeated by Hoey by a vote of 533, 813 to his own 226,037. 

From the Raeford, N.C. News-Journal, November 2, 1944.

   After 1944 A.I. Ferree refrained from further political campaigns but continued to be active in Asheboro civic affairs, serving as President of the local Chamber of Commerce, chairman of Randolph County's Red Cross Chapter, and is remarked by his obituary as being instrumental in establishing and editing the Randolph Tribune. His death at age 75 was caused by an apparent heart attack on June 19, 1965, while engaged in gardening at his home. Following a funeral service, he was interred at the Asheboro City Cemetery and was survived by his wife Mabel, who died in March 1993 at age 87. The following obituary for Arris Idyl Ferree appeared in the High Point Enterprise on June 19, 1965.

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