Ferris, Warren Angus (1810–1873)

By: Susanne Starling

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: September 26, 2019

Warren Angus Ferris (Ferriss), surveyor and early settler of Dallas County, was born on December 26, 1810, in Glen Falls, New York, the son of Angus and Sarah (Gray) Ferriss. As a youth he lived in Buffalo, New York. He left home in 1828 and reached St. Louis in 1829, where he joined the American Fur Company. He mapped the Yellowstone country and kept a journal of his five adventurous years in the West, first serialized in the Western Literary Messenger from January 11, 1843, to May 4, 1844, and later published as a book, Life in the Rocky Mountains (1940).

Ferris came to Texas with his younger brother, Charles Ferris, a veteran of the Texas Revolution, and in 1837 was elected surveyor of Nacogdoches County, which then stretched west to the Trinity River. Between 1839 and 1841 Ferris led a series of daring surveying expeditions into northeastern Texas, which was occupied by Indians. He also surveyed for William P. King's Southern Land Company, for whom he began to found a town, Warwick, at the Three Forks of the Trinity River. At King's death in 1841 the townsite was taken by John Neely Bryan of Dallas. Parts of what became Dallas, Kaufman, Hunt, Van Zandt, Collin, Denton, and Henderson counties were surveyed by Ferris and his deputy, John H. Reagan. In 1841 the surveyors scouted for Gen. James Smith's military expedition against the Indians at Village Creek (Arlington).

Surveyors were prohibited from speculation, so Ferris filed personal land claims in the name of his half brother, Clarence A. (Joshua) Lovejoy. Sections along White Rock Creek in Dallas were later ceded to Ferris's first wife, Melinda G. Cook of Crockett. Ferris's surveys of Dallas County dictated the peculiar slant of grants east of the Trinity River, and his Lagow and Grigsby surveys determined the directions of Dallas city streets.

After the death of his first wife, Ferris married Frances Moore of Palestine and in 1847 settled on his land on White Rock Creek. He fathered twelve children, cultivated eighty-five acres of his extensive holdings, surveyed for the Peters colony, supervised road building, and in 1850 surveyed the boundaries for Dallas County. Ferris played no active role in the Civil War, although his sympathies ran with the Democratic party and the Confederacy. When Frances Ferris died in childbirth in 1869, Warren was left a widower with young children to raise. He taught surveying and wrote his reminiscences for the Dallas Herald (see DALLAS TIMES HERALD). He died on February 8, 1873, and was buried in a community cemetery in what is now the Forest Hills addition of Dallas, near White Rock Lake.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Exploration
  • Explorers (American)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Susanne Starling, “Ferris, Warren Angus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 13, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ferris-warren-angus.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
September 26, 2019

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