Floyd Alvin “Abb” Ferguson passed away peacefully on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 23, 2011, at the age of 101. Abb was born on a small farm near Pickwick, Texas, the second child of Jim and Nannie Ferguson. In 1915, the young family traveled to New Mexico by covered wagon in search of a better life.
After wintering in the Palo Duro Canyon, near Amarillo, they laid claim to a small homestead near Elida, where they lived for the next 12 years. These were hard years for the family with constant drought and failure to discover any ground water on the property. At age 16, Abb decided he needed to leave home in order to find work and try to send money back to help support his parents and siblings. His first job was as a hand for the Four Sixes Ranch in northwest Texas where he spent a year helping to build a fence from Panhandle to Borger, Texas. During this time, Abb learned to box and competed in local traveling carnivals. He was able to earn extra money to send home by boxing threeround fights with the carnival â€œtough guys.â€ (Abb’s own words).
When the ranch work ended, Abb returned to New Mexico, taking whatever jobs he could find. He supplemented his income by trapping coyotes and wolves and selling their furs to mail order companies back east. In 1933, Abb joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. After basic training at Fort Bliss, Texas, his unit went to work excavating the Greyhound Lake between Portales and Clovis. They cleared forests near Santa Fe, and mined sandstone from the Caprock.
He was honorably discharged in 1935 with four dollars to return home. Abb’s life soon changed dramatically when he was introduced to Barbara Carter, the daughter of a Portales grocer, and friend of his younger sisters. They married in 1936, and Abb remained completely devoted to her until her death in 1993. It was time to settle down, and so Abb taught himself auto mechanics and welding. He opened his own auto shop in Portales, doing body work and auto repairs. On weekends, Abb and Barbara would pack up the car and take their two young children, Floyd and Gerald, camping and fishing, either at Conchas or Fort Sumner lakes.
These camping trips went on for years until the boys left home, but began all over again when grandchildren, Kirk, Greg and Lee, were old enough to accompany them. When Abb retired, he and Barbara flew out to Jakarta, Indonesia, by way of Hong Kong to visit Floyd and his family. A three week visit turned into three months. They kept detailed diaries of the trip, and took many slides and photos which they later shared with friends and clubs back home. It was the trip of their lifetime. In 1986, Barbara and Abb moved from Portales to Roswell to be closer to Floyd and Susan. Each year, Abb would grow a huge vegetable garden.
He canned tomatoes and apples and stored bushels of onions. He enjoyed collecting the pecans which fell from his trees and feeding the guinea hens that would come by to visit him each day. Abb loved to play the guitar and the fiddle. He enjoyed painting, leather work and silversmithing. His grandchildren adored him, and were always ready to listen to his stories about life on the homestead. This next paragraph is taken verbatim from an essay written in 1998 by his grandson, Lee, for his American History and Literature class when he was a student at NMMI: “In conclusion, throughout his life Abb Ferguson showed how his individual spirit enabled him to survive through a time period that threatened the entire nation. By always working hard and never giving up, Abb was able to find work, support his family, and keep himself fed and provided for as well. He possessed that inner strength that drives some people to go on when all others around them are giving up.â€ Abb Ferguson is survived by his son, Floyd; daughter -in-law Susan; grandchildren, Kirk, Greg and his wife, Lloana, and Lee and his wife, Catherine; and great-grandchildren, Vanessa, Oscar, Mookie and Lane.
The family is especially grateful to the staff at Sunset Villa Care Center who cared for â€œPopâ€ with love and gentleness in his last years. Arrangements have been entrusted to Ballard Funeral Home and Crematory. An online registry can be accessed at www.ballard funeralhome.com.