Sunday, December 23, 2018

Benjamin F. Ferrill (1897-1960)

Born March 31, 1897, De Soto, Mississippi
Died April 1, 1960, Washington, D.C.

Benjamin Franklin Ferrill was born on March 31, 1897, in De Soto, Mississippi, and was educated by his grandmother, Mrs. Love Ophelia Day Saxon. Ferrill lived in Laurel, Hattiesburg, and Lumberton, Mississippi. He was in Cleveland, Ohio, when he was inducted into the U.S. Army. (His obituary says that he was a World War I veteran. Public records say that he served after the war, in 1920-1921.) Ferrill lived in Washington, D.C., for about forty years, and it was in that city that he married Grace Murray of Providence and Jamestown, Rhode Island, in 1924. The couple had just one child, who was also named Grace. These two women may very well have overshadowed Ferrill, for Grace M. Ferrill, the oldest of eleven children, was a yeomanette at the Naval Training Station at Newport, Rhode Island, during World War I and a grain market reporter for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for forty years. She lived to the century mark. Their daughter, Grace Cecilia Ferrill, nicknamed Bunny, earned degrees in law and psychology and worked for the U.S. Departments of Labor and Treasury, also for many decades, and she lived to be ninety-one. (I think I would still take the career of a pulp writer over that of a government employee.)

Benjamin F. Ferrill wrote dozens of Westerns from 1926 to 1943, for Ace-High Magazine, Action Stories, Cowboy Stories, Fawcett's Triple-X Magazine, Frontier, The Golden West Magazine, Lariat Story Magazine, North-West Stories, West, Western Rangers, Wild West Weekly, and other titles. He also wrote a couple of crime and detective stories, published in Street & Smith's Detective Story Magazine and The Underworld Magazine. His work for Weird Tales numbered exactly one short story. It's called "Dead Man's Vengeance," and it appeared in the December 1931 issue of the magazine. His story "The Black Cat's Eyes," originally in West for March 3, 1928, has more recently been reprinted in The Second Cat Megapack: Frisky Feline Tales, Old and New (2013). Ferrill also wrote short stories for newspapers, including "I'm Tellin' You," which was in the Boston Globe for July 24, 1942.

Benjamin F. Ferrill died on April 1, 1960, in Washington, D.C., and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Benjamin F. Ferrill's Story in Weird Tales
"Dead Man's Vengeance" (Dec. 1931)

Further Reading
You can read more in obituaries for Ferrill ("Ben F. Ferrill Dies in Capitol," Clarion Ledger [MS], Apr. 29, 1960, p. 16), his wife (here), and his daughter (here).

Copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley

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