FERGUSON, CLAIRE RUSH

Mikael Evans
Tombstone of Claire Rush Ferguson.
Tombstone of Claire Rush Ferguson in Rosemound Cemetery, Commerce, Texas. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

FERGUSON, CLAIRE RUSH (1880–1975). Claire Rush Ferguson, member of the Woman’s Culture Club and spouse of East Texas State Teachers College (now Texas A&M University-Commerce) president Arthur C. Ferguson, daughter of Henry P. Rush and Emily Jane (Powell) Rush, was born on September 20, 1880, in Lafayette Springs, Mississippi. Rush attended school in Mississippi before she moved to Texas, where she enrolled in Southwest State Normal School (now Texas State University) at San Marcos, Texas. She graduated from the college in 1909 and married Arthur Clint Ferguson on August 25, 1909. 

The couple initially resided in Temple, Texas, and then Marlin, Texas, in 1910 before making their move to Commerce, Texas, in 1925. The couple had two daughters, Hazelwood and Emily Claire, while living in Marlin, and Arthur Ferguson also had a daughter, Juanita, from a previous marriage. In each city, Arthur Ferguson worked in various roles within the public high schools and administration until Commerce, where he served as the academic dean at East Texas State Teachers College (ETSTC) for twenty-two years. He earned his doctorate in 1937 and later became the president of the college in 1946 before retiring in 1947. From 1948 to 1954 Arthur Ferguson served as the mayor of Commerce.

In her role as the first lady of ETSTC, Claire Ferguson became the leading hostess, ensuring that the school functions in which her husband presided ran well and smoothly.  However, Ferguson had her own presidential duties to manage. Throughout her time in Commerce, she served as the president of the Woman’s Culture Club, the Women’s Society, and the Dames Club (also known as the College Dames), in addition to her service in the Methodist Church.

Nine women founded the Woman’s Culture Club during April 1904 to improve themselves and the Commerce community, and the organization raised money for scholarships for girls and various community projects. Ferguson was president of the Woman’s Culture Club from 1949 to 1951. The College Dames membership extended to full-time female faculty members, the spouses of male faculty and administrators, and the mothers of all full-time faculty members. The club provided a place for women to socialize as well as sponsor a variety of community activities. Claire Rush Ferguson died on March 1, 1975, at a hospital in Commerce. At the time of her death, she was survived by two sisters, one brother, one daughter, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. She and her husband, who passed away in 1973, were buried at Rosemound Cemetery, Commerce, Texas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Commerce Journal, November 21, 1973; March 6, 1975. Billie and Otha Spencer, eds., The Handbook of Commerce, Texas (Commerce: Friends of the Commerce Public Library, 1985). 

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Handbook of Texas Online, Mikael Evans , "FERGUSON, CLAIRE RUSH ," accessed October 20, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fergu.

Uploaded on July 24, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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