Joseph Sanford Ferry arrived in DuPage County in 1838 as a nine-year-old when his parents, Sylvanus and Rhoda, moved from New York via Terra Haute. The family lived in Warrenville at first until his father bought his own land. Sylvanus, unfortunately, died not long after.
When Joseph was sixteen, his uncles helped the family purchase fifty-three acres of farmland. Within a few years, Joseph had sold that farm and bought another more than twice the size. During that time, Joseph married and started a family. Joseph didn’t have access to much education in his youth, but his wife, Sophronia, was a school teacher. In order for the children to attend school, they moved into the city of Aurora a few years later and Joseph sold the farm.
While the Civil War certainly was an unfortunate influence, Aurora grew rapidly in the mid-1800s, aided by the many factories that were powered by the Fox River. Joseph became a builder and developer while living in the city and “purchased residence property and vacant lots on which he erected several neat dwelling houses.”
The expansive “farm scene” depicted in the atlas engraving is probably the farm he moved to in 1873 since the atlas was published in 1874. According to a map in the same atlas, Joseph’s acreage was southwest of the town of Naperville. Northwest of Naperville is another plot labeled “M Ferry,” which belonged most likely to Melancthon, Joseph’s brother. Melancthon was married three times and sired a number of children. His family farmed the homestead until the 1970s and inspired the name of Ferry Road. There was also a sister, Louisa, who never married.
Joseph Ferry only remained on the farm in the engraving until 1890 when he and his wife, Sophronia, moved back into Aurora. Sophronia taught school in DuPage County as well as in Vermont and New York, where she lived before her marriage. Both her great-grandfather, Col. Seth Warner, and her grandfather, Israel Putnam Warner, were Revolutionary War veterans, although Israel was only a nine-year-old messenger and scout during the war.