Henry Clay Ferris

              Henry Clay Ferris

Contributed by Annette Canpbell

Record As Under-Sheriff Shows His
Fitness For Promotion

At the time when gangsters of lesser fame have a way of casually taking leave of prisons of far greater strength and man-power than the Greene County Jail, the man who was second in command of the jail which safely incarcerated eight of the vicious metropolitan Coll gang and three of the slicker Diamond racket men at the same time, may be expected to rate certain recognition at the polls when the ballots are counted in the election of a new Sheriff next month.

Since the law forbids the re-election of Sheriff it is the opinion of responsible observers throughout the county that Henry Clay Ferris, undersheriff, upon whom a large share of the responsibility fell in the hectic days of Greene County's own war on crime, is a man keyed to his job and trained in his apprenticeship to the emergencies of the post.

It is revealing to note that two of the Vincent Coll hoodlums, transferred to Eastview penitentiary in Westchester county, after entering pleas of guilty here, escaped from there. One, after capture, departed the second time and the other is still at liberty since his first walkout. But artists though they were in the disappearing act, as events proved, neither they nor any other prisoner committed to the sheriff's office during the present administration has departed informally, in spite of the fact that the jail structure itself has been known to be unconfining to prisoners under circumstances of less vigilence.

Mr. Ferris aided in the arrest of Jack Diamond in the opening round of the Governor Parks kidnapping case and a few months later was called "to clean up the muss at Aratoga Inn," as Mr. Ferris puts it, after the second shooting of the dapper gangster.

These references barely reflect the highlights in a two-year career crowded with duties more perilous and trying than the officers of any previous administration in the history of law and order preservation in Greene county have faced.  It is for this that a Sheriff is selected. And when satisfactory execution of such duties is coupled with the most economical conduct of the office in the experience of the county, little more can be hoped in a man's qualifications for promotion.

Worthy of note, too, is the business-like air which has pervaded the sheriff's office, which  in times previous has been known as something of a rendeavous for hangers-on.  In the execution of the civil duties of this office Mr. Ferris points with pride to his satisfactory relations with all with whom he has dealt during the last two years.  "If I win in this election I will do no different," Mr. Ferris pledged himself in undertaking the campaign.  "I have no other business engagements and am free to devote my whole time to the business of the people of the county. I promise my very best in service." 

Periodical reports of the State Commission of Correction have been increasingly commendatory in relation to the conduct and maintenance of the jail, the repeated criticism of the housing of village prisoners in the county institution merely redounding to the credit of the administration which is charged with that much more responsibility, Mr. Ferris, like Sheriff Harold R. Every, declares that in the interests of economy, he will assume day and night responsibility for prisoners except for the three months in the summer when it has been found advisable to maintain a night jailer because of the increased calls upon the Sheriff's staff.

Born in Ashland, Mr. Ferris was the first supervisor of the town to serve three consecutive terms, and during that period, 1912-18, accomplished construction of the state road from Prattsville to Ashland.  His father Clinton Ferris, had served two terms in the Board of Supervisors and was for many years a Republican county committeeman.  The man who aspires to be the next Sheriff of Greene county has had a varied career as farmer, a foreman for seven years of the Breakstone & Levine Creamery in Prattsville and a year on a Nebraska ranch. He proudly claims membership in Mountain Lodge No. 259, F. & A. M., and Athabasca Tribe of Red Men at Catskill.


Henry Clay Ferris was born 31 Aug 1885 and married Mina F. Martin. He was a son of Clinton D. and Maggie C. Stewart Ferris, the son of Dennis Alden & Sarah Frisbie Ferris who was a son of Nathaniel & Nancy Goodyear Ferris who was a son of Gilbert and Phoebe Austin Ferris of Sutton Hollow, Ashland, NY of whom the typist of this article also descends.  Annette Campbell

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