William Boyd Fergus was born March 18, 1911 in Garland, Box Elder, Utah. His parents were William Maughan Fergus and Martha Elizabeth Peterson. He was their first child. From his own life history, he writes, “I had a normal birth. I was named after my father and one of his best friends.” He was later blessed on June 1, 1911.
Oddly enough, his mother always celebrated his birthday on March 20th. It was not until the age of 65, when he sent for a copy of his birth certificate, that he found out his recorded birth date was March 18th. Despite this unexpected bit of information, he continued to believe that his mother had known for sure what date he was born on.
Martha Fergus and Lucy Jane Cutler were close friends and neighbors, living about a half mile apart at the time of Cleone Cutler’s birth (Boyd’s future wife). Martha took her children, including Boyd, down to see new baby Cleo when she was only a week old. Match-making? Perhaps. It made a great story for later years when grandchildren would ask when Grandpa and Grandpa first met and fell in love.
The Fergus family lived about twenty miles from grandpa Anton Levi Peterson’s place in the Snowville, Utah area. Boyd remembers riding in a shiny, black one horse buggy with his mother back and forth to his grandparent’s house. Once on the way home, a man on a motorcycle frightened the horse into running away with them. Martha said a prayer and finally got the horse stopped. She told Boyd that she knew the Lord would help them. He was small, but the lesson of faith was learned and always remembered.
Boyd’s mother was a self-sufficient woman who taught her children to work hard and accomplish much. Whenever Boyd was not needed outside for chores, he helped his mother indoors. The washer had a handle on it that needed to be pushed back and forth in order to wash the clothes. Boyd’s job was to push the handle. He also helped to carry and heat the wash water in a boiler on the stove. Wash day was also bread baking day in order to conserve the oven’s heat. Boyd also helped his mother milk the cows daily.
Boyd’s father despite his college education and stable upbringing could not settle down to any one job for a given amount of time. As Boyd later described, “the pasture was always greener somewhere else for my father.” He kept the family moving around a great deal. Many times the children would come home from school to find the wagon loaded and ready to move. It was this transitory upbringing that influenced Boyd in his adult life. He wanted a place with a home for his family to settle and stay, so each farm job he accepted needed to meet that requirement.
Boyd learned how to work horses early on and loved to drive them. He helped plow, seed, and harvest crops. He liked to run the header, a machine that cut and thrashed grain. He also helped haul coal for the church and school, from the railhead 30 miles away in Promontory, Utah. It was very tiring work for the horses and they had to take it slow. Hogs also needed to be driven to the railhead in Promontory and Boyd helped with this many times. This was typically done on foot with many stops for water, which they hauled along with them in tanks.