Ferry was born in Lowville, New York on August 8, 1833 but
after his father's passing when Dexter was but three years of age,
he and his mother moved to Penfield, New York. Dexter went
attended school there and at the age of 16 began working on a
1851 when he reached 18 years, he began working for a man named
Ezra M. Parsons of Rochester,
New York. Obviously Mr. Parsons saw something in the young man.
In a short time, in 1852, Parsons helped Dexter get a job as an
errand boy for S .D. Elwood & Company, a stationery firm in
Detroit, Michigan. There he was soon promoted first to salesman,
and later to bookkeeper.
formal education, experience as a laborer, and a firm
understanding of various aspects of business under his belt, Mr.
Ferry, along with two partners, Milo T. Gardner and Eber F.
Church, founded Gardner, Ferry & Church on April 1, 1856.
Dexter was not quite 23 years old.
company's growth was slow The first year, sales were only
In 1865, Ferry bought out Gardner and the company name was
shortened to Ferry, Church & company. Church retired in 1867
and Dexter again changed the name by dropping his ex-partner's
was innovative in that he focused on quality and gained a
reputation for selling superior seeds. He chose to only sell
fresh seed with tested high germination rates.
1879, Mr. Ferry absorbed the Detroit Seed Company and incorporated
as D. M. Ferry & Co. With a well picked executive management
team, the company grew, released new varieties of vegetables, and
disaster struck on New Years Day in 1886. A fire demolished
the company's warehouse with a loss then estimated at nearly
$1,000,000. Ruin was averted by Ferry's quick action.
They purchased seed stock and purchased and absorbed two smaller
seed companies, and were ultimately able to fill their customer's
rebuilt the company and constructed a new warehouse, and by 1890
were selling over $1,500,000 annually. By the early 1900s,
the company's sales were reportedly over $2,000,000 per year.
This was acheived through mail-order catalog sales as well as by
supplying seed racks to 160,000 retail outlets.
D. M. Ferry died on November 10, 1907.
The company merged with the California based
seed company, C. C. Morse Company in 1930 to become the Ferry-Morse Seed
Company. They relocated to Kentucky in 1959.
1981, the Ferry-Morse Seed Company became part of France’s
Groupe Limagrain. According to the company, Groupe
Limagrain is considered to be the largest breeder-producer of
horticultural seed in the world.
an aside, and not necessarily significant to the D. M. Ferry Seed
Company, is that an interesting connection to the
Company exists. In 1910, D. M. Ferry & Company commissioned
W. Herbert ("Buck") Dunton (a distant cousin of Victory Seed
Company's founder, Mike Dunton), to paint
"Settlers and Seeds".
Buck Dunton (1878-1936) was an important Western
illustrator, painter, muralist, lithographer and his work is
much sought after.