by Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation | June 17, 2022
The characters are real, the stories true, and the history, incredible! Let’s begin. Enter, Joe Ferris…
When Theodore Roosevelt was coming to the Badlands to hunt buffalo, he needed a guide.
"It was a relationship that endured through Roosevelt’s presidency and continued for the remainder of their lives.”
Joe came to own the Ferris Store after a Swede named Jonny Nelson abruptly left Medora due to debt trouble. On August 4, 1885, Joe celebrated the grand opening of the Ferris Store.
According to “Boom, Bust, and Resurrection”, “When the Marquis’ enterprises failed in 1886, virtually every business in town closed its doors.” The Ferris store was not one of them. Joe kept it open, eventually handing over the business to his son Arnold in 1908. In 1925 the Ferris Store was closed after Arnold sold it to a Dickinson business man. 38 years later Harold Schafer restored the Ferris Store as we know it today.
This story was excerpted from Rolf Sletten’s book, “Medora – Boom, Bust, and Resurrection.”