West Virginia State University to Induct Three into ROTC Hall of Fame

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
Oct.4 , 2022
West Virginia State University to Induct Three into ROTC Hall of Fame 

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – Three former United States service members and brothers will be posthumously inducted Friday, Oct. 7, in the West Virginia State University (WVSU) ROTC Hall of Fame. The ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Erickson Alumni Center with a reception to follow.

WVSU’s ROTC Hall of Fame was created to recognize the accomplishments of its graduates who have excelled in their fields. This year’s inductees are: 2nd Lt. Daniel Leroy Ferguson, Sr.; Cpl. William Percy Ferguson; and Cpt. Gurnette Edinburgh Ferguson. This year’s ceremony includes opening remarks from WVSU President Ericke Cage and guest remarks from Ret. Lt. Col. Quewanncoii C. Stephens, Sr. 

Daniel Leroy Ferguson, Sr. had a storied career at West Virginia State University, where he worked and helped shape the institution for more 40 years. A graduate of Garnet High School, Daniel attended what was then the West Virginia Colored Institute and received instruction and training to become a school teacher. He continued his academic study at the Ohio State University (OSU), graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1916 and a master’s degree in sociology in 1917. 

Although he had already been involved with ROTC at OSU, and held the rank of Corporal, he entered the U.S. Army as a Private First Class on October 1917, in the Engineers Training Battalion located at Camp Lee, Virginia. His time at Camp Lee was marred by racial animus and strife. He met oppression face on speaking out repeatedly; setting a precedent for other Black soldiers to be vocal about their discriminatory experiences. He would eventually get a transfer to Camp Grant, Illinois, joining Company F., 365th Colored Infantry and was promoted to Corporal.  He was then transferred to Fourth Officers Training School at Camp Dodge in Iowa.
While at Camp Dodge, Daniel qualified for Machine Gun Training School and was sent to Camp Hancock, Georgia, receiving training and certification as an instructor. In September 1918, he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant graduating with honors as he had the highest general average in work and theory. From there he was put in command of the 84th Company, 7th Group, M.T.D., maintaining that position until his discharge on Jan. 6, 1919.

Upon his discharge, he returned to the campus of what was then the West Virginia Collegiate Institute, with his bride of one year, Katherine Watson Ferguson of Columbus, Ohio. Daniel would go on to serve as chair of Economics and Sociology and was subsequently appointed Dean of Sociology. In addition to continuing his work in the classroom as a professor of sociology at the institution, he also served as a Special Extension Agent for both WVCI and West Virginia University.

Though he was immersed in his civilian life, Daniel would continue ties with the military as board member of the local American Legion and as part of the West Virginia National Guard where he actively trained new recruits who would go on to serve in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam.

He and his wife became lifelong residents of Institute, raising nine children; Jane E., Daniel L., Katherine L., Stewart A., Warne L., Joseph T., Raynina H., Gurnett E., Sue A., each of whom would serve in the United States military with the exception of their two youngest daughters, who married career military men. Daniel died July 14, 1971.

William Percy Ferguson was born in 1895 in Raymond City, West Virginia. He graduated from Garnet High School and followed in the footsteps of his siblings going on to secure a teacher’s certificate from the West Virginia Colored Institute. He was assigned to teach Black children in segregated schoolhouses in various rural areas around West Virginia.

William was interested in furthering his studies and enrolled at Ohio State University, where he studied mathematics. Upon finishing his studies, William would eventually move to Cleveland, Ohio, to seek work.  
As the United States became more embroiled in World War I, he became one of many young men to join the war effort. He was enlisted as a Private in Company D, 317th Engineers of the National Army on March 12, 1918. He secured a rifleman’s sharpshooter badge during this time.  William was promoted to Corporal in May of that same year. By June 9, 1918, he would find himself traveling overseas to Europe, to serve as part of the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, American Expeditionary Forces; Defensive Sector. It was the deadliest battle in the history of the United States Army. On March 31, 1919, four months after the close of that battle, he was honorably discharged from the army.

Returning stateside shortly thereafter, he married Alistine Griffith Washington of Maryland. The couple moved back to Institute and grew their family as he worked as a merchant alongside his father, who ran a farm and maintained an expansive fruit orchard. The couple had four sons: William Percy Jr., Glorian Valentino, Lionel, and Jean Rene. 

Prior to the family leaving the state, William was active in the all-Black American Legion post of Charleston where he was on the Executive Board, and the Masons, the latter of which he continued in a leadership capacity in New York. He also helped charter WVSU’s Alpha Zeta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Today, his name is etched on the fraternity marker which stands on campus. William passed away on July 18, 1982.
Gurnette “Cap” Edinburgh Ferguson spent most of his younger years growing up in Institute.  He graduated from Garnet High School and went on to receive a teacher’s certificate from the West Virginia Colored Institute in 1912. He would take on teaching assignments in both Cabell and Fayette counties, thereafter.

In 1914, he wed Lily Fos­ter and over the course of their 60-year marriage they welcomed six daughters; Bess, Ashton, Grace, Lorna, Barbara and Betty. 

Gurnette began to transition away from teaching into real estate, partnering with Anderson Brown and John Norman, who had been developing properties around Charleston and the surrounding areas. Before he got a strong foothold in that career, he would enter the U.S. Army as part of World War I efforts. In 1917, Gurnette was assigned to the 17th Provisional Training Regiment at Fort Des Moines, Iowa - the first site designated for training Black officers. After three months of training in Iowa, Gurnette was commissioned as a Captain.
Gurnette spent four months in basic training at Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois, and became Captain of Company M of the 365th Infantry, part of the all-Black 92nd Division. 

In the summer of 1918, Gurnette led an all-Black 1,700-troop transport across the Atlantic. This earned him the nickname ‘Cap’ by which he would affectionately be referred, the rest of his life.  

Towards the end of the war, the 365th was actively involved in the fighting in the Vosges Mountains. The French awarded their entire regiment the Croix de Guerre.

Upon his return to the United States, Gurnette worked to achieve his dreams in real estate and undertook two significant projects. The first was the establishment of The Ferguson Hotel in 1922, located in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. This grand achievement cemented him as an economic mover and shaker in the state. The second project in the late 1950’s was the development of Pinewood Park, a sub-division specifically designed to expand living opportunities for professional Black families seeking homeownership in Kanawha County.  

Although interested in economic progress and growing the Black middle-class, he was nonetheless a philanthropic man, participating in various civic organizations and working to create social change. Among those were the NAACP, the Mayor’s Commission on Human Relations, and the board of the original Charleston Civic Center. 

Gurnette’s societal contributions further include commissioning the Booker T. Washington monument installed at the West Virginia State Capitol grounds, being a founding member of the first African-American Legion post in West Virginia and founding member of West Virginia’s Veterans of Foreign War. Gurnette passed away on Dec. 26, 1982.  

The WVSU ROTC Hall of Fame was started in 1980. Since its inception, more than 170 service members have been inducted.

The ROTC Hall of Fame induction ceremony is taking place as part of Homecoming activities at WVSU. For more information about Homecoming, including a complete schedule of events click here.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land-grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
– WVSU –
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