Ken Furr writes book about Furr family history

Published 3:16 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Ken Furr has always been interested in his history, particularly the origin of the Furrs in Stanly County.

After many decades of researching the origin of his family, including utilizing genetic genealogy and making several trips abroad, he has written his first book.

He documents the history behind his family in “Moments in Time: a Furr Family Genetic Geneology & Furr (Foor, Forry, Fore, Fuhr) Family History.”

Furr began getting serious about writing a book in 2009, after he discovered his family came from a small village in Switzerland called Zell. “The Furrs had lived there for thousands of years,” he said.

The common thinking, he said, had always been that his family had originated from Germany.

A decorated Vietnam War veteran and retired Marine colonel, Furr operates Stony Mountain Winery. He previously served as both a Stanly County commissioner and the N.C. representative for District 67.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said, noting he has always been “fascinated” with his family history. “It’s been a journey of about 20 to 30 years, maybe even my lifetime, because I’ve always been interested in family and where we came from and nobody seemed to have any answers.”

To figure out his family roots, Furr spent time in Switzerland, Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. He also made several trips to Pennsylvania, since Philadelphia, he said, was the only port that kept accurate records of immigrants arriving to the country.

“I firmly believe everyone has a story to tell,” he wrote in the preface. “At the ripe old age of 80, this is my honest attempt to preserve for others some of what I have been able to discover of the lives of those who went before.”

As part of his research, he focused on tracing “tree trunks and limbs” (grandfathers, grandmothers, great-aunts and great-uncles) as opposed to less direct ancestors, such as cousins. He utilized primary sources, such as birth or death certificates, whenever he could.

He found that many families in Stanly County are related to the Furrs including the Burrises and the Dennises.

“You’ve got a lot of families here that have Furr grandmothers,” he said.

The 330-page book, which took Furr about three years to write, touches on the early Furr family during the colonial times (beginning in the early 1700s) all the way to the fourth, fifth and sixth generations of John Furr in Cabarrus and Stanly counties.

Included in the book is the evolution of the last name, beginning with the Furrer family from Switzerland, to the Foors, Fohrer/Forry generations, the Furrers and finally the Furrs. In addition to his family coming to North Carolina, he also writes about other parts of the larger Furr family settling in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Among some of his discoveries:

  • The family were originally Celts and lived in a valley along the Rhone River. Through genetics, he found his clan is one of the oldest in Central Europe, dating back 15,000 years.
  • Furr’s forebear was Leonard Furrer (1697-1766), who emigrated from Switzerland to the Philadelphia area in 1750.
  • His family appeared to be “quite war-like,” as he found evidence of Furr men fighting in most major wars over the past 300 years including the French and Indian War (1754–1763), the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, which was part of the larger War of 1812, and more current conflicts including the Vietnam War and the Iraq War.
  • Several Furr men were statesmen who held public office including Jonas Furrer and John Furr.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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