While Miriam worked on higher education at Baylor Female College, Jim
borrowed law books to read at night while he worked on his new trade, farming.
joined the Salado Debating Society to improve his vocabulary and speech.
In 1897, he
was admitted to the bar.
Ferguson, now a professional man, asked Miriam to marry him, but she refused.
She knew that as a wealthy twenty-two year old woman, Jim was not the best suitor for
her, although her father, Joseph Lapshey Wallace, was pleased about the proposal.
situation drastically changed the next year when Mr. Wallace died of meningitis.
Leaving his fortune, stock in Belton Bank, and several thousand acres of land, the
Wallace family needed some help managing it all.
Because Mr. Wallace admired Jim so
much, his widow, Eliza, decided to hire him as the estate manager.
This gave Ferguson
opportunity for more money and better social status.
Jim continued trying to impress
Miriam by running for county attorney.
Unfortunately, he lost the race but impressed
Miriam enough to marry him.
On December 31, 1899 they were married in her mother’s
parlor and in November the next year James and Miriam Ferguson had their first
To complete the family almost three years later, their second child was
born, Ruby Dorrace.
They lived in an upper class, yet small, new brick home in Belton where Mr.