The Ferguson family long has been associated with progress in Cherokee County.
Charlie Ferguson, the patriarch, was instrumental in starting the first African American volunteer fire station in Georgia, the North Canton Volunteer Fire Department, in the 1970s. His daughter, Frankie Ferguson Shepherd, was principal of a local public school. His son, Tyrone Tony Ferguson, was the first African American fire chief in Cherokee Country. And his wife, Eddie Mae, was there to provide support for her loved ones.
Charlie and Tony have been credited with securing the first fire station for their community, Pea Ridge, in Canton. They were able to have land donated for this project, and the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners provided the funds. Thus, North Canton Volunteer Fire Station came into existence. Charlie served as a volunteer firefighter and as chair of the group for a number of years.
He also was active in various religious, political and social organizations. Among the many honors he received during his lifetime are an honorary associate degree from Reinhardt University and The Liberty Bell Award from the Canton Bar Association.
The volunteer fire station was closed when a new, more modern station was opened in the community, across the street from the old volunteer station. A plaque honoring Charlie is at its entrance.
Tony wanted to memorialize his father, who died in 2012, by converting the volunteer fire station (old Fire Station No. 9) into a local community center. He started the process, but he died in 2019, before it could become a reality. So Shepherd began working with local community authorities to complete the project started by her brother.
Renovations have been completed, and the Charlie Ferguson Community Center ribbon cutting is set for July 25 at 3 p.m. Plans are underway for the center to accommodate meetings and social gatherings, such as family reunions, birthday parties and receptions.
Shepherd and various community representatives serve as the oversight board for the center. She said that the Charlie Ferguson Community Center is the only place of its kind for minorities in Cherokee County.
– Margaret Miller has been a resident of Cherokee County for the past decade. Her writing hobby led her to become a columnist for community and daily newspapers.