Pioneer Minister in the Northwest Daniel T. Fero
During the 1870s and 1880s, the General Conference transferred at least 12 ministers from the East to the Pacific Northwest to help establish an Adventist presence in this remote mission field. A few of these missionary ministers were Isaac Van Horn and George Colcord (Michigan), Charles Boyd and J. Bartlett (Nebraska), Henry Decker (Wisconsin) and Daniel T. Fero (Pennsylvania). By the early 1890s, Northwestern Adventism was strong enough to begin repaying this debt by sending young as well as seasoned ministers to the mission fields of the world.
In the early 1880s a few Adventist members moved to Boise City in southern Idaho Territory. In 1884, John Loughborough visited this group and organized a Sabbath School of 12 members under the leadership of Dr. S. Pope. The next year the General Conference transferred J. J. Smith from the East to develop the work in southern Idaho Territory, but he soon died of peritonitis at the age of 42.
Quickly, the General Conference moved Daniel T. Fero from Pennsylvania to Boise City, where he started by conducting Smith’s funeral, assisting the widow and her family, and taking over the ministerial work. Smith had started a small group in Highland Valley, and before long Fero had established a third Sabbath School in Franklin, which was 20 miles down the river from Boise City.
For the next seven years Fero gave direction to the Adventist work in southern Idaho Territory in addition to conducting evangelistic meetings at other locations throughout the large Upper Columbia Conference. In 1890 he also organized the first Adventist camp meeting in southern Idaho, which took place in Boise City.
During the summer of 1888 O. A. Johnson, the first Adventist minister to work in Montana Territory, conducted evangelistic meetings in the Livingston area and started two Sabbath Schools. The next year Fero spent the summer holding tent meetings in Bozeman but was unable to get a church started.
After working in the Upper Columbia Conference for seven years, Fero was transferred in 1893 to the North Pacific Conference, which included the western portions of Oregon and Washington. His primary responsibility was the Puget Sound area.
In a November 3, 1896, Review and Herald article, Fero hinted that the Puget Sound area was being overlooked by the conference headquarters located in Portland. He wrote, “Seattle is the largest city in the state, having about 60,000 population.... Comparatively little has been done in the city.... There has been but few laborers in the field (Puget Sound), and yet there is steady growth.... I have been called to Oregon to labor each summer (tent evangelism season), so my time here has been limited.”
The neglect of the Puget Sound region continued until a separate conference was formed for western Washington in 1902. The workforce of this new conference, which could focus on the Puget Sound, more than doubled the conference’s membership within a single decade.
Fero served in almost all of the regions of the Northwest except Alaska. He started his ministry by being the tent master for John N. Andrews and then went on to become a minister in New York, Pennsylvania and the Northwest.
Around the turn of the century, Fero transferred to California where he served in San Jose and Lodi until retirement.