Settlement of the area began in the early 1870s. On September 28, 1874, a local family deeded approximately 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land to four trustees for the establishment of a town and railway station. Judge Justus Wesley Ferris of Waxahachie handled the transaction, and the community was named for him. Within ten years, Ferris had a population of 300 with a post office, gristmills, cotton gins, four churches, and a school. Ferris was incorporated on September 30, 1882.
Six brick plants benefited from the area's mineral rich soil, operating by 1914. Ferris thrived during the early post-war years. Four brick plants operated during the 1950s, and the community was known locally as the "Brick Capital of the Nation". Ferris also has a second nickname – "The City that Bricked the World" – which is still commonly used to date. In 1952, the population had risen to 1,734 and 1,807 by 1964. The Ferris Annual Brick Festival is held every year at the end of April.
The expansion of the Dallas–Fort Worth Metropolitan Area and the construction of Interstate 45 aided the growth of Ferris in the latter half of the twentieth century. Although the number of businesses decreased during the 1980s, the population and number of businesses continue to grow.