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The Farrar Family

By Steven R. Butler, Ph.D.

The Farrar Family
William Farrar [1] | William Farrar [2] | Thomas Farrar | John Farrar | Peter Farrar | John Farrar

The FARRAR Family

I am a Farrar family descendant by virtue of the marriage of my great-great-grandfather, William B. Miles, to Mary Farrar, daughter of a Tennessee pioneer settler named John Farrar, and his wife Jane, whose maiden name may have been Wilson.

The Farrar family was one of the earliest to arrive in Virginia, when it was just being established as an English colony, during the reign of King James I. The name Farrar is believed to be a corruption of the words "fair hair."

The following account as to our line of descent in the Farrar family, is correct and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief.


English shipWilliam Farrar [1] was born at Croxton, Lincolnshire, England about 1594, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, it was assumed that he was the son of Nicholas Farrar, one of the directors of the Virginia Company, but research disproved this error. It is now believed that that he was the son of a John Farrar, of Lincolnshire, who died in London in 1628 and left a will, naming William-the immigrant to America-as one of his sons.

In August 1618, at the age of about twenty-four, William Farrar arrived in the Virginia colony, established only eleven years earlier, aboard a ship called The Neptune. Here is what was written about William Farrar [1] in an issue of The Virginia Historical Magazine:

"William Ferrar, or Farrar, who came to Virginia in 1618, soon became a man of prominence. He was a commissioner (magistrate) for "The Upper Parts"; a member of the Council, 1623 to 1633, or more probably until his death, which occurred some time prior to June 11, 1637. He is commonly stated to have married Cicely, widow of Samuel Jordan; but there is no positive proof of this. The only reference to the matter in the records is the statement that Mrs. Jordan had first engaged herself to marry Rev. Greville Pooley, and afterwards William Farrar, and that the authorities in Virginia referred to those in England the question whether she could legally marry Farrar after her promise to Pooley, or whether the pre-contract made any subsequent engagement void. The result does not appear, but it is probable that William Farrar did marry Mrs. Jordan."

Most chroniclers agree that William Farrar [1] not only married Mrs. Jordan but also that they had the following named children:

  1. William [2], b. 1627, d. 1678, married, wife's name uncertain (OUR ANCESTOR)
  2. John, did not marry

A thorough account of the life of William Farrar can be found on Wikipedia.


From The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Jul., 1900), pp. 97-98:

Farrar's Island
This Civil War-era map shows the location of Farrar's Island on the James River in Virginia. Courtesy Library of Congress.

"William Farrar of Henrico county, Va., first appears in any extent record as a patentee of land in 1637. On June 11, of that year, Governor Harvey granted to "William Farrar, son and heir William Farrar, late of Henrico, deceased," 2,000 acres in Henrico, abutting easterly upon the Glebe land of Varina, and thence extending westerly to the bottom of * * Island, southerly upon the Main river, and northerly into the woods. The said land being due him for the transportation at his own charges, of 40 persons into the colony. This land was the neck, now cut off by the Dutch Gap canal, known as Farrar's Island."

"Colonel William Farrar was a member of the House of Burgesses for Henrico, March, i659-60 (Hening, I, 527), and from March, i66o-6i to March, 1675-76, the " Long Parliament of Virginia " (1HJening, II, 197, 249). He died in February or March, 1677-8. He married-"

Most chroniclers agree that William Farrar [2] and his wife, whose name is uncertain, had the following named children:

  1. William Farrar [3], b. 1657, d. 1721, married Priscilla Baugh
  2. Thomas Farrar, b. 1660, d. 1715, married Katherine Perrin (OUR ANCESTOR)
  3. John Farrar
  4. Martha Farrar, married Walter Shipley
  5. Cicely Farrar

Some researchers say that William Farrar [2]'s wife's name was Mary Piogott Williams.

The following is a copy of the will of William Farrar [2]:

In the name of God, Amen. I, William Farrar, of Henrico, in the p'ish of Varina, doe make and ordaine this my last will and testament, vizt.: I give and bequeath to my very loveing Brother, Capt. John Farrar, two p'cells of land w'ch was formerly laid out and measured by Coll. Thomas Liggon, one p'cell lyeing w'thout Capt. Davis' bottome, containeing aboute three hundred Acres, the other p'cell w'thin the said bottome containeing something of two hundred Acres, all w'ch I freely give to my said brother and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten for- ever, and for want of such issue I give and bequeath the said p'cells of land to my two sonnes, Thomas Farrar and John Farrar, and to the heires of their bodyes lawfully begotten, and if either of them dye before he have Issue, then the survivor to enjoy the s'd land for ever. But in the guift of these two p'cells of land to my Brother John Farrar, I make this Caution and Exception, that my Brother John Farrar shall relinquish all the right, title and interest he hath to a p'cell of land I for'ly gave called by the name of Colesfield, or else this my bequest to be of no force to him or his. Item. I give and bequeath to my sontie William Farrar, this neck of land [Farrar's Island] I live on, to him and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten for ever, and the s'd neck of land is to goe beyond my now dwelling house to a ridge of trees aboute two hundred yards of [off]; but if it shall please God that my sonne shall depart this life w'thout Issue, then my will and desire is that my sonnes Thomas Farrar and John Farrar, have and enjoy the s'd neck of land to them and their heirs lawfully begotten for ever. Item. I give and bequeath to my sonnes Thomas Farrar and John Farrar, and the male heirs of their bodyes lawfully begotten, all the land that I have a right anid title to w'thout this neck of land already given to mv eldest sonne WVilliam Farrar, and those two p'cells given to my Brother John Farrar, all the rest I do give to my s'd sonnes Tho. and John, and their heirs as above s'd for ever, to be equally divided between them, when they please, after they shall come of age. I ordaine and appointe my Bro'r John Farrar, and my sonne Win. Farrar, to be the Exec'rs of this my reall estate accord'g to this my last will and testament.

In Witnesse hereof I set to my hand and seale this 6th of May, 1676.

Sealed Testis: WM. FARRAR. withI Tho. Daulby, Mlichael Turpin. red wax. pro. die Feb'ery I67K, Coram Cur testiam sacram'tis recordate. Test: Wm. Randolph, Cl. Cur. A copy teste: [Signed.] Samuel P. Waddell, Clerk. Henrico County Court, Va., 1895, June ist.


From The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Apr., 1901), pp.424-427:

"THOMAS FARRAR, born I665, married i686, Katherine, daughter of Richard Perrin. Before 1727, he removed to St. James parish, in the present Goochland county. By deed, dated February 5, 1727, Thomas Farrar, of the parish of St. James, conveyed to Thomas Randolph, 550 acres in the county of Henrico, on the north side of James river, and adjoining the glebe land of Varina parish, which land was part of a pattent granted to William Farrar, father of the said Thomas, June 1. 1637, and by said William Farrar devised to his son, the said Thomas Farrar, by will, dated May 6, 1676. Thomas Farrar and Thomas Farrar, Jr., join in a bond to secure the execution of this deed. On October 2, I693, Thomas and John Farrar had made a partition deed, dividing the lands near Farrar's Island and Varina, bequeathed to them by their father, William Farrar, and their uncle, John Farrar. The land now sold to Thomas Randolph by Thomas Farrar, was doubtless his share in this division. Thos. Farrar died in Goochland, in 1742. His will, dated Feb. 28, 1740, and proved June i5, 1742, makes bequests as follows: to son, John Farrar, one shilling, in full of his part of the estate; daughters, Martha, Mary, and Sarah, one shilling each, in full of their part of the estate; to daughter, Katherine Barnet, one negro woman; to granddaughter, Mary Watkins, one negro boy; to granddaughter, Elizabeth Farrar, one negro woman and certain furniture, "after the death of my wife, Katherine Farrar." To granddaughter, Lucy Farrar, one negro woman. All negroes not otherwise bequeathed, to be divided between his wife, Katherine Farrar, and son, Joseph Farrar. In 169I, Richard Perrin, of Henrico, made a deed for the benefit of his daughter, Katherine, wife of Thomas Farrar, and her children, especially Perrin Farrar. In his will, dated I694, Richard Perrin, mentions his daughter, Katherine Farrar, and his grandchildren, William and Sarah Farrar, and grandson Farrar, "not yet baptized." William Farrar is not named in the will of his father, Thomas Farrar, but he lived to manhood in Goochland, and married."

Together, Thomas Farrar and his wife, Katherine, had the following named children:

  1. William, Farrar
  2. Joseph Farrar
  3. John Farrar (OUR ANCESTOR), b. 1691, d. 1769, married
  4. Perrin Farrar, probably died young;
  5. Martha Farrar
  6. Mary Farrar
  7. Sarah Farrar
  8. Katherine Farrar, married --Barnett.

Thomas Farrar died about 1742. Here is his entire will:


Goochland County, Virginia Wills and Deeds Book 3, 561-562

In the Name of God Amen. I Thomas ffarrar of the parish of St. James in the County of Goochland being of perfect mind and memory but calling to mind the uncertainty of this transitory life do make and ordain this to be my last Will and Testament in manner and form following.

Imprimis I Commit my Soul into the hands of Almighty God and my Body to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executrix and Executor hereafter mentioned and as touching my Worldly goods I give and bequeath as followeth.

Item I will that all my just Debts and funeral Charges be paid and defrayed. Item I give unto my son John ffarrar one shilling current money in full for his part of my Estate.

Item I give unto my Daughters Martha Sarah and Mary one shilling Currt money to each of them in full for their parts of my Estate.

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Katherine Barnet one negro Woman called Jane wth her increase to be delivered to the said Katharine Barnet and her increase after the decease of my Wife Katherine farrar wch I give to her and her heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my grand Daughter Mary Watkins one negro boy called Davy to her and her heirs forever.

Item I give and bequeath unto my GrandDaughter Elizabeth ffarrar one negro Woman called Nanny wth her increase not already bequeathed with one New feather bed and Compleat furniture thereto to her and her heirs forever be delivered after the decease of my wife Katherine ffarrar.

Item I give and bequeath to my grand Daughter Lucy ffarrar one negro called Jenny (?) to her and her heirs forever.

Item my will is that all my Negroes not already bequeathed be kept and not any way disposed of till my Just Debts be pd wth all my personal Estate afterwards to be equally divided between my Loving wife Katherine ffarrar my son Joseph ffarrar whom I do hereby Constitute and appoint to Execute my last will and Testament hereby revoking all former wills by me heretofore and affixed my seal this twenty eighth day Ffeb MDCCXXXX. Signed Sealed Published and Declared in pressents of Us George Payne, John Watson, Edward M (his mark) Moore, Joseph ||| (his mark) Hamilton. [signed] Thomas T (sign Ligitt) ffarrar.

At a Court hold for Goochland County June 15, 1742 This will was proved by the oaths of John Watson and Edward Moor to be act of Thomas ffarrar dec'd and was ordered to be recorded.


John Farrar, a son of Thomas and Katherine Farrar, was born about 1691. He died in Albemarle County, Virginia about 1769.

John Farrar and his wife, Sarah (maiden name unknown) had the following named children:

  1. Perrin Farrar, died about 1793, was married with 8 children
  2. Catherine Farrar, married Joplin
  3. Sarah Farrar, married Spencer
  4. William Farrar
  5. Peter Farrar (OUR ANCESTOR), b. 1738, died 1802
  6. Thomas Farrar
  7. Elizabeth Farrar,
  8. Richard Farrar,

Will of John Farrar dated October 21, 1764, proved August 1769, Albemarle County, Virginia:

In the name of God Amen. The twenty first day of October One thousand seven hundred and sixty-four according to the computation of the Church of England, I, John Farrar of the parrish of St. Anns and County of Albemarle, being in perfect memory and remembrance, praise be to God, do make and ordain this my last will and Testament in manner and form following Viz. First I bequeath my soul into the hands of Almighty God my maker, hoping that through the meritorious death and passion of Jesus Christ, my only saviour and redeemer to receive free pardon and forgiveness of all my sins and as for my body, to buried in Christian burial at the discretion of my Executor hereafter nominated. I give to my son Perrin Farrar, the plantation wherein he now lives with half the land on that side (of) the river wherein he now lives to be divided, beginning at the horse ford as after called Kirbys field and running across the spring branch extending to the back line containing two hundred acres more or less, also one negro man named Sam.

It is my will that my two daughters Catharine Joplin & Sarah Spencer and my son John Farrar content themselves with the portions I have already given them.

I give to my son William Farrar one negro boy named Jim,

I give to my son Peter Farrar two negro girls named Luce & Nan.

I give to my son Thomas Farrar one negro man named Peter and one negro girl named Beck.

I give to my daughter Elizabeth Farrar one negro girl named Moll and one negro boy named Bob.

I give to my son Richard Farrar the remainder of my lands containing five hundred & eighty-five acres and six negroes named Agg, Betty, Peter, Ned, and & (?). It is my will that he keep and maintain his mother.

I also give my son Richard Farrar all my household furniture & all my stock cattle hogs and horses & I make him my sole Executor to execute this my last will and Testament.

It is my will that if my son William Farrar die without issue that his boy Jim return to his brother Peter Farrar & in case that any of the rest of my children die without issue that their portion be equally divided amongst the survivors.

In Witness whereof! have hereunto set my hand & seal.

John Farrar (his mark)
Test Robinson *Bailey (his mark)
Elizabeth Bailey (her mark)
Richard Bailey (his mark)

At Albemarle August Court 1769 This will was proved by the oaths of Elizabeth Bailey & Richd. Bailey wit. thereto and ordered to be recorded & on the motion of Richard Farrar the Executor above named who made oath according to Law, a Certificate is granted him for obtaining a probate thereof in due form as giving security by whereupon he with Roger Thompson & Chas Irving, his Securities entered into and acknowledged this bond accordingly. Test Tuck. Woodson Dp. Clk I


Peter Farrar, a son of John and Sarah Farrar, was born in 1738, in Virginia. He died in Chatham County, North Carolina in 1802. He was married first to Trephenah LaForce, a daughter of Rene LaForce, on April 10, Apr 1766 at St James Northam Parish, Goochland County, Virginia. Following Trephenah's death, he was married to Martha Parker, in 1793 in Person County, North Carolina.

Together, Peter and Trephenah had the following named children:

  1. John Farrar (OUR ANCESTOR)
  2. Abraham Farrar
  3. Thomas Farrar
  4. William Franklin Farrar
  5. Edward Farrar
  6. Nancy Farrer
  7. Jane Farrar
  8. Mary "Polly" Farrar
  9. Sarah Farrar

Peter Farrar's Will:

In the Name of God Amen. I, Peter Farrar of the County of Chatham in North Carolina, being infirm in body, but of sound mind and memory thanks be to you for the same, therefore calling to mind the Mortality of body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this to be my last will and Testament in manner and form following : First and principally, I recommend my immortal soul into the hands of Almighty God that gave it, hoping through the Merits of my dear Redemer (sic) to inherit life eternal, and as to my worldly Estate wherewith it hath been pleas'd God to bless me, I order and dispose of it in the following manner. First my Will is that all my just debts be regularly (sic) discharg'd. Item: I lend to my Beloved Wife Martha, on Negroe Boy named Jack, also on Feather Bed and furniture, one Cow and Calf, on Chest, on Iron pot and frying pan, two Pewter plates and two earthen plates, two knives and forks, one Mare Call'd Phoenix, one small pewter Basin (sic), on Bowl, two Tea cups and sa (symbol for double s) ers? (saucers?), one pitcher, on Pewter dish, three spoons, one plow and plow hoe, one hilling hoe, one Butter pot, on Cask, two Chairs, one side saddle and two Jugs, during the term of her natural life, and her death, my will is that the Negroe Jack be Sold by my Executors and the Money to be equally divided between my surviving Legatees or their legal representatives. Item: I give to my Beloved son John Farrar one Negroe Woman named Mol, and one Negroe Boy Named Anderson, to him, his heirs and assigns for ever.

Item: I give to my son Abraham Farrar one Negroe Woman named Agge, and one Negroe Boy Named George, to him, his heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my son William Farrar one Negroe Woman named Hannah, to him, his heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my son Thomas Farrar on Negroe Man named Peter, and one Negroe Girl Named Sall, to him, his heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my Grand daughter Nancey Joblin one Negroe Boy Named Ned, to her, he heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my daughter Sarah Joblin five Shillings to her, her heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my Daughter Jane Spencer one Negroe Boy Named Jerry, to her, her heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my Daughter Mary Farrar one Negroe Boy named Jim, and one Negroe Girl named Pat, to her, her heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my Daughter Nancy Farrar one Negroe Boy named Ben, and one Negroe Girl named Candance, and like wise the Colt that my Mare Poll is now big with, to her, her heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my Daughter Mary Farrar one Horse cold called Dolphin, to her, her heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my son Edward Farrar one Negroe Boy named Charles, and one Negroe Girl named Nancy, to him , his heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I give to my Beloved Wife Martha on Sow and Pigs, to her, her heirs and assigns for ever. Item: I leave all my household furniture not already devis'd, and all my stock not above mentioned, to equally divided between my Sons John Farrar, Abraham, William, Thomas, and my Daughters, Sarah Joblin, Jane Spencer, Polley Farrar, and Nancey Farrar, to be theirs, their heirs and assigns forever. My Will is that my Negroe Woman Nan shall have the likes? To live with whichever of my children she may think most agreeable to. Item: I give to my Wife Martha a parcel of Land lying n the upper (sic) corner of the tract whereon I now live, Beginning (sic) where the Big branch crosses the upper line, running (sic) down the same opposite the Wheat House, Thence a direct line to the back line to be hers, her heirs and assigns for ever. Item: All the residence and remainder of my land I leave to be equally divided between my four sons John, Abraham, William, & Thomas, to be divided into four equal divisions by my Executors herein after nam'd, and then to be drawn for by my four sons above mentioned, and the lot that falls to each one, shall be his, his heirs and assigns for ever. Item: All the residence and remainder of my Estate of whatsoever-------or quality it may consist of, I leave to be equally divided between my wife Martha, and the who(le) of my children above mentioned to be theirs, their heirs and assigns for ever. Lastly, I constitute and appoint my Beloved Son John Farrar, and my friend Thomas Snipes Sole Executors, of this my last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I do here unto Set my hand and Affic my Seal, this fourth day of April on thousand eight hundred and two.

Signed Sealed Acknowledged and published in Presence of us William Edwards John Edwards William Moore

I, Peter Farrar, do annex the following codicil (?) to my above will, and ordain that it shall be a part of my Will.

Item My Will is that all my Negroes remain on the plantation until the ensuing crop is hom'd and secured and then as much of the crop to be sold as will discharge my just debts, and the balance to be Equally divided between my sons John, Abraham, William & Thomas, and my Daughters Mary and Nancey and my wife Martha; to them and their heirs for ever - In witness whereof I do here unto set my hand and seal this fourth day of April one Thousand eight hundred and two-

Signed Seal'd and Acknowledged in presence of us William Edwards John Edwards William Moore

Chatham County May 1802 Proved in open Court by the oath of William Edwards, a subscribing witness

Clerk Recorded in Book A Page 67

(ABT. 1774 - 1851)

I believe that my third great-grandfather, John Farrar, was born about 1774 and that he was a son of Peter Farrar of Caswell County, later Chatham County, North Carolina, who is believed to be a descendant of an early Jamestown, Virginia settler who came from Lincolnshire, England.

Nothing is known about John Farrar's childhood, but we do know that sometime after he reached adulthood, probably about 1800, he was married to a woman named Jane. Some researchers, without providing any evidence, say that her last name was Wilson. Together, she and John Farrar had the following named children:

  1. Trollio Farrar, born 1801, died about 1843; married Mary Ann Miles (sister of William B. Miles).
  2. Mary Farrar, born about 1810, died about 1847; married William B. Miles.
  3. Cicero Farrar, born about 1810, died about 1849; married Julia Ann Philips.
  4. Malinda Farrar, born about 1812, died 1895; married John Yates.
  5. John Quincy Adams Farrar, born about 1817, died 1876; married Bersheba, maiden name unknown.
  6. Salina Farrar, born about 1822, died 1899; married a Wileman, first name unknown.
  7. Cebrina Jane Farrar, born about 1825, died 1850; married Samuel Hinkle.
  8. Lorenzo Dow Farrar, date of birth unknown, died sometime before 1849; wife's name unknown.

Owing to the large gap between the birth of Trollio and the births of Mary and Cicero, there may have been other children that didn't survive infancy or childhood, but if so, their names have been lost to history.

Sometime during the early nineteenth century, John Farrar and his family moved to Tennessee. Precisely when is unknown.

In 1820, "our" John Farrar ought to have had, in addition to his wife and himself, five children in his household: one male under 10 (J.Q.A. Farrar), one male 10 to 15 (Cicero Farrar), one male 16- to 25 (Trollio Farrar), one female under 10 (Malinda Farrar), and one female 10 to 15 (Mary Farrar). Unfortunately, there seems to be no John Farrar anywhere in the United States in 1820 with federal census data that exactly matches this household.

That year (1820) the federal census-taker found a John "Farrow" living in Franklin County, Tennessee, where John Farrar is known to have settled, with a wife and nine children: five boys and four girls. Since the number of children does not match the number of children that "our" John Farrar and his wife are known to have had at that time, and also because there are no deed records in Franklin County for John Farrar that predate the 1830s, we cannot be sure if the man that the census-taker found there is "ours" or not.

There was also a John Farrar, age 45-plus, living in Lincoln County, Tennessee (adjacent to Franklin County), in 1820, with a wife between the ages of 26 and 44, and another woman the same age (His wife's sister, perhaps? Or oldest daughter?), four males under 10, one male 16 to 25, three females under 10, and one female from 10 to 15. Unfortunately, this information also doesn't match what we know about "our" John Farrar.

One possibility that came to mind regarding the above-referenced family is that they were a generationally-blended family: Perhaps the John Farrar who was head of the household was the father of "our" John Farrari, who is the young man aged from 16 to 25? The second woman, aged 26 to 44, could be his wife, Jane? However, the children, even if we assume some of them are the older man's, still don't match, in terms of age groups.

The older John Farrar living in Lincoln County, Tennessee, wrote a will in 1826, in which he named all nineteen of his children, including one named John. However, although it's possible that the two men were somehow related, further research has revealed that the Lincoln County John Farrar can't possibly be the father of "our" John Farrar.

There is little doubt, however, that the John Farrar the census-taker found living in Franklin County, Tennessee in 1830 is "ours." This John Farrar is the correct age (50 to 60) and has a wife and almost the correct number of children in the correct gender and age groups: 3 boys and 5 girls, which is one more daughter than John Farrar and his wife, Jane, are known to have had. Perhaps the girl in the 20 to 29 age group is not a daughter at all, but rather one of his wife's younger sisters? Unfortunately, we just don't know. This census also records the fact that John Farrar had two slaves, the ages and gender of which was left unrecorded.

Curiously, although the John Farrar family was clearly resident in Franklin County, Tennessee in 1830, there are no land grants, land claims, nor deed records on file in the county courthouse for John that are dated any earlier than August 1, 1834, when for $214 he purchased 70 acres of land "on the waters of Upper Bean's Creek of Elk River" from George Washington Tucker.

The following year, on October 8, 1835, John Farrar sold 200 acres of land on Bean's Creek to William Stroud, for $1,890, which begs the question: How did John Farrar come into possession of this property if the earliest deed on file for him is for only 70 acres?

On January 8, 1836, an act of the Tennessee state legislature created Coffee County from land that previously belonged to Franklin, Bedford and Warren counties. Thus, without moving, the John Farrar family found themselves living in Coffee County.

Lower Middle Tennesee
Map of Middle Tennessee, showing Franklin and Coffee countie. Courtesy Library of Congress.

A deed on file in the Coffee County, Tennessee courthouse records that on January 6, 1839, for $1,200, John Farrar purchased 160 acres of land on Bradley's Creek from Council B. Ingram.

Another deed on file in the Coffee County, Tennessee courthouse records that on June 15, 1841, for $1,300, John Farrar purchased a further 160 acres of land from Council B. Ingram.

Tennessee Log Cabin farm
This may be what the Farrar homestead looked like. Courtesy Library of Congress.

There is also a bill of sale on file in the Coffee County, Tennessee courthouse, in Manchester, Tennessee, which records the purchase, by John Farrar, of a "man slave named Harvey," from Eli Amick, for $600, on August 21, 1842. William B. Miles, John Farrar's son-in-law, was one of three witnesses to the sale.

John Farrar was seventy-six-years-old and his wife, Jane, was sixty-six, when the 1960 federal census for Coffee County, Tennessee was taken. At that time, they were providing a home for their thirteen-year-old granddaughter, Mary Miles, daughter of their deceased daughter, Mary Farrar Miles and her husband, William B. Miles, who was then living nearby, "without benefit of clergy," with a widow named Sarah Baker and her children, some of which Miles had fathered. Three-year-old Arthur Hinkle and his sister, five-month-old Eliza, were also living with their grandparents. Their mother, Jane Farrar Hinkle, was dead, most likely as a result of complications involving the birth of her daughter, Eliza. The whereabouts of their father, Samuel Hinkle, is unknown.

The 1850 federal slave schedule tells us that at this time, John Farrar owned six slaves: one black male age 45, one black male age 26, one black female age 21, one black female age 4, one black female age 2, and a boy only two months old. We may presume that the 26-year-old male and the 21-year-old female were the parents of the three children. We may also presume that one of the two men was Harvey, the slave that John Farrar purchased in 1842 from C. B. Ingram. The names of individual slaves is not generally given in the slave schedule, only age, sex, and whether black or mulatto (mixed race).

The 1850 federal census also reveals that John Farrar was a farmer, as were most Americans in that time and place, and that his real estate was worth about $1,450. The value of personal property, including slaves, was not included in this census. We do not know what cash crops he planted, but if he was typical of that time and place, probably mostly corn and/or cotton.

In 1849, when he was about seventy-five-years-old, John Farrar wrote a will, which is printed below in its entirety, as written, without any correction of spelling or punctuation:

In the name of God Amen

I, John Farrar of the County of Coffee and State of Tennessee being on the decline of life but sound and perfect of mind and memory thanks be to God for the same and knowing that it is appointed for all people to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament

1st. I commend my soul to Almighty God and my body to be decently buried and as touching my worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to blesse with I give and dispose of it in the following manner

After all my Just debts are paid I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Jane Farrar all my land and property debts judgements and executions and all that belongs to my estate during her natural life and after death I wish all my property to be equally between all my children

My beloved son Trollio Farrar heirs Lorenzy Dow Farrari's heirs by a deduction of Fifty-five dollars off of his part and Cicero Farrars heirs by a deduction of Fifty Seven dollars of his part and Malinda Yates and the heirs of her body and thirty five dollars over my sons part as my sons have had horses

And my daughter Selina Wileman and the heirs of her body and Jane Hinkle and the heirs of her body both to have thirty-five dollars in lieu of their beasts and Mary Miles heirs to have their mothers share together with thirty five dollars in lieu of a beast and my son John Q. A. Farrar a deduction of forty-six dollars and forty four cents

And my beloved wife shall have the liberty to dispose of her beds and bedclothes as she may think proper

And I hereby appoint my beloved son John Q. A. Farrar executor of this my last will and testament and I do revoke all wills by me hereintofore made and so by these presents acknowledge this to be my last will and testament

John (X) Farrar

Signed Sealed and acknowledged in the presence of us this 21st day of April 1849 Attest

E. A. Rutherford
Thomas Atkinson
Walton Brixey

This will is not only a very useful document, in terms of setting forth family relationships, it also tells a sad story: No fewer than five of John and Jane Farrar's children had predeceased their parents.

Sometime probably in late 1851, John Farrar died. Unfortunately, his final resting place has been lost to history. Early the next year, his will was presented to the county court for record, at time the county clerk noted:

State of Tennessee
Coffee County

At a County Court began and held for Coffee County at the Courthouse in the town of Manchester on the 6th day of January 1852 the foregoing last will and testament of John Farrar deceased was produced in Court and proven by the oaths and proven by the oaths of Walton Brixey and E. A. Rutherford two of the subscribing witnesses therein and ordered to be recorded which is accordingly done

Witness my hand this 10th day of January 1852

James Darnell Clerk

John's wife, Jane, survived him by three years. Shortly before she died in 1854, she expressed her wishes as to what should be done with her property. An account of that conversation, which was recorded in the Franklin County court minutes book as a Nonrecuperative Will, is printed below:

Elizabeth Walker and Dorcas Howard being duly sworn depose and say that they were at the house of Jane Farrar deceased a few days before her death the precise number of days not recollected said decedent called to them and said she was very sick and hardly thought she would ever get up again, and after her death she said she wanted her three children John Q. A. Farrar Malinda Yates and Selina Wileman to have her beds and bed clothes to be equally divided between them except the quilts that she had made and she wanted them given to her granddaughter Eliza Jane Hinkle

She also said witnesses to see such articles above mentioned divided between the above persons

This conversation was at the house of the decedent and occurred during her last sickness.

Elizabeth (X) Walker (her mark)
Dorcas (X) Howard (her mark)

Swon to and subscribed fore me in open court this 7th day of August 1854

Hiram J. Emerson, Clerk

[two words illegible] Mrs. Farrar died between the 5th & 10th day of July 1854

In August 1854, almost immediately following the death of his mother, John Quincy Adams Farrar, a lawyer and court-approved executor of his father's estate, began the two-year-long process of disposing of John Farrar's property, which consisted primarily of three tracts of land-one of 64 acres, one of 160 acres, and one of 200 acres-as well as eight slaves-Martin, Harvey, Lydia and her unnamed four-week old child, Adaline, Emeline, Cambridge, and Ann, "aged above two years"- so that the proceeds could be distributed among the heirs that he had named. By October 1856, this task had been accomplished.

Although county court minutes state that John Farrar's property was inventoried and a report prepared by his son, John Q. A. Farrar, stating how much money the sale of his father's estate raised, neither of those documents has survived. Fortunately, there is an entry, in country court minutes that tells us how his land was disposed of, and for how much and to who. It reads:

[Tuesday Morning October the 7th 1856]

John Q. A. Farrar]
& others Heirs at Law of] Exparte Petition
of John Farrar De'd.} to sell Land Final Decree

Be it remembered that this cause came on again to be heard before His Honor R. W. Casey on this 7th day of October 1856 when it appeared to the satisfaction of [the] court that George Miller was the purchaser of the tracts of land mentioned in the pleadings one containing one hundred and sixty acres and the other two hundred acres and it also appeared that he has paid the purchase money for the same It further appeared that the said "Miller sold the one hundred and sixty acres tract to Joseph Withrow and desired the court to decree a title to the said Withrow.

It is therefore decreed of the court hat all the right title claim and interest that the heirs at Law of John Farrar de'd had in and to the two hundred acre tract in the pleadings mentioned, be divested out of them and invested in George Miller the purchaser

It is further Decreed by the court that all the right title claim and interest the heirs at Law of John Farrar Decd had in and to the one hundred and sixty acre tract mentioned in the pleading be divested out of them and invested in Joseph Withrow according to the direction of George Miller the purchaser

It is further ordered by the Court that the Clerk of this court make deeds for said tracts of land tot eh said Miller and Withrow and give specified [illegible word] upon the payment of the expenses for so doing

Unfortunately, there is no equivalent entry in court minutes for the sale of John Farrar's slaves, with the exception of Emaline, who it's said was sold to Henry Estill for an undisclosed amount. However, after deducting the amount raised from land sales ($1,3580.57) from the total that was distributed to John Farrar's heirs ($6,881), we may presume that the difference of $5,500.43 must be the total amount paid for his slaves, or very close to it. This is not unusual. In the Old South, slaves were almost always worth more than the land on which they worked.

The following transcribed section of Coffee County, Tennessee court minutes is what I call a "goldmine" document in that it not only provides names of John Farrar's heirs but also leave little or no doubt as their relationship to him and to each other.

[October Term 1856}
John Q. A. Farrar Executor}
and the heirs and devisees of} Exparte Petition to
John Farrar deceased} Sell land and Slaves

Be it remembered that this cause came on to be heard before the Honorable R. W. Casey County Judge on the 8th day of October 1856 upon the Report of the Clerk which Report rad in the words and figures following, To wit, The undersigned Clerk of the County Court for Coffee to whom the above cause was returned for the purpose of ascertaining who are the heirs of John Farrar deceased entitled to distribution out of the funds arising from the proceeds of the sales made under the Decrees of this Court and the funds in the hands of the Executor, Would beg leave to Report that the said John Farrar deceased by his will directed his Estate to be equally divided among his children then living and the children of such as are deceased that they are as follows To wit, John Q. A. Farrar Selina Wileman Malinda Yates, wife of John Yates, Cebrina Hinkle's son William A. Hinkle, Mary Miles children to wit Mary Armstrong wife of D. P. Armstrong Martha Berry wife of G. A. Berry Elizabeth Miles and John W. Miles Trollio Farrars children to wit Cicerco Farrar Joseph Farrar Peter Farrar John Q. A. Farrar and Elizabeth Abels wife of Hezikiah Abels, Cicero Farrars children to wit Nancy Wileys child name unknown Ardena Sherrill wife of Henry Sherrill and Elizabeth Farrar L. D. Farrars children to wit Cynthia Farrar Linda Anne Farrar intermarried with M. Foster who is decd L. D. Farrar Narcissa Farrar Hanah Rebecca Farrar and Elizabeth Farrar, that there were six original heirs that the fund for distribution after deducting all cost amounts to $6881.00 which being divided among them according to the Will of John Farrar deceased makes their shares as follows To wit,

  • John Q. A. Farrar $820.30
  • Selina Wileman 901.80
  • John Yates & wife 901.80
  • Trollio Farrars heirs to wit
    • Cicero Farrar $164.36
    • Joseph Farrar 164.36
    • Peter Farrar, minor 164.36
    • John Q. A. Farrar 164.36
    • Hezekiah Abels & wife 164.36 821. $
  • Cicero Farrars heirs
    • child of Nancy Wileman name}
      unknown } 269.93 1/3
    • Ardena Sherrill wife of H. Sherrill 269.93 1/3
    • Martha Ann Farrar minor 269.93 1/3
  • Mary Miles Heirs
    • Mary Armstrong wife of}
    • D. P. Armstrong } 225.25
    • Martha Berry wife of}
    • G. A. Berry } 225.25
    • Elizabeth Miles 225.25
    • John W. Miles 225.25 901.
  • Cebrina Hinkle's heirs
    • William A. Hinkle 901.
  • L. D. Farrars Heirs To wit
    • Cynthia Farrar 136.90 2/3
    • Cina Anne McFatter 136.90 2/3
    • L. D. Farrar minor 136.96 2/3
    • Narcissa Farrar 136.96 2/3
    • Hanah Rebecca Farrar 136.96 2/3
    • Elizabeth Farrar 136.96 2/3 821

All which is respectfully submitted 6881

Hiram S. Emerson Clerk

Note: In 1856, $6,881 had the purchasing power of $216,188.07 in 2021.

Further Note: In the amounts given above, money has either been deducted or added according to the instructions in John Farrar's will, regarding the fact that some of his heirs had already received horses or other animals in lieu of cash.

The Farrar Family
John Farrar

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