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The Farrar Family

By Steven R. Butler, Ph.D.

The Farrar Family
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."


John Farrar
(ABT. 1774 - 18519)

It's believed that my third great-grandfather, John Farrar, was born about 1774 and that he may have been 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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