The following is from TheAncestors and Descendants of Julius E. Farr by Mileta Farr Kilroy:
Benjamin Farr was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, on 2 February 1796, the first born child of Anselm Farr and Folly Lincoln. Where he met his wife, Lydia, who her parents were, or where they were married is still a mystery. We do know that in a Journal kept by William Packard of Cummington, there is an entry which states: “May 16, 1824 (Sunday) Ben Farr and new wife came out... .“1 Mr. Packard was the town treasurer from 1802 until 1860, and he kept a diary all those years in which he often listed the names of people who paid social visits. This journal is called Private Record No. 1 and is now located in the files of the Cummington Historical Commission in the Community House. The bit of information quoted above is of interest in that the term “came out” sounds as if the newlyweds were from another community. At any rate, the statement does give a fairly accurate time for the marriage of Benjamin and Lydia.
In the Town Records there is an entry which states “Child, of Benjamin Farr d. June 3, 1828 age 3” so it is known that the young couple were residents of Cummington at that time.
The children of Benjamin and Lydia Farr, as indicated in a family Bible record furnished by Mrs. Clancy Farr, were:2
1. Child who died
2. Mary A. Farr
3. Martha L. Farr
4. Twin: Homerus Benjamin b 13 Mar 1832 m Harriet Conrad 25 Nov 1857 d 11 Jul 1895
5. Twin: Homer Joseph Farr b 13 Mar 1832 m Fanny E. Ide d 4 June 1886
6. Catherine Eliza Farr b 24 Sep 1835
7. Matilda Farr
8. Julius E. Farr b 4 Nov 1837 m Mary Conrad 22 Dec 1860 d 10 Sep 1885
A copy of the page from the Bible is on page 52, and the reader can observe that the name of the child that died is not on that list. Also the compiler has rearranged the sequence of the children's births. This is a result of obtaining the 1830 Federal census which declares that Benjamin Farr had two female children under five years of age. Then on the 1840 census for Medina County, Ohio, Benjamin had two white females between the ages of 10 and 15, so obviously the two girls were born some time before the twins and not afterward as the family Bible record implies. On the 1850 census in Barry County, Michigan, Martha is age 20 and there is no mention of Mary. Therefore if the writer is correct in her supposition, Mary was probably the older daughter, and no doubt was married by 1850.
It is interesting to note on this Bible record that it is the first use of middle names that has been found so far.
In the forty year period between about 1810 and 1850, there was a great migration westward. In 1762, with the opening of the Berkshire Hills area, Cummington itself had been the western frontier, but with new lands becoming available, pioneers were pushing on to new frontiers in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Benjamin Farr and his brother Elbridge must have been swept up in the fever, because they left Cummington with their wives and children probably in the summer of 1836, and traveled as far as Medina County, Ohio, where they established their homes in a small settlement called Chatham.
An interesting paper in Benjamin's probate packet says:
One day from date for value received, I promise to pay William Jurdan or bearer twenty five dollars to be paid in labor.
Chatham, September 16, 1836
[Signature] Benjamin Farr
Land records indicate that Benjamin purchased 37½ acres of land on that day so that is further proof that the Farr's were in Ohio by 1836. The land was bought from William Jurdan for the sum of Two Hundred and Twenty-Five Dollars, and was situated in the township of Chatham being Township No. 2 in the sixteenth range of townships in the Connecticut Western Reserve. A copy of the land record is on page 54. The acreage adjoined the Wadsworth Tract on the north, on the east by Jerome Shaw's land, on the south by the County road and on the west by Jonah Turner's land.
A friend from Cummington, Cyrus Ford, was a silk merchant, and made trips to Michigan, Indiana and Ohio in connection with his business. While traveling, he always looked up his old friends, and on one such trip, he wrote back to his brother at home. The letter is dated December 10, 1837 and is from Lyme, Ohio. He writes:3
Arrived here yesterday [on his way to Michigan.] Spent night 27 miles from Masillon. The next night arrived at Daniel Richards in Chatham. Found them and a host of families from Plainfield and Cummington. They are in a new township of most excellent soil. In this town we stopped six days. Called on Daniel Richards, Esq., Iram Packard, Ben Farr, John Bates, Eben Shaw (son of Doc. Shaw), Jacob Snow, and saw Elbridge Farr, Roswell Packard and some 10 or 12 Shaws and Packards from Plainfield besides. D. Richards has a farm of 25 acres, 100 under improvement. Esq. Iram Packard is wealthy, lives on a farm of 214 acres of the best of land, house and barn. Richards has a good barn, logg cabin; Eben Shaw 200 acres, cabin, framed barn, brick kiln; Ben Farr has 37 acres of good land (paid for) Logg cabin, one acre sowed to wheat and means to chop another acre (or nearly) this winter. An addition of a son 5 weeks old to their hungry family. It was hard tithes last year for Ben Farr in Ohio. Elbridge has been longer on his 40 acres and has some 8 or 10 acres which produced a tremendous crop of weeds and some corn. Neither he nor Ben have a cow, however, they are looking forward to better days and more meat from Chatham.
Of course, the “son 5 weeks old” was Julius E. Farr, the man this history is all about! It is not known whether Benjamin ever acquired a cow, for he died the following summer, sometime between the 17th of July 1838 when he had a “visit and medication” from Dr. C. P. Stocks, and the first of August 1838 when a bill for $3.00 was sent by Mr. Salmon Wood for making a coffin for Benjamin Farr.
Probate papers received from Medina County, Ohio, show that Nebadiah Cass was made the Administrator of the estate of Benjamin Farr. Mr. Cass and the widow, Lydia, were married 16 November 1838, just a few short months after Benjamin's death.4 This was a common practice in those days because women could not take care of themselves in that untamed land, and of course, the men needed women to tend the house, do the cooking, washing and mending and other household chores while the men did the back breaking work of building homes and tilling the soil for the crops.
After Benjamin's untimely death, Lydia received $175.00 for the support of herself and her seven minor children for twelve months. Among the possessions listed in Benjamin Parr's inventory were:
Two beds and beding $4.00
One chest .50
Three chairs 1.50
One gun 2.00
Obviously, they hadn't lived in their new home long enough to accumulate many worldly possessions. And no wonder that Lydia jumped into another marriage so quickly!
Nebediah Cass was an older man, approximately twenty years older than Lydia, and he was evidently a pillar of the community. In the Pioneer Historyof Medina County, by N. B. Northrup, published in 1861, Northrup has this to say:
Chatham township was organized December 5, 1833. The first township officers were Nebediah Cass, Joel and Iram Packard, trustees.
Mr. Northrup goes on to say that Nebediah Cass was one of only eleven voters in the first election in the newly organized township. Mr. Cass was also a veteran of the War of 1812. He migrated to Ohio much sooner than the Farrs, but he most certainly must have known them before since he too came from Cummington.
It was no doubt a life saver to Lydia to have Nebediah Cass come into her life, for the probate papers show that the property that Benjamin had paid $225.00 for in 1836 had to be sold in 1841 for $175.00. When all the bills were paid and the estate closed on 25 March 1842, there is a short statement signed by Cass which declares:
This Administrator reports that all of the debts of said estate are paid so far as he knows and that said estate is indebted to him for
In 1845, Nebediah and Lydia Cass moved to Barry County, Michigan in a small community called Prairieville. On the 1850 Federal census there is an indication that Nebediah and Lydia lived in one house and the Farr children in the house next door with one of the twins, Joseph H. Farr, age 18, listed as head of the household.
It is not known when Nebediah Cass died, but he is buried in the Prairieville cemetery. Lydia married for the third time on 21 September 1865 to Isaac Diamond. Nothing is known of him except that they were married for eleven years when he died in April 1876. Lydia lived just three months longer and died on the 4th of July, 1876. The cause of death was palsy. She was 74 years of age, and her grave is beside Nebediah Cass' grave in the Prairieville cemetery.
No grave has been found for Benjamin Parr, but in the tiny cemetery in Chatham, Ohio, where he supposedly died, there are four unmarked graves. It is very possible that two of them are the graves of the two brothers who were destined to live such short lives.
Elbridge Farr had six children before his death in 1849 at age 46. His widow, Sarah Russ, moved to Spanish Fork, Utah, and died there in 1884.
Many of this branch of the Farr family are of the Mormon faith, and the writer has been in communication with Max Bramall, a great-great-grandson of Elbridge Farr.
It has been an interesting sidelight of this family that Elbridge had a son, Ansel, who was born in 1822. He did not migrate to Utah with the rest of his family but moved to Alma, in Gratiot County, Michigan. It seems apparent that he kept in touch with his cousin, Julius E. Parr, and when Julius' oldest son, Eugene Farr was married in 1899 to Lily Strouse, Ansel Farr was a witness.6
1Information received from Mrs. Daphne Morris in a letter to the compiler on 13 July 1985.
2The compiler has not been able to ascertain the original owner of the Bible where this record was found, or whether it could still be in the possession of some family member.
3Ford Family Letters, housed in the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, Ohio. Zeroxed copies of several of the letters are in the possession of the compiler.
4Town Records of Medina County, microfiche Batch #M514181, Serial sheet #1623, Genealogical Library, Salt Lake City, UT. Zeroxed copy in possession of compiler.
5Barry County Clerk's Office, Hastings, MI
6Gratiot County Clerk's Office, Ithaca, MI