Submitted by PHGS member, Pam Davis


WIGGIN M. FARRAR

     One of the oldest of the living pioneers of the town of Machias, and a man who, unaided, has carved out his own fortune, was born in Gilmantown, N.H., Feb. 14, 1797.  His parents were in comfortable circumstances, his father, John Farrar, being a farmer, innkeeper, and merchant.  Wiggin, the eldest son, was educated in the district schools of his neighborhood,--such as they were in the days of his youth, --his opportunities therein being limited to two or three moths in a year.  He was a soldier in the war of 1812, moved with his family to New Berlin, Chenango Co., N.Y.  They arrived there with money exhausted and had a severe struggle to maintain themselves through the winter.  In the spring of 1817 they moved to Rochester, N.Y., and purchased the chance of a partly-improved farm, giving as a consideration for the transfer of the “articles” a span of horses, carriage, and harness, valued at four hundred dollars, --all the property he owned at the time.   They commenced cutting staves, square timber, and saw logs, purposing to send them down the river to Rochester.  When they had gathered a lot of timber on the river-bank, his father was prosecuted for trespass, and a judgment of eighty dollars obtained against him, which he was obliged to pay in hard labor to avoid going to jail!  Wiggin then purchased a boat and in partnership with another man, went to boating on the Genesee River.  Made some money, but eventually the boat went over the falls, and proved a total loss.  His father’s health was poor, and after his failure became low-spirited and devoid of ambition; Wiggin then took charge of the family, and virtually became its head.

     In the year 1819, Wiggin took his father’s family, and started for the west, with an ox-team, to establish a home in the then wilderness.  Influenced by the representations of old friends from his former home in New Hampshire, he was induced to settle at Machias, in Cattaraugus County.  He there took an articled tract of land, made a small improvement, and then sold his claim.  He subsequently purchased other tracts, in different portions of the town, and in 1828 bought the farm on which he now resides.

     Mr. Farrar was married in 1826 to Hannah Doolittle, who died about a year later.  The following year (1828) he married Betsey Loomis, a worthy woman, who has been his faithful companion for fifty years.  John Farrar died in Machias in 1854.

     Wiggin Farrar became a leader in the new settlement, and was prominently identified with the town from the start until some twenty years ago, when deafness compelled him to relinquish public and official duties.  He has held nearly every office in the gift of his townsmen.  He was justice of the peace for seven years, coroner for three years, assessor for many years, supervisor fourteen years, and for five years was county superintendent of the poor.  In politics he was a Whig, and later a Republican.  His hearing had been failing for many years, and some ten years ago he became totally deaf, --a calamity he bears patiently.

     Mr. Farrar’s family consisted of two children, --Aleanzor M. and Mary Elizabeth.  The former married Lydia Carver, a lady of refinement and worth; he resides on the home farm, which he shares and manages for his father.  Mary E. Farrar married Dr. Thomas J. King, a prominent physician of Machias, who has twice been elected to the State Legislature, where he served with honor; she died in 1863, leaving two sons.

     In his prime, Mr. Farrar was a man of great energy, a good financier, and of marked business ability.  Although always engaged in farming, he also carried on a flouring-mill business successfully for many years, and engaged largely in the purchase and sale of cattle and produce.  He is an example of what can be accomplished by energy and perseverance.  Starting in life without a dollar, or the assistance of friends, he has accumulated a handsome property.  He has a fine farm of five hundred or more acres, and out of his competence, which make comfortable his old age, he has always given liberally to the poor, and for the support of church and school interests.

*The above information was obtained from the History of Cattaraugus County, New York by L. H. EVERTS, 1879.


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