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