Biography of Jesse H. Farwell

Jesse H. Farwell. In North Charlestown, Sullivan County, N.H., Jesse H. Farwell was born January 22, 1834. His father, George Farwell, was a grandson of William Farwell, who was among the first white inhabitants of the town. On settling in life, George Farwell bought a little corner of the old farm, and built the small house in which all the children were born; but afterward he owned the whole farm, and lived in the old farmhouse.

An editorial in a Vermont journal gives one of the few glimpses we have of the early life of his son Jesse :-

“His boyhood was a type of that of many from New England farms and firesides, who afterward became leaders, the representative men of the nation. His sole educational advantages were derived from the district school near his old home. An old neighbor details some interesting reminiscences of his early days. Having business with the elder Farwell, he visited him one day at noon, as the industrious habits of the family detained them in the fields from early morn until the evening shadows fell. During the progress of business Jesse, then a lank stripling of about fifteen years, weighing not over seventy-five or one hundred pounds, clad in a pair of jean overalls, hitched by a single suspender over a partially sleeveless shirt, and with tufts of brown hair waving through the crevices of a broken straw hat, sat on a log by the roadside, improving his ‘nooning’ by the perusal of a scrap of an old newspaper. Observing the dilemma of the two men, he pried a scrap of bark from the log on which he was resting, and, fishing a portion of a nail from his pocket, soon had the matter correctly adjusted. The attention of the gentleman being thus called to the boy, he entered into conversation with him. The picture he presented, as, with bare feet crossed over his hoe handle, in the brilliant summer sunshine, he told of the progress of their farm work, and how they had helped nearly all their neighbors out, would have made a scene fit for poet’s pencil or artist’s brush. He also confided to his friend some of his hopes and aspirations for the future, feeling even then that he had outgrown the narrow limits of his birthplace, and longing for new fields of opportunity and labor-in short, for more worlds to conquer. The father, however, entertained different plans, and about this time took another large farm, hoping, with the assistance of the boy, to pay for it; and when, two years later, Jesse, at the age of sixteen, decided to leave home, the shock and disappointment were such as to seriously affect the health and happiness of the father. It is, however, most gratifying to know that he lived to realize that what he then looked upon as a calamity almost too great for endurance proved a blessing, not only to him and his family, but to his native town and to future generations, who will have cause to thank God that such a man has lived.”

Mr. Farwell says: “Our home was a mile from any public road, our nearest neighbors across the river in Vermont. The house was small, and near the east bank of the Connecticut. The scenery was beautiful. George Farwell, my father, was active, industrious, economical, and intelligent, as good a reader as I ever listened to. For five years after his majority he was in the employ of John and James Howland at New Bedford, then largely engaged in the whale fishery. During that time he met my mother, Aurilla Brownell, an acquaintance of the Howlands, who were descendants of those of the same name who came over in the ‘Mayflower,’ as my mother was of John Alden and Priscilla Molines, an historic couple in Plymouth in Miles Standish’s day. My parents soon after their marriage came to the old homestead, bought twenty-five acres of grandfather’s farm, and settled. My mother was a strong, hardy, rosy-cheeked woman. Both were cheerful, happy, and well mated, constant in kind advice and admonition to their children. The prominent admonition of my mother was, ‘If you can say nothing good of others, say nothing.’ I confess that in the hurry and excitement of my somewhat active life I have frequently broken that rule, violating my better judgment in cooler hours.

“In my very early life industry was as natural to me as breathing, economy a necessity, perhaps a pleasure. Harshness and unkindness were strangers to my parents, except as seen in others. My mother’s religious training had been in Orthodox Congregationalism, but she became largely imbued with the liberal views of the Farwell family, for which they were distinguished.

“With four boys and two girls, one passing Buffalo. My father assented, and gave me ten dollars, which my mother sewed up in my inside coat pocket; and I left familiar scenes and associations, with varying emotions of affection and hope better imagined than described.”

This step from the farm into the wide world in 1850 was taken in response to a letter from an uncle in Buffalo, proposing his coming to that city for three years as an apprentice in the undertaking business, his fare out to be paid and his board, and fifty dollars, one hundred and fifty dollars, and one hundred and seventy-five dollars for the whole time. By rail and stage and canal packet-boat the city was reached. The family met him kindly, the new life opened rapidly, and in business and social life he met excellent people in ways to gain insight of their real life and character. For five years, as apprentice and then assistant, he was with that uncle, E. Farwell, whom he prized as being largely the counterpart of his beloved father. Meantime his two older brothers had left the farm; and bis father wrote, urging, even commanding, his return. He declined, in view of opening advantages; and in a few years the father gladly acknowledged the better judgment of his son.

Twenty-one years of age, energetic, capable, and enterprising, in September, 1855, he landed from the steamer “Plymouth Rock” at ten o’clock P.M., in Detroit. The next morning he met Marcus Stevens and Samuel Zugg, both strangers, and before noon laid the foundation for a five years’ partnership, they to offset two thousand dollars against his whole time and skill, and he to have one-third of the profits, as undertakers. This went on for twelve years; and in 1867 he became connected with a company of paving contractors, controlling the patent for the Nicholson pavement. On their dissolution in 1873, Mr. Farwell, in connection with E. Robinson, continued the business, and operated extensively in street paving in Detroit and other Michigan cities up to 1885. For eight years from 1872 he was connected with the Clough & Warren Organ Company of Detroit; and he was also President and leading owner for some years of the Dominion Organ and Piano Company of Bowmanville, Ont., both of which concerns during these years rose from small beginnings to the front rank in such enterprises.

He is President of the Farwell Transportation Company, which has during its existence owned and controlled a fleet of some twenty vessels, among which are some of the largest and best steamers and sailing craft on the Lakes.

He was first President of the Detroit Evening Journal Company, then an independent paper. Mr. and Mrs. Farwell are separate owners of real estate in the city. To wait and watch with quiet sagacity until the time was ripe, and then to enter into enterprises, old or new, with prompt vigor, has been his method in business; and thus his enlarging operations have usually been safe from the start.

A Democrat in politics, he holds fast to his party with sincere fidelity. He favors woman suffrage as based on justice and therefore sure to bring benefit. Of the liberal school in religion, he has been a Trustee of the Detroit Unitarian Society and President of the State Association, and in later years a supporter of the Universalist Society in the city. Unpretending in manner, he is quietly social and friendly, with a cheery humor as sparkling

April 24, 1859, Mr. Farwell married Emma J. Godfrey, of Detroit, a woman whose frank and honest eyes tell an eloquent story of kindly sincerity. Their home life has been happy. Their two sons, George and Jerry G., are in business. A daughter, Emma, just beyond that mystic verge where childhood and womanhood meet, makes up the trio.

The story of the building and dedication of the Farwell School-house, North Charlestown, N.H., 1889-90, is a twice-told tale well worth reading. During the visits of Mr. Farwell and his family to his birthplace the ruinous condition of the district school-house had become a subject of discussion, until their daughter Emma, in an inspired and inspiring moment, proposed that they should build a new one. This plan ripened. Mrs. Farwell wished to pay half the cost. The house, the finest country school-house in the State, had its corner-stone laid July 4, 1889; and a year after the completed building was passed over to the town, these occasions being gala days to hundreds. Extracts from the addresses of Mr. Farwell, and a glimpse of the exercises, will show the spirit in which the good work was done and accepted.

Emma Farwell, who first suggested the building, fitly laid the corner-stone. The Hon. George S. Smith presided. The Rev. T. D. Howard said: “There rises in my memory an address by Dean Stanley to an English audience on the restoration of an ancient church. He spoke of the influence upon those who daily were in sight of the revered and noble building whose walls had been repaired. An atmosphere distinct from that which commonly prevails envelopes a building dedicated to high public service. Above this corner-stone is to be erected a beautiful building. The passing traveller will pause to hear the story of local attachment, affectionate memory, and open-handed generosity, which caused these walls to rise. He may be led to think of the blessings of knowledge and refinement which thence may reach future generations, while every resident near by may well draw inspiration to kindly deeds from this proof of abiding love.

“I am glad, for one, that the friendly rain has led us from floor outside into this church. The cause of education may here fitly receive its rightful sanction. Here we may well affirm that good knowledge is the handmaid of religion, and hope and pray that the instruction given young minds may lead toward that ‘fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom.’”

Only the opening sentence of Mr. Farwell’s speech is quoted:-

“With a view of giving added interest to the cause of education in country schools, and with a sincere regard for the place of my nativity, childhood, and early boyhood, and in affectionate remembrance of my parents, George and Aurilla Farwell, my grand-parents, Jesse and Abigail Farwell, and my great-grand-parents, William and Bethiah Farwell, all now deceased, and with a desire to perpetuate the memory of their modest worth as parents and citizens, I have been led to construct this building, the corner-stone of which is this day to be laid, with the purpose, when fully completed, to present the same to my native town. In depositing this declaration beneath the corner-stone, I desire that there may go with it an acknowledgment of my appreciation of the worth of the several teachers by whom it was my good fortune to be instructed during my school-boy days.”

Others spoke briefly; and the people went to their homes in happy mood, to meet again in July 4, 1890, to see the building dedicated and passed over to the town. When multitudes from near and far gathered beneath a spacious canopy on the grounds, the building stood complete before them. The front door of heavy oak opens into a hall, around which are school and cabinet and library rooms. Its front is eastward, and its broad windows open a fine view down the valley toward the Connecticut River a few miles west and the Vermont mountains beyond. Healthfulness, comfort, and the latest and best school apparatus have been sought for; and further plans for library and cabinets are being laid.

Music by choir and band, brief talks by the Rev. Calvin Stebbins, of Worcester, formerly of Detroit, the Hon. H. W. Parker, of Claremont, A. Wait, of Newport, the Rev. D. E. Croft, of Charlestown, an address by the Hon. Justin Dartt, reading of letters, a flag delivery (the flag presented by Dr. Byron G. Clark, of New York City ), a presentation of mineralogical cabinet by John Hancock Lock, Esq., of North Charlestown, a deluge of mountain flowers poured upon Mrs. Farwell by the ladies and school children, filled the time enjoyably, the speaking being all fit and valuable.

From Mr. Farwell’s address, passing over the school-house to the town, extracts are given as follows:-

“Mr. Chairman ,-Agreeably to promise heretofore made, I now deliver the deed of this house and lot from myself and wife, who joins with me in this conveyance, and who has voluntarily and cheerfully contributed from her own estate the one-half of the cost of this gift to my native town.

“Among the conditions attached to this gift are that it shall be used for a general school and library, and when not in use for those purposes shall be free to all religious organizations which may make application for its use, the purpose being to have it entirely unsectarian and free to all who may choose to use it, reversing in this respect the rule enjoined by the benefactor, and steadily enforced in one of the great educational and industrial institutions of the city of Philadelphia, whereby no minister is to pass within its walls. There is no better way to abolish religious prejudice and bigotry than a free and full presentation of the various doctrines pertaining to the Christian and other religions of the world. In the language of one of the eminent scholars of New England, now deceased, ‘the right to read and construe the sacred writings of the Christian and other religions belongs exclusively to no class or set of men, but to the individual who is to rise or fall by his own acts and his own faith, and not by those of another.”

“It is the sincere wish of Mrs. Farwell, myself, and our daughter, who, with your aid, laid so strong, and we trust enduringly, the corner-stone of this building on the Fourth of July last, that the management of the affairs of this school district by those whose duty it now becomes to care for it, coupled with the efforts of the teachers who from time to time may be intrusted with the education of the children who may here attend, together with the efforts of the children themselves, may be successful in making this school a pride to the community, an ornament to the township, and the model rural school of New Hampshire and New England.

“There is much in the historic memories of this community, town and State, to stimulate the rising generation to noble effort; and with well-directed effort there is sure to follow worthy achievement.

“In the early hours and engagements of the Revolution, when this neighborhood was little

“Although of remote lineage, the gallant record of Captain Farwell, who was from this immediate neighborhood at the battle of Bunker Hill, the second engagement of the Revolution, has been and will ever be a proud recollection to myself and family.

“Within sight of where we now are, on yonder mountain range, is to be seen the first camping-ground of the intrepid Stark and his band of Granite patriots, while on their hurried march to the field of Bennington, made historic by their heroism a few days later.

“Going back to earlier days, long prior to the Revolution, during the distressing years of French and Indian wars, we find the little fort in this town the extreme northerly fortified point in the valley of the Connecticut. From the headquarters of their allies at Montreal and Quebec the Indians made their way by water transit up the St. Lawrence, through its connecting waters to Lake Champlain, thence by trail across the mountain regions of Vermont, reaching the Connecticut abreast of this town where they too often found a rich harvest of scalps and prisoners among the surprised and ambushed settlers of those early days. The market for the Indians’ booty of human scalps and half-starved prisoners was as clearly established and more steady at Montreal and Quebec in those days than are the markets of to-day for the ordinary items of commerce.

“Many of us forget, in reading of far-off heroic deeds, the equal heroism which has been displayed nearer home and at our very doors. The heroic determination to defend, to the last drop of blood, all which they held nearest and dearest, which animated Captain Stevens and a mere handful of men, women, and children, in the defence of the fort at Charlestown, No. 4, during the French and Indian wars, against nearly a thousand Indian warriors, is not surpassed by the Grecian defence at the Pass of Thermopyl√¶ or the Texan patriots at the gate of the Alamo.

“Allusion was made to the profile of the ‘Old Man of the Mountain’ by the distinguished orator at the laying of the cornerstone of this building, as being an emblem or sign of one of the occupations of the people of this State-namely, the rearing of men. The allusion was a beautiful and fitting one. However we may speculate as to whether that colossal image of the human face, placed on its lofty pedestal midst the clouds, the White Mountains its fitting base, silent witness of the ever-changing forms of creation and the steady growth of man, was created as a type of the great men who were to be reared in the Granite State, one thing is certain: that there is an influence radiating from that majestic image, with all its attendant and surrounding grandeur, which is directly traceable in the moulding of mind and character of all who are so fortunate as to be born and reared within its influence….

“To the young I would say in conclusion: Place high your ideals, and work steadily toward them. Emulate as near as may be the distinguished examples the history of your State affords. Cultivate a wholesome and kindly rivalry for intellectual, moral, and physical advancement. Let the girls vie with each other and with the boys, and the boys with the girls, in efforts to care for this property and in ornamentation of its grounds. Keep frequently in mind the stirring incidents of the past, consider your prospects and your duties, think of the rich inheritance acquired by generations of ancestors, and recollect always that it was they who founded the fabric

The following is the address by the Hon. Justin Dartt, the leading orator of the day:-

“This is a day of gladness. It is a happy occasion that has called us here. I see it in your faces. Who here is not happy? Who does not rejoice in the great fortune that has fallen to this community? Who has not a stronger faith in humanity and more hope and more courage for the future, as he looks at this beautiful structure, grown from the generous philanthropy of a man whom your State gave to the West, and who is now giving back to the East? Some people know how to build monuments that shall endure. Such are your benefactors.

“Some months ago I was beside that wonderful mausoleum in my native State where a man expended a fortune of nearly one hundred thousand to entomb the remains of his wife and daughter, and set up before its portal a statue of himself. This was some satisfaction, some pleasure to him, no doubt, but no benefit to others, save as a work of skill and art which they may admire. And then a little later I stood in the shadow of Brigham Academy, and read over its entrance, ‘Erected by Peter Brigham .’ Here, I thought, is a monument worth the building. That mausoleum with its statue and its mirrors and its landscapes, shall consume away and crumble into dust with the bodies of the dead, and the builder will be forgotten; but Peter Brigham will live on and on in the lives of those he helped to a better manhood and of those influenced by them. Yes, we are learning to build monuments more lasting than the granite and the marble. We build them in human hearts.

“This school building is intrusted to your care, people of this district. You have accepted the trust, guard it well. Let no idle hand deface its walls or mar its beauty. Keep in your hearts the spirit of the donor, and suffer no neglect to lessen your interest in its preservation. Permit no teacher to preside in these rooms who has not a love for and a sympathy with childhood, and may the influence of this school ever be as clean and chaste as the edifice now before us. We dedicate it to the children of this district, those who are here and those who are to come after them in the years of the future. Happy are those children whose parents and the people among whom they live never grow old, never forget that they have been children, and who can appreciate the value of the beautiful in the surroundings of child life.

“Wordsworth wrote, ‘The child is father to the man’; and Milton said that ‘childhood shows the man as morning shows the day.’ Experience proves that they knew whereof they spoke; and, as we hope for true men and noble women in the future, so we build for them to-day, and this beautiful structure, unique in its design, elegant in all its appointments, shall stand for learning and culture, for discipline of life and worth of character, in those who are trained within it. How well the architect has made it represent the thought for which it stands! Varied and diversified in its material, it shall give its privileges to all. No sectarianism here, no party divisions in its favors, no distinction in those to whom its benefits are given; but it is free to all, a grand representative of the common-school system of which it forms a part. Other men have built academies, colleges, halls, and libraries almost without number; and we honor their deeds and their memories. The donors of this building have built better than they because they have

“I believe this to be the first instance where a house of such rare beauty and elegance has been devoted to the elementary schools of the country, a house that has no equal among the district-school buildings of the land.

“Standing here in this representative community of the State, this house is also dedicated to the future stability of the Commonwealth. Carved from the granite of her hills, it shall be the support of her honor and the guardian of her virtue and patriotism by means of its influence upon her citizenship, for, ‘The riches of the Commonwealth Are free, strong minds and hearts of health; And more to her than gold and gain The cunning hand and cultured brain.’

“But more than this. Planted here in this lovely valley of a sovereign State of the nation, a part of a great system of education that reaches from ocean to ocean, from the Gulf to the Great Lakes, this little gem, more valuable than the diamond, is consecrated to national liberty, to the further and larger development of that idea which landed with the Pilgrims, to the principle that was born in the cabin of the ‘Mayflower,’ a principle destined to permeate all nations and draw the allegiance of the world.

“It is said by the great generals of the past that in every decisive battle there is a moment of crisis on which the fortune of the day turns, and he who seizes and holds that ridge of destiny wins the victory. There are crises in the course of nations as well as in the tide of war, and in this crisis of our country-for I believe we are even now fast approaching one-education and her allies must hold the part. She will hold it, and win for truth and righteousness. The mightiest factors in human progress are unseen. They come not with the noise and wrangle of political debate, they are not on the surface of strikes and labor agitations; but, like the sunshine and the rain, they move the latent powers of a world’s philanthropy, and give an abundant harvest of blessings.

“Such a power are the schools of America. The lines that lead out from our New England civilization have touched every village and hamlet of the national domain. The school teachers are touching the wires that are to reach every home and child in the land. Grand as have been the successes of the past, they are to pale and grow dim before the results of the near future. We are not to fail. We’ll meet the incomer from every nation with the common school for his children. We’ll send its currents through and through the great surging mass of ignorance in that South land. Even now the rays are breaking out through the dark cloud like electric lights in the blackness of a storm.

“When cities rivalling the magnificence of every other age, shall stand on the borders of the Pacific, the public school will be there. When the commerce of the Eastern nations shall crowd the gates of those cities, we’ll send back to the worn-out civilizations of the Old World the bearers of a Christian education, before which ignorance shall be ashamed and superstition hide from the sight of man.”

The question of deep water ways from lakes to ocean and other matters of moment, in commerce and transportation especially, have always commanded Mr. Farwell’s attention, whether he had direct personal interest in them or not. A new site for a new post-office building, for instance, was an impersonal affair, but enlisted his hearty interest.

Whether the railroads should bridge the Detroit, and thus, as he and others claimed, obstruct navigation, or whether a tunnel should or could be built under water fifty feet deep, he held of great importance to the people of the whole North-west. When the question came up in 1888, he addressed public meetings and wrote terse and strong letters in favor of a tunnel. In one of these letters is quoted a statement of General Poe, the eminent engineer then in government charge of harbors, canals, etc., on the Great Lakes, that the annual saving in freight from Lake Superior alone, by water rather than rail, was over ten million dollars, and that, but for water routes, the total like extra cost would exceed forty million dollars, saying that the freight passing through the Suez Canal is less than half what passes through the river at Detroit, “which speculators are trying to obstruct by piers and bridges.” His brief paragraphs made a strong impression. The advocates of a bridge about that time made an estimate of its cost as about six million dollars, along with an effort to show that a tunnel was impracticable.

It was soon known that he was ready, with others, to guarantee the completion of a tunnel for three million five hundred thousand dollars, and from the leading Lake cities came protests against bridges. During the ten years since, one tunnel has been built, and is in safe and constant use at Port Huron, but not a bridge at Detroit or elsewhere. When navigation through the “Soo” and the St. Clair Canals was obstructed by accidents in 1888, Mr. Farwell telegraphed President Cleveland, who promptly cut all “red tape,” and had needed help given at once. He afterward addressed him a letter favoring the Nicaragua Canal.

In deep water ways-twenty-foot channels and canals from Chicago and Duluth to the seaboard-he took strong interest. On these subjects he spoke at Buffalo, Detroit, St. Louis, Tacoma, and elsewhere, usually in conventions. His resolutions and remarks at St. Louis are given in full:-

“At the Nicaragua Canal Convention held at St. Louis, Mo., on June 1, 1892, Mr. Jesse H. Farwell, representing the State of Michigan, offered the appended resolutions and addressed the convention as follows:-

“Whereas the construction of a canal uniting the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans by way of Lake Nicaragua is now the imperative demand of the commercial world, and will be the equal benefactor of all maritime nations; and

“Whereas the distinguishing feature of the generation in which we live is the growth of the sentiment of universal brotherhood and by virtue thereof the fraternity of nations; therefore

“Resolved that the President of the United States be and he is hereby requested to invite to a conference representatives from all nations with whom this nation has had diplomatic relations, to the end that the Nicaragua Canal may be built by joint effort of nations, that, as its beneficence is universal, so the protection and care of it may be the bounden obligation of the maritime world, that, uninterrupted by internecine strife, it may continue for all time the peaceful pathway of a world’s commerce.”

Mr. Farwell spoke as follows: “Coming uninstructed from a State which stands prominent in successful efforts for the development of the internal commerce of the country; a Commonwealth which has by far the longest coast line washed by navigable waters of any of our forty-four States; a State, every foot of whose borders of two thousand miles is constantly washed by the ebb and flow created by the innumerable steam and sail craft whose Constantine in the eastern world-it is proper, I believe, that I call the attention of this convention to the fact that, under a wise and liberal system of State and national policy, seventy million of people cheerfully contribute to the widening, straightening, and deepening of the various channels connecting our great inland seas.

“Long before the United States had a national existence and at a period of England’s history when she had already dotted the surface of the globe with her possessions and her military posts, and when her morning drumbeats, travelling with the sun and keeping time with the hours, circled the earth with one continuous and unbroken strain of her martial airs, she in connection with France dedicated all the water ways of our northern and north-western frontier to be forever free and unobstructed to all the nations of the earth.

“The development following the policy just outlined, and which may be classed as the line of Christian civilization, is simply marvellous.

“Buffalo at that time was a straggling village, Detroit a camping-ground of the Indians, Chicago absolutely unknown, and the waters of Lake Superior had scarcely been stirred by a white man’s skiff; while to-day almost every square mile of its vast area is lightened by the sails of its vessels, or shaded by the smoke of its rushing steamers. And the gateway to and from that lake, which, although admitting at one time and every half-hour four of the largest steamships, and with one movement lifting them from the level of Lake Huron to that of Lake Superior, is insufficient for the present and rapidly increasing traffic.

“Coming from a State with surroundings such as I have recited and with an experience thus suggestive and cheering, I hazard nothing in saying that Michigan will be in the very front rank of promoters of this work, and will stand ready to do her full share in aid of its rapid and speedy completion.

“For the sake of contrast, go in memory over the history of the eastern world, and you will call to mind that to gain possession of the eastern Bosphorus on one hand and to maintain the same on the other, Europe, Asia, and Africa have, decade after decade, generation after generation, and century after century, marshalled gigantic armies, and almost from the period of recorded history have continued to enrich the soil of each with the best blood of their soldiery, and crimsoned alike the cold currents of the Baltic, the softer currents of the Mediterranean and the Nile, and the blue waters of the Adriatic with the best blood of their naval heroes.

“The development following this last recited policy has been along the line of barbaric civilization, the effect of which is best described under terms of servile, mindless, and enervate Ottoman and darkest Russia.

“Assembled as we are, Mr. President, to consider a project which has occupied the attention of the civilized world since the discovery of America, and which has through successive periods received some of the best thought and effort of engineering and business minds, and to accomplish which five hundred millions of dollars and fifty thousand human lives have been wasted, it may be well to consider the board and enlightened policy which

“Had the maritime nations acted in consonance with that policy in reference to an interoceanic canal, we should have enjoyed its advantages one hundred years ago.

“The expressed desire of one of the many able writers and promoters of this enterprise is that
the first steamship which passes through the Nicaragua Canal may hail from San Francisco; and he declares that when he has seen the flag of our country floating from the peak of an ocean steamship on Lake Nicaragua, he will reverently paraphrase the devout Simeon of nineteen centuries ago: ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen the salvation of the Pacific Coast and the glory of the great Republic.’

“My devout desire is to live to see, contemporaneously with the completion of the Nicaragua Canal from ocean to ocean, the completion of that other great national work which was inaugurated at Detroit last December; namely, a ship canal connecting our great inland seas with the larger oceans; and, on the completion of these great works, world-wide in their influence and benefits, I hope to see not only the Stars and Stripes, but the flags of all maritime nations, gaily and peacefully floating from the mast-heads of their various steamers on the route from the Pacific to the Atlantic and vice versa, and also on that other route, which I trust I may live to see completed, connecting our great inland lakes with the outer oceans. My own idea is that all the maritime and inland States be federated together for the completion of this great work.

“Such would be a fitting climax for these closing years of the nineteenth century of our Christian era, and would be the practical realization of what has hitherto been the ideal dream of the philanthropist-namely, the universal brotherhood of man, the federation of the nations, and a parliament of the world.

“In this line of thought, but in no dogmatic spirit, I have offered these resolutions, and ask a respectful consideration thereof by this convention.”

A glance at the genealogical records of the Farwell and allied families shows that the subject of the foregoing sketch numbers among his ancestors some of the earliest colonists of New England and some of the most noted and influential, both in the Plymouth settlement and the Bay province. The Farwell line is thus given:-

(1) Henry Farwell from England settled in Concord, Mass., in 1638, moved to Chelmsford, Mass., in 1650, and died there in 1670; his wife, Olive, at same town, 1691. The earliest town records of Concord being lost, knowledge of these two is scanty; but they were probably ancestors of all or most of the name in New England and of many elsewhere. (2) Their son, Joseph Farwell, born in Concord, 1642, married Hannah Learned, of Chelmsford, in 1666, and died in Dunstable, Mass., in 1722. (3) Isaac Farwell, son of Joseph, born in Chelmsford, died about 1753. (4) William Farwell, son of Isaac, born in Medford, Mass., in 1712, died in Charlestown, N.H., in 1801, married Bethiah Eldridge. (5) Jesse and Abigail (Allen) Farwell, of North Charlestown, N.H. (6) George and Aurilla (Brownell) Farwell. (7) Their son, Jesse H. Farwell, born in 1834, in North Charlestown, N.H., now of Detroit, Mich.

Henry Farwell and his descendants were trustworthy, the men holding town and church offices far more important then than now. They were substantial farmers and landholders, intelligent and independent in thought. One stood firm in the patriot ranks on Bunker Hill. Rev. William Farwell, a great-uncle of Jesse H. Farwell, was the first Universalist preacher in Northern Vermont and New Hampshire, an heretical bishop travelling much over his wide diocese, holding toil and peril but light trials, and much beloved as a true man. In Barre, Vt., one of his societies built a church over a century ago. The Farwells were a steadfast race, such men and women as hold the world together.

The wife of Jesse Farwell and grandmother of Jesse H. Farwell was Abigail Allen, daughter of Benjamin and Peggy (Spofford) Allen, and grand-daughter of Captain John and Hannah (Tyler) Spofford. Benjamin Allen was in Stark’s brigade at Bennington and Saratoga. The Spofford family is a very old one in England, the name being found in the Doomsday Book, or record of the division of lands after the Norman Conquest in 1066, and also in Saxon chronicles of an earlier date. The Spofford Genealogy, prepared mostly by the late Dr. Jeremiah Spofford, of Georgetown, Mass., and edited by his daughter, contains a picture of Spofforth Castle, an interesting ruin in Spofforth or Spofford, Yorkshire, England, whose owner in the eleventh century, Gamelbar, Lord of Spofforth, was son of Gamel, who before the Conquest was lord of the manor of Ilkley, and was the ancestor of the Spofforths or Spoffords of Yorkshire. Captain John Spofford, above named, born in 1704, grandfather of Abigail, wife of Jesse Farwell, was a great-grandson of John Spofford, one of the first settlers of Rowley, Mass., and the first settler in Georgetown, Mass. Of the latter, who had the reputation of being an intensely pious man, a curious anecdote is related: “There had been a severe drought, and he went to Salem to buy corn for himself and his neighbors. The merchant to whom he applied, knowing the scarcity, and foreseeing higher prices, refused to sell. After pleading in vain, John Spofford cursed the merchant to his face, and was promptly brought before the local magistrate, charged with profane swearing. Spofford replied that he had not sworn profanely but as a religious duty, and quoted Prov. xi., 26, as his authority. The words he quoted are: ‘He that witholdeth corn from the hungry, the people shall curse him.’ Spofford was immediately acquitted, and, by the summary power of the Court in those days, the merchant was ordered to deliver the corn.” Captain John Spofford, his great-grandson, already mentioned, after marriage resided for ten years in Georgetown, and then removed to what is now Charlestown, N.H. The sawmill and grist-mill built here by him, the first in this region, were burned by the Indians in 1746; and he himself, with one or two others, was carried away a prisoner to Canada, whence he returned in 1747. The mills built to replace these were also destroyed, and afterward the third mills were built. Settlers came from Lancaster, one hundred and twenty four miles away, to have their corn ground by Captain Spofford. Hannah Tyler, wife of Captain John Spofford, was a daughter of Job and Margaret (Bradstreet) Tyler, and her mother, Margaret, a daughter of Colonel Dudley Bradstreet, who was a son of Governor Simon and Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet, both of honored memory, he an able and faithful government official in the Massachusetts Bay Colony for over sixty years, chief magistrate for thirteen years; she a poet, the first American woman of letters, a lady of gentle birth and breeding, daughter of Governor Thomas Dudley. Governor and Mistress Anne Bradstreet were the parents of eight children. From them many distinguished Americans-for example, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Wendell Phillips, William Ellery Channing -have traced their lineage.

Mr. Jesse H. Farwell’s mother, Mrs. Aurilla (Brownell) Farwell, was a daughter of Henry and Ruth (Shaw) Brownell, of Little Compton, R.I. She was, on the maternal side, of the sixth generation in descent from John and Priscilla (Mullens) Alden, of the “Mayflower” and Plymouth Colony, being a great-great-grand-daughter of their daughter Elizabeth, the first white woman born in New England, who married William Pabodie (or Peabody), of Duxbury, afterward of Little Compton, R.I. Sarah Pabodie, daughter of William and Elizabeth, became the wife of John Coe; and their daughter, Mrs. Lydia Coe Shaw, was the mother of Mrs. Ruth Shaw Brownell and grandmother of Aurilla Brownell.

Mrs. Elizabeth Alden Pabodie died at Little Compton, R.I., May 31, 1717, in the ninety-third or ninety-fourth year of her age. Her tomb bears the following inscription:-

“A bud from Plymouth’s ‘Mayflower’ sprung, Transplanted here to live and bloom, Her memory, ever sweet and young, The centuries guard within this tomb.”




MLA Source Citation:

Biographical Review Publishing Company. Biographical Review; containing life sketches of leading citizens of Merrimack and Sullivan counties, N. H. Boston. Biographical Review Publishing Company. 1897. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 15 April 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/new-hampshire/biography-of-jesse-h-farwell.htm - Last updated on May 5th, 2013


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