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Regardless of whether the American boys who fought in WWII were born to immigrants who were recent arrivals or into an ancestral line of immigrants who arrived in America long ago, they were all American patriots fighting for the same thing. They all stood together united in the same cause.
George Edwin Farrar was one of the boys whose family arrived in America long, long ago. Our immigrant ancestor of the Farrar line, Captain William Farrar, arrived in America in 1618. William’s wife Cecily and her father arrived even earlier, in 1610.
Dad’s paternal ancestry can be traced fourteen generations (fifteen for me) and more than a half century back to Henry Ferror I of Midgley, Halifax Parish, Yorkshire, England.
Midgley is about thirty miles northeast of Manchester, one hundred fifty miles northwest of Grafton Underwood, and a little over two hundred miles northwest of London. I don’t think my father was aware of the specific location of his roots in England at the time he was stationed at Grafton Underwood with the 384th Bomb Group, but he likely had English relatives nearby.
Dad’s and my ancestor, Henry Ferror I, was the original owner of Ewood Manor or Ewood Estate in Midgley from 1471. Ewood was subsequently the home of the Farrar family for over four hundred years. Henry and his wife (whose name is unknown) raised fifteen children at Ewood.
All of the children have not been identified due to loss of records, but it is believed that Bishop Robert Ferrar (listed in Foxes’ Book of Martyrs) was born around 1502 at Ewood and was possibly a son of Henry Ferror I. Bishop Ferrar was educated at Cambridge and Oxford where he received his Doctor of Divinity degree and was later appointed Bishop of St. David’s by King Edward VII in 1547. He died as a martyr during the reign of Queen Mary (known as Bloody Mary) on March 30, 1555, burned at the stake because he embraced the English Reformation.
Another one of Henry I’s sons, Henry Ferror II, who inherited Ewood in 1548, is the only other child of the fifteen identified and was next in the line of my father’s ancestry. He and his wife, Agnes Horsfall, had three children, and their oldest, William Ferror, continued our family’s lineage.
William Ferror inherited Ewood from his father and he and his wife Margaret Lacy Ferror raised six children there. Our line continued with their second child, who was known as John Ferror the Elder.
John Ferror was not only the second child, but was the second son of William and Margaret Ferror. Upon his father’s death, John’s older brother Henry inherited Ewood Estate. In 1610, Henry was stabbed to death by Justice Thomas Oldfield. He died before having children and Ewood Estate passed to John, keeping the ownership of Ewood in our lineage for the time being, although John didn’t live there. Henry’s widow continued to live at Ewood until her death. John Ferror, Esquire and his wife Cecily Kelke Ferror lived in London. John and Cecily had four children, all sons. Their third, William, continued our lineage.
William Ferror was our immigrant ancestor. He was born in 1593 in London, England. He was a barrister and immigrated to Virginia aboard the Neptune in 1618. The founder of the Farrar family in America, here he was known as Captain William Farrar.
William played an important role in the early development of the Virginia colony. He patented 2000 acres on the James River in Henrico County, Virginia, known as Farrar’s Island. In 1622, ten people were killed at his home on the Appomatuck River during the Great Indian Massacre. William escaped to his neighbor Samuel Jordan’s home, known as Jordan’s Journey.
Jordan’s wife Cecily had arrived at Jamestown from England at the age of ten with her father in 1610 aboard the Swan. Samuel Jordan was her second husband, her first being a Mr. Baley. After the death of Samuel Jordan, Cecily married Captain William Farrar in 1625.
In 1626, Captain William Farrar was appointed by King Charles I as a member of the King’s Council. He served as Chief Justice of the county. Captain William and Cecily Jordan Farrar had two children, both sons, although some Farrar ancestral records state that they also had a third child, a daughter. William and Cecily’s first born son was our ancestor and was known as Colonel William Farrar. He was born about 1626 on Farrar’s Island.
Colonel William Farrar later inherited Farrar’s Island and he and his wife Mary had five children there. Our Farrar lineage in America continued in Virginia with William and Mary’s son, Thomas Farrar; Thomas’s son, William Farrar; William’s son, Joseph Farrar, who fought in the Revolutionary War; Joseph’s son, Charles Farrar, Sr.; Charles Sr’s son, Charles Farrar, Jr., who was born after his father died; Charles, Jr’s son, Ezekiel Baker Farrar; and Ezekiel Baker’s son, Charles Henry.
Charles Henry Farrar was born in 1837. He was seven feet tall, though he preferred to refer to his height as “six foot twelve.”
Two books record our lineage of Farrar ancestry, the original The Farrars, written by William B. and Ethel Farrar, and The Farrars Addendum, written by Clarence Baker Farrar, a grandson of Charles Henry Farrar. Between his book and a letter to my mother, Bernice Jane Farrar, Clarence provided some interesting information about Charles Henry Farrar.
During the Civil War, Charles Henry Farrar was a private in the Confederate army and on April 9, 1865, surrendered at Appomattox with Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. General Grant gave Charles Henry a horse and he rode south from Appomattox one day, spending the night on the banks of the Staunton River on the farm of the widow Johnson (Mrs. William Brent Johnson) and her six and a half year old daughter, Martha Ann. Charles was hired the next day as men were a scarce commodity in the South after the Civil War.
In 1874, just before his thirty-seventh birthday, Charles Henry married Martha Ann, who was just a month past her sixteenth birthday. After the marriage, Martha Ann was sent off to finishing school in Danville, Virginia. The school was Miss Somebody’s Seminary for Young Ladies – now Fairfax Hall. After finishing school, Martha Ann returned to Charlotte Court House, Virginia. She bought a large Georgian house uptown, a home built by Patrick Henry called Villeview, for herself and Charles Henry.
At Villeview, Martha Ann bore Charles Henry eight children, though one was stillborn. In later years, the family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where Charles Henry joined his brother, William Baker Farrar, in the lumber business in Dalton, Georgia. Martha Ann was unhappy over the move and lonely for home. She took the younger children, including my grandfather, Carroll Johnson, and returned to Virginia.
Martha Ann divorced Charles Henry and he remarried in 1907. He died three years later in 1910. Martha Ann married Dr. W.E. Michie, who was her childhood sweetheart. After Dr. Michie’s death, Martha Ann said that next time she married, she was marrying a Yankee. She had had two Southern gentlemen and that was quite enough. She died in 1915.
My Farrar lineage continued with the first Farrar generation in Atlanta, Georgia, with Charles Henry and Martha Ann’s son Carroll Johnson Farrar, my father’s father, my grandfather. He was born in 1888 and married Raleigh May George in 1909. They had nine children and their middle child and second son was my father, George Edwin Farrar.
George Edwin Farrar was born in 1921. In 1944, he found himself in England, on an American air base in Grafton Underwood. He was only one hundred fifty miles from Ewood Manor, but at the time didn’t know of its existence or significance to his family. As he stood on the English soil, perhaps he considered that this was the place his family came from and that it took a world war to bring him here, to the home of his ancestors. His stay in England was only a few short months and after many more months as a prisoner of war in Germany, after a year away, he was thankful to be back in his home in America.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2018
George Edwin (Ed) Farrar had written to his family in Atlanta, Georgia on December 10, 1945. He stated in his letter that he would be leaving Chicago, Illinois on the 15th to come home for a family Christmas. I don’t know his method of travel. He may have traveled with another person by car, or perhaps by train. He expected to be home by the 16th of December. He sounded in high spirits and was looking forward to reuniting with older brother Carroll Jr. on the visit.
Carroll Sr. and Raleigh Mae Farrar had nine children, four of them boys. Carroll Jr. was the oldest and had also served with the Army Air Forces during WWII, but in the Pacific theatre. My dad, George Edwin, was the middle child and second son. Younger brother Bob was the third Farrar son to serve in WWII, in the Navy aboard the USS Intrepid. The youngest boy, Gene, was too young to join the fighting.
Raleigh Mae was excited about having most of the family home that year to celebrate Christmas and to celebrate that her three sons in WWII had all made it back home alive. Carroll Sr. was very ill and bedridden, but was anxious to see his boys back together again.
Youngest daughter, Beverly, who was only eight years old at the time, remembers that Christmas to this day. Bob and Carroll Jr. had arrived home first. Carroll Jr. decided the house needed some sprucing up and took to painting and wallpapering the interior. There were no decorations, presents, or even a Christmas tree, so instead of a festive holiday atmosphere, the house was a wreck with Carroll Jr’s paint and wallpaper supplies scattered about.
Six of the Farrar children gathered at their parents’ home for the holidays – Janet, Carroll Jr., Ed, Bob, Gene, and Beverly. Only three – Geraldine (Gerry), Martha, and Dorothy (Dot) – were absent. Ed was the last to arrive.
Carroll Sr. had been waiting to see his boys all together, home from the war. He had been holding off the business of dying, waiting for his sons to arrive. A few days after their arrival, Carroll Sr.’s condition worsened and he was taken to the hospital. Beverly was sent to a neighbor’s house, the Patterson’s, while the rest of the family gathered at her father’s hospital bedside. Carroll Sr. died at Grady Hospital on December 20.
Beverly remembers Carroll Jr. coming to the Patterson’s very late to take her home. He told her their father had died. She would spend her eighth Christmas, just five days away, without her father. Instead of planning a joyous holiday, the Farrar’s would be planning a funeral.
Christmas Eve came with no Christmas tree and no presents. After Beverly was sent to bed, older brother Gene, fourteen years old, walked over to North Kirkwood in search of a Christmas tree. The tree lot was closed, but he found a tree he liked remaining and brought it home. When Beverly arose on Christmas morning, she was surprised to find a decorated Christmas tree and a Christmas present for her, a pair of skates, under it.
Carroll Farrar, Sr. didn’t live to see that Christmas, but he did live to see what was much more important to him. He made death wait to take him until he saw with his own eyes all three of his sons who had survived WWII come together again for a family Christmas.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014
Normally, Mr. Buslee was the letter writer of the Buslee family, but today John Oliver (Jay) Buslee’s mother took the time to write to George Edwin Farrar’s mother.
April 9, 1945
Park Ridge, Ill.
My Dear Mrs. Farrar: –
We have received your letter telling of the good news of hearing from your son, George, it is, and must be wonderful for you to know he is alive and well, at least I imagine that’s all he could say or they wouldn’t pass it if he would say he was ill or hungry which I’m sure he is. I understand all prisoners would really be in a bad way if it weren’t for the Red Cross. I hear each fellow gets certain rations from them each week which should help a little, altho, their life must be almost unbearable there in those camps.
Just a day or so before we received your letter I noticed in one of our papers where a boy who was a prisoner in Stalag Luft 4 B – Germany had notified his people he’d be released, so we are in hopes your son is also free again. We are so happy to know that George at least is alive and that he may some day be able to tell us all about the rest of the crew. Isn’t it strange the nothing has been heard of the other two boys?
We have never had a word from the McManns altho Mr. Buslee has written them several times, the Peluso’s have promised to let us hear as soon as they hear anything, and the family of Lt. Brody who was the other pilot haven’t heard any other news than missing, either, and according to some of the other eye witnesses he was in the most dangerous spot, so you see we never can tell so we hear are still hopeful because each day we see where someone who had been reported killed has been found to be alive. I do hope our prayers will be repaid with good news soon.
We are so sorry to hear your other son is ill in the hospital, please let us hear how he is, we are very much interested in you and your family. Hope good luck follows your son in China, and that you will continue to hear good news of George often. Wish we could get something to him to lighten his burden in camp. Mr. Buslee has written him, it must have been a terrible blow to him to have them tell him all his crew were gone – but we heard tell that the Germans like to break down the hopes of the boys by telling them all sorts of lies.
We hear the Henson’s are enjoying a trip to Florida, they seem to be such grand folks, nice that you live so close to each other in Atlanta.
We have had such nice letters from so many of the wives and mothers of the boys and we do appreciate them so much.
We hope you and Mr. Farrar are in perfect health and try to keep up your spirits until your sons come home again and thank you so much for all your kindnesses, and write again soon.
Mrs. John Buslee
Lots of interesting information for me in this letter. From this one letter I have learned:
How uninformed the folks back home were about conditions in Germany. Most of the boys were out on the road marching, not sitting in a prison camp. They weren’t receiving those Red Cross rations either. Most of the boys were slowing starving to death. Don’t know how or what kept them going.
- Mrs. Buslee must have meant Sebastiano Peluso of the Buslee crew and James Brodie of the Brodie crew as the “other two boys.” From reviewing letters, I believe all of the Buslee crew next-of-kin except the Pelusos had heard word of their sons.
- I don’t have any letters from the McManns, and apparently other familes had not heard from them either.
- The families did know the identity of at least the pilot of the other crew as Mrs. Buslee references Lt. Brody (meaning James Brodie). This is the most interesting piece of information in this letter to me. It does let me know that the families knew that their boys were involved in a mid-air collision that involved two flying fortresses and did know about the other crew.
- My Uncle Bob, George Edwin Farrar’s (my dad) younger brother, who was injured in a kamikaze attack on the USS Intrepid in November 1944 must have still been hospitalized.
- My Uncle Carroll, Dad’s older brother, was still serving in China.
- The Hensons were the parents of the crew’s navigator, William Alvin Henson II. Mrs. Buslee may also have been including Henson’s wife and infant daughter.
- “Mr. Farrar”, my dad’s father, was not in good health. He was bedridden and very ill and the family hoped he would live long enough to see the three of his four sons that were in WWII come home from the war.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014
In early January 1945, the Soviet Red Army invaded Nazi-occupied Poland, sending the Germans into a retreat. On January 17, the Soviets captured Warsaw, which was about three hundred miles from Stalag Luft IV in Gross Tychow, Pomerania (now Tychowo, Poland). George Edwin Farrar, Wilfred Frank Miller, and Harry Allen Liniger were all prisoners of the Germans and were all held at Stalag Luft IV.
On January 18, the Farrar family had received their son’s first letter home from prison camp. He had written it on October 24, 1944. I’ll re-publish his letter here. George Edwin Farrar wrote:
Dearest Mother: I find it rather hard to write even a letter as small as this. Of course, we can’t say much, but are being treated O.K. We have plenty books and I spend most of my time reading. I hope you will have plenty chicken when I get there. I think I could eat a couple all alone. I guess Gene is doing good in school by now. Tell him to study hard, and make good grades. How is Martha getting along with her new job. I hope she likes it. I’ll bet by now she is having a hard time with her boyfriends. I wish you would send me some candy. Be sure it is something that will keep until it gets here, because it is a long trip. I’ll make up for these letters when I get home. Love to all, George
The next day, Raleigh Mae Farrar wrote back to her son:
January 19, 1945
My Dear Boy,
We were so happy to get your letter yesterday. Do write as often as possible for its so good to hear from you.
I mailed you a box and sent in order for cigaretts. If you need clothes let me know. I can send them. Things here at home are just about the same. Dad doesn’t improve. Gene is taller than I now, and is doing good in school. Gene and I will start our garden and chickens soon. Dot and kids are doing pretty good. Demmey will go to first grade, so Dot feels like he is really growing up. Beverly is as pretty as ever. She had flu and its taking a long time to get rid of it. I will be on the look out for some good candy and as I know now what I can send, I will be ready when my next labels come. I do hope you get the box. We all love you and hope and pray you will get along good. I will try to send some books.
Be good and write.
Lots and Lots of Love,
Raleigh Mae Farrar’s letter would never be received by her son in Stalag Luft IV. By the time it would arrive, Stalag Luft IV was empty of prisoners. The letter was marked “RETURNED TO SENDER By Direction of the War Department. Undeliverable as Addressed.” The date she got the letter back is unknown.
- Dad was Carroll Johnson Farrar, Sr. He was very ill and bedridden.
- Martha was Martha Ann Farrar, the Farrar’s seventh child and seventeen years old.
- Gene was Harold Eugene Farrar, the Farrar’s youngest son and only thirteen years old.
- Dot was Dorothy Gertrude Farrar, the Farrar’s fourth child. In January 1945, Dot had been married for eight years to Hugh Dimmock Cobb and had five children, two of them twins. She would eventually follow in her mother’s footsteps and have nine children of her own. “Demmey” was Dot’s first child, son Hugh Dimmock Cobb, Jr.
- Beverly is Beverly Marie Farrar, the youngest of the Farrar’s nine children, and the only one still living. Beverly shared her mother’s birthdate and turned eight in January of 1945, the same day her mother turned fifty-five.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2014
Honoring the Farrar boys of Atlanta, GA – my dad and his brothers – who served in WWII on this Veteran’s Day: from left to right, Carroll Johnson Farrar, Jr. who served in Army Air Force Service Squadron 315 from 1941 to 1945, Robert Burnham Farrar, who served until 1945 with the US Navy and was injured on the US Intrepid, which was torpedoed, and my dad, George Edwin Farrar, who served in the 8th Air Force, 384th Bombardment Group, 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) from 1942 to 1945, was a POW at Gross Tychow, and survived the Black March in the Winter of 1945. All three returned home from the war.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2013