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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
My dad was George Edwin (Ed) Farrar, who served in WWII in the 8th Air Force, 384th Bomb Group (Heavy), 544th Bomb Squadron. During the time he served, he wasn’t married and he didn’t have a girlfriend waiting at home for him. Like many unattached young men in the service, his number one girl was his mother.
My dad’s mother was the former Raleigh May George of Atlanta, Georgia. She was born in 1890, grew up in the Grant Park area, and lost her father, Raleigh David George, not long after her first birthday.
Raleigh May grew up to be a very patriotic woman who during WWII had three sons in the military. Sons Carroll and Ed were in the Air Force and son Bob was in the Navy.
Raleigh May’s feeling of intense patriotism did not start in WWI or WWII. It started much earlier, in 1895, when she was five years old. In that year, the Cotton States and International Exposition was held in Atlanta, Georgia from September 18 to December 31 on the grounds of what today is Piedmont Park.
A few weeks after the start of the Exposition, the Liberty Bell came to Atlanta as a prime attraction of the fair. After the Civil War, the Bell had become a symbol of unity and the idea was to bring the Bell to the people to proclaim liberty and to inspire the cause of freedom.
The Liberty Bell had already traveled to New Orleans in 1885 for a World Industrial and Cotton Exposition, and to Chicago in 1893 for the World’s Fair. A crowd greeted the Bell in Atlanta. A two-mile parade from the train station took the Bell to the Exposition, where tens of thousands of people lined up to see it pass.
Liberty Bell Day was proclaimed on October 9 when the Liberty Bell was installed in the Pennsylvania Building at the Exposition.
A book written about the Cotton States and International Exposition (see sources below), describes events of Liberty Bell Day in Atlanta.
The pupils in the public schools were given a special holiday, and it was further directed that every teacher in the Gate City [a historic nickname of Atlanta] should previously relate to her pupils the story of the Bell and bring home to them its patriotic significance. Railroads and traction companies volunteered to carry children free to the Exposition, that none might be debarred from some share in the celebration.
A grand civic and military parade escorted the Bell to the grounds in Piedmont Park, where, at noon, upon the broad steps of the Pennsylvania Building, in the presence of 30,000 people, it was solemnly given over to the care of the City of Atlanta.
At the Liberty Bell Day ceremony, Mayor Charles F. Warwick of Philadelphia spoke to the people of Atlanta.
We leave it in the hands of its and our friends. We know you will watch it with the same solicitude and tenderness that we bestow upon it. Though its lips be mute, though its tongue be silent, it is more eloquent that ten thousand human voices. Its echoes still thrill the world. The words inscribed upon its surface, taken from Holy Writ, are prophetic. It seems as if they must have been written by inspiration, and may they go ringing down the ages, giving hope and encouragement to nations yet unborn, to peoples not yet free.
The inscription on the Liberty Bell is a Bible verse taken from the book of Leviticus 25:10. It reads, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof.”
Four officers (Robert Mofflit, James A. Robinson, Frank F. Westphal, and Harry Hetteroth) from the Philadelphia Police Department were specially detailed to guard the Bell during its stay in Atlanta until the end of the Exposition on December 31, 1895. During its travels outside Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell’s guards have been blamed for the worsening of the crack in the Bell. They were accused of chipping off pieces of the Bell and selling them as souvenirs.
I don’t know the validity of that claim, but I do know of one of the wonderful, kind things one of the guards did that impressed patriotism upon my grandmother, Raleigh May George, at a very early age. She was one of the school children, then only fives years old and a kindergartener, brought to see the Bell. One of the guards picked Raleigh out of the crowd of children, lifted her up, and told her to put her hands on the bell. As her tiny hands touched the Bell, the guard told her she would remember the moment for the rest of her life. He instructed her to tell the story to her own children one day.
The simple act of the Bell’s guard impressed my grandmother’s young mind so deeply that she did remember that special moment years later and told the story to her children. She told the story to her daughter, Beverly, and Aunt Beverly told it to me. Aunt Beverly turns eighty today, January 25, 2017 – Happy Birthday, Beverly! She shares her birth date with her mother, Raleigh May George Farrar, who gave birth to Beverly at forty-seven years old.
Beverly is the last one of Raleigh May’s nine children now that are left. I am thankful that Beverly shared this story with me. My grandmother didn’t get the chance to tell it to me herself, not that I remember anyway. She died shortly after my first birthday. Patriotism runs deep in our family and it has its roots in the Liberty Bell.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2017
On January 20, 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn into office for his fourth term as President and Harry Truman was sworn in as Vice President. Across the globe, the Soviet Red Army was advancing into East Prussia, putting more and more pressure on the Germans.
Four days later, Mr. Buslee, the father of the pilot of Lead Banana, again wrote to Raleigh Mae Farrar, the mother of the Banana’s waist gunner. The families of the missing boys were communicating with each other often, quickly passing along any news good or bad.
January 24, 1945
411 Wisner Avenue
Park Ridge, Illinois
Dear Mrs. Farrar,
Through Mr. Henson we learned that you have received a card from your son, George. This is indeed wonderful news.
Would like to hear from you as to what kind of a message he sent to you and we sincerely hope that as developments in Europe show such rapid advances by the Russians that it will mean the early closing of the battle over there and so release the prisoners of war so that they may return to their families at a very early date.
We have had no word pertaining to our son, Jay, nor any word from any of the next of kin outside of Mr. Henson and Mr. Stearns who unfortunately did not have very good news. We also have had a very recent letter from Mrs. Bryant and she is trying to keep up her spirits in the hope that her husband is safe and sound.
With every good wish for your continued good health and the hope that all of your boys write you often, I am,
© 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