Biography of Frank Edimer McFarland

Frank Edimer McFarland. A resident of Kansas since March, 1888, Frank Edimer McFarland was for many years connected with different departments of the Santa Fe Railroad, and for the past five or six years had been assistant secretary of the state board of agriculture. He is also one of the most prominent Masons in Kansas, and had had a long and creditablo career.

He is a native of that section of Ohio known as the Hanging Rock Iron Region. He was born on the Ohio River at Portsmouth October 29, 1856, the year the republican party was born, and after coming to maturity he became a stanch supporter of those political doctrines. He is a son of John J. and Fannie (Stanton) McFarland, who were married in 1848. Of their sixteen children, seven are now living, including three sets of twins. John J. McFarland, who spent his last years at Topeka, where he is still well remembered by the older settlers, tried four times to enlist in the Union army at the outbreak of the Civil war. His services were refused owing to the loss of four fingers on his right hand caused by the premature explosion of a cannon. However, he was able to do some service as a training captain for a company of artillery at his home town. By trade he was a blacksmith and conducted a shop for many years in Portsmouth. He installed all the iron work and the stanchions in a large shipyard located near his place of business on the Ohio River. He was active in business affairs at Portsmouth until 1885, when he removed to Topeks. Here he opened a small blacksmith shop, but conducted it merely as a pastime, and was practically retired until his death in 1891.

Outside of his business the character and services of John J. McFarland deserve more than passing mention. He was the son of a poor man and at the age of thirteen was forced to leave home and make his own living. As long as he lived he was a student, and had an ambition which impelled him to make the best use of all his leisure time when a boy, and after a hard day’s work he would put in many hours studying text books that he could find or borrow from his friends. He thus gained a well earned reputation of being well read, and in the bargain was also broad minded and enjoyed the confidence and respect of a large circle of friends and acquaintances. While living at Portsmouth he served as president of the school board for a period of fifteen years. He was a member of the board at the close of the Civil war, when many privileges besides the right of franchise were granted to the colored race. In 1867, as president of the school board of Portsmouth, he vigorously advocated and finally compelled the city to erect a special building for the schooling of colored children. That was the first colored sehool in that part of Ohio. In carrying out this project, which was only one phase of his general desire to do all he could for a down-trodden race, he suffered a great deal of criticism, but finally won over the public opinion to his side, and was all the more popular in subsequent years. He was also chief of the fire department at Portsmouth, and largely on the record of his service as president of the school board was elected mayor of the city, a post of responsibility he filled four years until he retired in 1884. John J. McFarland had a powerful physique in keeping with his well balanced character and mental attainments. He stood six feet two inches high and was a constant worker almost to the last day of his life. Many friends enjoyed the benefit of his keen judgment, and the high respect in which he was held is well indicated by the fact that he went by the affectionate title of “Uncle John,” by which he was greeted on every side.

Frank E. McFarland spent his early life in his home City of Portsmouth, attending the public schools and graduating from high school. His first regular employment was as a stock boy in the J. F. Towell dry goods wholesale house at Portsmouth. By hard work and constant application he was evantually sent on the road by that company as a traveling salesman, and spent nine years traveling over the Middle States.

In the meantime, soon after reaching maturity, on November 20, 1878, he married Mary Ellen Bender of Portsmouth. Ten years after his marriage he left the road, and in 1888 moved to Topeka. Kansas, where he became clerk in the claim department of the Santa Fe Railroad Company. After several years he was made head of the over, short and damags department, a position he held for many years until finally promoted head of the statistical department. He distinguished himself by a broad and comprehensive knowledge of the multitudinous details included under his department, and then in 1910 he transferred his services to the state department of agriculture as chief clerk under F. D. Coburn, and was with Mr. Coburn until the latter retired after having been secretary of agriculture in Kansas for more than twenty years. Mr. McFarland then became assistant to J. C. Mohler, the present secretary of the state board of agriculture.

To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. McFarland were born four children. The three now living are Daisy, Alice and Frank. Miss Daisy is connected with one of the departments of the Santa Fe Railroad, Miss Alice is a teacher of history in the Oklahoma City High School.

Mr. McFarland is a past master of Orient Lodge, No. 51, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, is master of Topeka Consistory No. 1, of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and had enjoyed every honor in the Scottish Rite, including the thirty-third and supreme degrees. For forty-six years he had been an active member of the Protestant Episcopal Church, while Mrs. McFarland had been identified with that church forty years. They are now active members of the parish of Grace Cathedral. Mrs. McFarland is a leader in church affairs, a member of the church guild, and had done much work in the prosecution of private charities.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

Search Military Records - Fold3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top