Author: John Outcalt (1925)


A native of Mississippi, Frank H. Farrar was born at New Prospect, Winston County, on May 27, 1848. His father, Rev. William H. Farrar, moved from Winston County to Jackson County in 1858, and assumed the editorship of the Mississippi Baptist, the official organ of the Baptist Church for the State of Mississippi, and continued to edit it until 1862, when he moved to Clinton, that State, where their son Frank entered Mississippi College. He prosecuted his studies in college until he had completed his freshman year, when, on account of General Grant's raid through Mississippi, the family moved back to Winston County. In the year 1866, Frank Farrar entered the office of the Macon Beacon, at Macon, Miss., and there learned the printer's trade. In 1869 he came to California and located in Merced County, and for three years was in partnership with M. D. Wood in ranching operations. Finding that ranching was not suited to his inclination, he went to Snelling and for a few months worked as a printer in the office of the San Joaquin Valley Argus, after which he was employed as a clerk in the leading hotel in Snelling. In the spring of 1872 he entered the law office of Hon. P. D. Wigginton, afterwards Congressman from the Sixth California District, as a law student and continued his studies for three years at Snelling and at Merced. In the latter place he was admitted to practice in 1874. Soon after being admitted to the bar, he purchased the Merced Tribune, changed the name of the paper to the Merced Express, and for two years edited and published it as a Democratic organ. He then sold out and entered into a co-partnership with Hon. P. D. Wigginton in the practice of law.

In 1879 Mr. Farrar was elected to the office of district attorney of Merced County, and was reelected in 1883. Four years later he was elected Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias for the State of California, and served for one year. As a lawyer, Mr. Farrar became one of the leaders of his profession in Central California. During his campaign for district attorney he promised that if elected he would have the books of the county officials examined, a thing which had never been done before; this he did, though the job took an expert accountant two years to complete. For a time Fred Ostrander, now a prominent attorney of the Bay Cities, was his law partner. A fluent public speaker and gifted orator, Frank H. Farrar was much in demand at public gatherings. When Grant made a visit to the Yosemite, he had charge of the arrangements, introduced the General at the banquet held at the El Capitan Hotel, and made the occasion a memorable one. A successful and honest man, he gave freely to charity and was a true friend to those in trouble; those who came to him for help did not ask in vain. His conscience was always his guide, and his many acts of kindness made him one of the best beloved figures in the public life of Merced County. He was a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church. In fraternal circles he was a Knight of Pythias, having served as Grand Chancellor of the Grand Lodge of the State for a year, giving his time to organization work in California, during which his eloquent voice was heard in every principal city in the State. His portrait graces the Grand Chancellor's Lodge, while the Yosemite Lodge, in which he held membership, promptly passed resolutions of condolence and respect at the time of his death, on March 22, 1922. During the World War, Judge Farrar served his country in the capacity of a member of the Legal Advisory Board No. 1, Merced County, his services being highly commended by E. H. Crowder, Provost Marshal General, and Governor W. D. Stephens.

Judge Farrar was a consistent advocate of temperance. He fought the evils of the saloon through his advocacy of high license in the early days, and staunchly supported war-time prohibition and the Eighteenth Amendment during the latter years of his life. He was very active in having the county seat removed from Snelling to Merced, and circulated the first petition for its removal.

Brilliant as was the public career of Judge Farrar, his home life was no less felicitous. At the home of the bride's parents near Le Grand, Merced County, he was united in marriage on May 27, 1873, to Miss Udola Peck, born in Mariposa County, a member of an historic pioneer family, being a daughter of Charles L. and Lucy Jane (Dickenson) Peck, and granddaughter of Gallant Duncan Dickenson, first alcalde of Stockton, Cal., who had outfitted at Independence, Mo., in the spring of 1846, for the trip across the plains to California. Mr. Dickenson had a number of wagons of his own and was chosen captain of the train, which at one time traveled with the train containing the Donner party. Upon reaching the divide in Utah, a disagreement arose as to the route to be taken. Captain Dickenson there promptly decided to take a different route, and with his ten wagons arrived safely in the San Joaquin Valley and thus escaped the fate of the Donners. Mrs. Farrar's mother, after the death of Mr. Peck, married N. B. Stoneroad and lived on a farm near Le Grand for nearly forty years. She was a woman of great beauty, force of character, and versatility. In the St. Louis Globe Democrat of July 12, 1914, is an article based upon an interview with Mrs. Stoneroad, from which we glean these facts of historic interest.

"I was born near Jackson, Mo.," she says. "My father, Gallant Duncan Dickenson, was a roamer. He was reared in Virginia, where he was left an orphan while in his teens, and as soon as he was able to shift for himself, returned to Murfreesboro, Tenn., where he was born; and there he married Isabella McCreary, also born in Murfreesboro. But he chafed under the confines of the South in those days, and was always looking towards the West in contemplation of the better opportunities to be found there. He persuaded my mother to journey to northwest Missouri, settled at Independence, but remained only a few years. It was the creative period of the West, and tales of the glorious country beyond the mountains influenced ambitious young men to seek their fortunes on the shores of the Pacific. He joined a great caravansary that made Independence its rendezvous. We set out on the morning of May 6, 1846, with more than forty wagons of immigrants and provisions. I recall the day so well; the tearful adieus of our friends and neighbors and the sad look that my mother cast behind. It was indeed like putting out to sea in an open boat without chart or compass.

"It was October 20 before we reached our promised land; and when we finally pulled up at Johnson's ranch at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we had been three days without food, except what the gun brought down and what roots and food we found in the woods. The winter of 1846 we spent near what is now the city of Santa Clara. San Jose was already established, and it became our headquarters. My father became connected with several cities in California. He built the first brick house in Monterey, which for a long time was a show place and is still standing. Moving to Stockton, my father erected the first hotel in that place with material shipped around the Horn. He also built and gave the Methodist congregation its first church building, and became the accolade of Stockton. My sister was the second white girl to be married in Stockton. Her name was Margaret Elizabeth Dickenson, and she was married in 1849 to Amos Giles Lawry. My marriage to Charles S. Peck, in 1850, was the third in the immigrant population. My sister's daughter was born in 1850, and she claims the distinction of being the first child of Anglo-Saxon parents born there. She is now Mrs. Hill, of Salinas."

Charles S. Peck was born and educated in Virginia and came to California via Cape Horn in the early fifties. Mr. and Mrs. Peck became the parents of four
children, Mrs. Farrar being the second in order of birth and a twin sister of Mrs. Tallula Harris of San Francisco. They were the first white twin girls born in the State. She was educated at Mills Seminary and is the mother of two living sons, George W. and William D., both holding honorable discharges from service in the World War. Mrs. Farrar is a much-loved person. She is still living at the Farrar residence at No. 451 Twenty-second Street, Merced, which as a bride she helped her husband to build in 1873, and has always made it a true home, a center of social activity and domestic felicity ever radiating a broad and wholesome hospitality.

Additional Comments:

WITH A Biographical Review OF
The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been
Identified with Its Growth and Development
from the Early Days to the Present



File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Joy Fisher February 6, 2006, 12:21 am