Farland George Roper
Farland George Roper (whose real name was George Farland), born September 11, 1892, in Yellow Creek, Georgia,
was the son of David Elijah Roper and Cynthia Isabelle Hudlow. He was the oldest son, having two sisters and two
brothers. He started working in the local sawmill at a young age and exasperated the older workers because he was
always pulling on the chain to blow the steam whistle. He would tell them, "Someday I'm going to be a railroad engineer
and then I can blow the whistle all I want."
Around 1913, Farland enlisted in the Army. Before entering the service, he figured that everyone would call him
George if they knew what his name really was, so he changed it to "Farland George" and from that time on, he was
known as "F. G. Roper" or "Farland." He ended up in San Antonio, Texas, at Camp Travis, where he was a corporal
(and M.P.) in the 19th Infantry. There he met Delia Elizabeth Myers and married her November 5, 1917.
After Farland was discharged from the Army, he set about realizing his dream to become an engineer. His first job
in 1919 was in Kingsville, Texas, working in the Mechanical Department for the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway
Company. By 1920, he worked as a Locomotive Fireman, shoveling coal, into the coal box on steam engines. In 1921 to
1924, he worked as a gang foreman in San Antonio for the International-Great Northern Railroad Company, and by
1924 he was back in Kingsville with a steady job as a Fireman for the St. Louis, Brownsville, & Mexico Railway
Company. His dream came true in 1945 when he finally received the coveted spot of "Engineer". Now he could blow
that whistle any time he wanted.
Farland was a fun-loving man, well-loved by all who knew him. He had a wonderful sense of humor and the ability to
make people around him happy. Farland also had a "gift of gab". He was always making up and telling stories--usually
outrageous ones. He loved music and encouraged his wife and children to sing and play the piano. He could play the
piano by ear, and many nights the family would gather around the piano singing, while he "banged out" the melodies.
He had two favorite songs--"Casey Jones" about a railroad engineer who died with "his hand on the throttle" and the
other, "My Grandfather's Clock."
The Roper men seem to have several traits in common, according to a distant cousin from Pickens County, Georgia.
Roper men were known to be able to charm anyone, so many of them became preachers. They liked to sing and tell
stories and entertain a crowd. Farland was just like them, as is his son and a couple of his grandsons and
great-grandsons. He also loved to dance to the music of the hills of Georgia. He could "clog" with the best of
them--not the kind we see now with partners dancing as in square dancing, but as they did in the "old days"--
the men taking to the floor and "clogging" by themselves, competing with each other for attention and the love of
music. And he could tell a story--especially the scary ghost story that would have the grandchildren quaking in their
boots, but loving every minute of it.
Farland worked on the railroad (finally the Missouri Pacific) until he died. He loved the engines (first the steam
engines and eventually the diesels). He enjoyed taking his grandchildren down to the roundhouse in Kingsville to look
over "his train." He died on August 12, 1965, never having had to retire--a good thing, because he would not have been
able to give up his dream. His family remembers him as a man they dearly loved. A man of laughter, stories, pranks and
music, a father and grandfather who still lives in their hearts today.
Copyright © Donna Allen,