Biography of William Mattocks Farr, M. D.
This biography appears on pages 306-308 in
"Men of Progress. Wisconsin. A selected list of biographical sketches and portraits of the leaders in business, professional and official life. Together with short notes on the history and character of Wisconsin."
FARR, William Mattocks, M. D., although comparatively a young man, is one of the oldest physicians in years of practice in the city of Kenosha. He is of New England stock--the son of Asahel and Martha (Wheeler) Farr, and was born in Peacham, Vermont, November 23rd, 1833. His mother, Martha Jackson Wheeler, is a descendant of Jeremiah Wheeler of Concord, New Hampshire, who was born in 1747, and died October 17th, 1827. In the History of Concord, by W. Bouton, appears this passage: "We, the subscribers, do hereby solemnly engage and promise, that we will, to the utmost of our power, at the risque of our lives and fortunes, with arms, oppose the hostile proceedings of the British fleets and armies against the united American colonies." Among other names signed to this is Jeremiah Wheeler, Jeremiah's first wife was Keziah Blanchard, born in Hollis, March 26th, 1747, died August 12th, 1789. Keziah Blanchard was the daughter of Benjamin and Keziah (Hastings) Blanchard. Benjamin Blanchard was in Captain John Goffe's company of Col. Nathaniel Mason's regiment, raised for the Crown Point expedition in 1776. Benjamin and Keziah Wheeler had seven children; the seventh one, William, who was born July 5th, 1782, and died in December, 1851, married twice, the second time to Rhoda Skeele, in 1827, at Peacham, Vermont. "William Wheeler was a very prominent man from the time he came to the place. He served in various town offices, was captain of a militia company that went to Portland during the war of 1812, and was afterwards colonel of his regiment." His wife, Rhoda Skeele, a highly educated and refined lady, was a descendant of the famous Webster family. Ephraim Webster was a descendant of Thomas Webster of England, who settled in New Hampshire about 1636, and came to Hampton about 1636. Although the Webster family came from England they are of Scotish descent.
Ephraim Webster was born at Bradford, New Hampshire, May 24th, 1730, and was married to Phebe Tucker, December 20th, 1750. They had seven children.
Phebe Webster, daughter of Ephraim Webster and Phebe (Tucker) Webster, married John Skeele, and came to Peachman, Vermont, from Salisbury, New Hampshire, in 1773. They had four sons and seven daughters. One of the daughters was Rhoda Skeele, who married Col. William Wheeler. Daniel Webster, the American statesman, was a relative of Mrs. Col. William Wheeler, and often visited at her home. William Almon Wheeler, nineteenth vice-president of the United States, is a descendant of the same family of Wheelers as Col. William Wheeler.
The Wheeler family is on English origin, and some of its members belonged to the aristocracy. Sir Charles Wheeler was appointed captain-general of the Caribbee islands. In 1693 Sir Francis Wheeler put into Boston to recruit. The Wheelers were in and around London, England, for four hundred years. From 1620 to 1650 there were many families of the name who came from England to this country.
Asahel Farr was born in Waterford, Vermont, October 10th, 1820, grew to manhood in his native state, and after receiving his primary education in the common schools, he taught school, and worked hard to earn money to enter the medical department of Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, from which he was graduated in 1846. After receiving his diploma he commenced the practice of medicine in East St. Johnsbury, Vermont; but in 1847 removed to Peacham, Vermont, where he subsequently married Miss Martha Jackson Wheeler, who was also a native of Vermont. Like many other young and ambitious men, he believed the west afforded better opportunities for advancement, and, therefore, in 1854, emigrated to Wisconsin, and located in Kenosha, where he continued to reside until his death, engaged in the practice of his profession. He was a fine surgeon and an able physician. While his time was well taken up in his practice, like every other good man and patriotic citizen, he gave some attention to political matters. Prior to the war for the Union, he was a Democrat, but when the states of the south attempted to overthrow the general government, he united with the party that stood for the defense of the Union, and was ever afterward a Republican. He was elected mayor of Kenosha in 1859-1863 1871-1872 and 1877 or 1878. In 1873 he was elected and served one term in the general assembly of the state, and in 1876 and 1877 was in the state senate, and performed his duties with an intelligent, faithful and conscientious regard for the interests of his constituents. He was also president of the board of education of Kenosha for several years. In 1878 his wife died, leaving three children--Albert L. Farr, now a practicing physician in Chicago; William M., our subject, and Martha, wife of Col. James R. Nutting of Davenport, Iowa.
Subsequently, Dr. Asahel Farr married Mrs. Emma Marr Durfee of Waukegan, Illinois.
Mrs. Martha Wheeler Farr was educated at Newburry Seminary, and was a woman of unusual energy and mental attainments; she was a consistent member of the Congregational church, to which her husband also belonged. Dr. A. Farr was a member of the Masonic Fraternity, a good business man, and took part in many of the business enterprises of his adopted city, doing all in his power to advance its interests. He was, for years, local surgeon of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway company. He died on the 13th of June, 1887, leaving many friends.
Dr. A. Farr's parents were Alphens and Sibyl (Farr) Farr. His grandparents were Asahel Farr and Jacob Farr, both of Chesterfield, Massachusetts. At the time of his parent's marriage they were not aware that they were both descendants of George Farr, a shipbuilder, who came from England to the colonies in 1620. Dr Jacob Farr of Eau Clair, Wisconsin, and Edwin J. Farr of Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, are cousins of Dr. A. Farr.
William Mattocks Farr, the subject of this sketch, was but a few months old when his parents removed to Kenosha, and there he has spent almost his entire life. He was brought up to work; although his parents kept three or four servants, he had certain manual duties to attend to daily, and was no allowed to call upon the servants to do anything for him. He was also taught the true nobility of labor, and had it thoroughly impressed upon him by his mother, that any honest labor was ennobling. The first money ever earned by him was for taking care of the Congregational church, for which he received two dollars per week. This position he sought and obtained after gaining his father's relucant consent thereto. His father, at that time, was a rich man.
Dr. W. M Farr was educated at the Kenosha High School and at Robert College. His professional education was received at the Chicago Medical College, from which he received his degree in 1878. Besides having a large private practice, he is the local surgeon of the Chicago & Northwestern railway. He is very popular among his fellow citizens; has been a member of the city school board, three times mayor of the city, accepting the office, not for the honor of it, but because he thought he could, by so doing, promote local interest, which he has in many ways succeeded in doing. He was the first mayor in the state to call upon the state board of arbitration to settle a strike, and the board was successful in its efforts. Dr. Farr is a Republican in politics; and as to religion, he is very practical and popular member of the Episcopal church.
In Chicago, July 17th, Dr. Wm. M. Farr was united in marriage to Beatrice Isabella Keith, a native of Illinois, though of Scotch descent, her parents being natives of Scotland. Six children have been born to them--Irving K., who died in his second year; Edna Wheeler, Malcolm Douglas, Reginald Hadley, William Mattocks, Jr., Constance Irene. Mrs. Beatrice Isabella Farr is a relative, on her mother's side, of George Smith, the banker and founder of the Marine bank of Milwaukee. Her father's brother, Alexander Keith, a Scotch clergyman, was born at Keith Hall, Aberdeenshire. A sketch of his life may be found in the supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Mrs. B. I. Farr was seven years a student of Ferry Hall, Lake Forest, Illinois, and finished her education at St. John's school, New York City. Dr. Irving, nephew of Washington Irving, was principal of St. John's school, since removed to Sunnyside. Mrs. Farr is active in church, social and home work, and is beloved by all who know her.
Dr. Farr was appointed aid on Gov. Scotfield's staff with the rank of