Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897
[p. 211] to whom an exceedingly old age has come, and yet who lives with as bright an eye and with faculties as clear and unimpaired as in the days of yore, is one of the most widely known and highly respected residents of Mahoning township. She has in her long life seen the forest lands, filled with all kinds of wild and savage animals, give way to the hardy woodsman's axe, and become transformed into smiling fields covered with orchards, grain, or pasturage. She has witnessed the wilderness, inhabited only by the sturdy pioneer or the fleeing Indian brave, open up into fields and glades dotted here and there with villages of the present day, or the spacious dwellings and out-buildings of the prosperous descendants of the first settlers.
Mrs. McFarland is the widow of John F. McFarland, and comes from one of the earliest families, who settled in Western Pennsylvania. She was born Dec. 5, 1810, a daughter of Robert and Sarah (Smith) Davidson. Mr. Davidson was a native of County Derry, Ireland, who left his native land at an early date, and came to America, settling in Erie, Pa. He followed agricultural pursuits throughout his life, and was a popular, progressive, and influential citizen. He died at the age of eighty-nine years and five months, and his faithful wife, who had for years shared his toil, his cares, and later his prosperity, reached the age of eighty-nine years and seven months. Their children were by name: Elizabeth; Rosanna; Robert; Jane; Sarah; and Margaret.
Elizabeth, the eldest, and the subject of this brief biography, when a young lady married John F. McFarland, who was born in Westmoreland Co., Pa., a son of Francis and Mary (McWilliams) McFarland. The father was born in Ireland of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and was of gentle blood, his father being what was termed a "gentleman," a holder of land, and a man of wealth and influence. At his death, the widow with her children came to America, being induced to take that step by a son, John, who had previously located on this side of the water. They settled in Westmoreland Co., Pa., where Francis on attaining manhood was married. With his wife and two children, Francis McFarland removed to Mahoning township, making the long and tedious journey on horseback. Here he took five hundred acres of land, and settled down in the fastnesses of the forest with few neighbors, except the wandering Indians, ever prone to marauder. These dusky warriors were happily at peace with the white men, as they never proved troublesome. Mr. McFarland labored early and late to make his estate habitable and productive. Success crowned his efforts and before many years had passed swiftly by he had cleared a portion of his first farm, and had taken up another equally as extensive and adjoining. He departed this life at eighty-five years of age, and his wife fell into her last sleep at the age of eighty-two. He was a very thorough business man, and a most successful manager. Of hopeful spirit and steady resolve, he did much to encourage the other settlers when they were struggling against discouragements and hardships. His knowledge of business methods, too, was invaluable in assisting them to perfect their claims and titles on the new land. He reared these children: John F.; Hannah; Mary; David; Ann; Robert; Isaac; Dickson; Irving; Lewis; and four others, who died in infancy or childhood.
John F. McFarland, the late husband of the subject of this sketch, inherited 150 acres of the original tract; on his place he built a large two-story brick house; later on the foundations of the house proved faulty, so he tore the building down, and rebuilt the structure solidly in the shape it now has. He followed general farming all of his life, but paid special attention to setting out orchards and adding modern improvements. The best of prosperity always seemed to be his, following as a result of his well-directed labors, so that when he passed from this life and its changing scenes, he left his wife and family handsomely provided for. He died in 1873, respected and mourned by a large circle of friends, whom his ready hospitality, cheery kindness and straightforward manner had drawn to him. Mr. McFarland was a man of character and refinement. His good blood showed in all his actions and ways. His share in the work of this busy world was performed carefully and well to the best of his ability. The success which attended his efforts was deserved, and came to him as a natural result of his methods of life.
The children who were born to John F. McFarland and his wife Elizabeth were named: Mary Ann, now, the wife of James Paden; Robert, who is engaged in farming on the prairies of Iowa; Margaret, who lives at home; David and Sarah, both deceased; A. Lewis; Joseph P. and John Q. A., who are both at home with their mother, managing the estate; and Josephine, who lived only until her eighth year. Of the two sons who are at home, Joseph P. has been married. His wife was Lizzie McDonald, daughter of James McDonald; she was taken from her sorrowing husband in 1895 at the age of thirty-six. Both Joseph P. and John Q. A. McFarland are active and respected men in the community. They are, like their father, pronounced believers in the principles of the Republican party, and are in all matters of a personal or public nature worthy successors to and bearers of their honored name.
Mrs. McFarland is now on the sunny western slope of life. Surrounded by friends of the present and the dear memories of the past, she is filling out a life that has been of use and advantage to both herself and every one who has come into the circle of her good influence.
Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897
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Updated: 12 May 2001