FARRIS, Jeremiah (1805 – 1874)
(great great grandfather of GJF)

(Information from many sources including: county records and county histories from Bremer Co. IA, Linn Co. KS and Fulton Co. IL; newspaper files; military records; cemetery records, etc.)

Born in Mercer County, Kentucky on 13 February 1805; the son of William Farris and Mary “Polly” Bunnell; lived in Mercer and Green Co. KY 1809-1814, and in Franklin Co. IL ca. 1814-1828; married (1) Rosanna Estes ca. 1823, Franklin Co. IL; lived in Fulton Co. IL 1828-1851; in Black Hawk War in 1832; married (2) Margaret Ann Dean, 7 October 1847, Fulton Co. IL; moved to Bremer Co. IA in 1851; was first Bremer Co. Judge 1853-1857; moved to KS 1858; died, Linn Co. KS, November 1874; burial - Richland Cemetery, Linn Co. KS.

Seven children with first wife, Rosanna Estes: Austin (b.ca.1824 - Franklin Co. IL, m.(1) Elizabeth (Foutch) Holmes 1849 - Fulton Co. IL, m.(2) Louisa Whitesides 1865 - Linn Co. KS, d.1875 - Bremer Co. IA); Essex (b.ca.1827 - Franklin Co. IL, m.(1) Catherine Mishler 1855 - Bremer Co. IA, m.(2) Fanny (Mishler) Winkelplick 1859 - Bremer Co. IA, m.(3) Lucinda Hillhouse 1870 - Bremer Co. IA, d.bef.1880 - Bremer Co. IA); Joseph Bunnell (b.1832 - Fulton Co. IL, m. Julia Ann Jenkins 1851 - Buchanan Co. IA, d.1911 - Bremer Co. IA); Charlotte Jane (b.1834 - Fulton Co. IL, m. John James Foutch 1852 - Buchanan Co. IA, d.1898 - Bremer Co. IA); John "Bender" (b.1835 - Fulton Co. IL, m.(1) Patience Foutch 1852 - Fulton Co. IL, m.(2) Sarah F. Umphrey 1860 - Linn Co. KS, d.1915 - Crawford Co. KS); Debbie (b.1837 - Fulton Co. IL, m.(1) Johnson Eveland 1853 - Bremer Co. IA (one of the first marriages performed by Jeremiah Farris, Bremer County Judge), m.(2) George Washington Barnes 1879 - Linn Co. KS, d.1913 - Crawford Co. KS); Jeremiah (b.ca.1844 - Fulton Co. IL, m. Charlotte (Duke) Abercrombie 1866 - Linn Co. KS, d. bef.1880 – probably Cherokee Co. KS).

Six children with second wife, Margaret Ann Dean: William C. (b.1849 - Fulton Co. IL, m. Sarah Chamberlain 1870, d.1920 - Black Hawk Co. IA (burial in Linn Co. KS)); Matilda Jane (b.1852 - Bremer Co. IA, m. John W. Chamberlain 1869, d.1920 - Linn Co. KS); Polley (b.1856 - Bremer Co. IA, m.(1) Jim Griffith 1875 - Linn Co. KS, m.(2) Richard Ross 1881 - Linn Co. KS, d.1906 - Linn Co. KS); James Henry (b.1862 - Linn Co. KS, (never married), d.1921 - Linn Co. KS); Johnson E. (b.1865 - Linn Co. KS, m. Ida M. Baker 1892 - Linn Co. KS, d.1916 - Linn Co. KS); Mary L. (b 1871, d.1872, Linn Co. KS).

Birthplace, Ancestory: The William Farris family originated in Hanover Co. VA and has been traced through several counties in VA and KY. Jeremiah was born while the family lived in Mercer County, Kentucky. The birthdate of 13 February is from his tombstone, the year of birth (1805) from Black Hawk War bounty land claims which he signed.

Early Years: When Jeremiah was about five years old, the family moved to Green Co. KY on the Little Barren River. During the time that they lived in Green Co., both Jeremiah's brother John and his father William served in the War of 1812. In about 1814, the family moved into the Illinois Territory and settled in what is now Frankfort Township in Franklin Co. The first specific reference to Jeremiah which has been found is in November 1824 when Jeremiah and Rosanna (Estes) Farris, residents of Franklin Co. IL, executed a power of attorney involving settlement of the estate of her father, Moses Estes, in Callaway Co. MO. In 1828 the John Farris and Jeremiah Farris families acquired land and first settled in Fulton Co. IL. Jeremiah was closely associated with John during the entire period of his stay in Fulton Co. (1828-1851). John had married Elizabeth Estes (a sister of Rosanna Estes) in 1817 while the area was a part of Gallatin Co. IL, and lived in the Franklin Co. area until 1828 (except for about two year in Montgomery and Callaway Co. Missouri). It is likely that these two families were also closely associated in Franklin Co. IL.

The only other reference to Jeremiah's youth does not appear to be credible. It is a statement in the obituary of his widow, Margaret Farris, in 1899 to the effect that, in his youth, Jeremiah was a companion of Abraham Lincoln. That is unlikely since Lincoln was in southern Indiana and Jeremiah in southern IL at that time. Jeremiah may have been acquainted with Lincoln later when Jeremiah was active in county government in Fulton Co. and Lincoln was active there as a circuit attorney. They may also have met during the Black Hawk War – since Lincoln was a part of the company that buried those killed at the battle on Sycamore Creek where Jeremiah’s brother was killed in 1832.

First Marriage: Rosanna Estes was one of the ten children of Moses Estes and was born in Wilson Co. TN in about 1802. Her grandfather, John Estes, lived in Warren Co. KY and it is possible that the Farris and Estes families were acquainted in Kentucky. Both Moses Estes and his wife (nee Elizabeth Riley of Warren Co. KY) died in 1815 in Wilson Co. TN. Most of the children were young and lived with various relatives. Many of them along with several aunts and uncles (other children of John Estes) moved to southern IL and to Callaway Co. MO shortly after Moses Estes died. Three of the children of Moses Estes married Farrises. Rosanna married Jeremiah Farris, probably in Franklin Co. IL about 1823.

Early Fulton Co. Period: When the Farrises first moved to Fulton Co. IL in 1828 John settled in Buckheart Township and Jeremiah in Liverpool Township (a little more than one mile apart). Chapman's History of Fulton Co. contains an item about early churches in the county. In Liverpool Township, the Salem Baptist Church first met on 10 August 1830 in the home of Jeremiah Farris on the NW quarter of section 10. John and Elizabeth Farris donated a part of their land in Buckheart Township for the permanent church building and cemetery.

Black Hawk War: At the time that northern Illinois was opened for settlement, the Indians in the area were required to move north of the Rock River - and later to west of the Mississippi. Chief Black Hawk was the leader of a large group of Sac & Fox Indians that returned to IL and refused to leave. After numerous incidents between the Indians and the settlers, the Army was called upon in 1832 to move the Indians out of the area. Volunteer military units were formed throughout Illinois. In Fulton County, a company of Volunteer Rangers under Capt. David W. Barnes was enrolled on 21 April 1832. (They were discharged at Lewistown on 25 June 1832.) This particular Company included three Farris brothers - David, Jeremiah, and Joseph B. Farris. The battalion was under the command of Major Isaiah Stillman. On 10 May the volunteer group reached Dixon IL where they were supposed to wait to be joined by the regular army troops. However, the men were anxious to catch the Indians before they got away and, tiring of waiting for the regular troops, Stillman's force of less than three hundred men set out on their own. On May 13, they camped at White Rock Grove in Ogle Co. IL, very near Black Hawk's camp. The Indians sent a small party with a flag of truce, but then a larger group attacked the camp. This resulted in a major engagement on 14 May 1832, known as the Battle on Sycamore Creek (also referred to in the Fulton Co. History as "Stillman's Defeat".) Jeremiah and his brother Joseph were in the thick of this engagement and Joseph was killed. There are several accounts of Jeremiah's involvement which differ in details. One of these accounts states that his brother was scalped by an Indian and that Jeremiah killed the Indian and recovered the scalp of his brother - which he kept throughout his life. Supposedly it was buried with him in Richland Cemetery in Kansas. (This account is from the History of Linn Co. KS.) Another account in the Fulton County History indicates that he was hit on the head by a rifle butt by the Indian and crawled into a thicket of bushes where he stayed until he was rescued the next day. The Illinois State Archives account of the war indicates that Jeremiah claimed a loss of personal property valued at $38 plus a horse valued at $90 in the Battle on Sycamore Creek. Jeremiah also served for a second period under Captain John Sains from June through September 1832 and was discharged at Macomb. As a result of his Black Hawk War service, Jeremiah received two separate land grants of 80 acres each in 1851 and 1856. His widow also received a pension beginning in 1892.

Children of Jeremiah and Rosanna: The children are listed above. All except Austin and Essex were born in Fulton Co. Note that Joseph Bunnell Farris was born in September in 1832. He was undoubtedly named after Jeremiah's brother of the same name who was killed in the Black Hawk war in May 1832. Rosanna Estes Farris died in Fulton Co. in December 1846. At that time, the family lived on the farm in section 15 of Isabel Township on which the Farris Cemetery is located. It is probable that she is buried there - although her name has not been found on any marker there. (There are several old markers with no names.)

Second Marriage: On 7 October 1847, Jeremiah married Margaret Ann Dean. Margaret was considerably younger than Jeremiah and was born in Kentucky in about 1824. There were several Deans closely associated with Farrises later in Iowa. Although it has not yet been verified, her parents were probably John and Prudence Dean who later were associated with the Farrises in Iowa. The children of this second marriage were born in IL, IA, and KS.

Move to Iowa: In 1849, Jeremiah made a tour of parts of Iowa along with John J. Foutch. In the summer of 1851, Jeremiah's family, along with a number of other Fulton Co. residents, moved to Bremer Co., Iowa. In December of that year, Jeremiah's son Joseph B. Farris married Julia Ann Jenkins, daughter of John S. Jenkins, who had also moved his family from Fulton Co. that year. The next summer, John J. Foutch married Jeremiah's daughter Charlotte. The Farrises settled on land in Jefferson Township and in Lafayette Township. During the first year, Jeremiah appears to have made several extended trips back to Fulton Co. since there are several records involving him in 1852 there. In March of 1852 he served as administrator of the estate of his brother John in Fulton Co. In 1853, the Bremer Co. government was organized and Jeremiah was elected the first County Judge. The second marriage in Bremer Co., in August 1853, was of Debbie Farris to Johnson Eveland, another of the former Fulton Co. residents. This marriage of one of his daughters was performed by Jeremiah Farris, County Judge. He served in that position for two terms - through August 1857. During that time he also established the town of Jefferson City (now Denver IA) on a part of the land which he owned. He established a mercantile business there which he operated until he moved to Kansas. There are considerable records involving Jeremiah in Bremer Co. - including the County Court record for the period 1853 - 1857, most of which is in his handwriting.

Jefferson City (Denver): When Jeremiah first moved to Bremer County in 1851, he acquired a large tract of land (560 acres) in sections 23, 24, and 25 of Jefferson Township. This was a part of the land that had been designated in the original survey of Bremer Co. to be sold for the benefit of the State School Fund. I have not found the record of the original sale of this land. However, a letter patent for this land to Jeremiah from the Governor of Iowa, dated 1 February 1858, is recorded in Bremer Co. Deed Book H, page 405. Jeremiah laid out the original town of Jefferson City in 1855; it was surveyed by Mathew Farrington; and the plat and description filed for recording on 17 March 1856. It is recorded in Deed Book B, pages 186-188. This record includes a drawing signed by Jeremiah Farris and labeled "A Map of Jefferson City, Bremer County, State of Iowa". The original town was in the southwest corner of Section 24, Township 91 North of Range 13 West of the 5th Principal Meridian. It was bounded on the west by State Street, "a section of the state road leading from Independence to Bradford", and on the south by Fayette Street, the boundary between sections 24 and 25. The streets were one chain (66 feet) wide. The town consisted of 12 blocks, 10 of which contained 8 lots each, the lots being one chain wide by two chains deep. Blocks 11 and 12 contained an additional 4 lots each, 1 chain by 1-1/2 chains, fronting on State Street. The description stated that "Block No. 8 is devoted to a Public Square." (A part of this square was used for the first school. Later, a larger school was built on the block immediately south, which is still the site of an elementary school. After the original school burned, block 8 reverted to a City Park.) The town also included a large area designated as the "Mill Yard". The plat in deed book B is accompanied by a statement certifying that Jeremiah Farris was the proprietor and ordering it to be filed, signed by Herman A. Miles, Acting County Judge. (Miles was the Clerk of Court, but for this transaction served as Acting County Judge, acting for Jeremiah Farris, who was the Bremer County Judge at that time.)

Move to Kansas: During the period that he was in Iowa, several of the children had moved to Kansas and some had returned to Iowa. In 1857 and 1858, Jeremiah and Margaret sold a large amount of land in Bremer Co., including most of the lots in the town of Jefferson City and over 500 acres which is now within the northern city limits of Waverly IA. The year 1858 was an extremely wet year in Bremer Co., with few crops being harvested. Late in 1858 or early in 1859, they moved to Linn Co. KS. The deed for their first land there was recorded in September, 1859. Despite the fact that he lived there for about 16 years, very little record of his activity there has been discovered.

Death and Burial: Several of the members of Jeremiah's family are buried in Linn County KS. Richland Cemetery in rural Linn Co. contains the graves of many of them, including Jeremiah and Margaret. It is near Farlinville (which no longer exists) near where Jeremiah and Margaret lived. Jeremiah's tombstone is badly weathered. From an examination of the stone and of photographic images it has been possible to read most of the inscriptions. The tombstone also contains a Masonic symbol. (Masonic records indicate that he was a member of the Paris Township lodge in Linn Co.) The inscription reads:

J. F A R R I S
F e b. 1 3 1 8 0 [5]
[N o v] 1 6 1 8 7 [5]
A g e d 7 [0] y r
The age and year of birth and death cannot be definitely read from this inscription. Presumably, the age should be 70 and the year of birth is known from other documents to be 1805. No probate record appears for him until many years later (8 May 1887). It is based on information provided by his widow, Margaret about 12 years after his death. It lists the date of death as 25 November 1874. I had originally accepted the 1875 death date on the tombstone as probably being more accurate than this probate record. However, after finding that the 1875 Kansas State Census listed Margaret alone as a widow during the summer of 1875, it appears likely that the 1874 death date is correct. No obituary or other confirmation of the date of death has been found.


George J. Farris
Oak Ridge, TN

17 March, 1995
(last Revised: November, 2013)

© Copyright 2016, George J. Farris, All rights reserved.