George came to the US about 1849 from Ireland. He was in Iowa by 1852 and farmed near Charlotte with 160 acres in sections 23 and 24 of Washington township (just east of Villa Nova) in 1874.
I am amazed to have two photos of George Farrell. The first is of George Farrell and Jane Cullen. It is in a locket passed down to the first daughter in each generation and long-treasured as an heirloom. It has thus passed to Martha (Farrell) Foley, then Catherine (Foley) O'Donnell, then Alice (O'Donnell) Walde, then Maxine Walde. When Maxine died without children, it went to her sister Marjorie (Walde) Knott, who owns it as of 2001. It is captioned in the handwriting of Alice (O'Donnell) Walde as, ``Wedding picture of Geo Farrell and Jane Cullen, married 1850. Parents of Martha Farrell Foley, mother of Kate Foley O'Donnell, mother of Alice O'Donnell Walde --- to be property of Mary Maxine Walde and to be passed down to the oldest girl in each succeeding generation.''
There is some ambiguity about the second photo, but I am (and others are) pretty sure it is George Farrell and his second wife, Catherine Lawler. So far, it has been found in the collection of two families: descendents of Martha (Farrell) Foley and descendents of Maria (Farrell) Kealy. It was labelled ``Grandpa and Grandma Farrell'' in the album now owned by Marjorie (Walde) Knott. It was similarly labelled from the collection of Ellen (Kealy) Hirsch, and distributed by Ellen L. Hirsch and thought to be George and Jane. However, now knowing about the locket photo of George and Jane, I believe this second ``Grandpa and Grandma Farrell'' photo must be George and Catherine for several reasons:
My copy of the George and Catherine image was from a tin-type in the Walde-Knott album. There was also an old print of the same image in the album in an oval style, with ``De Witt, Iowa'' printed on the back. It is this oval style print that the Kealy descendents had.
George Farrell's home farm was on the west side of the north-south road one mile east of Villa Nova. Driving by the location in 1999, you can still see where the homestead was, but the house is long gone and all that is left is a broken windmill and a couple sheds. You can see the location on this satellite photo. The Farrell homestead was on the rightmost N-S road in that photo, the first one on the west if you follow that road north (before the road headed east). St. Patrick's of Villa Nova is one mile due west, just north of the Y in the road, on the west side of the road. Zoom in on it and you can almost resolve tombstones. Pretty cool, huh?
There was a strong ``Total Abstinence'' (from alcoholic drinks) movement in Clinton County in the 1870s, organized by the St. Patrick's parish priest. George Farrell was a member of this ``St. Patrick's Catholic Total Abstinence Society of Center Grove'' and the members of the society escorted George's body at his funeral. The Clinton history book reports that nearly every parish member gave a temperance pledge, so it's likely that my other ancestors of the area such as Pat Shannon and Pat Lawler did too, as they were all members of that parish. Michael Shannon was a member of the Temperance Society who was on the committee to draw up a resolution honoring George Farrell. (Villa Nova was known as Center Grove until 1883.)
In 1864, George Farrell of Washington Township was drafted for the Civil War. I don't believe he ever enlisted, however. The rules at the time allowed you to send a substitute in your stead. (But I don't know that he did that either.) George already had a sizeable family to take care of by 1864. There was a different George Ferrel (or Farrel or Farrell), thought to be a son of Peter Ferrel, who enrolled in the 26th Infantry, Co. B, from Clinton Co. That George was a corporal, enlisted in 1862 and died in 1863.
The source for many of the Farrell descendents came from a typewritten manuscript titled, ``Farrell Family History 1830-1966''. Whenever possible, we have attempted to verify the information it contains through various records.
Here is George's tombstone inscription. The same stone has inscriptions for his wife Catherine and two children buried there, plus a memorial note for a third child, Mary Showalter, buried elsewhere.
One sentence of George's 1882 obituary says George was about sixty years old (which would make him born in 1822). However, another part of his obituary, his 1879 biography and census records indicate that he was born in 1828. The dates on his tombstone work out to 1829. I've seen 1830 on some family record collections, but I'd guess that comes from abbreviating his death age to 52 years. It is hard to be certain what's really correct, so I'm using the dates from the tombstone.
Since there is some uncertainty over George's birthdate, I'll point out the following possibility found in Irish records: The records of Saggart catholic parish in Dublin have a baptismal record of a Gulielmus Farrell, son of Joannis Farrell and Maria Bryan, baptized 1st February 1832, sponsors Joannes Byrne and Maria Reilly.
But I really don't know if that refers to our George at all (with a latinized name), and Farrell is a pretty common Irish name.
There is another Irish family by the name of Farrell in rural Clinton Co. in the 1800s also. These other Farrells trace back to their immigrant father, Martin Farrell, who had several children. Martin and family came to Clinton County very early, about 1855. But they seem to be completely unrelated to our George Farrell as they came from a different part of Ireland (County Cavan).
The Farrell descendents held a couple big family reunions. One was in 1964, and the next was about 1973.
Farrell relatives: Don't miss my special Farrell Family Photo Project, an index to my growing collection of old photos of the George Farrell family.
Sources for this individual: @S152@ @S153@ @S154@ @S155@ @S121@ @S156@ @S157@ @S158@ @S159@ @S160@ @S699@ @S1741@ @S1742@