In cataloging slides today in the Al Jones collection I came across an interesting series of images showing a wooden roll top desk with a series of engravings on what looks to be the underside of the drawers. One of these hand-carved engravings told the story of John H. Farrar. It reads:
John H. Farrar born Salem, Oregon Nov. 25, 1872. Appointed sub. carrier 11/23/1899. Rec’ carrier Feb. 1, 1903. Transferred to Money Order Clerk Jan 16, 1903. Assistant Post Master July 1, 1906. Post Master July 1st, 1922 to June 30th 1934. The first Salem born boy to become Postmaster at Salem.
Intrigued by a man who thought it important enough to carve his life story into the desk, I decided to do a bit more digging. It turns out the Heritage Center has several photographs of Farrar, documenting his life in Salem.
This Cronise photo (WHC 0080.008.0007.0031.502) shows John Hatch Farrar and his sister Edith, probably sometime in the late 1870s (Farrar being born in 1872 and Edith a year earlier in 1871). The siblings were born to parents John Field Farrar (1848-1904) and Abagail Matilda Hatch (1850-1938). The 1871 city directory lists J.F. Farrar as being employed by the Farrar Brothers Grocers located on the NW corner of Commercial and Court Streets and boarding with John C. Farrar on the NE Corner of Commercial and Union Streets, despite the fact that he was married to Abbie (Abba) M. Hatch on November 19, 1870 at the house of the bride’s father by Congregational minister Obed Dickenson.
This detail from a larger group photo (WHC 0080.008.0010.003.06) shows Farrar, noted as “Johnny” as a young man (center back of photo). Little is known about the photograph other than the names of some of the other folks pictured.
In 1898, Farrar married Miss Lulu Sayre. This photo (WHC 0063.001.0074.009.20), unfortunately has only two names marked on the back, that of Mrs. Johnny Farrar (Lulu) and Mrs. Abbie Farrar (Johnny’s mother), but it doesn’t indicate which of the five women they are.
WHC 2007.001.1742 shows a group of postal workers including at the far left John Farrar. As noted in the biography above John worked up the ranks of postal offices in Salem, probably due in large part to the influence of his uncle George Elmer Hatch (seated in center of the image) who worked for a long time with the postal service in Salem. Also in the image are Silas Howard (standing center back) and Charles Cosper, Ben Taylor, Amos Long seated L-R to the right of John Farrar.
John Farrar died in Salem in 1938.