Page 598-600, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


R. H. Farr, president of the Whitewater Milling & Elevator Company, has, perhaps, had more to do with the industrial development of Whitewater in recent years than any other man. He is the principal owner of this great commercial enterprise and is the sole owner of the Whitewater Electric Light & Ice Plant.

Mr. Farr is a native of New York and was born twelve miles from the shores of Lake Champlain in Clinton county in 1851. He is a son of James and Sarah (Marshall) Farr, the former a native of Ireland and the latter of Canada and of English descent. R. H. Farr was one of a family of twelve children and grew to manhood on the little New York farm. His early education was obtained in a little log school house where the three R's were taught, and the discipline of the rod prevailed for a period of twelve weeks, annually. Young Farr was ambitious to obtain a better education than the curriculum of the district school provided, and by hard work and the strictest economy he saved enough to attend a special school in that locality. Later he taught school for a time, after which he attended the State Normal School at Potsdam, New York.

In August, 1878, Mr. Farr was united in marriage to Miss Mary J. Colclough, a native of Canada who was reared and educated in New York. In October following their marriage, Mr. Farr and his bride came to Kansas locating in Harvey county. Here he bought eighty acres of land for $600, giving a mortgage for the entire purchase price. In later years, he sold that eighty for $8,700. His first years in Kansas were similar to the common lot of many of the pioneers of the plains. Money was scarce and with frequent crop failures and poor markets he often saw the time that he was not the possessor of a five-cent piece. He engaged in teaching school for a time in Harvey county, which afforded


an immediate means of obtaining ready cash. After some years of adversity success and prosperity crowned his efforts and he accumulated 480 acres of land.

He took an active part in early day politics, always having been identified with the Republican party, and in 1888, he was elected county clerk of Harvey county. Two years later he was reelected to succeed himself. Nominations at that time were made by the old delegate convention system, and Mr Farr was nominated on the forty-second ballot, for the first term which would indicate a lively interest in Harvey county politics at that time. His election followed by a substantial majority of about fifteen hundred. During his incumbency of the office of county clerk, he resided at Newton, the county seat, and continued to reside there after the expiration of his term of office until 1899, during which time he was engaged in handling some farm land.

In 1899, he removed to Whitewater and erected a mill which was the beginning of his present great milling industry. The Company was organized in 1899 and capitalized at $40,000, which has been more than doubled since that time. Besides the Whitewater plant, this Company has a number of branch elevators, and they handle about two hundred thousand bushels of wheat, forty thousand bushels of corn and fifty thousand bushels of oats annually, the volume of which, of course, varies with the productiveness of each season. In the successful management and progressive development of this great grain enterprise, Mr. Farr has not only developed a great institution for himself but he has created and maintained a staple grain market for that section of the State. He has never turned away a load of grain. His policy has been square dealing at all times, and honest markets, since the organization of the company. The Electric Light & Ice Company of which Mr. Farr is the sole owner, was organized in 1913, and a plant build at a cost of $16,000. The ice plant has a capacity of twelve tons per day, and operates a refrigerator and cold storage plant in connection. The electric light plant furnishes an all night current, which is unusual for a town of the size of Whitewater.

Mr. Farr was one of the organizers of the Whitewater Commercial Club, and also took part in the organization of the Peoples State Bank of Whitewater. He has taken an active part in the civic betterment of the town as well as in its commercial and industrial activities. He was one of the leaders in the movement for the new high school, which met with great opposition, but finally succeeded and was built at an approximate cost of $25,000, and is now one of the institutions of which Whitewater is justly proud.

Mr. Farr is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Methodist Episcopal church. To Mr. and Mrs. Farr have been born four children, as follows: Grace, married to F. G. Cunningham, accountant and financial secretary of the Whitewater Milling Company; Edna, married H. N. Davidson, Oakland, Cal.; Edgar, residing in


Whitewater, where he has charge of the electric light plant; and Mabel, who is married to J. E. Saunders, a civil engineer and graduate of the Armour Institute of Chicago, now holding a responsible position with the Union Switch and Signal Company, of Pittsburg, Pa.

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