John Menzies Macfarlane, 1833-1892

By John A. Macfarlane, as reported at the Macfarlane Family Reunion October 21, 2005
John Menzies Macfarlane Photo

John Menzies Macfarlane was born in 1833 in Stirling Scotland. His father died when he was thirteen. When he was sixteen he moved with his mother, brother and sister to Glasgow, and in 1852 came with his family to Utah. He moved to Cedar City in 1853. In both the Sessions Settlement and in Cedar City he taught school. Where he gained the education to, in turn, be an educator is not known. He married Ann Chatterley December 30, 1854, and they had ten children, the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth dying as young children. As the tenth, William, had only one child and no grandchildren, those of us descended from Ann are from the other four children Isaac, Charlotte Ann (Annie), Annabella (Bella), or John Morton. I won't say much about John M's wives, but that would be a good topic for another reunion-the wives of John and Daniel Macfarlane and the Husband of Ann.

John M. married Agnes Eliza (Tillie) Heyborne on October 9, 1866. They had nine children, eight of whom lived to adulthood, and six of whom had offspring. Those of us descended from Tillie, are from Sarah Ann, Agnes Eliza (Aggie), Catherine Heyborne (Caddie), Jennie Belle, Menzies John (Bud), or Erastus Heyborne.

In 1868, John M. took his wives to St. George, and later, in 1879 married Elizabeth Jane (Lizzie) Adams. They had seven children, five of whom reached adulthood and four of whom had offspring, Emma Adams (Em), Samuel Alexander (Alec), Elizabeth Adams (Bess), and Hubert Adams.

John M. was a farmer, teacher, surveyor, attorney, and judge. He led the local choir in Cedar City and later in St. George. He was a prominent early settler in Cedar City and in St. George. If his crops hadn't failed the year he tried to set up shop in Toquerville, he might have been a prominent member of that community. He was the first postmaster of Toquerville, and the first postmaster south of Cedar City. He surveyed many sites around southern Utah and Eastern Nevada. He was a defense attorney in the trial of John D. Lee. He was a County Prosecuting Attorney and District Attorney. In 1879 he was elected as probate judge, which was a county judge in the Territory of Utah. He served there until 1883, when he resigned due to the fact that he couldn't carry out his duties because he was in hiding often from federal marshals looking for polygamists. He left with his third wife Lizzie for Mexico to avoid arrest, and lived an interesting life in Mexico for several years. His second wife Tillie, and some of her children joined him in Mexico in 1891. In 1892 he returned alone to St. George to get some medical attention, and died there, June 4, from heart failure as a complication of diabetes. He is best known for composing two hymns that are still sung in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He wrote both words and music to "Far, Far Way on Judea's Plains", and he composed the music to "Dearest Children", lyrics written by his associate Charles L. Walker.

We have a lot to be proud of in John Menzies Macfarlane. As Wayland put it, "He had ambition, intelligence and grace, and to quote Uncle Henry Mathis, 'He was the most talented man I ever knew.' Or as Ann, his wife, put it, '`E was the Cock O' the Walk, `E was a Crackerjack.'"