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FARMER, JAMES

FARMER, JAMES (19 July 1802-17 March 1891) was a businessman closely identified with Cleveland's earliest manufacturing, mining, railroad, and banking interests. He founded the Cleveland & Pittsburgh, and the Valley Railroad companies and, with his wife, MERIBAH BUTLER FARMER, founded Cleveland's original evangelical Quakers organization and the First Friends Church.

Born near Augusta, GA to John and Mary (Taylor) Farmer, James and his family moved to Columbiana County, OH in 1805, then to Salineville in 1818. From 1818-1924 James worked in his father's business as a salt manufacturer.

In 1828 James began his own mercantile career by opening a general store. In 1838 he built the first flour mill in Ohio. In 1844 he built a steamer to carry goods down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 1846, he secured a charter for The Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad Company, serving as its first president until 1859, and on the board of directors until ca. 1866.

Farmer moved to Cleveland in 1856. In 1871 he secured the charter and organized the Valley Railroad from Cleveland through the Cuyahoga Valley to Akron and Canton. Farmer was president of the Ohio National Bank, and helped organize the State National Bank, serving as president until his death.

In 1871, the Farmers opened their home to the first meeting of the Cleveland Friends. As an Elder and honored member of the Society of Friends, Farmer was instrumental in building the Friends' Church on Cedar Avenue in 1874.

Farmer married Meribah Butler on 1 Oct. 1834. They had seven children, Elihu, Beulah, Ellen, Lydia, Laura, Elizabeth and James. Farmer is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.


Painter, Lydia Ethel Farmer. The Memoirs of James and Meribah Farmer (1900).

Malone, J. Walter. The Autobiography of an Evangelical Quaker (1993).