WILLIAM B. McFARLAND - FIFTH PRINCIPAL, 1850-1853
In the Fall of 1850 the Methodist Episcopal Church South took ownership of Marshall Academy. Rev. William H. McFarland was hired as the new Principal. He was born on February 9, 1820, in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, the son of William and Margaret Lewis McFarland. McFarland had been a Presbyterian, but when nineteen years old he switched to the Methodist faith. His family opposed his decision, so he had to work his own way through Allegheny College at Meadville, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1841. After his ordination in 1842 by the Pittsburgh Annual Conference, he moved to (West) Virginia, where he served as pastor in a number of communities, until he was hired as a pastor of the Methodist Church in Huntington, as well as assuming the principalship of Marshall Academy on September 15, 1850. McFarland served as the Principal of the Academy until August 24, 1853, when he resigned following a transfer to Charleston (West) Virginia, where he continued also to serve as an agent for the Academy. He was subsequently transferred to the St. Louis Conference, receiving a pastorate in Westport, Missouri, 1857.
He lived most of the rest of his life in Missouri, where he was an active and well-respected Methodist minister. He married his first wife, Margaret V. Cackayne (or Kayne) of Marshall County, (West) Virginia, in June 1848, and she bore him three daughters. Upon her death, he married Alvira Early in January 1857 of Kanawha County, (West) Virginia, who bore him three sons and three daughters.
He held strong sympathies for the Confederate cause during the Civil War. His wife was the sister of Confederate General Jubal Early, who spent time in their home recuperating from pneumonia at the war’s end. Although a noncombatant, he was an outspoken Rebel. Early in the war his home was looted by troops under General Nathaniel Lyon, who confiscated his wife’s silver; it was later returned after the war. As the brother-in-law of the General Early, he "was taken out to be shot on two different occasions," but his strong oratorical skills prevailed and he "talked the ‘Blue Bellies’ out of shooting him." Near the end of the war, some troops under Union General Grenville M. Dodge took possession of his church at Lexington, Missouri, "because he refused to pray for the President [Abraham Lincoln]," who had just been assassinated.
McFarland was a minister for sixty-two years. During the latter years of his life, he moved in with one of his daughters in Iowa, where he still occasionally preached, and later lived with his sons, Samuel and Robert, in Idaho. In a 1881 article McFarland wrote that he had "traveled quite extensively through the east, and is shortly intending to…visit the west coast. He is very popular with his people, preaching in practice as well as by precept." In 1904 he wrote that he was eighty-four: and "I have gone beyond what I expected. I am now living day by the day." He apparently died shortly there after and was buried in Corder, Missouri, nearby his second wife, who had died some five years earlier.
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