GRANDVIEW TWP. - Rees Farra's 139-year-old final resting place isn't in the most accessible area of Grandview Township.
Located on a wooded knoll about 100 yards above Cisler Ridge Road, the 1874 marker stands alone on 80 acres of farmland owned by Glenn Forni, who keeps watch over his ancestor's grave.
"I hope to eventually clear a trail from the road to the site, and maybe replace the old stone with a newer one," he said, noting the area around the gravesite, now overgrown with trees and vines, was probably an open field at one time.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Grandview Township resident Glenn Forni stands by the marker of his ancestor, Rees Farra, whose 1874 grave is on Forni’s 80-acre farm along Cisler Ridge Road.
Neighbor Richard Cisler, now in his mid-60s, has known about the grave from his younger days.
"My grandfather had a farm adjacent to that property where he used to raise cattle," he said. "Every once in a while we would walk through to check on cows that may have wandered there. That's where I saw the grave. It's the only one up there and I always wondered why."
Glenn's mother, Bonnie Forni, who is Rees Farra's great-great niece, said the grave's location has also been a mystery to her. She noted at the time of Farra's death the property belonged to Richard Webber, whose wife was Farra's niece.
Rees was born in 1792 in Pennsylvania, the second of seven children born to Samuel Farra and Esther "Hester" Rees Farra in Philadelphia, Pa., she said.
The family later moved to Belmont County, Ohio, where Rees married Rachel Broomhall and raised four children, according to information provided to Bonnie by Farra family members now living in Millwood, W.Va.
Rachel died in 1866 and is buried in Belmont County. Sometime over the next eight years her husband came to Washington County.
"I've looked, but haven't found that Rees owned any land in Washington County, and I've always wondered why he was buried all alone on property that belonged to his niece's husband," Bonnie said, adding that there are other Farra family members buried in the nearby Salem Hall Cemetery.
She noted at the time of his death there were also two other Farras, William and Samuel, who owned properties adjacent to the Webber farm where Rees was interred.
Samuel Farra is listed as a brother of Rees, and was Bonnie's great-great grandfather.
She figures Rees was most likely a farmer in Belmont County, but she has so far been unable to verify his occupation.
Bonnie said one of Rees Farra's children, Milton Farra, became a physician in Indiana and delivered his own grandchild, Tiera, who became known as Tiera "Farrow" due to an inadvertent misspelling of the last name by a sign painter. The Farrow name continues to be used by that branch of the family today.
Tiera eventually became an attorney and made her mark in history by becoming the first female lawyer in Kansas City, Mo. She traveled widely and lived to the age of 90, according to the Farra family's research documents. Tiera also published a book entitled "Lawyer in Petticoats" about her experiences as a legal counselor.
Cisler noted another mystery surrounding Rees Farra's gravesite.
"About 10 or 15 years ago someone would clear the area and place flowers on the grave around every Memorial Day," he said. "I never did know who it was."
Bonnie said she had no idea who might have kept the gravesite maintained during that time.
"But I would love to find out," she said.