OGDEN -- It's hard to go anywhere in Ogden without seeing the name of "Farr."
Lorin Farr was the first mayor of Ogden and helped settle the city when called by LDS Church President Brigham Young to do so in 1850. His younger brother, Winslow Farr, was also instrumental in helping settle the town, and the brothers and their families built a fort just north of the Ogden River where Monroe Boulevard and 15th Street are now.
The Farr family likes to celebrate those roots at least every three years with a three-day reunion. This weekend was no different, but this year, the family discovered where some other very deep roots were planted. David Rencher, chief genealogical officer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Farr cousin, talked to about 100 family members Saturday morning about how to use LDS genealogy websites. He suggested that older family members work with younger family members and tell stories as those younger family members enter those stories onto the Family Tree website.
"We have found people more easily relate to photos and stories," Rencher said. When people are getting started with their family history they need something to identify with and that's what photos and stories do.
Tim Farr, the chief genealogy researcher for the Winslow Farr Sr. branch of the family, would agree. He has been doing genealogy research for his family for the past 17 years and shared a breakthrough with his extended family on Saturday. He posted a photo on an overhead projector of a man from Belgium who contacted him about some names he had seen from Tim on a genealogy site. The two started talking and he talked the man into doing a DNA test to see if they were related. They were.
"It was a major breakthrough," Tim told the crowd. He then posted a photo of the man and then a photo of Tim's father -- the resemblance was obvious and a collective sigh went through the family members. With the information from the Belgian, Scott Farr, he was able to link to another line and trace the Farr family back to the 1300s.
Tim said it was one of the most fulfilling moments of his genealogy career. He and David Farr, the president of the Winslow Farr family, figure Tim has found approximately 20,000 relatives who can be directly linked to their family line.
Family members on Saturday carefully looked at many books with histories written about each of Winslow Farr Sr.'s five children. DVDs and videos also played detailing family histories. In the 19th century, members of the family traveled across the plains with some of the earliest pioneer settlers. Once here, they settled the Ogden area and fought and maintained peace with the Shoshone Indians.
"I am really proud knowing what a good heritage I come from and that they were the early settlers. They were good men and women. They lived good lives," Ronalee Heywood said. Heywood is of the fourth generation to own one of the early family homes on 8th Street. She talked with her cousin, Lisa Pigley, about the significant lives their forefathers lived and how much they love the Ogden area. "It's amazing how the histories intertwine and all they sacrificed," Pigley said.
As part of the reunion, the family gave a plaque to developer Richard Webber for his efforts to create a memorial to the Farr family near the original Farr Fort at Monroe and Canyon roads. The memorial sits near the road in the Farr Orchard condominium complex. Webber said it was an honor to create the memoriam about 10 years ago when the development was put in place.
Catherine Farr Feeny, a great-great granddaughter of Lorin Farr, made the presentation to Webber and thanked him for his efforts to preserve a piece of history. She talked of the peace-keeping efforts by Lorin Farr with the Indians and how the river was their protection.
"I realize the sanctity of this property and chose this spot because it is peaceful," Webber said of the memorial site.
The family also toured the Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum and the Ogden Cemetery where memorials to Lorin and Winslow Farr have been erected.
David Farr said he was thrilled to be able to hold the reunion and share history with his family. "Winslow and Lorin believed in family history ... I believe that's why we feel it is so important."