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This biography is from Landmarks of Albany County, New York, edited by Amasa J. Parker of Albany, N. Y., Syracuse, N. Y.; D. Mason & Co. Publishers, 1897.

Gen. John G. Farnsworth

John Gosman Farnsworth was born in Elmira, N. Y., January 21, 1832. His parents were Marshall L. Farnsworth and Joanna B. Gosman, his wife. His father was born March 12, 1798, was graduated at Union College in 1825, and on June 30, 1830, married Joanna B. Gosman; he died November 27, 1838. He was a faithful minister of the Congregational church. General Farnsworth traced his descent to both English and Holland Dutch sources. On the paternal side he was descended from members of that sturdy body of Puritans who made a home on the rugged shores of Massachusetts more than two and a half centuries ago, and among whose children and children's children were many whose names became prominent in the Revolutionary, literary and theological history of the early days of this country. On his mother's side he came from the earliest Dutch settlers of New York.

General Farnsworth was the recipient of a practical education, having pursued intelligently and faithfully his studies at the academies in Ithaca, N. Y., and Albany, supplemented by a course at Pittsfield, Mass., fitting him thoroughly for the active duties and responsibilities of life. His first business enterprise was in the wholesale lumber trade as a member of the firm of J. O. Towner & Co., which for many years carried on an extensive business. Here Mr. Farnsworth found active employment for his mind, and gradually absorbed those correct and systematic business principles which in later years made him so valuable a servant in the public service.

When, in 1861, the crash of civil war pealed over the land, shattering the content of thousands of homes, and plunging into chaos the business of the country, young Farnsworth felt moving within him a new and theretofore untried sentiment. A firm Democrat of the Jacksonian school, he was none the less a patriot and supporter of the administration to which he was politically opposed. If his country needed his services in the suppression of the Rebellion, he was ready to devote them to the full extent of his power.

On the 14th of April, 1862, he was appointed by President Lincoln to the post of of captain and assistant quartermaster and assigned to duty in the Army of the Potomac. In this position he found ample scope to employ the knowledge gained in his business experience, and so well did he apply it that from July, 1862, to August, 1883, he served as chief quartermaster of the Fourth Army Corps under Maj.-Gen. E. D. Keyes. From August, 1863, until January, 1864, as a member of the staff of Gen. M. C. Meigs, quartermaster-general of the U. S. army, he accompanied the latter on a tour of inspection through the western departments, and was present with him during the siege of Chattanooga and at the desperate battles of Mission Ridge and Lookout Mountain.

From February, 1864, to November of the same year General Farnsworth was in command at Wheeling of the principal supply depot of the quartermaster's department of West Virginia, and from November, 1864, to September, 1865, he was chief quartermaster of the department of West Virginia with headquarters at Cumberland. October 23, 1865, upon his own application, he was mustered out of the United States service and returned home to engage in his former business. His record throughout the Rebellion was untarnished; on the contrary his whole career was characterized by faithfulness, energy, and the brilliant faculty of always being ready, and his brevets of major, lieutenant-colonel and colonel of United States Volunteers were but small tokens of recognition of the worth of his devotion and labor.

September 21, 1868, he became connected with the military service of the State, and until 1871 was colonel of the 10th Battalion, National Guard. January 1, 1883, Governer Cleveland appointed him adjutant general of the State, and in this capacity he proved his ability as an administrative military officer. During his incumbency the National Guard improved in strength, discipline and efficiency, and the Camp of Instruction (established by General Townsend in 1882) was made a permanent feature; under General Farnsworth's direction the site near Peekskill was purchased for this purpose and is now known as the State Camp; also, during his term, a new service uniform was adopted, a new military code became a law and new regulations were adopted. On the request of General Farnsworth in 1884, the United States War Department permitted the use of one of the forts at New York, for a brief period, to be occupied by a regiment from that city, for the purpose of instruction in the handling and firing the heavy sea-coast guns, the success of which tour proved its wisdom; the practice was continued during his administration.

At the close of his official term, General Farnsworth was placed on the super-numerary list of officers, subject to call to duty when required, an instance of which occurred in 1890, when he was sent to Syracuse to take command in suppressing the threatened railroad difficulties at that point.

In 1878 he was appointed one of the commissioners of Washington Park and served as such nine years. In 1886 he was placed in charge of the prosecution of war claims of the State of New York against the United States, an office he filled to the time of his death, and in which he succeeded in collecting about $3,000,000. He was a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, of the Fort Orange Club, the Masonic order, and several other organizations.

In 1856 General Farnsworth was married to Miss Sarah V. Gourlay, daughter of William B. Gourlay, of Albany. They had two children; John Farnsworth, married and a resident of Plattsburg, and a daughter, Emma.

General Farnsworth died from a stroke of paralysis, at the Arlington Hotel, Washington, D. C. , April 6, 1895. He contracted a heavy cold the previous winter, which developed into a protracted attack of the grip. In the hope of being able to drive the disease from his system he went to Washington six weeks before his demise, and was followed two weeks later by Mrs. Farnsworth, who was by his bedside when he expired.

His funeral was notable, not only in the numbers and prominence of those in attendance, but in the impressive solemnity of the service, and accompanied, as it was, with all the honors that should be paid to a gallant soldier, an upright and faithful official and good citizen. St. Peter's church never held within its walls a more sympathetic body of mourners, and the unspoken sorrow was visibly impressed upon the face of every one present.

The following tribute to General Farnsworth is taken from resolutions passed by the Commandery of the State of New York, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States;

"On the evening of April 6, 1895, there passed suddenly from life's activities here to the life beyond one whose mainspring of action was intense loyalty to duty and to friends. Gentle by nature and simple-hearted, trustful yet cautious, generous of impulse and with straightforward singleness of purpose, doing the right because it was right without thought of his own advancement and interest, a lovely, honest, brave character, he died deeply lamented by his immediate friends, who were legion, and by a greater multitude with whom, through many years, he had been thrown in familiar official intercourse. The tributes of intense respect showered upon his bereaved family were silent witnesses to the manly life of one who never turned his back on a friend nor faltered in the performance of duty or in any proper sacrifice to aid others. Unselfish to the last degree, he was blind to the ingratitude of others. His eyes beheld always the better and bright side of human nature.

"Pleased with his guests, the good man learned to glow,
And quite forget their vices in their woe;
Careless their merits or their faults to scan,
His pity gave ere charity began.
Thus to relieve the wretched was his pride,
And e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side."

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