Esther Ann McFarland
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Esther Ann McFarland of Haverford, age 94, passed away peacefully at her home on September 20, 2011, eight days after suffering a stroke. Born in East Goshen Township, Chester County, she is the daughter and last surviving child of the late Harry Mercer Brown and Lucy May Green. Her dear brother, Harvey Brown, had just died on September 9, 2011 at age 95. Mrs. McFarland's family roots date back to the early American settlers. She is descended from Sven Gunnarsson and Jonas Nilsson who arrived in New Sweden ( what is now the greater Philadelphia area down to coastal Delaware) in the early 1640s. Always proud of her Swedish ancestry, Mrs. McFarland was the Junior Deputy Governor Emeritus of the Swedish Colonial Society, and an avid member of the American Swedish Historical Museum. She helped fund the recently opened Sven Gunnarsson and Jonas Nilsson New Sweden Gallery at the American Swedish Historical Museum and had the pleasure of speaking at the Gallery opening this past June, a meaningful event attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine of Sweden. Mrs. McFarland also was proud to be a direct descendent of Judge William Lewis (1751-1819), a prominent Philadelphia Federalist lawyer who in 1789 was appointed by President George Washington to be the first United States Attorney for the District of Pennsylvania, and later in 1791 was appointed (again by George Washington) to be the second United States District Court judge for the district (now known as the Eastern District of Pennsylvania). As importantly, if not more so, William Lewis served for a time as a Pennsylvania state legislator, and in that capacity authored a bill entitled "An Act For The Gradual Abolition Of Slavery In Pennsylvania" which was enacted into law in 1780. It was the first Act of its kind in America, and is believed to be the first Act of its kind in the world. Judge Lewis had his primary residence and law office at 3rd and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia, an area now called the Judge William Lewis Quadrangle in his honor. He maintained a summer residence at what became known as Strawberry Mansion in Fairmount Park East. Not surprisingly, Mrs. McFarland had been a long time member of the Committee of 1926 of Pennsylvania, a charitable organization dedicated to the preservation of Historic Strawberry Mansion. She also, at her death, had almost finished writing a comprehensive book on the life of Judge William Lewis which will be completed and published posthumously. In addition to the Swedish Colonial Society, the American Swedish Historical Museum, and the Committee of 1926, Mrs. McFarland's ties to various Colonial immigrants and her love of genealogy, early American history, and historic preservation led her to become an active member in a number of other hereditary organizations, including the Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames, the Pennsylvania Society of New England Women, the Netherlands Society, and the Welcome Society. Additionally, she enjoyed close association with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the historical societies of Chester County and Montgomery County. In 1956, Mrs. McFarland married her beloved, late husband CDR. George C. McFarland (affectionately known by many persons simply as "the Commander"). CDR. McFarland had been in active duty in the United States Navy during World War II and the Korean War, and through fate the two met at a Naval function as Mrs. McFarland also had worked for the Navy in a civilian capacity. The rest, as they say, is history. Perhaps because of their shared Navy background, they enjoyed more than 30 years of world travel together - of course, primarily by cruise ship. After the death of her husband in 1989, Mrs. McFarland continued her travels and, indeed, was scheduled to embark on her latest cruise the day after she suffered her stroke. All told, Mrs. McFarland had visited all seven continents, crossed the 80th parallel in the Arctic Circle, stepped foot on Greenland, and made it down to Antarctica. She was among the first American tourists to visit mainland China in the 1970s after travel restrictions there had been lifted, and she was among the first tourists to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia after this ancient temple complex was re-discovered. She even rode in a hot air balloon over Kenya while in her 80s. As a result of her marriage, Mrs. McFarland inherited a Scottish connection, and developed lasting, deep friendships with many at the St. Andrews Society of Philadelphia. She later was named an Honorary Member of this all male society, and enjoyed participating each year on its scholarship committee. This, she often said, combined her interest in education with her interest in travel as the scholarships enabled selected students from area colleges to spend their junior year studying abroad at one of the four ancient Scottish universities. Mrs. McFarland was a 50 year member of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church and was an ardent supporter of its storied music program. Mrs. McFarland also was a member of the Union League of Philadelphia, the Merion Golf Club, and the Merion Cricket Club. She is survived by her son, George C. McFarland, Jr., Esq., her daughter in law, Betsy Kennedy McFarland, three grandchildren, Megan Davis McFarland, George C. McFarland, III, and Elizabeth Anne (Bonnie) McFarland, and a niece Anita Hamilton. A memorial service was scheduled for Tuesday, September 27, at 11:00 am at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. Burial was private. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Bryn Mawr Hospital or the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.


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Published in Main Line Media News from Sep. 23 to Sep. 28, 2011.