Copyright, 1916, Sara Lowe Brown.

It is one of the honors of Franklin county, Ohio, that early in the second quarter of the Nineteenth century, it produced, in the person of John Solomon Rarey, a man who bore to all the world the message that in kindness there is power. Ralph Waldo Emerson said of him that he had "turned a new leaf in civilization," while William Lloyd Garrison testified to his "fitness to teach the world a great and everywhere needed lesson of humanity." The young man was educate (I at the old Groveport academy, Bishop Washburn's school on Walnut creek and at Ohio Wesleyan University, but he found his message---that of kindness to animals, especially the horse ---in the fields and stables of his father's farm. With this message that the rule of love is the condition of greatest achievement in the use of the horse, he proceeded, when he was but thirty-one, to the state capital, to Canada, to Europe, Africa and Asia, proclaiming his gospel and working what seemed to be miracles in the taming of horses so vicious that all the methods known to brutal horse-breakers had failed to subdue them. His achievements were witnessed, applauded and honored by kings, emperors and savants, and he returned to his native land to make a tour from which he emerged with the praise of reformers, philanthropists and intellectuals generally.

Mr. Rarey's great work was done within the period of ten years, and it was so well done that its influence will never be lost. It gave new vitality to the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and put a kindlier spirit into the methods of training horses for service in the armies, not only of this country, but also of England and France. It taught to the cabmen and carters of London, Paris, Edinburgh and other cities the folly and wickedness of brutality to their animals and gave to lovers of the horse everywhere, both men and women, the real key to their successful management.

Only a man of fine intelligence, good heart and real genius could have done all this. And that is precisely what John S. Rarey was. No one can read the reports of his lectures or the accounts of his demonstrations without being convinced that he was a man of extraordinary powers of speech, of pleasing personality, of courage and of confidence never running to the extreme of egotism. He performed wonders, but he gave a reason for them and showed others how they could do as much, if they would. It was a rare lesson that Mr. Rarey taught---a lesson that men everywhere are too prone to forget. If it were applied to mankind, as one of his English admirers said, "Christianity would assign him a place among the Apostles." It is akin to the lesson that the world must learn again, if the nations are to be at peace.


THE RAREY FAMILY. The Rarey family in America is traced back to Charles Rarey, who was born in Nord Ottensin, Hamburg, in 1744, and came, when a young man, to America as a trader in dry goods. Losing his fortune through the repudiation of Continental money, he turned to farming and, in 1778, married Margaret Wolfe who, though of English descent, was of American birth. He was a tenant farmer in Maryland and later in Virginia. Of the eleven children born of this union, one, Nicholas, died. The others came with their parents, in 1806, to Ohio, the family settling on a purchased farm in Franklin county, on Walnut creek. They were among the early settlers of the county. Their farm was surrounded by forest in which there was an abundance of game, including bears and wolves which were often a menace to the stock. But Charles and his family of fearless, energetic boys were great hunters; they retaliated on the wild animals and made merchandise of their furs, thus adding to the profits from their farming. Prosperity came as a result of this double industry, and farm after farm was added to the Rarey holdings. Charles Rarey died at the Walnut creek homestead, January 3, 1826, aged 82 years; his wife, Margaret Wolfe, died at the same place, October 10, 1839, aged 74 years; their remains are buried in the little cemetery near by.


Graves of Charles and Margaret Rarey in the Cemetery on Little Walnut
This cemetery is well cared for.

Click to see the current (1997) view of the Rarey Cemetery


Adam Rarey, son of Charles and Margaret and father of John, was born in 1786, and at the age of 26 married Mary Catherine Pontius, a pretty young woman of Pennsylvania birth then living in Chillicothe. The couple for four or five years lived on a farm near the paternal home, but, annoyed by the overflowing of Walnut creek and tempted by the opening of he public road from Columbus to Lancaster, moved to another tract where, because their home was a convenient stepping place for travelers between Columbus and Lancaster, they opened, soon after the declaration of peace in 1815, a house of public entertainment, maintaining it till Adam's death in 1839.

Birthplace of John S. Rarey, Groveport, Ohio. Erected in 1826
J.S.Rarey birthplace, Artist unknown.

It was in the brick house, erected by Adam Rarey (the front walls of which were retained in the Rarey mansion, now remodeled as the Hotel Elmont) that John Solomon Rarey was born, December 6, 1827. One of his earliest traits was an intense fondness for the farm horses and colts. When he was three years old, it was his delight to ride the plowhorse when his father or elder brother was working in the fields. When he was 12, his father gave him a spirited bay colt to break, according to his own ideas. He did so, making the animal the marvel of the neighborhood. His fame spread, and men came hundreds of miles to be instructed by the boy in the training of horses; so that, while he was yet a youth, he found himself in a prosperous business. Convinced that the horse is an animal of higher intelligence than generally supposed and having decided to make horse-training his life-work, John went to Texas, where he spent several months in studying and training the wild horses of the plains. Kindness, firmness and patience were the essentials of his system, and to these qualities the wild horses yielded as readily as did those at his Ohio home. There he also owned and trained a team of elks which he often drove to the capital and to county fairs.

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