History Lessons

John Gamble Macfarlan (1901-1985) was one of eight children. There were seven boys and one girl. He was always proud of his military service. His National Guard Unit was called to active duty before World War II. They were at Camp Blanding, near Stuart, FL for a year before the war started. He spent the rest of his military service at Ft. Benning, GA. He held many different positions there. He worked with OCS (Officer Candidate School). He was connected with the Infantry School. He was Post 
Athletic Officer. As such he had to organize athletic events and tried to attend most of them. He left the army as a Lt. Colonel and later retired from the FL National Guard as a full Colonel. People were always showing up at the Macfarlan house to see Capt. or Major Macfarlan. These were people who had been in service with him and just wanted to stop by. He was well respected by many with whom he served. He had a great sense of humor and loved to tell stories. He dropped out of school in the 7th grade and wandered around a good bit – doing all kinds of odd jobs. He ended up working for the railroads when he met a man who said he was hiring. When he inquired about a job, the man said you had to be 21 years old. John Macfarlan was17 at the time but told the man he was 21.
He got a job and worked for the railroads and later for the Railway Express Agency (that was owned by the railroads). This fib came back to haunt him. His personnel records had him listed as four years older than he really was and the Express Company had a mandatory retirement age. He had to prove his correct age and unfortunately the courthouse where his birth certificate was filed had burned down. Eventually, he used his Army records to prove his correct age. As a boy he was called Gamble but never liked that name because kids teased him about it. As an adult he became John or Mac (which is what is wife Margaret always called him). Also as an adult, he got a high school diploma from night school and actually took a few college courses at the University of Miami on the GI Bill. He took mostly business courses and received “A’s” in all of them. As a young man in Miami, he was something of a man about town. He was Chairman of the Young Democrats, the Dade County Democratic Party and on the boxing commission, and considered several runs for political office. On one, which was either a state legislature seat or a Congressional seat, he always said that he was asked to meet with a man involved with race tracks in Florida who offered him $10,000 for his campaign. The man said if my dad didn’t take the money, he’d give it to his opponent. He decided not to run. I don’t think he had the kind of temperament for the rough and tumble of politics, and once he married Margaret (shown with John in the photo on this page), she thought politics was dirty business (she was probably right!). When the sheriff of Dade County had to leave office because of scandal, the governor of Florida (whose campaign John Macfarlan had worked for) offered to appoint him Dade County sheriff. He seriously considered it, but his wife went nuts over the thought. He didn’t take it. 

Each day  at the East Coast Railway Station in Miami (his title was Terminal Agent, the second in charge, like an operations manager) before leaving for the day, he would walk through the entire terminal checking to see that things were in order. He stopped to speak to every employee and called each one by name. One piece of advice that he gave was that when you meet someone, you should learn their name and then whenever you see that person speak to them by name. They won’t forget you, he used to say. He was right. When he left Miami, the employees (most of them union workers who didn’t usually get along well with bosses!) took up money and gave him some wonderful going away presents including luggage. He spent many years taking care of his wife, who was crippled by Arthritis.

After retiring from the Railway Express Agency, he returned to Miami and to First United Methodist Church where he led the "Macfarlan Sunday School" class every Sunday.

He loved to tell stories and loved history. This site is a collection of the history lessons he gave to the Hot Meals program at First United Methodist Church. There are no sources on any of this material, but he would often work late in the night researching his lessons to make sure they were accurate

All information on this site was researched in the 1970's and 1980's. It is beloved to have been accurate at that time. However, history has a way of changing and instead of trying to update the information in these history lessons, they are presented as they were originally written. All the lessons were written by hand on yellow legal paper. These lessons were typed from those documents more than 20 years after the death of John Macfarlan.

Aaron Burr
Abigal Adams
Alexander Hamilton
Alfred E. Smith
Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Jackson
Arlington Cemetery
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Battle of Trenton
Benjamin Franklin
Brooker T. Washington and George W. Carver
Centennial of 1876
Christopher Columbus
Declaration of Independence
Depression of 1929
Early Days in Miami
Eli Whitney
Executive Branch
First Fifty yeears of the American Republic
Florida Hall of Fame
Fort Sumter
Founding Fathers
Frances Willard
Friends of the Colonies
Gamble Mansion
General Lew Wallace
General Nathanael Greene
Helen Keller
Henry Clay
Henry Ford
History Quiz
House of Representatives
Immortal Five
Impeachment of a President
James Garfield
James Madison
James Monroe
Jefferson Davis
Jimmie Rodgers
John Adams
John Brown
John C. Calhoun
John D. Rockefeller
John Hancock
John Paul Jones
John Quincy Adams
Johnny Appleseed
Key West
Lewis and Clark
Liberty Bell
Nathan Hale
National Statuary Hall
Noah Webster
North Carolina
Panama Canal
Patrick Henry
Paul Revere
Pete Zenger
Plymouth Colony
Pony Express
Robert E. Lee
Roger Williams and James Madison
Sam Adams
Sam Houston
Samuel Mudd
St. Augustine
Star Spangled Banner
Statue of Liberty
Stonewall Jackson
Supreme Court
The King Ranch
Thomas Edison
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Paine
U.S. Senate
Ulysses Siimpson Hiram Grant
Valley Forge
Walter Reed
Washington and his Generals
Washington's Farewell Address
William Jennings Bryan
William Penn
William Tacumseh Sherman
Wright Brothers

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