Charles Farrar was born in Pepperell, MA, to Samuel Farrar and Rebecca Parker Farrar on August 7, 1826. After graduating from Amherst in 1850, he studied law for two years, and then took a position as the President of Gilmanton Academy in New Hampshire. In 1856 he moved on to become the chair of Physics and Astronomy at Elmira Female College.
In 1863 Farrar came to Vassar to help oversee the design and construction of the Observatory and the physics and chemistry laboratories and classrooms in Main Building. Matthew Vassar took a great liking to Farrar, often engaging him in conversation for hours. In 1865 Vassar College trustees wooed him away from Elmira, and he took the chair of Chemistry and Physics. While at Vassar, Farrar was well-liked and became famous for his "Sunday lectures" on religion. He married Sarah Harris of Poughkeepsie on June 26, 1872.
While on a visit to Elmira, Farrar met a Miss Mortimer, a retiring professor of Physics and Astronomy at Milwaukee-Downer College. Mortimer, impressed by Farrar, persuaded the trustees of Milwaukee-Downer to offer Farrar her old position. Milo P. Jewett, acquainted with Farrar from his time as Vassar President and Trustee, was now a trustee at Milwaukee Downer, and Farrar accepted the position, leaving Vassar in 1874. He resigned from Milwaukee-Downer in 1889, and died in 1908.
Vassar College Special Collections Biographical File