Bill McFarland is a native of Kansas. His interest in the Civil War may have begun with a family legend that claims that one of his ancestors founded the town of Gettysburg PA. Mr. McFarland is descended from men who served in Union regiments from Iowa, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Nebraska. Other ancestors ran a station on the Underground Railroad in Ohio.
Mr. McFarland did his undergraduate work in Geneva College in Pennsylvania and Washburn University in Topeka, majoring in history and secondary education. He holds a Masters degree from Emporia State University and has taught in the public school system for over 30 years. He lives in Topeka KS.
Mr. McFarland has been a Civil War re-enactor for more than 15 years and belongs to a unit that portrays the 8th Kansas Infantry. He has spoken on many occasions on men's experiences in the 8th Kansas Infantry.
2015 Kansas Master Teacher Award Winner
The following article about Mr. McFarland is from the Emporia State University website:
Bill McFarland, 2015 Kansas Master Teacher
Seventh-Grade Social Studies Teacher
Washburn Rural Middle School
USD 437 Auburn Washburn
After nearly 40 years in the classroom, Bill McFarland has a concise teaching philosophy. “In a nutshell,” he wrote, “my philosophy of teaching is know your stuff, be enthusiastic, treat everyone with respect, be flexible and have fun.”
And McFarland is committed to sharing his philosophy and experience with future teachers. He has supervised more than a dozen student teachers and scores of education majors have observed his classroom. “I have learned from great educators and hope to pass on the very best I have to offer,” states McFarland.
McFarland earned a bachelor’s degree in history and education from Washburn University in 1977 and a master’s degree in educational administration from Emporia State University in 1986. His entire career has been in the Auburn Washburn school district, teaching at Auburn Junior High, Auburn Middle School and Jay Shideler Middle School before moving to Washburn Rural Middle School in 1990. He teaches seventh-grade Kansas history and geography. He is a former football coach and currently is a wrestling coach.
Parents and former students tell of McFarland’s ability to bring history alive in class. A Civil War re-enactor, McFarland wears his uniform to class and brings in relics to share.
Many of these stories come from McFarland’s dedication to research. During his summers, he spends time at the National Archives and Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as well as Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields in the eastern United States.
Some of McFarland’s students create projects for History Day competition even after they leave his class.
“Last year at National History Day in Washington, D.C., he surprised me by coming to watch my presentation,” a former student wrote.
McFarland’s love of history and sharing it with others extends beyond the classroom. Author of the book Keep the Flag to the Front, The Story of the 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry, McFarland is a frequent guest at civic organizations and other classrooms besides his own.
“Mr. McFarland has touched the hearts and minds of countless students. … My life has been enhanced on an academic and personal level due to Mr. McFarland’s passion, devotion and love for history and teaching,” writes a former student. “I am so honored to have had him as a teacher.”
Keep the Flag to the Front: The Story of the Eighth Kansas Volunteer Infantry
The Amazon website has the following description of Mr. McFarland's book that was published in 2008:
"A riveting new biography about the American Civil War, Keep the Flag to the Front documents a long-overlooked topic of this war: the history of one regiment, the Eighth Volunteer Infantry in Kansas. The story behind the 8th Kansas is one that could be a novel; and the research done by author Bill McFarland is amazing in its detail. Plus McFarland tracked down photographs that have never been published. The book includes over 140 photographs and illustrations, including nearly 60 images of the men who served in the regiment.
"The 8th Kansas Volunteer Infantry, known as the Kansas Greyhounds, was organized in 1861 as a Home Guard unit but was soon ordered east. Ironically, when it was mustered out in January of 1866, this regiment that had been recruited with the guarantee that it would serve solely within the boundaries of Kansas, had traveled 10,750 miles! The 8th skirmished with forces led by the notorious guerrilla William Quantrill. It participated in such battles as Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, the Atlanta Campaign, and Nashville. It was also the last Kansas regiment to be discharged after the war ended."