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Texas McFarlands: A Record of the first MacFarlane settlers in the Republic of Texas

TEXAS MCFARLANDS

Mary Helen Haines ©2017

Texas was part of the Spanish Empire in the 1500s, but sparsely populated by Spaniards even as late as the 1800s.  Virginia native Moses Austin proposed a scheme to the Spanish colonial government to recruit and settle families from the United States. Events in Europe provoked the colonials of New Spain to revolt and declare their independence in 1821; Texas was now part of Mexico.

Moses Austin passed away, but his son Stephen won approval to carry out his father’s plan and settled 300 families by 1824. These settlers were given land grants in two amounts: a sitio, 4428 acres for stock-raising, and a labor, 177 acres for farming. Among the “Old Three Hundred,” as they came to be known, were two McFarlans: Aechilles McFarlan (1 sitio in Brazoria County, and 1 and ½ labor in Waller County), and John McFarlan (1 ¼ sitio and 1 labor in Waller County), both on the Brazos River. There were also several Rabb families in Wharton, Ft. Bend, Fayette and Matagordo counties, as well as many Williams families. This land was rich bottomland along the lower Colorado and Brazos rivers, near modern-day Houston.

 

Achilles and John McFarlan are considered the first settlers of San Filipe de Austin, the unofficial capital of Austin’s colony. They built their cabin at the Atascosito Crossing of the Brazos River as early as May 1823, and John McFarlan was judge at the alcalde (mayor) election of Dec. 1823. He was given the right to operate the ferry at San Felipe, and was listed in the 1826 census as a single man, over 50, a farmer and a stock-raiser who owned 5 slaves. However, he died before Dec. 1826 and his estate was not large enough to cover his debts.

According to the Texas State Historical Association, John was the older brother of Achilles. Achilles McFarlan had a wife, four sons, two daughters, and two servants in the 1826 census and was shown to be between 25 and 40 years old.  He died around 1837 in Brazoria County; his wife Mary was made an administrator of his estate that included 100+ cattle when the inventory was completed. 

Achilles and John were born in North Carolina to James McFarlan and wife Margaret. The family moved to Tennessee by 1788 where they lived in what became Montgomery County, and where father James died in 1797. By 1811 some of the sons had moved to what is today Hardin County, Illinois. Brother James B. McFarlan and wife Elizabeth Stuart McFarlan built McFarlan’s Tavern in 1812 at the ferry crossing. The town Elizabethtown, named after his wife, grew up around the Tavern, which today is the historic, and supposedly haunted, Rose Hotel.

Achilles had married Polly (Mary) Eubanks in 1814 in Gallatin Co., Illinois, and the family was in the 1820 census in Monroe township, Pope County, Illinois with 2 boys and 2 girls under 10. (Pope was formed from Gallatin in 1816 and became Hardin in 1839).

Following later Texas census records, it appears that one of Achilles’ sons was named Marvel and one daughter was Elvira, both born in Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois in 1815 and 1817 respectively. In the 1850 census widow Mary McFarland and son Marvel are in Harris County. Mary McFarland, age 54, born in TN, is living with the Earl family and next door is Marvel with wife Eleonora and sons John 4 and Killarion (Achilles) 2. Then in 1860, M. McFarland and Elvira Earl are in the 1860 census in Jackson County, TX, living next to each other. It is this census record that reveals their births in Shawneetown.

Marvel has two sons, John 13, and Achiels (Achilles) 11, born in TX. By this time, Marvel had married a new wife, Elizabeth Davis from Tennessee. In the 1850 census, she was living with her mother in Jackson County a few doors down from two McFarlands: John McFarland born 1800 in NC, and Bartholomew McFarland born 1830 in NC, who appears to be his son. It is likely that Marvel is related to this John and met his future wife on a visit after his first wife’s death; however, I have not been able to find this John or Bartholomew in other records.

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Mexico was trying to find its footing in establishing a Republic and things became more chaotic as more settlers poured into Texas from the United States. Eventually, the Anglos and Tejanos of Texas territory decided to separate from Mexico and declared their independence March 2, 1836. McFarlands who were members of the Regular Texas Army included Dugald McFarland, 2nd Lt. Co. A, 1st Regt. Artillery stationed at Camp Independence, William and A. J. McFarland both in 1st Regt. Infantry headquartered at Camp Johnson. Other McFarlands include J.W.B. McFarland in Co. B of 1st Regt. Volunteers who was on the San Jacinto list, James P. McFarland of the Washington County Volunteers, Thomas S. McFarland, Captain of the Volunteers from San Augustine Company, and his younger brother Samuel P. McFarland. After defeating Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto April 21, 1836, a flood of new immigrants came to join the new Republic of Texas.

 

 

The settlers present before the Texas declaration of independence (March 2, 1836) were given the largest grants: 1st Class grants of 4428.40 acres to married men, and 1102.1 acres to single men. There were four McFarlands who qualified for the earliest Texas Republic grants: Dugald McFarlane, who received a Title grant in October, 1830, Pat. #81, for 4428.40 acres in Matagorda County, William McFarland, who received Pat. #339 for 4428.40 acres in 1835 in Jefferson County, and his sons Thomas Stuart McFarland who received Pat. #335 for 1443.62 acres in Newton County, and Samuel P. McFarland, who received Pat. #1305 for 1107.10 acres in Angelina County; and James P. McFarland, who was given Patent #421 in 1841 for 4428.40 acres in Fayette County in central Texas.

Dugald McFarlane is a very early arrival to Texas. Dugald was born in Scotland in 1797, arrived in South Carolina in 1815, married in Alabama to Eliza Davenport and then came to Texas in 1830. Here is his arrival document to Steven F. Austin.

He signed the Goliad Declaration of Independence in 1835, served as Captain of Artillery during the Texas Revolution, served in the Congress of 1844, and fought in the Mexican War in 1846. He was listed as a school teacher in the 1850 census in Brazoria County; in 1860 he was living in Matagorda County, working as the postmaster, living with his daughter Eureka Theall and family. He died in 1861 and is buried in West Columbia, Brazoria County.

William McFarland was born in 1774 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Thomas (born 1745) and Hannah Stuart McFarland, also born in PA. It is believed that Thomas is the grandson of Daniel McFarland, immigrant ancestor from Ireland, who died in 1752 in New Britain, Lancaster County. The family migrated through Ohio (1799), Indiana (1810), and then made their way to Baton Rouge in the Louisiana Territory, where Thomas died in 1818. William and his sons, Thomas Stuart and Samuel Patterson McFarland born in 1810 and 1818 in Indiana moved across the Sabine River into Texas territory by 1829, when they appear in the tax rolls. William and Thomas joined a militia that fought against the Mexican army in the Battle of Nacogdoches in 1832, which many consider the beginning of the Texas Revolution. William also served as chief justice for the newly formed San Augustine County. He died in 1840 in Belgrade, Newton County, and Thomas spent the rest of his life in the area, where he was a farmer, a merchant, and a judge. He was elected to the Texas Senate in 1841 and 1842. Later he served as chief justice of San Augustine County as his father had. Sammie P. appeared in the 1850 census, living with his Thomas’ family and working as a schoolmaster, but he died in 1859. Thomas lived until 1880, He was married to Elizabeth Eubank in 1838 and had 10 children.

James P. (Paul) McFarland was the eldest son of James and Margaret Dial McFarland, born in 1812 in Newberry Co. South Carolina.  The elder James was born in 1789 in Ireland. Other sons include John Dial McFarland and Samuel Jackson McFarland, born in South Carolina, then as the family began migrating west; David Montgomery McF. born 1824 in either Alabama or Mississippi, then Thomas Alexander McF. (1826), Jeremiah Dial McF. (1828), and George William McF. (1830) in Alabama.  James P. had married in Emmaline Pyle in Sumter County Alabama in 1835, then came to Texas with his father-in-law John Pyle and enlisted in the Washington County Volunteers. By 1840, James P. is living in Montgomery Co. TX.  His father and siblings arrived before the 1850 census and settled in different parts of the state. Father James, with sons David, Thomas, and Jeremiah, were living in DeWitt County.  James P. had moved to Henderson County and John Dial McF. was in Montgomery County. Father James died in 1852 in DeWitt, as did mother Margaret in 1868. James P. died in 1854 in Kaufman County and was the first burial in what is today called the Pyle Prairie Cemetery.

Second class grants of 1280 acres were given to married settlers who arrived in Texas between March 2, 1836 and October 1, 1837. Married men could receive 1280 acres and  single men 640 acres. In this class were my ancestors James McFarland, born 1795 in Jefferson Co., TN (1280 acres in Fannin Co., Pat. #65), his son Jackson McFarland, born 1817 in Ste. Genevieve, MO (two 320 acre patents in Fannin Co. Pat. #73).

 

   

 Portraits of James and son Jackson McFarland much later in life

They were descendants of Robert McFarland who died in 1751 in Lancaster Co. PA. You can read more about this family here: http://www.clanmacfarlane.org/public_html/Genealogical-Histories/chapter-six-mcfarlands-in-texas.html

Other early arrivals were Jacob McFarland who was granted 640 acres in Bowie Co. (Pat. #4), Samuel McFarland granted 640 acres in Collin County (Pat. #57), W.Y. McFarland with a Military 2nd Class patent for 320 acres in Coryell Co., William M. McFarland with 640 acres in Leon Co., and John E. McFarland with a Military 3rd Class grant for 640 acres in Bosque County.

Jacob McFarland, born 1798 in Washington County, PA, settled in Bowie County, TX and received the 1844 land grant mentioned above. Jacob went on to acquire multiple land grants in Bowie County totally 1810 acres. These were issued by the railroad or as scrip based on money or labor he lent to the new government. He died before the 1870 census, but his widow and children were living with son Abel McFarland in the 1870 census. Another Pennsylvania native was Samuel H. McFarland, born in 1822 in PA and living in Harrison Co. TX, just south of Bowie Co. on the border with Louisiana. I believe Samuel H. is another son of Jacob. Samuel H. held several land patents in Bowie County totaling 1972 acres. He was married to Ann R. Hawkins and in 1860 S.H. and family were living in Marion Co. where his occupation was listed as a steam miller for lumber with land valued at $28,000 and personal property valued at $35,000. The person property included 30 slaves. He died before the 1870 census and his two children were then raised by relatives. These Texas pioneers can be traced back to Daniel McFarland who arrived in Worcester Co. Massachusetts in 1718.

Samuel McFarland, born 1814 in Ireland, settled in Fannin County by 1837, where he married Designa Kerr, daughter of Robert Kerr from Tennessee.  They had several sons: Yelverton, born 1839, Joseph born 1844, and John Franklin, born 1857. It is unknown how Samuel might be related to the other McFarlands in Fannin County By 1880 he was living in Wichita Falls, Texas. By 1900 there were 5 different lines of McFarlands living in this area. It is also hard to know which Samuel McFarland owned the 640 acres in Collin County granted in 1845, because there is no Samuel there by 1850. Living nearby in the 1850 census is James O. McFarland, born in 1827 in Tennessee. He has been incorrectly linked with various families. The only certainty is that he states his father was born in Ireland, so I believe he could be related to Samuel, maybe a nephew.

W.Y. McFarland is Wilson Yandell McFarland, born in 1809 in Smith Co. Tennessee to Lewis S. McFarland, son of Daniel McFarland, born 1746, who lived in Caswell Co. North Carolina.  W.Y. earned his law degree in TN in 1836, came to Texas after independence was won and set up his practice in Washington County. He purchased several land grants, including a 1st class grant of 4428 acres in Bell County, where he moved his law practice and lived till his death in 1872. W.Y. father’s half-brother David W. McFarland, born 1791 in NC, moved to Gonzales County TX from Lincoln Co. MO by the 1860 census and was listed as a carpenter. He owned no land, but had personal property worth $11,200. The census revealed that he owned 14 slaves, which accounts for that wealth. David died before the 1870 census, but his son John Walter McFarland, born 1832 in Missouri, was in Texas until 1885 when by moved to New Mexico.

John W.B. McFarland was present by 1836 and on the San Jacinto list of men serving in the 1st Regiment, however, he must have joined the fight after the Declaration of Independence on March 2nd, because his land grants were not 1st class. In the 1850 census, he can be found in Refugio County, showing that he was born in Scotland in 1804.  He was a single man, working as a clerk. He was given a certificate for 1476.13 acres, a Bexar 2nd class land grant in what became Kinney County along the Rio Grande. He never patented it. He also acquired two patents, Pat. #621 for 960 acres in Fisher County and Pat. #254 for 817 acres in Jones County on July 18, 1853. These were investments; this territory was inhabited by nomadic Kiowa and Comanche tribes and part of Bexar County at the time. In fact, Robert E. Lee led an exploratory and punitive expedition to the area in 1856 and most of the patents there were issued to railroad companies.

William M. McFarland, and John E. McFarland are not present in the grant counties by the 1850 census. There was a lot of land speculation happening in these early years and it would take research into those county land deeds to discover what happened to those land grants.

Another McFarlane who was present during the Republic years in Austin was Alexander Calvin MacFarlane, born 1818 in Lee County Virginia to John Stewart and Elizabeth Campbell MacFarlane, prominent citizens of Virginia. John Stewart MacFarlane came to America from Scotland, married the daughter of Arthur Campbell, practiced law in Lee County and was the father to 12 children. The parents died in 1838-1839, and the children scattered, with A. C. coming to Texas by 1841. He was a judge in Travis County and his name appears on many documents of people filing claims with the Republic. He married Elizabeth Humphreys and fathered two children before his death in 1843. His widow and children moved to Mississippi by the 1850 census, then returned to Texas and filed for 3rd Class land claims (for those present from Oct. 1, 1837 to Jan. 1, 1840) in the name of “Heirs of Alexander C. McFarlane.” Two patents were granted, 160 acres each in Young and Cooke counties. However Alex C. McFarlane Jr. lived in Jackson and Calhoun counties, along the coast. Alex C. Jr. served in the Civil War, in Yager’s 1st Mounted Rifles and then was working as a “const Boatman” in Calhoun County in the 1870 census. He died early, like his father, in 1872.

The 1850 census makes clear that many other families made their way to Texas after 1837.

Descendants of Duncan McFarland from Bath County, Virginia found their way to Texas. In Lamar County was Robert (Bob, or B.L.) Larkin McFarlane, born 1813 in VA and his brother Washington, born 1819 in TN, sons of Joseph McFarlane, son of Robert Henry McFarland. Living with them is a two year old Joseph L. (Larkin) McFarlane, born in Texas.  Another son of Robert Henry McFarland, William Monroe McFarland, who died in Warren Co. TN in 1840, left behind his widow, Christian Price McFarlane, who moved to Jasper County, near the Louisiana border, with their children, including Robert C. McFarlane by 1848. Robert’s brother, William P. McFarlane, born 1817 in TN, moved to Hopkins Co. TX where he died in 1858.

In Harris County (present-day Houston area), William McFarland, born 1811 in Ireland, was living with his wife Rosanna Arbray, born 1834 in Germany, who he married in Harris Co. the year before. It is not clear if he is the same William W. McFarlan who filed a claim with the Republic for reimbursement for services as a Mid-Shipman in the Navy, or the William McFarlane who was a member of Capt. James Ornsby’s Company in 1842, or the William McFarland who was in Capt. McCaskey’s Company of the Regular Infantry in 1837.  

More descendants of Robert McFarland of Lancaster PA made their way to Texas before 1850. Isaac Barton McFarland, born in 1819 in Jefferson County TN to Robert and Hannah Barton McFarland, married to Adeline George in 1845 in Cooper County MO, arrived in Texas for the birth of their oldest son, Robert in 1846. I.B.  lived in Fayette Co. TX where he practiced law and served as a legislator to the Republic and later as a district judge. A first cousin of I.B., James McFarland born in 1805 in Jefferson TN also, lived in Wood County TX by the 1860 census.

Samuel Arthur McFarland, born 1800 in Cocke County TN, had moved to Lafayette County Missouri with his father George in the early years. Samuel was a first cousin to James McFarland of Fannin County Texas, and a second cousin once removed to Isaac Barton McFarland mentioned above. In 1850 the family was in Milam & Williamson, which became Burnet County, just northwest of Austin, where he died in 1861. Some of his descendants continue to live there today, and his son Dr. George Jackson McFarland’s home is still standing.

Dr. McFarland practiced medicine in this home in Burnet

Another McFarland discovery in the 1850 census was found down in the Rio Grande Valley. The county was lumped together as Cameron, Starr, and Webb. There was Fanny McFarland, 46, mulatto, born in Virginia, set free in 1835, and Martha McFarland, 20, mulatto, born in Texas, set free in 1839. Fanny petitioned the Republic of Texas in 1840 to allow her to remain here as a free black. She stated she was brought to San Felipe de Austin in 1827 by William McFarland, Esq. and then was set free in 1835. However, during the Mexican invasion, she was driven from her home by the Mexican army and lost all her belongings. She came to Houston in 1837 to be where her four children held as slaves were living. Her petition was granted; however, as the 1850 census showed, she moved close to the Mexican border.

There were two Knox men who acquired early land patents in Texas. James Knox acquired 640 acres in Cherokee County with two 3rd class grants in 1852. William Knox acquired two patents in Harrison County in 1859 and 1860 totaling 612.94 acres.

Thomas J. Robb purchased part of a Bexar 1st class grant in Uvalde in 1847. James Robb purchased three patents in 1854 from Nathan Johnson in Cherokee County totaling 1475 acres.

Other Sept names include Richard and Z.B. Miller who came to Lamar County by 1841, Solomon Miller to San Augustine in 1842. Then James Miller in 1841 to Williamson County with a Military 1st class patent for 1476 acres, and M. Miller who received a 1st class patent in Guadalupe County for 1476 acres. Benjamin Miller received a 2nd class patent for 640 acres in Rusk County, and John Miller had two 3rd class patents for 160 acres each in Fannin County.

All in all, the MacFarlane clan was well represented in the Texas’ earliest years!

Sources:

Census, Deed and Probate Records available through www.Ancestry.com

Elizabethtown Rose Hotel: http://www.emporia.edu/~delmottp/McFarlanCemetery.html

Texas State Library and Archives Commission: Republic of Texas Claims is a great source of information on settlers during the Republic, their military service and other claims they made to the Republic: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/apps/arc/repclaims/  also men who served: https://tshaonline.org/supsites/military/rep_nm04.htm

Texas State Historical Association On-line Handbook

Achilles McFarland: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc50

John McFarlan: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc51

William McFarland: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc54

Thomas Stuart McFarland:  https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc53

Dugald MacFarlane: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fma05 

The Conquest of Texas by Gary Clayton Anderson, 2005

 “The Old Three Hundred: A List of Settlers in Austin’s First Colony” by Lester G. Bugbee, 1897 as published by the The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Vol. 1, No. 2

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