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FARMER, ALEXANDER

FARMER, ALEXANDER (1794–1878). Alexander Farmer, artisan, soldier, civil servant, and cattle rancher, was born in Argyllshire, Scotland, in 1794. After reserve service in the British navy, he immigrated to Texas, probably from Louisiana, in February 1828 or in 1829; he took the oath of allegiance to the Republic of Mexico on March 27, 1830. In his petition to Juan Antonio Padilla, commissioner general of Coahuila, for a league of land he described himself as "a carpenter...instructed in all matters pertaining to steam engines," citing "the one I have erected in this Colony to produce boards, etc. over the waters of Galveston Bay [for] Messieurs Harris and Wilson." Advertisements in Farmer's name appeared in the Texas Gazette, while extant bills of sale show that Samuel May Williams bought lumber from Farmer in July 1830. On November 23, 1831, Farmer received title to a league of land on Dickinson Bayou, thus joining Stephen F. Austin's coast (or fourth) colony.

In 1831 Farmer married Edith Little (Lytle), daughter of John W. Little (whose own league of land, located at the mouth of Dickinson Bay, was granted on January 23, 1832); they had seven children. At the convention held in San Felipe from April 1 to 13, 1833, Farmer represented the Mina District. For an undetermined period he was among several guards Austin engaged for his protection. On June 22, 1835, Farmer joined John W. Moore and others in the "San Felipe Pledge," which led to the expedition against Anahuac that month (part of the Anahuac Disturbancesqv). On September 16 he entered the volunteer army of Texas as a second lieutenant of artillery in Col. James W. Fannin's regiment, which was in the unit commanded by Lt. Col. James C. Neill; Neill personally signed Farmer's certificate of honorable discharge on December 16, 1836. These documents support the family tradition that Farmer fought in the battle of San Jacinto.

After Texas independence, Farmer settled in Galveston, where in 1841 he was elected justice of the peace for Precinct 5, a post to which he was reelected for over ten years. On November 15, 1856, he purchased from Harvey N. Little 458 acres in the William P. Kerr survey and moved from Galveston to what was to become the community of Paige in Bastrop County. The log house he built on this property in 1858 still stands. By 1860 he was in the cattle business; a letter to John Grant Tod, Sr., on September 11 offers 200 "first class cattle" for sale to the Tod beef-packing establishment at Dickinson, with the addendum that "a good many more" cattle were available.

After the death of Edith Farmer in 1867, Alexander divided his estate, including over 1,000 cattle and from 75 to 100 horses, all "running in the range at Bastrop." Farmer died in 1878 and was buried beside his wife in the family graveyard two miles east of Paige. On July 22, 1871, the Farmers initiated a pension claim based on their father's service in the revolutionary army of Texas. On March 31, 1887, in "An Act for the Relief of the Heirs of Alexander Farmer, Deceased," the Texas legislature acknowledged Alexander Farmer's contributions to Texas by awarding his heirs certificates for one headright, one donation, and one bounty in three separate counties for a total of two-thirds of a league, one full labor, and more than 1,300 additional acres of land. House Bill No. 463 was the last such act passed by the legislature of Texas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Doris Goerner Laake, The History of Paige, Texas and Vicinity (Austin: Eakin Press, 1983). Virginia H. Taylor, The Spanish Archives of the General Land Office of Texas (Austin: Lone Star, 1955). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Villamae Williams, Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families (Nacogdoches, Texas: Ericson, 1984).

Norman Kittrell Farmer, Jr.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Norman Kittrell Farmer, Jr., "FARMER, ALEXANDER," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffa09), accessed July 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.