Barclay, William Anderson (1849–1927)

By: Margaret Barclay Megarity

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1994

William Anderson Barclay was born on December 23, 1849, in Woodville, Texas, the son of Jeremiah Todd and Elizabeth Anne (Rigsby) Barclay. After his father's death and his mother's remarriage, he was reared by his uncle, James Barclay. He left home at the age of sixteen and went to Cameron, where he worked as a store clerk. He married Martha King Ledbetter on February 14, 1871. Shortly afterward he was made a deputy sheriff of Milam County. He continued to work in the store. At night he delivered papers from one county seat to another and was paid fifty dollars a night because of danger from Indians. He also clerked in a Rockdale store before purchasing a mercantile business at Yarrellton in 1873. In 1875 he sold his store and entered the cattle business with his wife's brother-in-law, William Sewell Goodhue Wilson, of Belle Bayou. The Wilson-Barclay cattle were branded with "28" and the Barclay cattle with the brand reversed, "82." Headquarters were established on Little Pond Creek in what is now Falls County. In 1876 Barclay opened a store in Hico, and in 1878 he opened another store near his homestead between Cameron and Waco. His plantation, Crenshaw, eventually comprised 6,000 acres.

Barclay established the first plow factory in Texas and the first cottonseed oil mill in the state; he had invented his own formula for extracting the oil (see COTTONSEED INDUSTRY). He also helped to establish railroads, banks, lumberyards, furniture stores, and general stores. He was president of the Mexican-American Smelting and Refining Company and owned private mines in Mexico. He invented a method of rewashing slag that proved to be extremely profitable. His Mexican mining ventures stopped abruptly when Porfirio Díaz was overthrown. He then turned to copper mines in Arizona and an apple orchard in Oregon. As he grew older he gradually converted his holdings into stocks and bonds. Although he had little formal education, Barclay was an inveterate reader, particularly of Texas history. He died on October 24, 1927, and was buried in Temple.

Lillian S. St. Romain, Western Falls County, Texas (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1951).

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

Margaret Barclay Megarity, “Barclay, William Anderson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994