Farmer, Edward Disney (1849–1924)

By: David Minor

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 2, 2020

Edward Disney Farmer, real estate developer and philanthropist, was born in 1849 at Ballybrophy, Ireland, the son of an Episcopal minister. After a public school education in England he immigrated to Minnesota and worked in a flour mill until 1875, when he moved to Fort Worth, Texas. He spent the next few years employed as a construction worker for $1.50 a day. Although his income was meager, Farmer managed to save money and invest it in cattle ranching. He moved from Fort Worth to Aledo, a small community in southeast Parker County, to oversee his new investment. Within a few years he had established large spreads in both Parker and Tarrant counties. Using the profits from his cattle business, he began to invest in real estate, which gradually became his main interest. He accumulated large holdings in Fort Worth and in Vancouver, British Columbia, where his nephew had settled. In the early 1920s Farmer returned to Fort Worth, where he lived in the Texas Hotel, a building he helped to finance. By 1920 the value of his real estate holdings in Fort Worth was estimated at $1 million. Farmer was a quiet, soft-spoken bachelor who avoided publicity and preferred to make his extensive charitable donations anonymously. Not until after his death was it revealed that he had given thousands of dollars annually to religious, patriotic, educational, and social-welfare organizations. Both Weatherford College and the University of Texas received sizable sums from his estate. UT established the E. D. Farmer International Scholarship Fund to support an exchange of students between Mexico and Texas. Farmer died on May 29, 1924, of complications following surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was buried in Weatherford, Texas.

Dallas Morning News, May 31, 1924. Gustavus Adolphus Holland, History of Parker County and the Double Log Cabin (Weatherford, Texas: Herald, 1931; rpt. 1937). Malcolm D. McLean, comp. and ed., Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas (19 vols., Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1974–76; Arlington: University of Texas at Arlington Press, 1977–92).

  • Education
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • Peoples
  • Irish
  • Business
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas

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

David Minor, “Farmer, Edward Disney,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 2, 2020

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