Thomas Stuart McFarland, soldier, state official, surveyor, and farmer, was born to Ann (Singer) and William McFarland on June 13, 1810, in Lexington, Indiana. The family moved to Louisiana in 1817, where his mother died when he was only seven years old. On May 4, 1830, he moved with his father to Texas. They both fought at Nacogdoches against Col. José de las Piedras; McFarland was an aide to James W. Bullock, commander of the Texas forces. From October 3 to November 14, 1835, he also served in the company of Capt. John English but did not participate in the siege of Bexar. He served in the company of Capt. William Scurlock from July 4, 1836, until October 4, 1836. In 1833 he platted what is now San Augustine. He was chosen lieutenant colonel of the militia there in an election held on February 25, 1837. He was elected to the Texas Senate of the Sixth Congress from Jasper and Jefferson counties and served in Austin from November 1, 1841, to February 5, 1842, and at Houston from June 27 to July 23, 1842. He later served three terms as chief justice of San Augustine County. In 1837–38 he and his father surveyed Belgrade, on the west bank of the Sabine River in what was then Jasper County and later became Newton County. McFarland also surveyed Pendleton and Mondelphia, which was located on the Red River.
On January 14, 1838, he married Elizabeth Wills Eubank, who was living with her family near Nacogdoches at that time. They had ten children. The McFarlands moved to Belgrade in March 1838. They had a plantation, called Cotland, seven miles west of San Augustine, but by 1868 McFarland had gone bankrupt. He later moved inland a few miles from Belgrade and was living in Bleakwood in 1871. He died in May 1880 and was buried there. He kept a handwritten journal from January 1, 1837, until June 10, 1840, which is now in the Ralph Steen Library at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. The journal has been twice published (in 1942 and 1981). Two Texas Centennial historical markers honor McFarland.