McFarland, William (1774–1840)

By: McXie Whitton Martin

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 28, 2020

William McFarland, pioneer surveyor, was born on May 8, 1774, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas and Hannah (Stuart) McFarland. He married Ann Singer, the daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Singer. To the union six children were born, three of whom died young. McFarland became a surveyor and moved in 1799 to Ohio, where he began laying out towns, including an addition to Cincinnati that bears his name. By 1810 he was a resident of Indiana, where he surveyed and laid out Lexington, in Scott County. In 1817 McFarland moved his family to Louisiana; his wife died that year in Monroe. Thirteen years later he moved to Texas with his three children, one of whom, Thomas Stuart McFarland, was also an important early surveyor. The family settled in the Ayish Bayou District in May 1830. With Wyatt Hanks, Frost Thorn, and John M. Durst, McFarland purchased eight leagues of land from the Guerrero grant. He participated in the battle of Nacogdoches on August 2, 1832; in October he represented the Ayish Bayou District at the Convention in San Felipe (see CONVENTION OF 1832); the same year he served on a committee of fifteen to select a site for the town that came to be San Augustine. McFarland was elected alcalde in 1833. In 1836 President Sam Houston appointed him chief justice of the newly organized San Augustine County. He served as the leader of McFarland's Lodge, the third Masonic lodge in Texas, organized on August 13, 1837, and later renamed Redland Lodge No. 3. In 1837 McFarland moved to Belgrade, Newton County, and in 1838 he was a member of the Texas Boundary Commission appointed to determine the line between the United States and the Republic of Texas (see BOUNDARIES). He died on August 16, 1840, at Belgrade.

George L. Crocket, Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; facsimile reprod., 1962). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

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

McXie Whitton Martin, “McFarland, William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 22, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 28, 2020