XIT Ranch




 

 

JOHN V. FARWELL John V. Farwell (1825-1908), wholesale dry goods merchant and member of the Capitol Syndicate, was born at Painted Post in Steuben County, New York, on July 29, 1825. He was the third of five children born to Henry and Nancy (Jackson) Farwell, who made their living by farming and shipping lumber. In 1838, when John was thirteen, the family moved to Ogle County, Illinois, and settled in the Rock River valley near the town of Oregon. There John spent the remainder of his youth; he and his brothers helped build the family home, which often served as a local meeting house on Sundays. In 1845, after graduating from Mount Morris Seminary, John went to Chicago, where his older brother had moved the year before. After working briefly for the city, he became a bookkeeper for the Hamilton and Day dry goods firm, with which he remained for four years. On April 16, 1849, he married Abigail Gates Taylor. She died on May 9, 1851, a month after giving birth to their daughter. In the meantime, Farwell had joined the firm of Wadsworth and Phelps (later Cooley, Wadsworth, and Company), of which he was made general manager. In 1854 he married Emeret Cooley, a sister of a business associate; they had three sons and a daughter. In 1862 the firm became known as Cooley, Farwell, and Company, then in 1865, after he took it over, John V. Farwell and Company. Marshall Field, Potter Palmer, Levi Z. Leiter, and S. N. Kellogg were numbered among Farwell's partners at one time or another, and the Farwell Company was for many years Chicago's leading dry goods store. Unlike his brother and partner Charles, who helped form the Republican party and later served in both houses of Congress, John Farwell rarely participated in politics; however, he was an elector for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. In 1869 he was appointed a commissioner for Indian Affairs by President Ulysses S. Grant. He was a devout Methodist who headed the Chicago branch of the United States Christian Commission during the Civil War and was a leading friend and supporter of Dwight L. Moody's ministry. Farwell helped build the First Methodist Church in Chicago and was also a zealous supporter of the Young Men's Christian Association; he donated land in downtown Chicago for the first YMCA building. Farwell entered the Texas cattle-ranching scene in 1882, when, as a leading member of the Capitol Syndicate, he helped finance the building of the new Capitol in Austin. Both he and Charles were directors of the Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company, organized in London in 1885 to handle the land that became the XIT Ranch. In addition, he was for a time managing director of the XIT. In that position, Farwell spent some time at the ranch, where he occasionally held church services for the employees; his nephew Walter erected a summer residence near Channing that served as the new XIT headquarters. Farwell died on August 20, 1908, and was interred in Chicago. Even after ceasing cattle operations in 1912, the Farwell estate continued ownership of XIT properties in the form of a trust known as the Capitol Reservation Lands, organized in 1915. This trust remained in existence until the last of the Panhandle properties was sold. The family also maintained the dry goods business in Chicago until 1926, when it was sold to Carson, Pirie, and Company. Two towns in Texas were named for Farwell.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Cordia Sloan Duke and Joe B. Frantz, 6,000 Miles of Fence: Life on the XIT Ranch of Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). Abby Farwell Ferry, Reminiscences of John V. Farwell (Chicago: Seymour, 1928). J. Evetts Haley, The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado (Chicago: Lakeside, 1929; rpts., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953, 1967). James D. Hamlin, The Flamboyant Judge: As Told to J. Evetts Haley and William Curry Holden (Canyon, Texas: Palo Duro, 1972). Parmer County Historical Society, A History of Parmer County (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1974).

 

FARWELL, TEXAS (Parmer County) Farwell, the county seat of Parmer County, is at the junction of U.S. highways 60 and 84, on the New Mexico state line in the southwestern part of the county. The townsite was located at the point where the Pecos Valley and Northern Texas Railway entered New Mexico, on land originally part of the XIT Ranch. R. H. Kemp established a lumber company nearby in 1904. The site, named for the brothers Charles B. and John V. Farwell, who headed the Capitol Syndicate, was surveyed in 1905. Farwell was made headquarters for the company's resident representative, James D. Hamlin, and its land commissioner, F. W. Wilsey. Almost immediately several substantial buildings were constructed: a large brick warehouse for R. C. Hopping and the Robertson brothers, who operated a grocery store in Texico; a group of brick stores and offices known as the "Hamlin Brick"; and later the Farwell Inn, a three-story brick hotel. A Congregational church built in 1907 doubled as a public school until separate facilities were built in 1910. A post office was established in 1906. Farwell supplanted Parmerton as county seat when Parmer County was organized in 1907; Hamlin was elected county judge. In 1908 the First National Bank of Farwell was chartered, and the Santa Fe Railroad established a freight depot, warehouse, and coalyard on the Texas side. B. F. Fears started publication of the State Line Tribune by 1910, when Farwell's population had grown to more than 800 and the town had begun to rival Texico and Clovis, New Mexico, as a railroad shipping center. The citizens had voted to incorporate in 1907, but Farwell was disincorporated and the bank closed in 1910 when city funds became badly depleted. The bank was rechartered in 1912 as the Texas State Bank of Farwell. Farwell grew while real estate developers continued to parcel off XIT lands and attract more settlers. A permanent courthouse was erected in 1917. That year C. A. Roberson sought to establish an automobile and tire manufacturing plant, but that scheme folded when he was jailed for selling fraudulent stock. By the mid-1920s the town had modern utilities, and further improvements were made on the waterworks by 1930. In 1950, with a population of 1,250, the town voted once again to incorporate and established a mayor-commission government. A medical clinic was built in 1955, and a year later a volunteer fire department was organized. The last thirty-nine acres of XIT Ranch land in Farwell was sold in 1963. The industries that serve modern agriculture in Farwell include a fertilizer plant, an irrigation pipe plant, several feedlot operations, and four grain elevators with a total storage capacity of more than six million bushels. The town has five churches. By 1960 the population was just over 1,000, and by 1967 Farwell supported more than ninety businesses. The annual Border Town Days is held the last weekend in July. The population in Farwell increased from 1,185 in 1970 to 1,354 by 1985 and 1,373 by 1990.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: James D. Hamlin, The Flamboyant Judge: As Told to J. Evetts Haley and William Curry Holden (Canyon, Texas: Palo Duro, 1972). Parmer County Historical Commission, Prairie Progress (Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Parmer County Historical Society, A History of Parmer County (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1974).

 

FARWELL, TEXAS (Hansford County) Farwell, in the center of Hansford County about three miles east of what later became Gruver, was established in 1880 by the Canott family of Illinois and was the first town in the county. Water was supplied to the settlement by a hand-dug well 200 feet deep. Like Farwell in Parmer County, the Hansford County community was named for John V. Farwell, a Chicago merchant and a principal in the Capitol Syndicate, which built the present Capitolqv building in Austin. The county's first newspaper, the Farwell Graphic, was established in Farwell, which at one time also had a livery stable, store, hotel, saloon, and butcher shop. A post office was established there in 1887 but was moved to Hansford in 1894. Farwell rapidly fell into oblivion after 1889, when it lost a county seat election to Hansford.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). Dotty Jones, A Search for Opportunity: A History of Hansford County (Gruver, Texas: Jones, 1965).

 

CAPITOL FREEHOLD LAND AND INVESTMENT COMPANY

 

The Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company, Limited, was incorporated in London, England, late in the fall of 1884 with an authorized capital of $15 million. It was organized by John V. Farwell to raise finances to stock the XIT Ranch and to meet its tremendous operating expenses. Wealthy English bond buyers like the Earl of Aberdeen and Henry Seton-Karr were shareholders in the investment company but not in the ranch, which was operated by the Capitol Syndicate under John and Charles B. Farwell, Amos C. Babcock, and Abner Taylor. By the late 1890s the British investors had begun clamoring for the redemption of their bonds, and the syndicate began its gradual selling of the XIT properties. The Farwell estate completed the redemption of most of these bonds to the Englishmen's satisfaction in 1909, and the investment company ceased to exist. The final account payment and dissolution of the company came in 1915. The remaining interest went to the Farwell heirs, who set up the Capitol Reservation Lands as a trust, and to shareholders in this country.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Evetts Haley, The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado (Chicago: Lakeside, 1929; rpts., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953, 1967). William D. Mauldin, History of Dallam County, Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). Lewis Nordyke, Cattle Empire: The Fabulous Story of the 3,000,000 Acre XIT (New York: Morrow, 1949. rpt., New York: Arno Press, 1977).

 

 

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John Mote email: jmote@mail.utexas.edu
www: http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/
voice: (512) 471-9436 fax: (512) 471-0587

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