McFarland Cemetery, Fannin County
Prepared by Mary Helen Haines, 2002
Texas had just won its independence from Mexico in march, 1836 and the new republic was a prime place to find new, cheap land. The new government proclaimed that heads of families who arrived in the Texas Republic by October 1837 would make a Class 2 claim of 1280 acres (two square miles). Our ancestor James M. McFarland arrived in September 1837, moving here from St. Francois Co., Missouri, with his wife, Jane Jackson McFarland, and eleven of their children. Their eldest son, A. Jackson, just turned 20 and single, was allowed to claim 320 acres at this time. James' land was just north of the North Sulphur River on gently rolling hills. Jackson's was just south of the river, in what became Fannin County in 1838. In 1838, James and A. Jackson were granted citizenship by the Republic of Texas and both formally received their land grants in 1845, the last year of the Republic. Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic, signed the grants. Jackson received another 320 acres at that time.
Because of the danger of Indian attacks, the McFarlands spent some time living in Ft. Lyday, a nearby fort along with other early settlers. Jackson McFarland was present at several attacks, including the one where Daniel Davis died. One story that has been passed down is that several Indians and McFarlands died in an Indian raid on the early land grant. When the Indians returned to gather their dead, they had already been buried in what is known to us today as the McFarland Cemetery. The Indians therefore announced a truce with the McFarlands because the 'dead were buried with the dead." These were the first McFarlands to die on Texas soil. The oldest marked grave that can still be seen is the grave of William McFarland, a son of James and Jane who died in 1852 at age 17. Thee are two other missing McFarland young men that cannot be accounted for, and may possibly be in graves at this site as well. The cemetery is in the southeast corner of the land grant, just north of the Sulphur River. Tucked in the middle of pastureland is a small grove of trees that form a shaded canopy for the gravesites. It is a beautiful, restful spot, cooled by breezes even on a hot July day.
James McFarland is considered one of the founders of the town of Ladonia in 1840, a community that was established just south of his property. He was one of the area's justices of the peace in the early years. The McFarland family and its descendants have had ties with the town throughout its history. James died October 18, 1871, at 76 years of age. His wife, Jane, died the following year on May 14, 1872, 71 years old.
On July 6, 1861, J. McFarland, age 43, enlisted in Capt. John W. Piner's Company in Honey Grove. The only McFarland in Fannin Co., whose age corresponds is Jackson. Jackson served again for the Texas State Troops in 1864, verified by a document he kept granting leave. He also did what many Texas farmers did during the war; grow wheat and corn for the Confederacy, which he was paid for in Confederate promissory notes.
After the war ended, slowly things began to recover in the 1870s. Jackson applied for membership to the local Masonic Lodge in 1867, and his tombstone is inscribed with the Masonic system. The Jackson McFarland Co. Department Store was established in Ladonia in 1877 and continued to be operated by descendants until 1925. In July, 1879, Jackson and wife Artemissa became charter members of the Oak Ridge Church of Christ near Ladonia, on land donated by the Hulsey family from territory that also had been part of the original land grant.
Jackson McFarland died August 14, 1883 and was buried near his parents in the McFarland Cemetery. Artemissa died July 6, 1907, sixty-eight years old, and joined her husband and in-laws at the McFarland cemetery. Another McFarland monument in the graveyard is Jackson's younger brother Arthur Rodney, another Civil war veteran.
Even though land surrounding the graveyard has been sold outside the family, the graveyard is maintained through arrangements by a trust. Throughout its history, McFarland descendants both near and far have maintained an interest in the site of their forefathers and make trips over the pastureland, through the fences perimeter to see the sites of their graves. Curious cattle can always be seen at the fenced edges, probably wishing they could be resting in the shade as well.
James M. McFarland moved to this area from Missouri in 1837 with his wife, Jane Jackson McFarland, and eleven children. He received 1,280 acres of land. Son A. Jackson McFarland, age 20, was given his own 320 acres, with an additional 320 acres when the two men formally received their land grants in 1845. Family lore holds that during an Indian raid on the McFarland property, the family and the Native Americans suffered casualties. When members of the Indian party returned to retrieve their dead, they found the McFarlands had buried them alongside their own, so they called for a truce. These were reportedly the first burials at the McFarland Cemetery. The earliest marked grave is that of William McFarland, a son of James and Jane who died in 1852. There are
possibly other unmarked graves at the cemetery, which lies in the southeast corner of the McFarland land grant.
McFarland was a founder of the town of Ladonia, where Jackson opened a store in 1877. Jackson and his wife, Artemissa, were charter members of the Oak Ridge Church of Christ. The family name, significant in area history, is preserved and commemorated in this cemetery, maintained by a trust and descendants.
Location: Located in Ladonia, about one mile northwest of Hwy 34 and south of CR 3375.