Scattered in a wooded area from the main Farquhar family cemetery are the burials of ancestors of a large Washington County African American descendant enclave.
At the time James Lockhart Farquhar and his wife, Huldah Wells, made their move from Mississippi to Texas, Huldah’s father, Mike Wells, deeded Huldah 15 slaves. The deed was filed in Washington County on May 20, 1840.
It is recorded that these slaves were escorted from Mississippi to Washington County by Wright Farquhar, one of the Farquhar cousins of which Farquhar had become a guardian. The deed lists each name of the slave and specifically identifies small children of the slave couples. Such a slave name record is rare. Thus, the slave families were not split up as was often the case with slave owners selling their slaves. These slaves retained the name of Wells, thus many Wells named families continue to occupy Washington County as well as spread throughout the United States.
The most recently known burial of a Wells African-American descendant in the Farquhar Cemetery is a marker for Travis and Blanche Wells in 1938. Many Wells’ ancestors and descendants are buried in this racially mixed Farquhar Cemetery.
The Farquhars early on were among the organizers of the Washington Baptist Church. At this 1841 church resurrection it is written that “Farquhar, his wife Huldah, accompanied by two slaves John and Matilda, were in attendance.” This slave pair often accompanied the Farquhars to Sunday services.
Farquhar’s land holdings began in 1842 with 200 acres. Two years later, it is recorded his acreage had grown to over 1,000 acres. He acquired 640 acres in a Republic of Texas land grant for settling in Texas between 1842 and 1844. Over time, he also owned several lots at Independence. In 1866, he ‘gift’ deeded an Independence lot valued at $3200 to Margaret (Lea) Houston, who had become Sam Houston’s widow.
Farquhar was not only one of the founders of Baylor University, but also served Washington County as a commissioner for two decades. Following the Civil War, the Federal soldiers came in during the Reconstruction era, ‘fired’ all the county officials and took over the county’s government. It was during this time, until Farquhar’s death in 1873, that Farquhar’s land holdings diminished as, with the loss of free slave labor to operate the plantation, he was forced, as were many plantation owners, to continually sell off property to cover expenses.
When Farquhar’s first wife, Huldah, died in 1862 before the Civil War, her estate listed the value of the Wells slaves at $20,000 for “nineteen slaves ranging from $1600 to $200 each.” In contrast, at this same time the value of Farquhar’s land was a mere $3,000.
In the 1870 U. S. Census it shows Farquhar’s life torn asunder. He and his second wife Dieppe, and his youngest son William, age 16, and youngest daughter Josephine, are living in the household of Thomas Stalworth Henderson. Farquhar’s daughter Josephine married Stephen J. Walker on Jan. 17, 1872 at Washington. The Walkers had two daughters, Annie and Ruby. They relocated to Navasota where Walker became a well-known business man. His wife, Josephine, died in 1892. Her gravestone is in the Farquhar Cemetery. Son William married Emma Walker, sister of Walker. Walker’s sister Rosa married Robert Moore, Jr.
Farquhar’s will established the cemetery stating: “On the hundred acres land given to my wife Dieppe Farquhar there is a public grave yard of one acre of land with right of way from public road from Washington to Independence. This grave yard is to be laid out in a square and is excepted with the right of way as aforesaid in the gift to my wife Dieppe.”
This Farquhar Cemetery history book and its pages create an unending story. There must be many citizens, never to be known, buried there. For now, we’ll place the Farquhar book back on the bookshelf.
(Written by Betty Dunn, Two Rivers Heritage Foundation. See www.tworiversheritagefoundation.org for more info and membership).