One of the fun parts about doing genealogy and historical research is when you take the roadless traveled! As the County Coordinator for the Milam County TXGenWeb site http://www.geocities.com/milamco/, one of my goals is to add a short biographical sketch on each of the elected public officials.
Simple undertaking? No!
I started at the logical place with was Massillon Farley, the first public official in Milam County. He was appointed in 1836 by the First Congress of the Republic of Texas to be the Chief Justice (old term for County Judge).
Massillon arrived in Texas about 1835 and was a member of the Roberson's Colony, joined the Texas Army and his company was assigned the important task of guarding the baggage, equipment, wagons, sick and wounded at Harrisburg during the Battle of San Jacinto. This was a key responsibility because if the Mexican Army had prevailed, they would have been headed straight for these 30 or so men at Harrisburg who would have had little or defense from such a massive attack.
Farley graduated from Harvard in 1831 and studied to be an attorney in Lowell, MA in 1832. He traveled south overland through Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi before reaching Texas in 1835.
In 1836, Milam County was one of 23 counties in the Republic of Texas and encompassed one-six of the land of the country. What an undertaking to establish a county seat, county courthouse, hold the first elections of all other county officials, i.e., sheriff, constables, justices of the peace, county clerks, county attorney, etc.
He accomplished this all under the age of 30. Meanwhile, Massillon's younger sister, Harriet Farley was working in the cotton mills in Lowell, MA and writing articles for a women's magazine. By 1843, she had become the editor of the LOWELL OFFERING and established herself in history as the first woman editor in the United States.
Massillon had his share of ups and downs in his life. In December 1852, he was convicted of rape in Williamson County and sentenced to the State Penitentiary at Huntsville. He was Convict Number 91 at the prison thereby establishing himself with the unique distinction of being one of the first 100 prisoners at Huntsville.
In November 1853, Gov. Bell gave Farley a full pardon and restored all rights of citizenship. However, Massillon never again entered public life and lived the remained of his time at Port Sullivan until his death in 1887 at the home of F. M. Adams. Judge Farley is buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Cameron and has an 1936 Centennial Texas Historical Marker on his grave.
In 1854, Harriet married John Donlevy, a printer, and lived the remainder of her life in New York City. She died there in November 1907 and her obituary ran on the front page of the New York Times. The article mentions her famous brother, the late Judge Farley of Texas who was a personal friend of Gen. Sam Houston.
Harriet outlived everyone in her family and died in poverty at the Home of the Incurables. She was buried with her husband John in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. John died in 1872 and she never remarried.
Regretfully, this, woman who has a permanent place in American Women's History, lies in an unmarked grave. It will soon be the 100th anniversary of her death and her place in history has been largely forgotten just as her grave lacks any indication of her historic accomplishments in early American journalism.
In October, I will be traveling to Massachusetts and New Hampshire where the Farley family lived and hopefully more of this family's unique history can be reclaimed. I have been able to locate one cousin on a distant collateral line that has become interested in this forgotten branch of the family.
The parents of Massillon and Harriet were the Rev. Stephen Farley, Jr. and Lucy Saunders Farley. Rev. Farley's father was a soldier in the American Revolution and Mrs. Farley was a cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson. With every turn in the road, the family's lost history becomes more and more interesting and I can't wait to learn more about this forgotten early New England family that had such an impact on early Women's History as well as the establishment of new country, the Republic of Texas!
In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.
Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: email@example.com
This webpage was last created on 29 Sept 2004 and was last revised on __________
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P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604