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Baxter McFarland Biography

Baxter McFarland 1839-


Mississippi: Contemporary biography

edited by Dunbar Rowland   1907

Page 545 - 549

McFarland, Baxter, lawyer and soldier, of Aberdeen, comes of the best blood of Scotland. He is descended in direct male line from the chiefs or lairds of the Highland clan MacFarlane, whose domain comprised a portion of the ancient Lennox district of Scotland, between the shores of the picturesque and beautiful Lochs Lomond and Long. Here for six hundred years prior to 1784 they had ruled their clans and led their people in all their struggles.

The clan MacFarlane was a prominent factor in the historic engagement at Bannockburn. Intermarriages have connected the family with most royal of Scottish people. Up to the time when clanship in Scotland became extinct no people had more prestige than the clan MacFarlane. Paternally these chiefs traced their ancestry in direct line to the Celtic earls of Lennox, and through them to King Kenneth II, whose ancestor, Kenneth MacAlpine (Kenneth I), had, one hundred and fifty years before, been the greatest of Scotland's ancient monarchs. It was Kenneth I, who, after his overthrow of the Picts and the establishment of Scottish supremacy, had been crowned king, A. D. 844. On the maternal side there was Stewart blood in these chiefs, which later united with the earldom of Lennox that of Darnley and the titles and estates of de Aubigne. in France. On this side also, relationship is had with the houses of the earls of Angus, Douglas, Glencairn, Bothwell, King James (Stewart) V, and King Robert (Bruce) I. Four MacFarlane brothers were officers in a Scotch regiment of foot under Marlboro in the battle of Malplaquet (1709), and three of the number lost their lives in that engagement. A grandson of one of these heroes was the first McFarland to leave his native heath and seek his fortune in the new world. He was John McFarland, who, with his son Bartholomew ("Parlane" in the Gaelic), came to this country in 1770-72 and settled in Cumberland county. North Carolina. Both fought in the Continental army in the American War of Revolution. -To Bartholomew McFarland was born a son, George Washington McFarland, who when he became of age married Ann Clarke and removed to "Woodson's Ridge," Lafayette county, Miss., in 1835. To this union was born, on May 15, 1839, Baxter McFarland, the subject of this sketch. His "bringing up" was in Chickasaw county and his professional education was acquired at the State university. In 1860 he began the practice of law in partnership with Maj. J. M. Thompson in Houston, Chickasaw county. When the somber cloud of war appeared on the horizon of national unity he enlisted in the "Chickasaw Guards" and in January, 1861, went with his company to Pensacola, Fla., for the purpose of seizing the government stores there. In the following April the company went to Virginia, and on May 13, 1861, was mustered into the Confederate service at Lynchburg. The company was known as H, Eleventh Mississippi regiment, Bee's brigade, Army of Northern Virginia, and Judge McFarland served respectively as orderly sergeant and lieutenant. He saw service at Harper's Ferry, in Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's valley campaign. The winter of 1861-62 was spent at Dumfries on the Potomac river, doing guard duty and early in the spring of the latter year the regiment went to Yorktown, and thence to Richmond. Seven Pines, Ashland, Mechanicsville and the "Seven Days" battles were all participated in by the Eleventh Mississippi. At Gaines' Mill, June 27, 1862, in a magnificent charge of Whiting's division, Judge McFarland was dangerously wounded. On rejoining the army he was made adjutant of the Forty-first Mississippi, Patton Anderson's brigade, Hindman's division of Bragg's army. At Missionary Ridge, Chickamauga and in the fighting around Dalton he displayed such valor that he was appointed assistant adjutant general with the rank of major on the staff of Gen. Tucker. The command participated in the Atlanta campaign, the battle of Resaca, the battle of Franklin, and the Nashville campaign. With the shattered remnants of Hood's army he went to join Johnston's army in North Carolina. After reaching there Johnston surrendered. Rather than surrender Major McFarland started to join the transMississippi department, but before he reached his destination the greatest of civil wars was over. Major McFarland then re-entered the legal profession at Houston with Judge J. A. Orr and Col. J. R. Mclntosh as partners, the firm name being Orr, McFarland & McIntosh. Upon the severing of this partnership Major McFarland became interested with Gen. Reuben Davis and on Oct. 1, 1870, removed to Aberdeen. He continued to practice until Aug. 31, 1883, when he was appointed chancellor of the first chancery district and remained upon the bench until Sept. 1, 1899. With possibly one exception fewer of his decisions have been reversed by the Supreme Court than those of any other chancellor or judge the State has ever had. The value of his judicial labors during this long period is attested by the records of the courts and the State reports, as well as by the universal confidence of bar and people in his integrity, learning and ability. Upon his retirement from the bench Judge McFarland resumed the practice of law in partnership with Capt. George C. Paine, and has continued at it most successfully since. On June 15, 1870, Judge McFarland married Mary A., daughter of Col. John and Maria G. (Speight) Holliday of Aberdeen. Mrs. Holliday's mother was a daughter of Gen. Jesse Speight, United States senator from Mississippi. It was his unexpired term, caused by his death in 1847, that Jefferson Davis was appointed to fill. Col. and Mrs. Holliday came to Mississippi from North Carolina in 1836 and 1837 respectively, and were married in 1837. Judge and Mrs. McFarland have four children. John Baxter, the oldest son, has been for many years the captain of a company of the national guard. This company, of which Thomas Holliday McFarland, the second son, was lieutenant, was Company M, Second Mississippi Volunteers in the Spanish-American war. Ren, the youngest son, is a graduate of the literary and law departments of the State university and is now engaged in the practice of law as his father's partner. In 1903 he was elected from Monroe county as a representative in the State legislature. An only daughter, Anne, is an accomplished musician and does considerable newspaper writing. Judge Baxter McFarland is a Democrat in politics, and while he is deeply interested in the welfare of his party, he has never aspired to office, having limited his political service to eight years of aldermanic duty. He has often been a delegate to the State and national conventions of his party. As chairman of a committee appointed by a district convention, he prepared and presented to Congress the bill creating the eastern division of the northern district of Mississippi, visiting Washington at his own expense and working strenuously for the passage of the measure which gave to Aberdeen its Federal courthouse and postoffice. For some time the judge served as first vicepresident of the State bar association. At the present time he is a director of the First National bank of Aberdeen, president of the Henderson Hardware Company, president of the Aberdeen SandLime Company and is largely interested in cotton planting.