Robert Nelson McFarland
Biography

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; page 324, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  Robert Nelson McFarland, the oldest settler of Brown county, is now residing in Versailles. He was born in Harrison county, Kentucky, April 1, 1818. His father, William McFarland was born in the same county. There is little known of his grandfather except that he spent his last years in Harrison, Kentucky. His father was reared and married in Ohio, but resided in Kentucky until 1819, when his nearest neighbor was ten miles distant. He next moved to Green county, Ohio, and was one of the earliest settlers there. He lived there until 1822, when, with his wife and four children he made the journey to Illinois, cooking and camping by the way. He located in Sangamon and died there. At the time of their location there, this county was sparsely settled. The greater portion was owned by the Government. Springfield was but a hamlet, the capital of the State then being Vandalia.
  His mother continued to live in Sangamon county until 1824. She accompanied her sister and her sister's husband, Cornelius Van Deventer, whom she afterward married, to what is now Brown county, where she resided until her death.
  Mr. McFarland was six years old when he came to Brown county, and remembers well many of the incidents of its settlement. At that time their nearest neighbors, the Indians, wee more numerous than the white people.
  When Mr. Van Deventer came he laid claim to a tract of Government land, two and one half miles east of the present site of Versailles, and there built a log cabin in which was taught the first school in Brown county, Hannah Burbank being the teacher. For some years after they came here there were no mills convenient, and during one winter the family subsisted entirely on lye hominy. In time there was a mill, operated by horse-power, introduced into the county, and Mr. McFarland used to go, in common with others, and during the long ride would subsist on parched corn, wild game and wild honey. There were no railroads, no steamers on the Illinois river and no markets.
  Of course our subject was reared to agricultural pursuits. His first farm was a tract of 100 acres, which he occupied until 1865, when he sold and purchased a farm of 210 acres, and at the present time he is living retired in the pleasant village of Versailles.
  He was married December 31, 1839, to Margaret W. McFarland, who died in 1879, leaving four living children; Lucinda Van Deventer; Mary Whitehead; Robert N., who married Ann Augusta Van Deventer; and Louis, who is still single.




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