John V. Farwell
John Villiers Farwell was a wholesale dry goods merchant and founding member of the Capitol Syndicate and the XIT Ranch.
Farwell began his foray into the Texas cattle ranching scene in 1882, when, as a founding member of the Capitol Syndicate, he helped finance and complete the construction of the new State Capitol building in Austin, Texas. Both he and his politician brother, Charles Be Farwell were directors of the Capitol Freehold Land and Investment Company. Having raid sufficient capital in London to complete the new Texas Capitol, the state would be obligated to trade three million acres in the Panhandle that became the legendary XIT Ranch. The Syndicate received the first herd of longhorn cattle in 1885 and a boot heel drew the eponymous XIT brand in the dirt that became the XIT Ranch.
Farwell served as managing director of the XIT and was adamant that consistently improving cattle genetics was imperative to a successful enterprise. In that position, Farwell spend considerable time traveling to the ranch’s eight divisions. As a devout Methodist, he held church services for the employees and guests, such as Uncle Henry Stevens and Charles Goodnight. The XIT operated many test farms throughout the Panhandle, which later led to the settlement of previously raw and wild land. On Farwell’s last visit to the ranch before his death, he took great pride in the fact that the Panhandle now had three railroad lines cutting through the property.
Despite ceasing cattle operations in 1912, the Farwell estate continued ownership of XIT properties in the form of a trust known as the Capitol Reservation Lands, organized in 1915. This trust remained in existence until the last of the Panhandle properties as sold in the 1960s. In 2022, Farwell’s descendants repurchased original XIT lands near Channing and continue the legacy left by John V. Farwell.