THOMAS PHILIP PHAGAN. Among the settlers of Clay county, whose efforts have been felt in the domain of agriculture, and whose influence has permeated a community of interests with a wide radius, is Thomas P. Phagan, of Vashti. His identity with the settlement which his presence honors and his labors have enriched dates from the year 1883 when he purchased the tract of land south of the hamlet of Vashti, settled by John B. Bird, and assumed charge of this primitive pioneer estate. Here he has exhausted he energies, reaped the rewards of his toil and is quietly enjoying the emoluments of an industrious, well-ordered and well-spent life. On Washington’s birthday of 1839 Thomas P. Phagan, was born in Lincoln county, Tennessee. His father, John Phagan, was born there April 29, 1812, some three years after Philip Phagan, our subject’s grandfather, settled there. Philip Phagan was brought up in North Carolina where his birth occurred in 1778 and, with his new wife, made the trip to their new home in Tennessee on horseback. Jane Gillham was his wife and their children were: Martha, who married George Kidd; John; Peggie, whose first husband was a Nowlin and whose second was a Kidd; Polly, wife of John Dale; Sallie, who married Andrew Cochran; Betsy, who also married a Dale, and Philip T.
John Phagan came to manhood’s estate upon his father’s farm and followed that vocation himself until he was forty-one years old when he erected a grist-mill and saw-mill, with water-wheel power, along the country roadside and conducted that business from 1853 to 1868 when he moved to Lawrence county, Alabama, where his death occurred the following year. He was twice married, his first wife being Eliza Wiley, a daughter of Thomas Wiley, a South Carolinian of Irish descent. Thus the Irish and the English intermingle and mix, for the great- grandfather of our subject, Philip Phagan, was a born Englishman and established the Phagan family in North Carolina. In February, 1860, Eliza Phagan died, being the mother of: James H., who died in 1860, leaving two children; William M., who died at twenty-six leaving a child; Thomas P., our subject; Jane, who died as Mrs. Byers of Blair, Tennessee, and left a family; Mary A., married T. R. Steadman, of Ellis county, Texas; Sarah E., wife of John M. Blair, of Ellis county, Texas; and John W. Phagan, of Kaufman county, Texas. For his second wife, John Phagan married Arminta Spence and their issue was: Laura, wife of Lawrence Caldwell, of Lee county, Mississippi; Emma, married Joseph Caldwell of the same county; Caledonia, wife of Mr. Portner, of West Tennessee; Nannie, widow of James Clark, of Tennessee, and George of Lee county, Mississippi.
Thomas P. Phagan passed his youth and early manhood on the farm and in the mill, and his education was such as could be acquired in the rural schools of his day and time. He gave his services to his father till twenty-two years of age and in the autumn of 1861 he went into the Confederate army, Company F, Forty-first Tennessee, Captain Harlan George and Colonel Robert Ferguson, Army of Tennessee under Johnston and Bragg. The Forty-first Tennessee was captured at Fort Donelson, but Mr. Phagan was absent from his command, in the hospital, but he rejoined it after its exchange and his first engagement of consequence and in the vicinity of Vicksburg and his second and last was at Chickamauga, after which he went home on a furlough and afterward remained inside of the Federal lines.
After the war Mr. Phagan took up farming. He passed four years in Lawrence county, Alabama, one year back in his home county in Tennessee and then he came to Texas. He settled in Ellis county in June, 1874. He located on the west line of the county and resumed the life of a farmer there for eight years, when he disposed of his interests and became a resident of Clay county. In this county he first purchased two hundred and fifty-two acres and his labors for nearly a quarter of a century have had to do entirely with its cultivation and improvement. His prosperity with its cultivation and improvement. His prosperity has been gradual and permanent and it has enable him to acquire additional real estate, he owning now four hundred and ten acres in a body, the same responding generously to the family touch.
May 5, 1864, Mr. Phagan married Mary McFarren, a daughter of James and Betsy (Moore) McFarren, from South Carolina and Tennessee. Their other children were: Casina, who died as Mrs. Smith, leaving a family; James M. and Thomas, of Lincoln county, Tennessee. Mrs. Phagan was born November 18, 1839, and is the mother of William B., of Beaver county, Oklahoma; Ida, wife of W. W. Williams; Thomas C., of Ryan, Indian Territory; John C., of Beaver county, Oklahoma; Lizzie, wife of Lee George, of Clay county, has children: Elder, Hester, Ethel and Bonnie; J. Russell, Archie and C. Hall are all with the family homestead.
Mr. Phagan’s duty as a citizen of his county has been well and faithfully performed. His personal interests have occupied him to the exclusion of other business connections and by reason of his oneness of purpose, and remarkable tenacity, he has accomplished a farmer’s mission in life. He has never been consumed with political ambitions, nor has he waxed exceedingly warm in his enthusiasm for those ambitious to serve the public, yet, as a Democrat, he has seldom failed to vote the party ticket at general elections. He believes in the inspiration of the Sacred Book and worships with the adherents of the Cumberland Presbyterian faith. For twenty years he served his church as an elder and the promotion of the interests of his denomination has lain near to his heart.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 488-489.