Party affiliation: Republican
Educated in district schools until 1838. Removed to Ogle Company, Illinois. Worked at farming and on Government surveys until 1844, when he went to Chicago on a load of wheat with $10 in his pocket.
Secured employment in county clerk’s office. Later teller in a bank. County clerk Cook Company, Illinois, 1854-1862.
Joined his brother, John V. Farwell in firm of John V. Farwell & Company, wholesale dry goods, and, 1891, became president The John V. Farwell Company.
With his brother built, 1887, the Texas State capitol, receiving 3,000,000 acres of land therefor. They now have a ranch there, stocked with 150,000 cattle. Was member State board of equalization, 1867.
Chairman of the Board of supervisors, Cook Company, Illinois, 1868. National bank examiner, 1869. Member Congress, 1871-1876 and 1881-1887.
United States senator, 1887-1891.