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Centennial History Book

It was moved to a site called ---- FARNAM.

Farnam was named in honor of Henry Farnam. Mr. Farnam was a railroad builder and philanthropist who was born in New York in 1803. He grew up in the state of New York on a farm. He studied and taught in the village school, reading - by the light of the winter fire to save the expense of a candle - what textbooks in mathematics he could procure, he prepared himself as a surveyor. He worked in this capacity for a number of years on Canals such as, the Erie Canal and the Farmington Canal. In 1839 he married Ann Sophia Whitman. As his work required him to move farther west, he became interested in building railroads. He and a partner, Joseph E. Sheffield, completed railroad lines between Chicago and Grinnell, Iowa. He was a competent worker. Not only did they build the railroad lines, but they also built the machine shops and stations and freight houses and equipped them with engines, machinery, and tools, and financed the building of the railroad. He combined the homely virtue of his Puritan ancestors with the boldness and breadth of view of the modern business leader. He was a pioneer in railroad construction and made a permanent contribution to the development of the country. He died in 1883.

During the period from 1875 to 1890, thousands of home seekers from eastern states poured into western Nebraska to take homesteads. First settlements were made along streams, which would give two of the most important necessities, water and fuel.

But with the close of the panic in the early 70’s and the building of railroads, the regions on the uplands between the streams became inviting and this influx of eastern settlers began to make their homestead filings on the land on the uplands.

The first settlement in the Farnam community was made in 1883, and the next three or four years, saw nearly all of the land homesteaded and settled up in this vicinity.

The building of the railroads opened up new possibilities, giving cheap transportation, and thus the country was soon dotted by towns along the steel rails, which crossed the great western plains.

The railroads gave the settlers the benefits of securing the needed machinery, windmills, building materials, fencing materials and necessities of life, which enabled them to till the soil, build homes and tap the great water supply, laying beneath the land, two and three hundred feet, thus the necessity for water was overcome.

While the railroads were being constructed across the great plains, many changes created a demand for the land of the western part of our state, and led to its settlement.

Principally among the reasons, which led to settlement of this region, coupled with the construction of the railroads were: (1) Dissatisfaction with conditions at home, and the desire to try a new area; (2) The removal of the Indians from most of the Nebraska territory; (3) The raising of land values, accompanying the settlement and improvement, attracted attention of speculators and promoters; (4) Railroads offered low freight rates to the West, thus encouraging settlement, and flooded the eastern states and Europe with pamphlets, praising the new area, picturing it as the Second Promised Land.

After the Civil War many soldiers went west to seek employment on railroad construction or take cheap lands.

The Panic of 1873 caused many desolate people from east of Mississippi to move west and start over again.

The Homestead, Pre-emption and Tree Claim Acts, made land easily obtainable.

The manufacture of such things as barbed wire, well drills, well casing and labor-saving machinery, enabled the pioneer to overcome the handicaps of the area.

The production of good crops in eastern Nebraska consequently people believed that good crops could be grown in western Nebraska.

A wet cycle in the rainfall of Nebraska started in 1870 and lasted for the next fifteen years or more, which led people to believe that this change in climate would be permanent.

For a variety of reasons pioneers came to the area around Farnam.

In 1886 the pioneers of Farnam came into a country that had very few frame houses. According to the Farnam Echo of 1936 it was said that you could see as far as you could look across the plains, perhaps a distance of twelve or fifteen miles and see nothing but grass and the sky. There were no trees and the sod houses were so dark in color they were hard to see.

In wide open spaces such as this on sloping land that was near the Plum Creek, Farnam began.

The first building built in Farnam was built by W. L. DeClow, on the lot that is on the corner south of Moose Street and west of Broad Street. Mr. DeClow sold the lots for the Lincoln Land Company in the new townsite of Farnam. In a short time Eugene Wood, an attorney, bought the business of DeClow and put out his sign.

These three buildings stood on the east side of main street. The one on the left was where the post office is today, and the other two south of it. The one in the middle was the drug store. It was built in 1886. It was later used by Buss & Divoll, as a general merchandise store and the drug store moved across the street where the drug store is today.

Where the Standard Oil Station is now located, was the first general store in Farnam, run by John and Bob Castile and Levi Anderson. This store building was moved in from Keystone. John Castile was the first postmaster for Farnam, and the first post office was in the back part of their store.

South of where the post office is today, was the first drug store, erected by E. B. Dunham.

Another building, which was probably one of the first built was a lumber yard, which was located on the lots south of the new maintenance building which is being built by the town of Farnam and across the street east of Hyatt’s Lumberyard. The first lumberman was A. E. Gray.

On the lots, where the Co-Operative Station is now, was the first hotel, built by Thomas Thompson, father of W. J. Thompson.

The Tufts’ building torn down in 1970 across from the McMichael's Garage was another building that was moved in from Keystone. At that time it only constituted the front part of the building.

The above mentioned buildings probably does not take in all the buildings which were here in 1886, but we have not been able to learn of any others.

Anthony Garven was the first blacksmith in Farnam. He built a shop and lived in the back part of it until he built a hardware store building on the lots, south of the old Farnam bank building.

Other business men that might be mentioned as the first in Farnam were: K. M. Kreecorian, first doctor; J. R. Mason, first banket; Rev. Woolman, first resident minister; D. 0. MaGoun, first editor; John Frank, first shoe and harness maker; Jerry Walker, first photographer; Thomas Ives, first depot agent; Frank Patech, first implement dealer; and Dave Seth, first barber.

Farnam was off to a good start in July of 1886. It was only fifteen years before this on June 6, 1871 that Dawson County had been proclaimed a county by Acting Governor William H. James. The first crops were sown in the county in 1873. It was on March 7, 1874 that the village of Plum Creek was declared an incorporated town. In 1886 was the first Dawson County Fair. And not too many years before any of these events, Nebraska became a state on March 1, 1867.

Published: 7/18/2019 -
Hosted and Published by Weldon Hoppe

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