Centennial History Book
Important too, were the MUNICIPAL UTILITIES
There are no records on the early type of government in Farnam. The village government is made up of a town board. This board consists of five members. They are nominated for the primary election which is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May.
Primary elections are held every two years. To determine the number of names on the general election ballot, the number of vacancies on the board is taken into consideration since not all board members' term of office runs out at the same time. Some of the duties of the village board is to appoint members to the library board, the cemetery board, and the park and recreation board. They also hire the water and street commissioner.
The mayor is chosen from one of the board members.
There is no record of when the Cemetery Association was organized. The Cemetery Association consists of five members. The duties are to see that the cemetery is cared for and to sell lots in the cemetery.
It is not known when the cemetery was first established. The earliest date on a stone in the cemetery is 1887, however, there has to be other graves prior to this date, but there are no records to verify such. The first death in the Farnam community was George Dutton, who was struck by lightning. He was buried in a Lexington Cemetery.
According to stones and the dates on them there are twelve stones and lots that were in the first addition and second additions of the cemetery before it was dedicated for the public use and before it was surveyed. The deed of 1903 to the cemetery verifies this.
From the deeds and records it is found that Jeremiah Walker bought the NW quarter of Section 1, Township 8, Range 26, from the Railroad on April 16, 1887. In February 28, 1888 he sold it to Eugene Wood, who was a half uncle of Max McNickle. Apparently he sold deeded lots to the people for burial plots when he owned the land.
Clebert or C. E. Rice traded a tree claim that was located six miles south of town to Jeno (Eugene) Wood for the farm where the cemetery is now located in 1890. C. E. Rice was the father of Myrtle Velte, who later became Myrtle Hesse. Myrtle was the mother of the Veltes who grew up and went to school in Farnam.
The first plot in the cemetery was given to the community of Farnam for the cemetery by Clebert Rice and his wife, Adeline Rice, in 1891. This was a piece of land that was 228 feet by 225 feet located in the northeast corner of the present cemetery. The second addition was bought from the Rices for $190.00 on August 15, 1903. The third addition was bought from the Rices for $1.00 on December 9, 1904. The fourth addition was bought from Ella Case in 1940 for $75.00.
In 1967 the Cemetery board received donations from the community and hard surfaced the main roads in the cemetery.
A small plot in the northeast corner of the original cemetery was set aside for the people who could not afford a lot. It was known as pauper’s field. The first person that was interred there was an itinerant worker who had been in the community only a short time. He had no close relatives or family.
There is another cemetery that is the final resting place of some of the Farnam people. It is the Catholic Cemetery that is located about two and one-half miles northwest of Farnam. It is cared for by members of the Catholic Church.
The oldest stone in the Farnam Cemetery, however there are other graves earlier than this. Hannah A. Owen was the daughter of Thomas Thompson and a great aunt of Betty Hoppe and Ruth Ann Hess of Farnam.
The fire department was organized in 1907. This was the date of the first large fire in Farnam. It burned all of the buildings in the block east of Broad Street.
No records have been kept of the fire department, however, Farnam has had a fire department down through the years, made up of volunteer help. The only compensation they received was a waiver of poll tax and jury duty, and the fulfillment of a desire to help the community in a time of need. In the 1950’s the waiver was done away with.
The earliest method of fighting fires in the community of Farnam was for the settlers to plow the ground around their buildings so that the fire couldn’t get to them and use wet rags or wet sacks to try to beat the flames out. When a prairie fire started, there was seldom an end to it until it burned to a creek.
The first fire wagon that Farnam used was a two-wheeled cart that was pulled by the firemen. It had a pump on it which was attached to the fire hydrant and the water was pumped out with force to put the fire out. This wagon was still used in the 1920’s. About 1935 a 1928 International truck was purchased to be used as the fire truck. A chemical tank was put on it to help force the water that was used to put out the fire. The chemical that was used was such as soda and vinegar. This International truck had been a gravel truck that was used when the road was being put through the Hiles Canyon to Gothenburg. In 1950 a 1946 Chevrolet truck was acquired from the Kotschwar brothers. This truck was converted to a fire truck.
When the Rural Fire Department District was created, more territory was involved along with more funding. A new International fire truck was purchased in 1961. This one came fully equipped, ready to be put to use, whereas, the other trucks that had been purchased had to be converted before they could be used as fire trucks.
Farnam also has two four-wheel drive pickups, a 1975 Ford and a 1976 Chevrolet, that are equipped with self-contained pumps. They can be used in areas that are not easily accessible. An Army truck that is a six-wheel drive and a 1959 Ford Tanker truck have been donated to the Fire Department by the Forest Service. The Forest Service give their used equipment to areas that can use it. This equipment is generally older and does not have some of the later devices on them.
Beginning in the early seventies the firemen were responsible for the ambulance service for Farnam. It was at this time that neighboring towns discontinued this service. Mr. Ed McVay donated his ambulance in 1968 to the Farnam Fire Department. In 1976 the. E.M.T. organization of Farnam took over this responsibility. A new ambulance was purchased in 1976.
The volunteer firemen of the Farnam District meet twice a month in the fire hall to transact business and to see that the equipment is ready for a call.
FARNAM PUBLIC LIBRARY
In the November, 1934 edition of the Farnam Echo there was a plan for a public library. Since, as they stated, they had little to start with but enthusiasm and a few books on the school shelves, they were asking for help to purchase magazines and books. It was to be a cooperative adventure between the school and the town. A ten cent charge would be assessed for a borrower’s card. It would entitle one to check out fifty books. Whether this plan was successful is not known. However, during the war years, possibly, 1943 or 1944, Mrs. Martinus Enevoldsen had charge of a project for Veterans. This project provided jobs for graduates who did not have a job. The project was not working out, probably because of the war, so an official from Kearney came to visit with Mrs. Enevoldsen. He suggested that she try setting up a library for the community. Mr. Albert LaBounty had a vacant room above his store. He let the community have it for their library rent free. To get books for the library Mrs. Enevoldsen put her 4-H Club boys and girls to work. She sent them out in their small "express" wagons to collect books from people who would like to donate them to the library. The children brought in forty-nine books. Shelves were needed for the library and the Farnam Lumber Company, then managed by John Ragan, donated the lumber and the cement blocks. The Nebraska Library Commission, also, came to the aid of the library. It helped provide books for the community by sending a box or two of books. They could be kept here for several months and then they were returned to the Commission. The only cost for the use of the books was the postage to return them. More books were donated to the library, memorials were made and fund-raising projects helped provide books for the library some years ago.
The town board made provisions in their budget for the library, whereby, books, supplies for the library, audio-visual aids, and magazines are provided for the library by taxes. The town library was moved from the room overhead the store to a room on the east side of the street, in the building adjoining Clement's Store. It was formerly used as a bakery. Later it was moved to some rooms under the Broken Spoke. In the early fifties, it was moved to the building that is located right to the north of where it is located today. In 1978 the old fire hall was remodeled into a modern library.
The Library has been open for use several days a week, through the years. At different times it has been open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Now it is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Mrs. Mildred Broulliette is the librarian at the present time. Other librarians werw Mrs. Glenn Beery, Mrs. Wayne Palmer, Mrs. Boyd Lynch, Mrs. Paul Rogers, Irene Bellamy and Ruth Andersen.
The library is managed by a library board consisting of five members and the librarian.
There are approximately 4000 books in the library today. Records and magazines are also available to be checked out. The attractive, well-equipped library today looks much different then the first library that was located over the store.
THE VILLAGE LIGHT and POWER PLANT
This article was taken from an August, 1929 issue of the Farnam Echo: Local Power Plant A Reliable Public Servant. A village possession of which Farnam is mighty proud is the power plant and water system. In 1913, $18,500 original bonds were voted to build the plant and install the fixtures, water mains, etc., a 35 horse power Alamo engine was the first power equipment put in and Wayne Parker was given the job as the first engineer of the city power plant.
After a year as engineer Wayne gave up the job for other business interests, and T. W. Ainlay was given the position.
During the three and a half years that he was there increasing business necessitated the installation of storage batteries which cost $1500. In 1917, S. C. Heath, our present efficient engineer, took over the management of the plant, and has always remained on the job, with the exception of a few weeks last winter when he was away in the hospital. Under his supervision in 1918, a new $5,000 50 horse power motor was installed and in the summer of 1922 another 25 horse-power Fairbanks Morse engine was put in. Their second well and pump was drilled and put down by J. F. Albrecht in the summer of 1925. This new improvement necessitated the installation of a new 60 horse-power engine in the fall of 1926. Some of the old motors have been disposed of until at the present time they have a 135 horse-power equipment.
The plant here is really the finest of its kind to be found anywhere in the state, and especially for a town of this size. Several of the big power companies have tried to buy the plant, but Farnam is far too proud of the service which is rendered the patrons of the town to give it up to a concern that is at times uncertain of their service. One of the greatest boosts that any business can expect is the well spoken word of a pleased community. Never in the seven years that we have been in Farnam have we been without lights more than a few seconds at a time.
Mr. Heath keeps his machinery and power room in first class condition at all times and never lacks in the quick and reliable service which the people have grown to expect from the many years of faithful service which he has given them. So ends this account.
Sam Heath had an assistant that was on duty running the power plant when he wasn't there. It was Opie Hicks. He left in the early 1940's to work at a war plant in Grand Island. Andrew Hazen also was a substitute at various times.
Along with the power plant supplying electricity for the town, it also pumped the water for the town. A standpipe was built in the north end of town. This was the storage tank for the town’s water supply. Before the day of the automatic washer and dryer, Monday used to be washday. This would be the day that the engines would have to be run longer into the evening to get the standpipe filled again. There was a set of dials on the north wall of the office of the power house and when they showed that there was enough pressure, it was time for Sam to shut off one of the engines. The engine room was no place for children and Sam was very strict about this. Just as Monday was a long day because of pumping water, Saturday was a long day because of its being trading and shopping night in Farnam. The auxiliary engines couldn’t be shut off until the use of the electricity was lessened.
The electricity that was produced at the power plant was D. C. -- direct current. This accounts for the fact that when a lot of people used electricity in their homes at the same time, the lights would dim because of a weakened current. Sam or whoever was on duty would have to start up the auxiliary engine to provide more electricity. This problem didn’t happen too often because the manager of the plant grew accustomed to the habits of the people and knew at what time of day the auxiliary engine had to be started.
Early day Farnam had a number of windmills within the limits of the village. While the one in the middle of main street was the most popular one because it furnished water for anyone who needed water, there were other wells that had been drilled on some of the lots of the village. With the building of the power and light plant there was no need for the windmills anymore and one by one they were taken down.
Around 1936 there was a room added to the north side of the power house. It was a shower room.
To determine how much electricity was used by the homes and businesses, each home and business had a meter installed. Sam and Opie read meters every month and after Opie left, Mrs. Sam Heath took over the job as the meter reader.
In 1947 when the REA was becoming popular in surrounding small towns and the appliances and equipment were requiring alternating current instead of direct current the town decided to hook on to the REA. This pleased Sam because he had been wanting to retire for some time. As soon as the town was set up for REA, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Heath moved to their farm west of Farnam.
Diesel was used as fuel for the big engines of the power house. It was shipped in by train in a tank car. The tank car was put on the siding until a new supply of fuel was needed and another car of fuel was shipped in. Several years before the town changed over to REA, large tanker trucks brought fuel in for the engines.
The well kept power house that had been built of red brick is gone now. It was torn down in 1970. A small structure of gray brick replaces it. Gone, too, is the well kept lawn and shade trees; the big engines and their smoke stacks that put up signals of small gray puffs of smoke indicating there would be more electricity or the steady beat of the engine slowing up until it stopped, telling us that the need for electricity was lessened for that day.
In 1913 the town well was drilled by C. B. Parker and his father. Since there is a great demand for water today because of the modern conveniences, a second well was drilled by Sargents in 1979. The well is located on the lot north of the lumberyard.
Telephone service was put in Farnam sometime before 1907. Albert LaBounty was one of the promoters and builders of the telephone exchange in Farnam. After he built his building that houses the Frazier Store today, he moved the central office in the rooms up over the store.
Telephone service was put in Farnam sometime before 1907. Albert LaBounty was one of the promoters and builders of the telephone exchange in Farnam. The Telephone Office was first housed in the Garven Building which was located south of Charles Pollard’s Insurance Office which was at that time a Bank. The telephone company was known as the LaBounty Telephone Exchange and had as its chief operator at this time, Daisy Hudson, and as its assistant operator, Lena Conover Jackson.
In about 1911, Mr. LaBounty built the building that now houses The Frazier Store. He moved the telephone office in the rooms up over this store. In 1918 he sold the telephone exchange to Northwestern Bell. Martha Ludvik took over the position as chief operator at this time. Sometime before 193 the central office was moved to the Ralston house which is about two blocks north of the hardware building.
In 1950 Lena Jackson took over the position of chief operator of the telephone office. In 1955 the system went to dial phones in town.
A brick building was built south of the highway south of the Farnam Co-Op Service Station that takes care of the telephone service in the Farnam area, so a telephone operator is not needed today.
When the telephone service was new in Farnam, a person wanting to call someone needed to call the telephone operator first. To do this you would turn a small crank on the side of the telephone for several turns to make a long ring. The telephone operator would ask you what number you wanted to call and she would complete the call for you. That is, the telephone numbers were like 2F12 or 4F20. The first number before the F was the number of the line that you wanted. The numbers after the F told her the number of long and short rings she would have to make to signal the person that that was their ring. The first number after the F meant the number of long rings she would have to make, the next number was the number of short rings she would make. For instance, if Mrs. White’s number was 2F12 and she heard the telephone ringing and it rang with one long ring and two short rings she would answer the telephone because that was her ring.
The telephone operator not only put calls through but also performed many good deeds and services for the people of the community. She helped in time of sickness by actually calling the doctor for a person, called for help in case of fires in the community, and even told anyone the time if they called and asked her. The telephone operator also would make'line calls. This was done by making a series of four or five long rings. The people on the line knew that everyone was to listen. It may be a.call for help to put out a fire or it may be a call that would tell the people of a death in the community. Another reason for her to make a line call was to tell the people of a special that was being offered by some business, such as, a carload of fruit, of coal, or lumber that had just arrived and the business was promoting the sale of it.
One of the first country lines that was put in around Farnam was in 1910. It was line 13 and ran out south of Farnam with six families on the line.
When the dial phones were put in, there were still seven and eight parties on a line; however, in 1974 when the telephone lines were put underground even the rural people had a choice of being on a line by themselves, or on a 2, 4, or 8 party line.
When the telephone office had the switchboard in Farnam, several people recalled having worked there as assistants to the chief operator, they were Dr. A. E. Reeves, Ruth McNickle, Reefy Beery, Gladys Duncan, Minnie Smallfoot and Florence Donelson. Lena Jackson was an assistant before she became the chief operator.
In the early 1900’s J. B. Rice and Oliver Richardson, who lived in the Orafino area formed a telephone company to serve the area south of Farnam. The telephone poles were salvaged steam engine flues secured from the rail lines from over on the valley. A two by two was pounded into the end of the flue as a crosspiece and the line was secured to spool-shaped insulators nailed to the crosspiece. At first this line was hooked to lines serving Orafino and Stockville, but was soon connected to Farnam. Shares were sold to interested farmers.
At one time nearly twenty families were served by this line.
Needless to say the line was usually busy. Without a doubt no one had secret conversations. This line was in use until 1954. At that time each customer was asked to pay $250 to be used to buy new poles and lines through the Northwestern Bell. The customers furnished the labor to build the new lines under the engineering management of Northwestern Bell. When the line was completed it became the property of Northwestern Bell. This line used twelve hundred pound tensile strength wire with poles three hundred feet apart. Strong wire was needed to withstand the wind and storms.
Before this line was built Jim Rectors, who lived where Roger Aden lives, six miles south of town, and Howard Gardner, who lived a mile north of him, built their own private line between their two places. Bottle tops nailed to the top of fence posts, served as insulators to carry the wire. Our pioneers were self sufficient.