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Centennial History Book

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

Farnam was named in honor of Henry Farnam. Mr. Farnamwas a railroad builder and philanthropist who was born in NewYork in 1803. He grew up in the state of New York on a farm.He studied and taught in the village school, reading - by thelight of the winter fire to save the expense of a candle - whattextbooks in mathematics he could procure, he preparedhimself as a surveyor. He worked in this capacity for a numberof years on Canals such as, the Erie Canal and the FarmingtonCanal. In 1839 he married Ann Sophia Whitman. As his workrequired him to move farther west, he became interested inbuilding 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 railroadlines, but they also built the machine shops and stationsand 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 withthe boldness and breadth of view of the modern businessleader. He was a pioneer in railroad construction and made apermanent contribution to the development of the country. Hedied in 1883.

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

But with the close of the panic in the early 70’s and thebuilding of railroads, the regions on the uplands between thestreams became inviting and this influx of eastern settlersbegan to make their homestead filings on the land on theuplands.

The first settlement in the Farnam community was made in1883, and the next three or four years, saw nearly all of theland homesteaded and settled up in this vicinity.

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

The railroads gave the settlers the benefits of securing theneeded machinery, windmills, building materials, fencingmaterials and necessities of life, which enabled them to till thesoil, build homes and tap the great water supply, layingbeneath the land, two and three hundred feet, thus thenecessity for water was overcome.

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

Principally among the reasons, which led to settlement ofthis region, coupled with the construction of the railroadswere: (1) Dissatisfaction with conditions at home, and thedesire to try a new area; (2) The removal of the Indians frommost of the Nebraska territory; (3) The raising of land values,accompanying the settlement and improvement, attractedattention of speculators and promoters; (4) Railroads offeredlow 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 PromisedLand.

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

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

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

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

The production of good crops in eastern Nebraskaconsequently people believed that good crops could be grownin western Nebraska.

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

For a variety of reasons pioneers came to the area aroundFarnam.

In 1886 the pioneers of Farnam came into a country that hadvery few frame houses. According to the Farnam Echo of 1936it was said that you could see as far as you could look across theplains, perhaps a distance of twelve or fifteen miles and seenothing but grass and the sky. There were no trees and the sodhouses were so dark in color they were hard to see.

In wide open spaces such as this on sloping land that wasnear 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 Streetand west of Broad Street. Mr. DeClow sold the lots for theLincoln Land Company in the new townsite of Farnam. In ashort time Eugene Wood, an attorney, bought the business ofDeClow 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 theother 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 ageneral merchandise store and the drug store moved acrossthe street where the drug store is today.

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

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

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

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

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

The above mentioned buildings probably does not take in allthe buildings which were here in 1886, but we have not beenable to learn of any others.

Anthony Garven was the first blacksmith in Farnam. Hebuilt a shop and lived in the back part of it until he built a hardwarestore building on the lots, south of the old Farnam bankbuilding.

Other business men that might be mentioned as the first inFarnam 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 harnessmaker; Jerry Walker, first photographer; Thomas Ives, firstdepot agent; Frank Patech, first implement dealer; and DaveSeth, first barber.

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

Published: 2/7/2023 -
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