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Centennial History Book

Every community has cherished REMINISCENCES


by Mrs. Dan McNickle, Farnam Echo 1936

We left Arapahoe early one morning in May 1888 and drove in a covered wagon to Uncle Gus Griffis’ homestead south of the Arch Jorgensen home near Farnam. A very fine trip we children thought. Uncle Gus had a dug out home and while my father and Lou Tonne were building the house known as Grandma Ainlay’s home, we played and waited, moving in the upstairs, when it was livable and that was our first home in Farnam. Father traded for the little hotel and we moved in the fall. He gradually added more rooms onto the originally 12 rooms and a hall and from there1 we grew with the country.

There were the Fourth of Julys to look forward to and Memorial Days with everyone in attendance and of course a big dance at night. They would have a big bowery with tree limbs over the top for shade and floor for programs and dancing and the folks brought their dinners, all coming in wagons.,Such grand fights as the men would have and it always meant a good deal of drinking. Each Fourth all of the little girls dressed in white and wore a red ensign with one of the states printed on it and one big girl was the Goddess of Liberty. We would meet at the church and the committee would arrange us on a big hayrack and we were always in the procession. I remember when the Jackson store was built and my brother, Eugene, gave a big dance, and my Mother danced once as a favor. Were our eyes big as saucers to see a good Baptist so wicked. May we never do anything worse! There were about six or eight kids in town, but oh the good times, gathering at twilight, playing hide-and-seek, and imagining we were horses and how we loved to watch the boys watering and training the beautiful horses. The well being in the center of town. John Watt built a fine stable and filled it with thoroughbreds and we knew them all. This was about where Albert Oman’s home is now. We also owned the livery barn. We loved the horses and disliked to see people hire them and abuse them. They would race them with the train and drive them nearly to death.

The whole countryside and town would meet for a big song service some evenings, and would they sing! Nearly every winter evening we would have singing school and some stranger would direct the group or Mr. Dunton and sometimes Mrs. Sprague conducted them. They would finish with a concert or musical. Farnam was famous for her good music while the Duntons were here, to keep the group in training.

My father was constable, ran a meat market, doing his own butchering. I’ve heard my mother scold, "He would skin a cow before it stopped kicking." He learned the trade while serving in the calvary in the South. He was also a carpenter. As children we were a bit sensitive to being called rebels in a community of northerners, but our grandad Griffis served in the North, so we were comforted that way.

I well remember one morning in church the word come of a prairie fire on Section 35. The preacher, Mr. Doolittle, dismissed church and all of the men and boys left to fight fire. Each home would have a few plowed furrows to guard against the fire and the town had a big wide strip of plowed ground around it. The fire came from south of Maxwell and went south of Farnam, maybe the railroad stopped it. These prairie fires were so bad the first settlers lived in horror of them.

’ It is still plain in my mind how the farmers south of town drove into the livery barn bringing in corn and wheat, fifty bushels a day and stopped to feed their horses and get their own dinner at the hotel. There would be wagons and teams in a long stream arriving one at a time.

Where the Hathaway buildings now are was used for a brickyard one year and we watched them form kilns and burn the 237 clay, but the bricks were not very good. Father built an addition to the hotel and put on a false front with them. There was a brick basement and the Farnam paper used it for the office at different times.

Now the young folks gather in cars, but then they all went on their horses in crowds in summer and oh the good old bob-sled rides in winter. We kept a sleigh at the barn to use when the snow covered ground.

Published: 3/27/2023 -
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