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Centennial History Book

Important too, were the MUNICIPAL UTILITIES


There are no records on the early type of government inFarnam. The village government is made up of a town board.This board consists of five members. They are nominated forthe primary election which is held on the first Tuesday afterthe first Monday in May.

Primary elections are held every two years. To determinethe number of names on the general election ballot, the numberof vacancies on the board is taken into consideration since notall board members' term of office runs out at the same time.Some of the duties of the village board is to appoint membersto the library board, the cemetery board, and the park andrecreation 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 selllots in the cemetery.

It is not known when the cemetery was first established. Theearliest date on a stone in the cemetery is 1887, however, therehas to be other graves prior to this date, but there are norecords to verify such. The first death in the Farnam communitywas George Dutton, who was struck by lightning. He wasburied in a Lexington Cemetery.

According to stones and the dates on them there are twelvestones and lots that were in the first addition and secondadditions of the cemetery before it was dedicated for the publicuse and before it was surveyed. The deed of 1903 to the cemeteryverifies this.

From the deeds and records it is found that Jeremiah Walkerbought the NW quarter of Section 1, Township 8, Range 26,from the Railroad on April 16, 1887. In February 28, 1888 hesold it to Eugene Wood, who was a half uncle of Max McNickle.Apparently he sold deeded lots to the people for burial plotswhen he owned the land.

Clebert or C. E. Rice traded a tree claim that was located sixmiles south of town to Jeno (Eugene) Wood for the farm wherethe cemetery is now located in 1890. C. E. Rice was the fatherof Myrtle Velte, who later became Myrtle Hesse. Myrtle wasthe mother of the Veltes who grew up and went to school inFarnam.

The first plot in the cemetery was given to the community ofFarnam for the cemetery by Clebert Rice and his wife, AdelineRice, in 1891. This was a piece of land that was 228 feet by 225feet located in the northeast corner of the present cemetery.The second addition was bought from the Rices for $190.00 onAugust 15, 1903. The third addition was bought from the Ricesfor $1.00 on December 9, 1904. The fourth addition was boughtfrom Ella Case in 1940 for $75.00.

In 1967 the Cemetery board received donations from thecommunity and hard surfaced the main roads in the cemetery.

A small plot in the northeast corner of the original cemeterywas set aside for the people who could not afford a lot. It wasknown as pauper’s field. The first person that was interredthere was an itinerant worker who had been in the communityonly a short time. He had no close relatives or family.

There is another cemetery that is the final resting place ofsome of the Farnam people. It is the Catholic Cemetery that islocated about two and one-half miles northwest of Farnam. It iscared for by members of the Catholic Church.

The oldest stone in the Farnam Cemetery, however there areother graves earlier than this. Hannah A. Owen was thedaughter of Thomas Thompson and a great aunt of BettyHoppe and Ruth Ann Hess of Farnam.



The fire department was organized in 1907. This was thedate of the first large fire in Farnam. It burned all of the buildingsin 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 receivedwas a waiver of poll tax and jury duty, and the fulfillmentof a desire to help the community in a time of need. In the1950’s the waiver was done away with.

The earliest method of fighting fires in the community ofFarnam was for the settlers to plow the ground around theirbuildings so that the fire couldn’t get to them and use wet ragsor wet sacks to try to beat the flames out. When a prairie firestarted, there was seldom an end to it until it burned to acreek.

The first fire wagon that Farnam used was a two-wheeledcart that was pulled by the firemen. It had a pump on it whichwas attached to the fire hydrant and the water was pumpedout with force to put the fire out. This wagon was still used inthe 1920’s. About 1935 a 1928 International truck was purchasedto be used as the fire truck. A chemical tank was put on it tohelp force the water that was used to put out the fire. Thechemical that was used was such as soda and vinegar. ThisInternational truck had been a gravel truck that was usedwhen the road was being put through the Hiles Canyon toGothenburg. In 1950 a 1946 Chevrolet truck was acquired fromthe Kotschwar brothers. This truck was converted to a firetruck.

When the Rural Fire Department District was created, moreterritory was involved along with more funding. A new Internationalfire truck was purchased in 1961. This one came fullyequipped, ready to be put to use, whereas, the other trucksthat had been purchased had to be converted before they couldbe used as fire trucks.

Farnam also has two four-wheel drive pickups, a 1975 Fordand a 1976 Chevrolet, that are equipped with self-containedpumps. They can be used in areas that are not easilyaccessible. An Army truck that is a six-wheel drive and a 1959Ford Tanker truck have been donated to the Fire Departmentby the Forest Service. The Forest Service give their usedequipment to areas that can use it. This equipment is generallyolder and does not have some of the later devices on them.

Beginning in the early seventies the firemen were responsiblefor the ambulance service for Farnam. It was at this timethat neighboring towns discontinued this service. Mr. EdMcVay donated his ambulance in 1968 to the Farnam Fire Department.In 1976 the. E.M.T. organization of Farnam tookover this responsibility. A new ambulance was purchased in1976.

The volunteer firemen of the Farnam District meet twice amonth in the fire hall to transact business and to see that theequipment is ready for a call.



In the November, 1934 edition of the Farnam Echo there wasa plan for a public library. Since, as they stated, they had littleto start with but enthusiasm and a few books on the schoolshelves, they were asking for help to purchase magazines andbooks. It was to be a cooperative adventure between the schooland the town. A ten cent charge would be assessed for aborrower’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. MartinusEnevoldsen had charge of a project for Veterans. This projectprovided jobs for graduates who did not have a job. Theproject was not working out, probably because of the war, soan 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 getbooks for the library Mrs. Enevoldsen put her 4-H Club boysand girls to work. She sent them out in their small "express"wagons to collect books from people who would like to donatethem to the library. The children brought in forty-nine books.Shelves were needed for the library and the Farnam LumberCompany, then managed by John Ragan, donated the lumberand the cement blocks. The Nebraska Library Commission,also, came to the aid of the library. It helped provide books forthe community by sending a box or two of books. They could bekept here for several months and then they were returned tothe Commission. The only cost for the use of the books was thepostage to return them. More books were donated to thelibrary, memorials were made and fund-raising projectshelped provide books for the library some years ago.

The town board made provisions in their budget for thelibrary, whereby, books, supplies for the library, audio-visualaids, and magazines are provided for the library by taxes. Thetown library was moved from the room overhead the store to aroom on the east side of the street, in the building adjoiningClement's Store. It was formerly used as a bakery. Later itwas moved to some rooms under the Broken Spoke. In theearly fifties, it was moved to the building that is located rightto the north of where it is located today. In 1978 the old fire hallwas 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 Wednesdaysand Saturdays. Now it is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays.Mrs. Mildred Broulliette is the librarian at the presenttime. Other librarians werw Mrs. Glenn Beery, Mrs. WaynePalmer, Mrs. Boyd Lynch, Mrs. Paul Rogers, Irene Bellamyand Ruth Andersen.

The library is managed by a library board consisting of fivemembers 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 muchdifferent then the first library that was located over the store.



This article was taken from an August, 1929 issue of theFarnam Echo: Local Power Plant A Reliable Public Servant. Avillage possession of which Farnam is mighty proud is thepower plant and water system. In 1913, $18,500 original bondswere voted to build the plant and install the fixtures, watermains, etc., a 35 horse power Alamo engine was the firstpower equipment put in and Wayne Parker was given the jobas the first engineer of the city power plant.

After a year as engineer Wayne gave up the job for otherbusiness interests, and T. W. Ainlay was given the position.

During the three and a half years that he was there increasingbusiness necessitated the installation of storage batterieswhich cost $1500. In 1917, S. C. Heath, our present efficientengineer, took over the management of the plant, and hasalways remained on the job, with the exception of a few weekslast winter when he was away in the hospital. Under his supervisionin 1918, a new $5,000 50 horse power motor was installedand in the summer of 1922 another 25 horse-power FairbanksMorse engine was put in. Their second well and pumpwas drilled and put down by J. F. Albrecht in the summer of1925. This new improvement necessitated the installation of anew 60 horse-power engine in the fall of 1926. Some of the oldmotors have been disposed of until at the present time theyhave a 135 horse-power equipment.

The plant here is really the finest of its kind to be foundanywhere 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 renderedthe patrons of the town to give it up to a concern that is attimes uncertain of their service. One of the greatest booststhat any business can expect is the well spoken word of a pleasedcommunity. Never in the seven years that we have been inFarnam have we been without lights more than a few secondsat a time.

Mr. Heath keeps his machinery and power room in first classcondition at all times and never lacks in the quick and reliableservice which the people have grown to expect from the manyyears of faithful service which he has given them. So ends thisaccount.

Sam Heath had an assistant that was on duty running thepower plant when he wasn't there. It was Opie Hicks. He left inthe 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 thetown, it also pumped the water for the town. A standpipe wasbuilt in the north end of town. This was the storage tank forthe town’s water supply. Before the day of the automaticwasher and dryer, Monday used to be washday. This would bethe day that the engines would have to be run longer into theevening to get the standpipe filled again. There was a set ofdials on the north wall of the office of the power house andwhen they showed that there was enough pressure, it was timefor Sam to shut off one of the engines. The engine room was noplace for children and Sam was very strict about this. Just asMonday was a long day because of pumping water, Saturdaywas a long day because of its being trading and shopping nightin Farnam. The auxiliary engines couldn’t be shut off until theuse 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 ofpeople used electricity in their homes at the same time, thelights would dim because of a weakened current. Sam or whoeverwas on duty would have to start up the auxiliary engine toprovide more electricity. This problem didn’t happen too oftenbecause the manager of the plant grew accustomed to thehabits of the people and knew at what time of day the auxiliaryengine had to be started.

Early day Farnam had a number of windmills within thelimits of the village. While the one in the middle of main streetwas the most popular one because it furnished water foranyone who needed water, there were other wells that hadbeen drilled on some of the lots of the village. With the buildingof the power and light plant there was no need for the windmillsanymore and one by one they were taken down.

Around 1936 there was a room added to the north side of thepower house. It was a shower room.

To determine how much electricity was used by the homesand 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 surroundingsmall towns and the appliances and equipment were requiringalternating current instead of direct current the town decidedto hook on to the REA. This pleased Sam because he had beenwanting to retire for some time. As soon as the town was setup for REA, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Heath moved to their farmwest of Farnam.

Diesel was used as fuel for the big engines of the powerhouse. It was shipped in by train in a tank car. The tank carwas put on the siding until a new supply of fuel was needed andanother car of fuel was shipped in. Several years before thetown changed over to REA, large tanker trucks brought fuel infor the engines.

The well kept power house that had been built of red brick isgone now. It was torn down in 1970. A small structure of graybrick replaces it. Gone, too, is the well kept lawn and shadetrees; the big engines and their smoke stacks that put upsignals of small gray puffs of smoke indicating there would bemore electricity or the steady beat of the engine slowing upuntil it stopped, telling us that the need for electricity waslessened for that day.

In 1913 the town well was drilled by C. B. Parker and hisfather. Since there is a great demand for water today becauseof the modern conveniences, a second well was drilled bySargents in 1979. The well is located on the lot north of thelumberyard.


Telephone service was put in Farnam sometime before 1907.Albert LaBounty was one of the promoters and builders of thetelephone exchange in Farnam. After he built his building thathouses the Frazier Store today, he moved the central office inthe rooms up over the store.

Telephone service was put in Farnam sometime before 1907.Albert LaBounty was one of the promoters and builders of thetelephone exchange in Farnam. The Telephone Office was firsthoused in the Garven Building which was located south ofCharles Pollard’s Insurance Office which was at that time aBank. The telephone company was known as the LaBountyTelephone Exchange and had as its chief operator at this time,Daisy Hudson, and as its assistant operator, Lena ConoverJackson.

In about 1911, Mr. LaBounty built the building that nowhouses The Frazier Store. He moved the telephone office in therooms up over this store. In 1918 he sold the telephoneexchange to Northwestern Bell. Martha Ludvik took over theposition as chief operator at this time. Sometime before 193the central office was moved to the Ralston house which isabout two blocks north of the hardware building.

In 1950 Lena Jackson took over the position of chief operatorof the telephone office. In 1955 the system went to dial phonesin town.

A brick building was built south of the highway south of theFarnam Co-Op Service Station that takes care of the telephoneservice in the Farnam area, so a telephone operator is notneeded today.

When the telephone service was new in Farnam, a personwanting to call someone needed to call the telephone operatorfirst. To do this you would turn a small crank on the side of thetelephone for several turns to make a long ring. The telephoneoperator would ask you what number you wanted to call andshe would complete the call for you. That is, the telephonenumbers were like 2F12 or 4F20. The first number before the Fwas the number of the line that you wanted. The numbers afterthe F told her the number of long and short rings she wouldhave to make to signal the person that that was their ring. Thefirst number after the F meant the number of long rings shewould have to make, the next number was the number of shortrings she would make. For instance, if Mrs. White’s numberwas 2F12 and she heard the telephone ringing and it rang withone long ring and two short rings she would answer thetelephone because that was her ring.

The telephone operator not only put calls through but alsoperformed many good deeds and services for the people of thecommunity. She helped in time of sickness by actually callingthe doctor for a person, called for help in case of fires in thecommunity, and even told anyone the time if they called andasked her. The telephone operator also would make'line calls.This was done by making a series of four or five long rings. Thepeople on the line knew that everyone was to listen. It may for help to put out a fire or it may be a call that would tellthe people of a death in the community. Another reason for herto make a line call was to tell the people of a special that wasbeing offered by some business, such as, a carload of fruit, ofcoal, or lumber that had just arrived and the business was promotingthe sale of it.

One of the first country lines that was put in around Farnamwas in 1910. It was line 13 and ran out south of Farnam with sixfamilies on the line.

When the dial phones were put in, there were still seven andeight parties on a line; however, in 1974 when the telephonelines were put underground even the rural people had a choiceof 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 tothe chief operator, they were Dr. A. E. Reeves, Ruth McNickle,Reefy Beery, Gladys Duncan, Minnie Smallfoot andFlorence Donelson. Lena Jackson was an assistant before shebecame the chief operator.

In the early 1900’s J. B. Rice and Oliver Richardson, wholived in the Orafino area formed a telephone company to servethe area south of Farnam. The telephone poles were salvagedsteam engine flues secured from the rail lines from over on thevalley. A two by two was pounded into the end of the flue as acrosspiece and the line was secured to spool-shaped insulatorsnailed to the crosspiece. At first this line was hooked to linesserving Orafino and Stockville, but was soon connected toFarnam. 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 doubtno one had secret conversations. This line was in use until1954. At that time each customer was asked to pay $250 to beused to buy new poles and lines through the NorthwesternBell. The customers furnished the labor to build the new linesunder the engineering management of Northwestern Bell.When the line was completed it became the property ofNorthwestern Bell. This line used twelve hundred poundtensile 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 whereRoger Aden lives, six miles south of town, and HowardGardner, who lived a mile north of him, built their own privateline between their two places. Bottle tops nailed to the top offence posts, served as insulators to carry the wire. Ourpioneers were self sufficient.

Published: 2/7/2023 -
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