Hello—my name is Mrs. Silas Farnham. You can call me Lovina. I am married to Steven Silas Farnham, the sixth child of Rufus Farnham, Sr. The Farnhams were some of the first pioneers coming from Maine to St. Anthony in 1849. We women just follow along with our husbands, wherever they go. Our main job is to raise children, do the gardening and all the cooking.
My husband, Silas, was a woodsman, or you could call him a lumberman. He kept a little storehouse for supplies across from our house on the corner of 3rd Ave. and 2nd St., S.E. A schoolhouse was much needed so they cleared out the shed and made a school out of it. Miss Electa Backus taught the first school there. It was also used for Methodist preachin’ and our First Aid Society met there, too.
I well remember the first Fourth of July Celebration in St. Anthony in 1849. The women found there was no flag, so knew one must be made. They procured the materials from Fort Snelling and the flag was made in Mrs. Godfrey’s house. Ladies working on it were Mrs. Caleb Dorr, Mrs. Lucien Parker, Misses Julia and Margaret Farnham, Mrs. Godfrey (whose husband built the sawmill in ‘47) and myself. I cut out all the stars. Mrs. Wm. Marshall, whose husband had a small general store, was the director and no one could do it better. Thinking of that little store, I thought I’d laugh out loud the first time I went in there. It was so different from the stores back in Maine! There were packs of furs, all kinds of Indian work, hats and caps, homemade tallow dips plus elegant candles, a barrel of rounds of pork mostly used up, some hulled corn the Indians did, and no flour—all of that was gone—and you know flour was quite expensive—it was $15 to $20 a barrel. I noticed, too, that there was a beautiful piece of delaine—that is a piece of light woolen dress material to sell to the village women and some shoddy looking bright stuff for the squaws. I thought that was kind of unfair, until I found out the squaws preferred the bright stuff.
But to return to that first Fourth. It seemed a good deal like a Farnham Fourth, for the music which was just soul searching was sung by them and the Gould boys. When the Farnhams all came out, it made a pretty big crowd for those days. Perhaps their voices wasn’t what you call trained, but they had melody. Seems to me nowadays some of the trained high-falutin’ voices has just got that left out. At least it seems so to me. All the Farnhams sung natural, just like birds. Old Dr. Kingsley played the bass viol so it was soul stirrin’ too. I will say we had a fine time!
Well, that’s a small picture of how life is in this new community of ours. The Farnhams, and there are a lot of us pioneers, seem to be very adventuresome people, for all the travelling we do. Lovina Farnham
Note: Taken from the book Old Rail Fence Corners, edited by Lucy Leavenworth Wilder-Morris.