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Nov 19, 2013
| Helen Farnsworth
commented on the photo Hiram Warner Farnsworth, image used on Wikipedia entry : |
Hiram Warner Farnsworth (born 13 October 1816 in Brattleboro, VT and died 26 July 1899 in Topeka, KS) was an abolitionist, Kansas pioneer, educator, Indian agent and community leader.
Hiram Warner Farnsworth 1868 Topeka, Kansas
1 Early life
2 Kansas Pioneer
3 Later Years in Topeka
Hiram Warner Farnsworth (H. W.)[a] was educated at Brattleboro, Vermont. H.W. attended Williams College, Williamstown, Mass. in 1836 and graduated in 1840. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He taught school in Tuskegee, Alabama, from June 1840 to December 1841. He was appointed Principal of the New London Female Academy in New London, Conn. , a position he held until March 1855.
On March 17, 1842 H.W. married Deborah (Della) Torrey Lerow in Boston. She was born in 5 July 1815 in Orange, MA. She was a teacher of French and Botany at the New London academy. They had three children one of whom died thirteen months after his birth. Della died on 5 June 1850.
He also served as the railroad agent at New London for one year for the Northern Railroad. On 3 December 1855 H.W. married his second wife, Harriet Ann Stoddard (born 28 May 1822).
In the 1850s H.W. participated in the public discussions of the era concerning slavery. H.W. was a Congregationalist and abolitionist. As the political turmoil increased he decided on a course of action inspired by the New England Emigrant Aid Company, Boston, MA. This company was formed to facilitate overland treks to Kansas of Free-Stater (Kansas) families to help throw pre-statehood Kansas into the abolitionists camp. The New England Emigrant Aid Company was formed to help fund resettlement of abolitionist sympathizers in Kansas prior to referendums to determine if Kansas would be a slave state. Three groups sponsored by the Society set out for Kansas – the first in March 1855. H.W. didn't leave New England until 4 March 1856 with his new wife who was pregnant and with his two small daughters from his first marriage. It took six weeks to trek by wagon to Kansas.
On 9 May1856, H.W. and his family arrived in Lawrence in the Kansas Territory which was quickly seen to be unsuitable even though Lawrence had been founded by the New England Emigrant Aid Company. The family moved on to Topeka, Kansas arriving 16 May 1856. Topeka was laid out in 1854 as a Free State Town. Pioneer H.W.’s first act in Topeka was the purchase of a farm and then the start-up of the Topeka Mill Co., a saw, grist and flouring mill, in association with A. Merrill and S. T. Walkley. On 14 July 1856, H.W. helped found and became one of the first deacons of “The First Free Congregational Church of Topeka”.:196. H.W. was then elected on 6 December 1859 to the first State Senate of Kansas prior to statehood:32. He was a Republican representative of Shawnee County. The following year he was elected to be the fourth mayor of Topeka:158. After much turmoil, Kansas was admitted to the union as a free state on 29 January 1861.
H.W. resigned from the State Senate May 1, 1861, in order to accept an Indian Agency appointment in Morris County at Council Grove and in June 1861 President Abraham Lincoln appointed him as Agent to the Kaw Indians.[b] H.W. became an Indian Commissioner 24 June 1864 by order of Abraham Lincoln who appointed "Hiram W. Farnsworth, Indian Agent a commissioner on the part of the United States and the chiefs and headmen of the Kansas Tribe of Indians." H.W. was still living with his family at the Council Grove Indian Agency June 3, 1868. On that date a skirmish of the Cheyenne with the Kaw Indians occurred. This battle was full of sound and fury but had no casualties and this was the last Indian battle in the state of Kansas. It was conducted at the Council Grove Indian Agency and other locations with some arrows even landing in the grounds of the agency — the Farnsworth family members were spectators.[c] During his tenure there, H.W. was appointed on 13 March 1862 for six months to be Commissioner on the part of the United States to negotiate treaties with the Kansas Indian tribes. Treaties concluded at the Kansas Agency with about one hundred tribes were signed by H.W. with his signature and seal.
Due to his prominence in the Topeka area, H.W. became one of the first directors for the Atchison & Topeka Railroad (Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) on 3 March 1863.[d] Similarly, due to his background in education, H.W. was a founder of Washburn College, incorporated 6 February 1865 from Lincoln College. H.W. served on the board of trustees:191 of that college for twenty years. In October 1866 he was replaced as Indian Agent by President Andrew Johnson and then in December appointed by the president to be one of three Commissioners to visit and inspect Indian schools. In 1867 he accompanied the Indian tribal leaders to Washington D.C. to sign treaties along with his Kaw Indian interpreter, Joe Jim (Joseph James and Joseph James, Jr.). It was customary at the time that Indian chiefs visiting Washington be photographed in full tribal regalia with their Indian Agent. H.W. declined that honor because he felt the Indians were being cheated of their lands and hence he did not wish to be associated with such an endeavor. [e] H.W.’s interpreter, Joe Jim, is credited for giving the name of Topeka to that town.
Later Years in Topeka
In May 1867 H.W. moved his family back to Topeka to live in the home he had built at 401 Topeka Ave. By now his family included seven children. On 21 May 1867 citizens of Topeka voted to form the Topeka Board of Education and elected H.W. to that first Board.
On 25 September 1867 H.W. signed a petition to the state of Kansas. This petition supported voting rights for women and blacks. He was one of forty-five Kansas signers. In March 1869 H.W. was appointed postmaster of Topeka which position he held until 1873. In 1870 H.W. joined the Pilgrim Society. 1870 was the 250th anniversary year of the Pilgrim’s landing at Plymouth, Mass.[f] H.W. was appointed police judge of Topeka in 1874. In 1876 he was elected Secretary (clerk) of the Board of Education of Topeka which office he held until his death. In 1876 he was elected secretary of the Topeka Masonic Lodge, a position he filled for the rest of his life. The Free Public Library of Topeka was founded 12 November 1878 with H.W. as one of the founders:179. H.W. was a member of the Association of Old Settlers of Topeka because of his early arrival in 1856:149.
On 6 Jan1894, Harriet died. On 26 July 1899 H.W. died at his home in Topeka and was buried in the Topeka Cemetery sharing a tombstone with his wife Harriet.
H.W. married Deborah (Della) Torrey Lerow in Boston, Mass. 17 Mar 1842
They had 3 children:
Kate Leland (1843-1930)
Mary Emma “Minnie” (1845-1927)
Oliver Dimon (1847-1848)
Della died on 5 June 1850.
H.W. married Harriet Ann Stoddard in New London, Ct. 3 December 1855
They had 5 children:
William Seymour Epaphroditus (1856-1930)
Addieline L. “Addie” (1858-1938)
James Watson Brown (1860-1940)
Coit Learned (1863-1936)
Fred Colfax (1866-1945).
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John Fletcher Curry
Sophia March Curry
Nancy Garrison (McReynolds)
James Peyton McReynolds
Asa Guy McReynolds
Black John Macgregor
Lieutenant John Gregg
Jennie Ruhama "Rua" Wright (Farnsworth)
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