An act to incorporate FarmingtonFarmington is coming up on an anniversary this weekend that many of its residents do not even know about. It’s probably not a big deal these days, but it certainly was 140 years ago.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Farmington is coming up on an anniversary this weekend that many of its residents do not even know about. It’s probably not a big deal these days, but it certainly was 140 years ago.
Sunday, April 1, will mark the 140th anniversary of the passage of Farmington’s first village charter by early residents. It was part of a series of events that happened in 1872, as part of Farmington’s incorporation as a village.
Officially, Farmington was approved as an incorporated village – for the first time – by the Minnesota Legislature on May 6, 1872, and the first village officials were elected the same day. The process, however, started earlier that year, in February.
“At last it seems that an act to incorporate the Village of Farmington has passed through the Legislature,” wrote John Emery in the Feb. 29, 1872 edition of The Farmington Press. “We hope to have a copy of it soon. It should be printed and put in the hands of every person interested, so that all can set and vote upon it understandingly… There can be no doubt of the importance of such a measure, in regulating and improving the village and enhancing the value of every man’s estate within its limits.”
Early history books of the area have only mentions of Farmington. A history of Farmington, written by Harriet Clay in Centennial Booklet, Farmington, Minnesota 1872-1972, claims that the community first came into being in 1865, with the first settlement in the area now near the Tamarack Business Center on Highway 3, and across to near the Vermillion River. At first, it was merely a train station in Empire, so named “because of the vast level good farm land hereabouts,” Clay wrote.
The settlement gradually moved to the present location -– downtown Farmington. When the population reached 500, early residents decided to petition for incorporation, according to Clay.
Rules and regulations
The Charter of the Village of Farmington was published, in full, in the March 21, 1872 edition of The Farmington Press.
A typed copy of the original village charter is in the records at Farmington City Hall. Bound by yellowing paper, frayed and tattered on the pages inside, the charter lays out the original dos and don’ts of early Farmington.
For instance, the early charter required that annual elections be held on the first Monday of April to elect the trustees, treasurer, justice of the peace and constable. The 1872 election itself was not scheduled until May 6.
Section 7 of the charter provided for the general well-being of the community. It gave trustees the right to enact ordinances to restrict a variety of activities in the community. They established the right to license “the selling, vending or dealing in any manner of vinous, spirituous, malt, fermented or intoxicating liquors or drinks.” It also gave them right to regulate theater and slight-of-hand performances, billiard tables, bowling alleys and auctioneers.
That same section allows for the establishment of “Fire Company, Hook and Ladder Company, and to regulate their government, to restrain drunkards, immoderate drinking or obscenity in the streets and to punish all persons guilty of the same.” Finally, it allows for a tax for every male above age 21 and under age 50 two days labor or three dollars annually.
“Our opinion is that the act will be accepted by a responsible majority; for the fact is, the better portion of the people of this village are sick of the miserable and careless manner in which the place has gone on, with no government, no regulations and no responsibility,” Emery wrote in the March 28, 1872 issue of The Farmington Press.
Days later, on a vote of 89 Yeas and 11 Nays, Farmington’s first voters accepted the Act of Incorporation.
“Now let us see that we have some good solid and sensible men for our Trustees, and all will be well,” Emery wrote on April 5, 1872.
The first election of trustees was held May 6. The trustees were T.C. Davis, B.F. Miller and E.L. Brackett, who was elected as president. Charles B. Smith was elected treasurer, L.W. Gibbons was named justice of the peace and J.F. Dilley was elected constable. The trustees appointed S. Webster as assessor, and J.W. Emery, editor of The Farmington Press, as clerk.
Farmington’s charter was amended in 1874, 1876 and 1877. Finally, according to the History of Dakota and Goodhue Counties, Vol. 1, circa 1910, the citizens petitioned the Legislature for a new charter in 1881. The new charter was approved by the legislature on Feb. 23, 1881; and by citizens on March 15, 1881.
Farmington was re-incorporated again in 1900.