Wednesday, April 2, 2014

1) Levi Farnsworth - Master - 1882

This is a work in process; the following information has been gathered so far:

 First Master of Ellensburg Lodge #39

Mr. Levi Farnsworth lived a most unusual life, by current standards at least, as the bio sketch below shows:

Levi Farnsworth (1804-1884)

From: Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine) 1883, January 30

“The Forty-Niner
One of them returns after many years”

Levi Farnsworth, of Jonesboro who left Machias, November 4, 1849 in the brig Agate, for the Pacific Coast, arrived home January 9, after an absence of 33 years. He stopped by the house of his son, Mr. J. E. Farnsworth, where his wife and children assembled in less than two hours after his arrival, only one daughter, Mrs. Mary A., wife of Jason C Drisko, absent on account of sickness. There were twenty friends at tea; his wife, children, part of his grandchildren, Mrs. H. C. Hall, a sister of Mrs. Farnsworth, and they had a very pleasant meeting. The old gentleman said "this is the happiest hour of my life" Mr. Farnsworth is well known in Vancouver, Washington Territory, Ellisburg, and many other towns on the Pacific Coast, and is respected wherever known. He has held many prominent positions in Vancouver, has been mayor of the city, also sheriff several years. He was elected several times member of the Territory legislature. He is 78 years of age. The journey home was about 5,000 miles, yet he was a little fatigued and is looking younger and smarter than his friends expected. Old townsmen and the younger gave him a cordial welcome to his native bearh where they unite in wishing him yet many peaceful days.

When Mr. Farnsworth left home he parted with his wife and six children. On his return all were alive to greet him but one daughter who died twenty years ago. The brig Agate was built at Machiasport by Otis Woodruff in 1848. When she sailed from Machias a large crowd assembled to see her off. Thomas Johnson of Eastport was master. Albert Pillsbury ownned half. Otis Woodruff , the builder an eighth, John Mereen, of Whitneyville, Martha Bicknell, of Machias, heir of Jeremiah Bradbury of Calais, an eighth each. The brig was loaded with frame timber, brick, shingles and other materials for houses in California, sent for the market.

Copyright 2008 Jerry Olson

I'm not sure exactly what was meant by "brig Agate" above, but this is an interesting read.  

So he was about 45years old and had a wife and some grown children and headed to the west coast to search his fortune.  During the time he was gone he was Mayor of Vancouver, Sheriff, a legislative committeeman and was by-and-large successful.  This story reads a little bit like the Odyssey.

 This is one of the better photos I could find.  Given the time period and the fact that the eyes seem to be closed, I sort of wonder if it was a post-mortem photograph.  Those were common back then.

Here are a few other things WM Farnsworth was involved with.

1st Mayor of Vancouver Washington - 1858

He was the Road Commissioner for Vancouver in the 1860s

Instrumental in building Snoqualamie Pass and locating CWU in Kittitas
County.  (he was appointed to a commission to choose where in Clark county to build a Normal School!)

  Below is an excerpt from the 2007 history of #39 which discusses WM Farnsworth's activities in Freemasonry and Ellensburg:

Levi Farnsworth – 1882
The first Master of the Lodge was Levi Farnsworth, who was born in Maine in 1805 and, before he came to Ellensburg, worked as a surveyor, shipwright, and millwright. WB Farnsworth arrived in the Kittitas Valley in 1878 after living in the Vancouver, Washington area where he served as Mayor in 1858. While in Vancouver, WB Farnsworth distinguished himself as a prominent and active Mason. In 1858 he was the very first Junior Grand Warden for the Grand Lodge of the Washington Territories. He was also a charter member of Washington Lodge No. 4, serving as its first Junior Warden. He later came to live in the Yakima area where he was active in politics in the early and mid 1870s. Upon arrival in the Kittitas Valley, WB Farnsworth, then 70 years old, prospered, acquiring property, and starting at least one business. Together with John Shoudy, a man often mentioned as the founder of Ellensburg, and James Dysart (who would join the Lodge in 1889), WB Farnsworth acquired the first waterpower claim on the Yakima River. The three men used this claim to power a sawmill in the valley three miles west of town. WB Farnsworth was 74 years old when he became the first Master of Ellensburg Lodge #39 in 1882. Unfortunately he did not remain in Ellensburg for long. The Lodge minutes for the evening of Saturday, November 18, 1882 record the passage of a motion expressing a vote of thanks to WB Farnsworth …who is about to start on a journey east and each and every member expressed regrets at losing so valuable an instructor and teacher.” The minutes of July 4, 1883 noted that Levi Farnsworth was unanimously voted an honorary member of the Lodge. His death was reported in the minutes of March 15, 1884, and the Lodge was draped in sorrow to mark his passing on May 3, 1884.

Hopefully as time allows we will add to and improve this interesting man's historical bio.

BACK to list of Past Masters - Ellensburg #39

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