Henry K. Farrand

HISTORY OF ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, MICHIGAN, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS, Published by L.H. Everts, Philadelphia, 1877, 

     Henry Kircher Farrand Sketch

 Since society was first formed on the earth, the public burdens of a community have ever been borne by a few of its individual members. Is there a school-house to be built, a church to be erected, a railroad to be secures, or even a cemetery to by surveyed and laid off for the burial of the dead, the few free-hearted, unselfish, enterprising citizens of the community to be benefited must perform all the labor and sustain the greater portion of the financial responsibility.

The little village of Colon, though possessing as much enterprise among her citizens as many of her more pretentious sisters, is yet no exception to the general rule.

Foremost among the “bearers of burdens” for the public benefit stands Henry Kitchell Farrand, whose finely cultivated farm of eight hundred acres lies near the village. Thrown early upon his own resources he became thoroughly self-reliant, and with his native energy of character, disciplined by the trying ordeals of pioneer-life in Michigan, he was well-fitted for the honorable position he occupied in his later years, and which has given him his well-earned title of a public benefactor. Though not an actual resident of the village of Colon, his residence being about a mile and a half distant there from, yet none of the residents have done more, and but a meager few as much, for the prosperity of the village and to build up for it a good reputation than has Mr. Farrand.

Not one of her public institutions or conveniences but has felt the impetus of his energy and spirit, and drawn largely from his ever-open purse, from its inception to its accomplishment and truly successful operation, and it is the delight of the historian to do honor to such a truly representative man, and adorn the page of this work with the records of his life.

Mr. Farrand was born in Mentz, Cayuga county, New York, on the 19th day of June, 1812, where he resided with his parents, Joseph and Julia Farrand, until 1834, attending the district-school in the neighborhood in his younger days, and assisting his father, on the farm of the latter, later on in life.

In the spring of the last-named year Mr. Farrand made the first venture for himself in business, renting a farm near by his father’s homestead for a cash rental higher than any tenant had ever paid before for it, every one of whom had made a losing operation of its management. His father, to test the young man, declined to assist him as he had his brother before him, but this course, instead of discouraging the new beginner, served only as a stimulus for steady exertion on his part. His aunt, Maria Farrand, who was visiting at his father’s at the time, admiring the spirit of her nephew, proposed to go to the farm with him and become his housekeeper, which proposition was quickly accepted, and on the 1st of April, 1834, young Farrand, with two good teams and one assistant, began his farming operations. He worked long and laboriously, taking no time or money for recreation or pleasure, but steadily pursued his business, and at the end of his first wheat-harvest, contrary to the expectations of his friends, freely expressed, he paid from the proceeds of his labor all of his rent, living expenses, the cost of his stock and implements, and had three or four hundred dollars to loan his prophetic friends whose predictions of failure had signally failed.

In the spring 1836 the farm he had rented for a term of years having been sold, he surrendered his lease, to take effect after his next harvest, and went to Michigan to seek for a location of his own, and finding none that suited him so well as his present homestead, that he could buy at the government price, he bought two hundred acres on the east half of section fifteen in Colon, and which was the very last tract in that township subject to entry in the general land-office.

He then returned to Mentz to harvest his wheat, which being done and disposed of, he, accompanied by his faithful aunt and judicious advisor, returned to his purchase in St. Joseph county, coming with a single pair of horses and wagon through Canada, a portion of the way with his brother Charles, whom he overtook on the road, and who settled near Burr Oak, but in Branch county.

Mr. Farrand arrived at Lorausi Schellhous’ on the 12th day of October, where he and his aunt were provided for most kindly until a log-house was put up and made comfortable, into which the new-comers moved and passed the winter as pleasantly as circumstances would allow. This pioneer cabin was the home of Mr. Farrand for seventeen years, when it gave place to the present spacious mansion in 1854.

In the spring, when farming operations actively began again, Mr. Farrand founds his means exhausted, but his will to do was as fixed and steadfast as ever, and so he began a steady march for a competency, which, despite sickness and embarrassments incident to life in a new country, he has obtained, and has used no niggardly policy in his efforts therefor.

He has added to his original purchase some six hundred acres, having about four hundred acres under cultivation. His large and commodious barns and sheds are tenanted with some of the best blooded-stock in the country, both of cattle, sheep, horses and swine, to the breeding of which he has paid considerable attention for some years, buying his first sheep at public sale of Boswell Schellhous, in the spring of 1838. This small flock of sheep were the especial care of “Aunt Maria,” who brought them home every night in the grazing season for some years.

Among the many schemes for the public good that Mr. Farrand has been engaged in since his first coming to Colon, none is more gratifying to him, by reason of the good results accomplished, than that of the Colon seminary, which was projected by himself, Dr. A. J. Kinne and some few others, a detailed account of which will be found elsewhere in our work.

In securing the passage of the railroad through the village, and thereby making it a point on the same, Mr. Farrand’s effort were most persistently put forth, both in time and money, and it was largely due to his labors and zeal that the road was not diverted from Colon entirely. When the railroad company failed to fulfill their obligations under the contract for the township bonds voted in aid of the construction, Mr. Farrand, as supervisor, instituted and pushed the suit for the recovery of the bonds so vigorously that the whole amount, twenty-five thousand dollars and accrued interest, was cancelled and returned to the town authorities, and at a most insignificant expense.

Mr. Farrand has, for the most part of his busy life, pursued the quiet path of a private citizen, but during the years 1872-73-75 he held the office of supervisor of the township. In politics he was originally a Whig, and joined the ranks of the Republican party at its formation, being an active member thereof to the present.

He is an independent thinker on religion, and liberally inclined towards all creeds. He acknowledges with gratefulness the kind offices of his aunt, Maria Farrand, who was his housekeeper and advisor in the first business years of his life and until his marriage, and who, also, when death robbed him of a companion and his children of a mother, again assumed charge of his household, and gave herself unstintingly to the care thereof. He feels that to her, in a large measure is due his early success in life, on which is based the prosperity of his later years. She died in the old homestead, February 2, 1869.

On the 7th day of December, 1837, Mr. Farrand was united in marriage with Maria, daughter of Levi and Eunice Mathews, and a sister of L. C. Mathews, of Colon. She was born in Plymouth, Litchfield county, Connecticut, on the 23d day of November, 1817. By this marriage Mr. and Mrs. Farrand had born to them the following-named children: ANN ELIZA, now Mrs. M. W. Price; HENRIETTA M., who died at the age of four years; MARGARET S., JULIA ELIZABETH, now Mrs. Oliver H. Rodd; FRANCES EUGENIA, and CHARLES H., the latter married, and with his wife and little boy and two sisters, “Maggie” and “Frank, living on the old homestead. Mrs. Farrand was an estimable woman and a helpmeet indeed for a pioneer. She was a member of the Protestant Episcopal church for several years previous to her death, which occurred on the 1st day of July, 1855. Mr. Farrand was again united in marriage on the 14th day of September, 1865, to Phebe M., daughter of Leonard and Mercy Blanchard, who was born in Marcellus, Onondaga county, New York, on the 26th day of November, 1827. A little girl, who they called Louisa Kitchell, came to gladden tier hearts for a few brief years only, and then her prattling tongue was stilled, and her active, winsome ways vanished from their sight. Mrs. Farrand is a woman of most amiable disposition, and has the love and respect of her household, among whom she moves quietly and trustingly. She is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church of Colon.