The first group of settlers, located in this immediate vicinity, was a group from Bradford, Pa. They came to Plum Creek, now Lexington, arriving there April 16, 1883, and journeyed southwest, drawing lots for the railroad sections, taking up homesteads and tree claims joining the railroad land near here. In order to locate the south line of Dawson County, the group had to get a Union Pacific surveyor to make a survey, from the west boundary of Gosper County to the southwest corner of Lincoln County. From this line, settlers were able to locate their claims.
The group from Pennsylvania filed on government land May 11, 1883 at the North Platte land office. With what they could file on and with the amount purchased they had forty sections of land in all.
One section 33-9-25 was laid out, A well was drilled in about the center of the section and a postoffice, store, hotel and blacksmith shop were erected in 1884.
At a meeting of the stockholders of the Keystone Improvement Co., held at Gothenburg, January 22, 1885 the following officers were elected: M. B. Taylor, president and R. T. Thompson, secretary-treasurer.
A mail route from Lexington was established in 1885, when the Keystone postoffice was opened, in the store building. "Cap" Smith was postmaster. Previous to that, who ever went to Plum Creek brought the mail to the settlement and left it at the store and everybody sorted it over and took what they considered theirs.
In 1885 another store building was erected by Castile and Anderson and a fair sized stock of goods carried.
Dr. W. P. Smith put a small stock of drugs in the "Cap" Smith store, which he afterwards traded to E. B. Duham, who came from Illinois. In the winter of 1885 work started on the railroad in what is known as the Murphy cut and the big cut west of the high bridge in Deer Creek.
The settlers had agreed that they would pull together and thought that the railroad would establish their station at Keystone, when it came through. However, when the railroad did push west from Holdrege, disagreement arose and finally the town site was bought at the present location and Keystone left out. As soon as it was certain that there would be no town at Keystone, the settlers moved their biuldings [sic.] to Farnam, with the exception of the hotel, which was moved to the place where John Kitchens lived. It was torn down about three years ago. The postoffice was moved to Farnam and is today the front part of the building just across the street from the McMichael garage, known as the Tufts building, where Merlin Hazens now live. The other buildings have been destroyed by fire or were torn down to make room for later buildings.
The earli[e]st thought of a possibility of a railroad was in March 1884 when Mr. Billings, a topographical surveyor came by horseback with a well equipped saddle of all surveyors instruments and stayed all night at the M J. Tufts home. After riding from Hastings and not passing many settler homes he appreciated the comforts of the barn, as the family were living in their haymow during the completion of their frame home. Before leaving he assured Mr. Tufts of a railroad before long.
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A stree[t] scene of Farnam looking north. The first building on the left is the Nelson Clothing Co. the first building on the right is W. Clark Jones Lumber & coal.
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Street scene of Farnam looking south. Note the small trees. The first house on the left is the house that Mr. and Mrs. Glen McNickle now live in. It has been remodeled. The big house across the street is the one that Mr. and Mrs. Orvale Widick live in now.