The Henry Wilson Museum at the Goodwin Library
The Henry Wilson Museum is operated by the Farmington Historical Society. The museum is open during Meetings of the Historical Society, held on the first Friday of each month, on Hay Day, and by special appointment.
The native Indians called the area "Chemung," meaning "canoe place." When settlers arrived in the 1770's, it was known as the Northwest Parish of Rochester. Distance and rough roads made it difficult for these first families to travel to the established church in Rochester, although they were taxed heavily for it. This age old problem of taxation was the catalyst which caused the citizens to petition for a charter to incorporate a separate township of Farmington, and this was granted on December 1, 1798. The first town meeting was held on March 11, 1799, at the home of Simon Dame. The 141 voters present elected three selectmen: Idhabod Hayes, Lieutenant Ephraim Kimball and David Roberts. This form of government has been maintained, with the addition of a town administrator, to this day.
Originally an agricultural settlement, the early homes were farms in the Merrill's Corner section, hence the town name. In the 1800s, the establishment of water-powered industries along the Cocheco, Ela and Mad Rivers caused a population shift with the present downtown area evolving near these rivers. The subsequent construction, in 1849, of a railroad through the mill area brought further prosperity and cemented the location of the town commercial center. In the early days this business area was referred to as "The Dock" or "Puddledock," a name which endures today on the masthead of the local newspaper, The Puddledock Pres
Though difficult to envision today, the downtown area once contained several hotels, grocery stores and even a movie theater and bowling alley. Farmington has had its ups and downs like any other community, with prosperity checked by disasters and economic depressions. Through good and bad times, its generations of loyal residents remained strong and supportive of one another, with deep pride in the past accomplishments and optimism for the future.
The Historical Society does not maintain historical records of residents and families previously living in Farmington. The Goodwin Library does have a few records from local cemeteries. While we welcome questions of any kind, and will try to answer them as best we can, please contact the town offices and Goodwin Library first, if you are conducting genealogical searches. They are more equipped to help you with your questions.
Meetings are at 7:00 PM
All meetings are free and open to the public. Membership is $5/year.