Arriving upon land west of the Mississippi in 1798 – which was, at that time, part of the upper Louisiana Territory and under Spanish rule – was the Kentucky-native William Murphy. Murphy was searching for the ideal site to relocate his family and, as the tradition goes, came to find a spring near the now-standing St. Francois County Courthouse with the aid of a local Indian. Deciding that this was an excellent place to set up home, Murphy acquired a Spanish Land Grant, allowing him and his family to establish a settlement along the St. Francois River.
In his travels back to Kentucky, Murphy passed, leaving it up to his wife, Sarah Barton Murphy, and their grown sons to establish the settlement – which they did when arriving to the site around 1800. Named Murphy’s Settlement, Sarah Barton Murphy is known to have assembled the premier Protestant Sunday School west of the Mississippi River. Due to Spanish law barring any religious services that were not of Roman Catholic tradition, Murphy and her students orchestrated the learning in secret.
A post office in Murphy’s Settlement opened in 1817, followed by the annexation of the land to the United States through the Louisiana Purchase – creating the state of Missouri. With the advent of this, David Murphy made a contribution of 52 acres of land for the installation of the county seat of what was soon to be St. Francois County in 1822. The name of the town, Farmington, was selected in 1825, with incorporation as a town granted in 1836 – soon becoming a village 20 years later in 1856.
In the mid-1800s, Farmington enjoyed growth and economic well-being through the building of the historic Plank Road, which stretched from Pilot Knob to Ste. Genevieve. The road was built to transport both supplies from the shipping facilities located along the river to the mines and to move the mine’s iron ore to the shipping facilities. The route was soon taken over by the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad.
The first public school was constructed in 1870 and in 1879, Farmington gained the recognition as a Fourth-Class City – an accolade that was surpassed in 1981, when Farmington became a Third-Class City.
Laying down roots more than two centuries ago, Farmington has certainly become a prosperous Midwestern city. Since its 1860 population of 500, the city has transformed into a community of more than 19,000. Its economic sector has continued to thrive and its educational institutions and medical centers maintain the highest level of quality. Holding tight to its values, residents and businesses take pleasure in living in “The City of Tradition of Progress.”