Jesse Herbert Farwell was born to George Farwell and Aurilla (Brownell) Farwell in North Charleston, New Hampshire, on January 22, 1834. The Farwell and Brownell families are long-time residents and well-established families of New England. Farwell was related to the descendents of Henry Farwell, Benjamin Allen, Simon Bradstreet, Thomas Dudley, and of John and Priscilla Alden of the Mayflower.1
Farwell came to Detroit in 1855 and went into the undertaking business with Marcus Stevens? and Samuel Zugg?. In 1867, he dissolved the partnership with Stevens and Zugg to enter the paving business with Smith, Cook & Co.?Road Contractor who controlled the Nicholson Paving Patent. In 1873, he left this firm to continue in the paving business with Eugene Robinson?. He seems to have left paving in 1885.2
Between 1872 and 1880, Farwell was an investor in the Clough & Warren Organ? Company of Detroit. He was also an investor, then president of the Dominion Organ and Piano? Company of Bowmanville, Ont. He led both of these firms to become leading producers of pianos and organs.ManufacturerMusical Instruments
He was part of the contracting partnership of Collins & Farwell?, which built, among other engineering projects, the Croton Aqueduct, EngineerTunnelCanalthe Poe Lock of the Soo LocksSoo Locks, a tunnel under the Niagara River at Buffalo, and the New York City Subway. In 1888, he opposed the construction of bridges over the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers preferring, instead, the construction of tunnels under the rivers. He was persuasive enough to lead to the construction of the St. Clair Tunnel in 1891. Farwell was a strong advocate of shipping canals and waterways. He spoke at many conventions for the expansion of the canal network, including an Atlantic-Pacific canal and the Nicaraguan canal.
During 1884, he bought up the failing stock of Detroit Journal (or the Detroit Evening Journal) for about $6,000 and sold it all later that year to a syndicate of William Livingstone?, John B. Corliss, and J. B. Moore? for a $4,000 profit.3 Newspaper
Farwell was member of the Democratic Party and favored women's suffrage. He was elected a trustee of the Detroit Unitarian Society and President of the Michigan State Unitarian-Universalist Association. He also supported the Detroit Universalist Society.
Farwell died on September 19, 1904, at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Emma Farwell died on September 30, 1916, at Detroit. They lived on Bagg Street, facing Cass Park, and moved among the best of Detroit's social circles.
Access Genealogy, "Biography of Jesse H. Farwell", (2013) has an extensive article on Farwell which reprints and extracts "from Merrimack and Sullivan Counties, New Hampshire Biographies." The article also seems to have extensive reflections and quotes from Farwell.
Images of his home from Early Detroit Images from the Burton Historical Collection.
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