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Farmington

July 17, 2013

City founder to be remembered at 49th annual Founders Festival

By Sherri Kolade
C & G Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — Women were good for only a few things — cooking, cleaning, rearing children and minding their own business.

That was the mindset of the 1800s, a time when voting was not an option for women, who were often treated like second-class citizens.

But a Christian denomination, the Quakers, believed that women should have the right to bring home the bacon and fry it up, too.

“In the 1600s, you got a group of people who believed that women were equal to men,” Brian Golden, Farmington Historical Society president, said of the Quakers. “In the 1700s, 1800s, women were considered a piece of property. Religiously, they are very conservative people, but socially they are very liberal.”

Quakers belong to the Religious Society of Friends, formed in England as a new Christian denomination during the mid-1600s — and the religion spread worldwide.

Golden added that Quakers also believed that women had the right to receive an education, own property and run businesses.

Because of the Quakers’ radical beliefs about women at the time, a 40-something-year-old Quaker man named Arthur Power, of Massachusetts, was able to move to Michigan territory in the early 1800s by way of New York and — several years later — founded the township of Farmington in 1824, all with the help of his mother, who gave him $100.

He parlayed the money into greater wealth while in Farmington, N.Y., by purchasing property and selling it at a higher rate.

“Because of their (Quaker) social beliefs, Farmington was founded by a Quaker able to make it all the way to Michigan because his mother owned a business,” Golden said.

As the oldest community on the western side of the county, Farmington and its founder will be celebrated during the 49th annual Farmington Founders Festival July 19-20 on Grand River Avenue and Farmington Road, showcasing games, food, a parade and a number of other activities in downtown Farmington.

The Farmington Downtown Development Authority is at the helm of the festival’s organization and planning.

Janet Bloom, DDA events planner, said the festival is filled with kid-friendly activities, among other attractions for the whole family.

“We have crafters for shoppers in the family,” Bloom said. “For pet lovers, we have a new pet area launching this year and rock ‘n’ roll canine.” 

Golden said the festival is an opportunity to celebrate “the people that came before us.”

“(They) formed what we know of today as Farmington,” Golden said.

Golden added that a number of people followed Power to Michigan, and many Quakers founded other places named Farmington throughout the country.

“There are 13 Farmingtons across the country,” he said, “and most of them were founded by Quakers. Especially the ones on the East Coast moving westward to Michigan.”

He said that Quakers have left an indelible print on the community, including a Quaker Cemetery on Gill Road, south of Grand River, among other touches.

“If you drive around Farmington, Farmington Hills you will find all kinds of references to Quakers,” Golden said.

He added that several subdivisions, offices and buildings have the name “Quaker.”

“We were the first Quaker community in Michigan,” Golden said. “We share their history.”

Parking for the festival will be available at Sellers Buick Pontiac GMC, on 38000 Grand River Ave.; at Farmington High School; and at all downtown municipal lots. Shuttles run every 20 minutes from Sellers Buick Pontiac GMC and Farmington High School, 32000 Shiawassee St., from 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

For more information, go to www.foundersfestival.com or call (248) 477-1199.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sherri Kolade at skolade@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.