The Bell That Saved Farmington, MN

The fire bell that saved Farmington, Minnesota, way back when.

The fire bell that saved Farmington, Minnesota, way back when.

Here’s a photo from my recent trip to Farmington, Minnesota – the actual hometown of Rose Thompson Hovick’s family. I didn’t mean to match my slacks to the color of the monument, but take a look at what happened! Tee hee.

One of the best and most enjoyable things about of writing my book, MAMA ROSE’S TURN, was that I uncovered Rose’s family’s real history, as opposed to the more abbreviated version that was put before the world in the Broadway musical GYPSY. The family moved to Seattle but their story began in Europe first, and settled in Dakota County, Minnesota after they arrived in America. They were a prosperous and adaptable lot, Rose’s forebears. They were hospitality merchants. In Farmington they had a billiard parlor, tavern, hotel, candy store and restaurant!

Here I am by the bell that saved Farmington during the “Great Farmington Fire” of 1879. More than twenty-five buildings were lost, but not one single human life! What makes that statistic so special? Those indomitable townspeople had to fight a gigantic blaze that took down the all those buildings in the center of their town with little buckets of water. Sophisticated (by 1879 standards, anyway) fire trucks tried to get there from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, but they did not make it to the town in time to help fight the blaze.

There’s a lot to be learned by such a story of a town full of people all working together. It happened before Rose was born, but her mother was there. So were her great-uncles. They formed an “Egle Brothers Bucket Brigade” on that night, rose to the occasion, and ultimately helped extinguish that fire. BRAVO!


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