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Chamber luncheon turns into local history lesson

The Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Luncheon featured a living history lesson on the city and information on a program offering help for community and economic development in eight counties.

Elma Jennings portrayed Sarah Barton Murphy, wife of Rev. William Murphy who in 1798 received Spanish land grants for 640 acres land, part of which would become Murphy’s Settlement. The area would later become the city of Farmington.

Jennings, as Murphy, would tell the story of how she taught her husband – who could not read or write – to sign his name and set in motion the founding of the city of Farmington.

“Murphy’s Settlement – Farmington – was founded on a simple signature,” Jennings said as Murphy. 

“When they came all the way from Eastern Tennessee to Ste. Genevieve, an Indian guide brought them here because they knew there were a lot of springs in this area,” she said. The area claimed by the elder Murphy was the Carter Spring area, which is located near the corner of First and South Washington Streets.

David, the oldest of the Murphy sons, would claim land near Wade’s Spring – land located on what is now North Washington Street in Farmington.

When Missouri became a state in 1821, David donated 52 acres to the city to build the town of Farmington, one acre of land which would be donated to build a county courthouse.

“That’s why the courthouse and annex and where they are today because the Murphy’s still owned that one acre of ground,” Jennings, as Murphy, told the crowd. “That’s why Farmington is the county seat, because (David) was a member of the Missouri General Assembly.”

The land belonging to David stayed within the Murphy family until 1945, when it was purchased to build Washington-Franklin Elementary School.

“With me, being Sarah Barton Murphy, I couldn’t be any happier than having a place of education for the students in this town,” Jennings said, adding she started a school in her home shortly after settling in the area in 1803.

Murphy is also credited with starting the first Sunday School west of the Mississippi River in 1805. At the conclusion of her presentation, Jennings told those in attendance to read Psalm 1 and Psalm 15 and think of community.

Read more about Jennings’ portrayal of Sarah Barton Murphy in the Jan. 28 edition of the Farmington Press.

Janey Radford with SEED$ – Southeast Economic Development Fund, Inc. – was the featured business at this month’s meeting. Greg Shinn of Thurman, Shinn and Company introduced Radford. His accounting firm was this month’s sponsor for the luncheon and invited Radford to speak about SEED$.

The program works with qualifying small and micro-businesses on getting access to loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 for start-up and expansion to benefit the low-income communities in the eight counties it serves, using flexible underwriting criteria that may not be able to support a bank’s underwriting requirements, according to information provided by Radford.

SEED$ partners with local sources such as the USDA, Iron County Economic Partnership, Industrial Development Authorities of St. Francois and Washington Counties and private sources as well.

Since 2013, SEED$ has counseled and trained more than 100 small businesses and entrepreneurs in a variety of industries, Radford said on Thursday.

Additionally, the program has approved six loans totaling $320,000 – resulting in a projected job creating of 56 full-time and 20 part-time positions, according to Radford. The business loan capital, technical assistance and training provided by SEED$ helps both new entrepreneurs and established companies.

Laura Raymer, director of operations and member engagement, thanked the 2016 Impact Partners, welcoming Crystal Heating and Cooling as new partner along with Auffenberg Chevrolet/Buick/GMC, Belgrade State Bank, Daily Journal, First State Community Bank, Hampton Inn, Missouri Land Company, Parkland Health Center, Redfield Collision Center, Sargent Construction, State Farm-Chris Morrison, and US Bank.

New member businesses include Anytime Fitness, Catfish Kettle, Crossroads Custom Framing, Elemental CrossFit, Farmington Christian Church, Kelly Fallert, Moss Media, New York Life, White Weddings and associate member Joshua Barr Barrett.

Elma Jennings portrays Sarah Barton Murphy during the Farmington Regional Chamber Business and Community luncheon on Thursday.

Elma Jennings portrays Sarah Barton Murphy during the Farmington Regional Chamber Business and Community luncheon on Thursday.

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or

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