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Who is Calvin Farmer?

If you have ever been to Ball Ground, you have likely visited beautiful Calvin Farmer Park. While there, you may have wondered — who is Calvin Farmer?

Calvin Farmer was born in 1877 to William J. and Polly Farmer. Calvin graduated from the Chicago Engineering Works on March 30, 1926. He married Arizona Lee Ingram, and they had seven children: two sets of twins and one set of triplets. Calvin owned and operated a hotel in downtown Ball Ground until 1965, at which time it was demolished. The land was vacant until, years later, the City purchased the property to be used as a park.

Records show that, during the 1990s when Rick Roberts and Calvin Hill served as Ball Ground mayors, property was acquired from the estate of Zona Lee Farmer Haynes (one of Calvin’s daughters) to develop a park on Old Dawsonville Road. Zona’s children had one stipulation before finalizing the deal — the park should be named after their granddad, Calvin Farmer. The City agreed, and the rest is history. Construction began on a small pond, a children’s playground, and picnic pavilions.

Calvin was also known to have operated the power plant at Roberts Dam, located on Long Swamp Creek. On March 23, 1923, according to meeting minutes, Mayor W. H. Anderson and the City Council signed a franchise ordinance to construct and maintain a power plant for the purpose of furnishing electric energy to the municipality of Ball Ground and its inhabitants, but the minutes do not reflect that Calvin was tasked with this job. Back then, it is likely that not many people had a degree in applied electrical engineering to qualify them for this position.

During a recent hike down to Roberts Dam, Sue Haynes Malone and Glenn Haynes, Calvin’s granddaughter and grandson, shared stories that had been passed down from their mother about her days spent at the dam. They said their granddad would sometimes spend the night at the power plant during bad weather, so the town would not lose power. They shared tales of how eels would get caught in the turbines, which would cause the power to go out. No matter the time of day, Calvin would make the mile or so trip to the dam to clean the turbines and restore power to the town.

Sue also talked about how, as a young girl, Zona Lee (her mother) slept in a room of the power plant during a terrible storm. Lighting struck, sending a ball of fire across the room over her head. It frightened her so much that she never spent another night there.

Take time to visit Ball Ground soon. Stop in one of the local restaurants to pick up a meal and then visit Calvin Farmer Park or hike to Roberts Dam for an afternoon or evening of family time you won’t soon forget.

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