Left: Rev. Paul Gordon Favor; Right: Hiking Group (Richard Mallett Third from Left in Front) Credit: Anne Mallett and Butler Old South Book

Hello again, dear readers! I am happy to be back from a leave of absence that I took in August, ready to bring you all back in time with me again. Today, I have an old favorite story to convey to all of you. To preface this journey into the past, in my opinion, one of the finest historians to ever grace the town of Farmington was Richard “Dick” Mallett (1908-2005). Writing four books on the history of the town, Dick grew up in and spent many years in Farmington.

His father was W.G. Mallett (Principal of Farmington State Normal School, now UMF, from 1909-1940), and his mother Ella (Longfellow) Mallett was the president of the local Every Monday Club. When he was alive, Dick would sometimes tell the story of the time when he and several other boys went with Old South Congregational Church Rev. Paul Gordon Favor (an interesting note: Favor’s niece was actress Bette Davis) on a hiking trip up Mt. Blue. In memory of Dick, let’s take a trip back to 1917 and join the hiking party on a trip up old Mt. Blue.

Monday, September 10, 1917 is quite like many early September days: warm, clear, and perfect for outdoor activities. Eight-year-old Dick Mallett is playing with his friend Peanut McDonald on the lawn of the Octagon House (the Mallett household) in the midmorning when Rev. Favor approaches the young boys. He invites the youngsters on a hike with other lads. Peanut is a bit apprehensive, as he is Catholic, but Rev. Favor promises not to bring up religion for the entire day.

The boys accompany Rev. Favor in his auto to Temple, where they park at the Briggs farm around 10 in the morning. From here, the hiking party embarks on their journey. After several hours of hiking through the woods, stopping only for lunch around noon, the group comes across houses around 4.

This sends alarm bells ringing, and upon further investigation, it is discovered that they have entered the town of Weld. After a democratic vote, the group decides that it is still worth climbing Mt. Blue. They find the correct trail and make it to the mountain’s summit around dusk. Satisfied, the boys and Rev. Favor make their way back down the mountain in the direction of the Briggs farm.

Unfortunately, the geographically unaccustomed group takes a wrong turn, and the group is lost on Mt. Blue. Rev. Favor leads the group through the woods, and they find a road. They follow the road for a while, but eventually, it becomes dark and quite cold. The group decides to stop next to the road and build a fire. Around the fire, the boys tell many stories and enjoy each other’s company.

Peanut thinks it’s great fun to tell the group that they are going to be eaten by bears, much to the chagrin of some of the younger boys. Sleep is very difficult on account of the cold weather, but the stars are magnificent. Around 4 in the morning, the boys see headlights come into view. Unbeknownst to the lads, a search party was sent out earlier in the night when they didn’t return to Farmington. The party, led by Franklin County Sheriff Burt Small, arrives on the scene.

Behind him, Sumner P. Mills (father of one of the boys and current Gov. Mills’ grandfather) gets out of his auto and approaches Rev. Favor. Mills remarks to the reverend that he lacked judgment during the trip but is happy to see that his son William is safe.

The search party brings Dick, Peanut, Rev. Favor, and the rest of the boys back to the Briggs farm where they switch autos. On the ride home from Temple to Farmington, Favor runs over a skunk, spraying all of the occupants of the car. Dick returns home to the loving arms of his parents, but unfortunately, he is quite smelly (Story from Richard Mallett).

Layne Nason is a Farmington historian, specializing in the history of the Abbott School for Boys and Farmington during the era of the Great War.

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