By Jaine Treadwell, The Messenger Pike County is mourning the death of great lady who was arguably the most influential woman in Troy and Pike County history.
Margaret Pace Farmer died Friday, Jan. 19, 2007, at the age of 94, leaving a legacy that will benefit many generations to come.
Bill Rice, Troy historian, said Farmer was so important in preserving the history of Troy and Pike County that it is hard to think that anyone else could have done what she did.
“She was one of my favorite people,” Rice said. “Her father, Matthew Downer Pace, was the fourth president of Troy University. She was married to Curren Farmer, who was the plant manager at the university. He was responsible for many things at the university including the building of the golf course.”
Rice said Farmer also was a successful businesswoman.
“She and her husband built about 500 houses in the area around the university, and they founded the pioneer museum in Troy that is now the Pike Pioneer Museum of Alabama,” Rice said.
However, Farmer was widely recognized and appreciated for her two history books about Pike County.
“Margaret Pace Farmer wrote the best history books about Pike County that have ever been written, and they will always be the best history books about the county,” Rice said “The first was a classic history of the county until 1900. The other was the 150-year history of the county, through 1971.
“Every history that had been written about Pike County was wrong until she wrote those two books. Margaret wrote a weekly historical column for The Troy Messenger and was personally responsible for The Troy Messenger being put on tapes and on file for use in historical research. She was also responsible for the re-establishment of the public library in Troy.”
Farmer's first history of Pike County led to the formation of the Pike County Historical Society in 1953.
“People ask me how I know so much about the history of Pike County, and I always say because I read Margaret Pace Farmer's books,” Rice said. “Margaret Pace Farmer was a tremendous influence in Troy and Pike County, and her influence will continue to be felt for generations to come,”
Karen Bullard, Troy Public Library genealogy specialist, agreed that Farmer did more to preserve the history of Pike County and pass it along than anyone in the county's history.
“When Mrs. Farmer believed in something she worked to get it started and worked to see it to fruition,” Bullard said. “Pike County has lost a great friend.”
Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said that he couldn't imagine that there would ever be anyone like Margaret Pace Farmer again.
“When God made her, he threw away the mold,” Lunsford said. “I thought the world of her. Mrs. Farmer will be greatly missed. She was such a stickler about history. She was passionate about history and about her community. She almost demanded that you read her books. They were very accurate accounts. That was her intention - to write accurate histories of Troy and Pike County.”
Farmer didn't only write about the history of Pike County, she was a part of it. What she accomplished with the pen was only a part of her contributions to the community.
Gary Guthrie, president of Troy Bank and Trust, said Farmer was a part of this history of Pike County.
“People like her don't come along often,” he said. “Margaret Pace Farmer was dedicated to the community. She loved her community and she loved the people. When the bank celebrated it 100th anniversary, she was here and really didn't want to go home.”
To emphasize how much a part of the community Farmer was, Guthrie said she had met every president of Troy Bank and Trust.
“She was a great lady, and she will be missed,” he said.
Not many people in Troy and Pike County didn't know Farmer or know of her. Some were fortunate to be able to call her friend.
“Margaret was a very good friend,” said Eulalia Holston. “And if it had not been for Margaret, we would not have a Pike County Historical Society. She was a friend to everyone. She was a joy to work with because she cared about people and she cared about Troy and Pike County. She loved her family. Her children were so special to her. She was a good mama and a good friend and we will all miss her.”