Leonard James Farwell was born in Watertown, New York in 1819, and lived at home with his family until he moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the early 1840s.
Shortly after his arrival he started what would quickly become the largest wholesale hardware business in the Midwest at the time, and became a man of great influence in the new state.
In 1849 he moved to Madison, where he owned nearly half of the property in the village, and made important connections in the state government. Two years later, in 1851, he became the youngest man ever elected Governor of Wisconsin, running as a Whig.
Everything was clipping along pretty well for Lenny until a financial panic in New York caused the Depression of 1857. In a very short period of time he lost nearly his entire fortune, and most of his business. A resilient and shrewd individual, he called in enough favors to get himself a political appointment in Washington, D.C. during the civil war, and was one of the witnesses of Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865.
He held on in the capitol until 1868, when his wife died, and Farwell moved his family to Chicago to start over once again. He began practicing law, opening a small office, and growing his practice steadily until the Chicago Fire in 1871 burned down his building.
Quick to take a hint, he moved his family to Grant City, Missouri, where he died in 1889. He is buried in a small plot just outside the city limits.