Almira Ames Farnham was born in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1800. She married John Farnham at the age of twenty-five but was widowed fourteen years later, leaving her with five children. Later the family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, where several of the children worked in the mills while Farnham took in boarders. Two of these boarders, Tom Hall and Tom Dunn, eventually married into the family. In 1855, several members of the family, including Farnham, traveled to Minnesota to homestead. A financial panic in 1857 caused foreclosure on the land owned by Dunn and Hall. In response, most of the family members decided to move to Colorado. Upon hearing reports of Indian uprisings, however, the caravan stopped in Iowa, and the family decided to settle there. In later years, Farnham alternated living with her son Hiram Farnham's family, near Morley, Iowa, and her daughter Mary Dunn's family north of Anamosa. She died at Dunn's house on June 8, 1896.