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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Question about W. Milton Farrow (Read 5501 times)
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #30 - Apr 25th, 2024 at 8:17am
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Going back to the Parker example and “what I think “vs what I know. 

Doubt if Parker exhibition shooters transferred shotguns to buyers at events. They only built to order & inventory on hand not likely.

There are surviving records from known top Parker shooters like Dubray that show many guns ordered, more than individual would likely buy. Same situation with well known gun dealers multiple orders without individuals names. Other records have the individuals name and not repeated. They all detail guns specifics,  gage, stock dimensions # of pellets delivered at distance etc.

If we use that example on rifles not likely a small maker  would have inventory at events.  I think Waterman has it right. 

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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #31 - Apr 25th, 2024 at 11:10am
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In the current ASSRA March- April 2024 journal there is an add for Amoskeag auction companys auction 141 March 23rd  and24th.
The top rifle in the add is a Bullard single shot target rifle with a Farrow tang sight. Fits well with this thread, Farrows own rifle??
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #32 - Apr 25th, 2024 at 1:39pm
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waterman wrote on Apr 25th, 2024 at 4:36am:
marlinguy wrote on Apr 24th, 2024 at 10:53pm:
waterman wrote on Apr 24th, 2024 at 10:36pm:


WMF started working as the assistant manager (of sales) on Jan 1, 1884. How long had Bullard been in production?  They only made Large-Frame rifles for most of 1884.  I think he only took demonstration Large Frame rifles (several) and took orders. Probably made deals for distributorship with dealers, sent orders by mail, or maybe telegraph.  Didn't hand over any rifles.

Took Small Frame rifles to New Orleans in December, but described the show as a disaster.


In referring to large frame and small frame rifles, were these single shots or repeaters?


All were repeaters. The Single Shots did not appear until 1885 or 1886, after WMF had departed. 


Yes, he was using a repeater and my speculation is he was using one chambered in .45-70.  I remain interested in the fact that he was traveling the country in 1884, demonstrating the rifles and winning matches.  The Bullard is a very fine rifle.  I don't know if I can post a link here, but here is Mark Douglas from The Cinnabar Ranch, describing and demonstrating a Bullard repeater.  He does a great job of it (and he has a ton of vintage rifle/vintage gunsmithing videos that are highly enjoyable to watch):   

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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #33 - Apr 25th, 2024 at 2:29pm
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Tom_Trevor assra life no.71 wrote on Apr 25th, 2024 at 11:10am:
In the current ASSRA March- April 2024 journal there is an add for Amoskeag auction company's auction 141 March 23rd  and24th.
The top rifle in the add is a Bullard single shot target rifle with a Farrow tang sight. Fits well with this thread, Farrows own rifle??


I do not think that Farrow had a Bullard single shot, simply because he was concentrating on making and marketing his own rifles.  But he did know men who worked at Bullard.  One of those men might have decided to put a Farrow tang sight on a Bullard Single Shot.  Also, Farrow advertised & sold his tang sights.  Anyone could have bought one.
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #34 - Apr 25th, 2024 at 2:46pm
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Continuing my Farrow tale:

Abbie’s parents may not have been thrilled by a quickie private wedding, but WMF and Abbie made their marriage a success.  They had 3 children; their first child was a girl they named Emily. Their 2nd child was another girl, Louisa, born 9 months to the day after her parents’ second stay at the Creedmoor Range hotel, and then a boy.  Music was a central part of their lives together and was a major factor in deciding where each of Farrow’s future workshops would be located.

All his adult life, WMF was deathly afraid of tuberculosis, not an unreasonable fear in the 19th Century.  The cause and cure were then unknown, but most of those contracting “consumption” died.  TB was thought to be associated with big cities and “bad air”.  Newport had clean air and its main industry was catering to the wealthy.  All in all, a good place to avoid TB and raise kids.  Abbie was content, as were her parents and Jerusha.  There were 2 little girls to raise.
  
But Farrow was on the go.  The WMF I’ve studied probably worked out a profitable deal with the sole wholesalers of Ballards, the firm of Shoverling & Daly of New York City.  Farrow began to sell J.M. Marlin-Ballard Long-Range rifles in mid-1877, both on his own and also, via his brother Tom, at their sporting goods store in Newport.  Probably he began shooting them soon afterward.  The Long-Range No. 7 Ballards were better target rifles than either the Sharps or the Remington products, even if the early Ballards had Sharps barrels. 
 
One report I read (can’t remember where) told me he traveled to California in December 1877.  That would be out of character for WMF.  His actions, time after time, demonstrated that his family was his #1 priority.  My opinion is that he was home in Newport for the holidays, but in early 1878, less than 2 years after Custer went down at the Little Big Horn, Farrow took a winter business trip to San Francisco, riding in a coal-burning passenger train across the plains and through the snowy Sierras.  

Because it was winter, it seems unlikely that Farrow made many stops to demonstrate and sell Ballards.  A business trip?  What business?  Perhaps WMF personal business; prize money and side bets from the West Coast winter and spring matches.
« Last Edit: Apr 25th, 2024 at 3:28pm by waterman »  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #35 - Apr 25th, 2024 at 7:18pm
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This is one of the finest reads I've seen here or most anywhere Waterman! Thanks again.
  

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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #36 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 4:17am
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Just thinking about that trip boggles my mind.  WMF was a planner, a guy who was always thinking several steps ahead, and a guy who concentrated on the details.  I think he was a man who had to be in control of every situation, a micromanager, yet he gets on a train in the middle of winter and sets out for Frisco. 

Everything on that trip was totally beyond his control, full of risk. WMF was touring for the money, but only if the odds were in his favor.  This winter trip is very much out of character.  The Indians were not all pacified, living on reservations with good paying jobs at the casino.  The buffalo may have been hunkered down for the winter, but they had not all been turned into robes and leather belting to drive machines in America’s factories.  Did the precursors to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid work in the winter?   

I grew up in a RR town on the prairie.  As a kid, I saw old steam engines that had been converted to snow blowers.  Dad’s home movies show rail traffic stopped by drifting snow until the snow blowers showed up.  Did they have snow blowers in 1878?   

I imagine Farrow dressed warmly, wrapped in a buffalo robes, and dreading the next trip to the unheated rolling restroom.  Did the trains run 24/7 or did they stop at night, the passengers staying in RR-operated hotels?  How long was the trip?  My guess is 8 to 10 days, changing trains several times. 
 
In April, 1878, in Alameda, California, WMF won first place in a San Francisco Turnverein Schuetzen Match; 60 shots offhand at 200 yards, German ring target. Score was 1268 out of 1500 points.  He reportedly won enough in side bets in the San Francisco Bay area winter and spring matches to support his family in reasonable style for two years.  How much was that?

After the Alameda match, he went east, probably giving demonstrations, selling Ballards, and entering matches.  In June, 1878, he won a 600-shot offhand match at the Union Hill range in Morris, New Jersey.  600 shots offhand?  The matches lasted all day, but how many of us could do that?  WMF wasn’t a big strong guy.  He is described as standing 5 foot. 9 inches and weighing about 140 lbs.   

I’ve seen some articles saying the family lived in New York City in 1879 because WMF worked for Shoverling & Daly.  I’ve not yet found any first hand evidence.  Early in 1880, WMF and Abbie decided they had been apart far too much.  They bought a house at 3 Howard Place in Jersey City, NJ, so that WMF could commute to S & D.
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #37 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 4:21am
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More from above:

They bought a house at 3 Howard Place in Jersey City, NJ, so that WMF could commute to Shoverling & Daly and be home more often.  No house there today, but it was likely a brick 2-story house, probably a duplex.  The 1880 Census tells us that the Farrows had a live-in maid. 
 
In May, 1882, the Farrows moved back to Newport.  Abby was pregnant with child #3 and needed help from both the Farrow and Greene families.  WMF, Jr. was born in October of ‘82.  On Jan. 1, 1884, WMF took the job as Bullard’s Assistant Manager in charge of sales. 
 
Bullard was located in Springfield, Massachusetts, a big manufacturing city with bad air.  Farrow moved Abby and the kids to Springfield in 1884, most likely as soon as school was out.  Both WMF and Abbie probably regretted every minute of it.  Bullard laid off most of their employees in January of 1885, but WMF stayed at the plant. 
 
As soon as the first Farrow was demonstrated (April, 1885), and (my idea) WMF had a large supply of stocks and at least some action parts and barrels on hand, the Farrows left Springfield.

In May, 1885, the Farrow family moved to Brattleboro, Vermont.  The family reasons were probably good schools, music, and clean air.  There was industry, but it was water powered.  WMF found a suitable empty building (not sure where) and established the first Farrow Arms company.   
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #38 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 7:40am
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Waterman, very nicely done, please keep it coming
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #39 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 10:52am
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This is really interesting.  Thanks for postng it all!
Bob
  

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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #40 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 12:08pm
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On the topic of Bullard single-shots, here is, I believe, the rarest one ever made.  I talked to Perry about this rifle a couple decades ago:

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Edit:  note the patent date of 1881 on this single-shot rifle.
« Last Edit: Apr 26th, 2024 at 3:09pm by BullardShooter »  

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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #41 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 2:13pm
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I've left all the parts about Farrow and long range shooting, 1875-1883, the Creedmoor matches, the 2 trips to the UK & Europe, and the feud with Bodine out of all this because I don't have the whole story and chronology down to my satisfaction.  That's what made him famous and got him a lot of money.  I'll dig into it and post it later.  

The Bodine feud alone is worth a discussion. Then stick in the Brown rifle and Farrow's supporters in the feud, the NRA, Jesse James and the state of the US economy when all that was happening and it turns into a shaggy dog story.

That leads into his awful little book. I'll rant on that later. IMHO, it was just a marketing gimmick.

As a single shot guy, that long range stuff was interesting to read about, but in reality, nothing I could try out.  My Farrow is a .22 and it's an offhand rifle, plus my father and grandfather were old-time watchmakers, so I can relate to that part of the story.  

My real interest is in the Farrow rifles, all the different models, and where and when they were made.  

And then why he stopped making them and what happened after that.  Did you know that he was one of the "behind the scenes" guys with Winder, the Stevens-Pope barrels for the Krag, and the Winder Musket?  And that he competed at Sea Girt with a Krag? And maybe with a Winchester High Wall in .30/40?
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #42 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 3:11pm
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waterman wrote on Apr 26th, 2024 at 2:13pm:
I've left all the parts about Farrow and long range shooting, 1875-1883, the Creedmoor matches, the 2 trips to the UK & Europe, and the feud with Bodine out of all this because I don't have the whole story and chronology down to my satisfaction.  That's what made him famous and got him a lot of money.  I'll dig into it and post it later.  

The Bodine feud alone is worth a discussion. Then stick in the Brown rifle and Farrow's supporters in the feud, the NRA, Jesse James and the state of the US economy when all that was happening and it turns into a shaggy dog story.

That leads into his awful little book. I'll rant on that later. IMHO, it was just a marketing gimmick.

As a single shot guy, that long range stuff was interesting to read about, but in reality, nothing I could try out.  My Farrow is a .22 and it's an offhand rifle, plus my father and grandfather were old-time watchmakers, so I can relate to that part of the story.  

My real interest is in the Farrow rifles, all the different models, and where and when they were made.  

And then why he stopped making them and what happened after that.  Did you know that he was one of the "behind the scenes" guys with Winder, the Stevens-Pope barrels for the Krag, and the Winder Musket?  And that he competed at Sea Girt with a Krag? And maybe with a Winchester High Wall in .30/40?


All very interesting.  Can't wait to read more!
  

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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #43 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 9:40pm
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I’ve been thinking a lot more about WMF’s “late 1877” and “early 1878” RR trip to the West Coast and points between, trying to think what WMF would have done and what Shoverling & Daly of New York City would have had him do. 
 
WMF had his eye on the double eagle.  Winning a very few big matches each year brought more in prize money than an ordinary man could earn in a year.  Side bets brought in even more.  S&D were probably paying Farrow a large commission and a lesser amount of straight salary.  This was a profitable undertaking, but neither party operated in a vacuum.

Economically, in the mid- and late 1870s, the US was in the midst of a depression almost as bad as that of the 1930s.  The 1870s problem was one of deflation, where each dollar bought more and more and there were fewer and fewer dollars in circulation.  It was not all Wall Street and the big money guys.  There was little faith in paper money.  With the value of hard currency (gold & silver coins) on the rise and the banks uninsured, hoarding became contributing factor.  “If I ever get my hands on a dollar again, I’ll hold on to it ‘til the eagle grins” was a common expression.
   
Hoarding was not the only external factor.  A few years ago, I read an economic history of outlawry in the western US.  The author claimed that organized gangs like the Frank and Jesse James gang, the Youngers and their ilk collectively stole 3 % of all the hard currency (gold and silver coin, not greenbacks) in circulation in the country between 1865 and the end of the gangs in the 1890s.  Much of the stolen hard currency went back into circulation west of the Mississippi, but very little of it ever again entered the national economy.

The economy’s deflationary spiral put the NRA’s management of the 1877 Creedmoor “Championship of the World” match in serious financial difficulty.  Apparently, some of the shooting prizes for individual events, $250 in gold for several particular matches, were sponsored by firms like Remington, firms with instant name recognition.  But the gold coins did not appear after the matches had been held and the winners identified.  An awards dinner for all participants was given but not paid for, leaving the NRA Directors with the bill.  The British team competing in the long-range matches had been promised in excess of $1,000 to help with some of their travel expenses.  The promised funds were never paid.
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #44 - Apr 26th, 2024 at 9:49pm
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With his contacts among America’s wealthiest people in Newport, and with Shoverling & Daly’s contacts in NYC, Farrow knew enough to away from the NRA’s 1877 Creedmoor Matches because the whole show was headed for bankruptcy.  Instead, he toured Pennsylvania and the upper Midwest that summer & fall.  What sort of arrangements would WMF and S&D have made?  Take a bunch of Ballards, insist on hard currency in payment, and then have carry around hundreds of pounds of gold and silver coins?  Or demonstrate a few Ballards, take small deposits against future delivery, and do all the business by mail or telegram?
But what about WMF’s personal winnings?  Were the socks in his suitcase full of double eagles?  Did he sleep with a Colt .44 under his pillow?
  
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