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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Question about W. Milton Farrow (Read 5498 times)
marlinguy
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #75 - Apr 29th, 2024 at 1:55pm
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[quote author=37213425322D212E400 link=1713664703/74#74 date=1714412923

Oops. That is Pope, not Farrow!  mea culpa! [/quote]


Are you sure about that? Pope would have been mid 20's at the time of that picture. The 3rd guy looks way too old for that to be Pope.
  

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waterman
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #76 - Apr 29th, 2024 at 2:23pm
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marlinguy wrote on Apr 29th, 2024 at 1:55pm:
[quote author=37213425322D212E400 link=1713664703/74#74 date=1714412923

Oops. That is Pope, not Farrow!  mea culpa!

Then Marlinguy wrote: Are you sure about that? Pope would have been mid 20's at the time of that picture. The 3rd guy looks way too old for that to be Pope. [/quote]

Nope, I'm not sure.  WMF in the May 27, 1886 photo, the one with all the men ID'd  on the back, has a full beard, maybe trimmed a bit.  Other formal photos of WMF in the 1880s also show a full beard, only slightly trimmed. Looked like some sort of religious prophet.

But Pope wore his beard closely trimmed.  He also shot at the National Rifle Club spring & fall meetings in the 1890s, when the same men from the 1886 photo were still shooting their old Warner, Brockway, and Warner & Lowe muzzle-loaders.  So the photo could be 10 years or so more recent than the 1886 photo.
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #77 - May 2nd, 2024 at 1:49pm
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All very interesting!  There's an amazing amount of knowledge and experience on this board.
  

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waterman
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #78 - May 2nd, 2024 at 9:02pm
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Getting away from photos of long dead guys and back to WMF and his rifles, how many were made, and where they were made:

Farrow called his Brattleboro operation the "Farrow Fire-Arms Company."  I’ve never read any report or seen any photograph of a Farrow rifle or barrel stamped or engraved “Farrow Fire Arms Company”.  He had one or more rubber stamps made up that way and may have had some business stationery printed, but that’s it.  No guns, no actions, no barrels.  

In his 1962 Gun Digest article, Richard Chamberlain reported that the upper flat of the octagonal barrel of nickel-plated brass frame prototype is engraved “Farrow Fire-Arms Co.” in script, with an arrow piercing a target. That rifle is .32/30 Remington caliber and is not numbered. The prototype was made in Springfield, Massachusetts and was first demonstrated there. 

I think Farrow only produced a few rifles while in Brattleboro.  In his very nicely done book, Joe Ruth organized Farrow rifles (and photos and descriptions) by his (Joe’s) type classification.  That is the best attempt at a chronological listing we’re apt to see.  Joe wrote that he didn’t want to introduce any speculation, but I will.  I think most of the Farrows made at Brattleboro are unnumbered, with unmarked barrels. All are what Joe has described as First Model Short Wall actions.

We know for sure that there were two Brattleboro Farrows.  

The first is the rifle Farrow used in the May 1886 match.  It had a 20X Malcom scope. It was photographed with WMF in 1886.  An entirely different photograph appears on Page 50A of Phil Sharpe's The Rifle in America, first published in 1938. This is No. 2 in Joe's list.

As a result of the Spring 1886 match, Norman Brockway rebarreled one of Farrow’s rifles to “a competitive caliber”.  Brockway gave the rifle a heavy barrel, bringing the rifle’s weight up to 15 lbs.  The barrel was given a .34 caliber liner, 8 shallow grooves, left-hand 15-inch twist, and a false muzzle cut for paper cross-patches, and was fitted for a mechanical bullet starter.  Brockway made 4 steel cartridge cases for the rifle, but brass .40/65 cases can be resized.  The rifle was fitted with a 20x Malcom scope.  The rifle was made for C. L. Cobb, a member of the Brattleboro Gun Club and one of Farrow’s shooting companions.  Cobb wanted to try a breech-loader under the National Rifle Club’s 15-lb. rules. #3 on Joe's list.

Gerald Kelver wrote about this rifle in the 1950s.  Where is it now?

« Last Edit: May 3rd, 2024 at 3:38pm by waterman »  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #79 - May 2nd, 2024 at 9:26pm
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The first rifle Joe describes is probably a Brattleboro rifle. Unnumbered and unmarked, it's a .32-40 Remington caliber but has a sight base on the heel of the stock. I think WMF used this as a demonstration rifle, showing how he fired from the back position while shooting on a 200-yard range.  I’ll take an even wilder guess and say that WMF used this rifle when he taught accurate rifle shooting for the next 30 years.  WMF’s daughter Louisa had “several” Farrow rifles in her estate when she passed away in 1949. Was this one?  The rifle has been photographed several times.  In The Rifle in America, it's shown on Page 50F.

I first wrote "almost certainly" but that seems a bit too much.  Without rifles in hand, these are all just educated guesses.
« Last Edit: May 3rd, 2024 at 1:21pm by waterman »  
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Joe Do...
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #80 - May 3rd, 2024 at 7:07am
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Attaches are photos of the rifle in the 1962 Gun Digest article by Richard Chamberlain
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #81 - May 3rd, 2024 at 1:13pm
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Beautiful photos of a beautiful rifle. Thanks, Joe. 

That is the design on his Brattleboro letterhead.  I don't think he used it later.
I don't think it's very "arty".  Really clashes with the nice script.
« Last Edit: May 3rd, 2024 at 3:34pm by waterman »  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #82 - May 6th, 2024 at 9:24pm
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A bit more on Farrow's Brattleboro rifles.  

I think that, being a one-man operation, he found the "start to finish" operation requiring more time than he ever imagined.  Although he was skilled with his hands, I don't think he was fast. Being a good watchmaker, competent with pins, levers and springs, makes you the opposite of a fast worker.  Until I graduated from high school, I saw my father and grandfather at work in their watch shop.  They were never in a hurry.

Those who have written about Farrow, from Ned Roberts on, have been puzzled by WMF's inconsistency in applying serial numbers to his rifles.  Here's my spin.

Remember that all of WMF's records were lost in the Okeechobee Hurricane of Sept. 17, 1928, along with his home, shop and virtually everything his family held dear. 

It seems to me that WMF may have kept records by purchaser, at least for those purchasers he knew personally.  For those with numbers, every guess is as good as every other guess.  Maybe he put numbers on others because it seemed like a good idea.  Were they sequential?  I think late in the game they were, if only because the 4th Models (long actions) have been stamped with high numbers and the First Models (short actions) have low numbers.

Joe Ruth shows us two unmarked First Model Farrows numbered 7 and 10. Simply because they are unmarked means (to me) they are probably Brattleboro rifles.  Why 7 & 10?  WMF was a salesman.  He was adamant about keeping his word (as much as possible), but marking rifles 7 and 10 implied that numbers 1 through 6 and 8 and 9 existed, as long as nobody asked about them.

Among the Farrow collectors' items are a series of letters written to and received from Thomas N. Boyd, of Andover, Allegany County, New York. Mr. Boyd wants to buy a rifle. WMF wants to sell him one but has lots of excuses why it isn't delivered.  When Mr. Boyd finally gets his rifle, there is something wrong with it.  Reading between the lines, I think that WMF the perfectionist was having a hard time building a rifle that he was willing to sell, something with his name on it.

The other thing learned from Mr. Boyd's correspondence is that the Farrows moved from Brattleboro to Holyoke, Massachusetts, probably as soon as the kids were out of school in 1887.  Were the Farrow Fire-Arms Company's stockholders expecting to see some return on their investment?  And when that didn't happen, did WMF skip town, taking all his machinery, gun parts, barrels & gunstocks with him?
« Last Edit: May 7th, 2024 at 7:41pm by waterman »  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #83 - May 7th, 2024 at 3:46pm
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Interesting. My dad was working as a machinist at the sugar mill on Lake Okeechobee then and said the he was lucky to get out.
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #84 - May 7th, 2024 at 7:49pm
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oneatatime wrote on May 7th, 2024 at 3:46pm:
Interesting. My dad was working as a machinist at the sugar mill on Lake Okeechobee then and said the he was lucky to get out.


The Farrow's home was in West Palm Beach, just a few blocks from where the hurricane came ashore.  Abbie never recovered from the shock of loosing everything & barely escaping. She died the following spring.  WMF was 80, probably didn't have the energy to continue.  Daughter Louise held things together, apparently got a couple of nephews to help with such salvage as was possible.
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #85 - May 13th, 2024 at 10:59pm
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What an interesting informative read, thanks to all who have contributed. Those Farrow rifle look very nice, modern too. Anybody making Farrow actions?
Cheers Richard
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #86 - May 15th, 2024 at 5:45pm
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In the 1962 Gun Digest, Richard Chamberlain tells us quite a bit about WMF and his Holyoke, Massachusetts, operation. I bought my new copy at the Navy Exchange in Pearl Harbor. Still have it. A good reference. 

Once in Holyoke, WMF changed the name of the business to “Farrow Arms Company” and had business letterhead stationery printed.  Some samples of the letterhead exist today.  From mid-1887 on, the shop was in the rear of a building at 30 Dwight St.  The Farrows lived first at 404 Maple and later at 181 Dwight, both within easy walking distance of the shop.  Mr. Chamberlain was in error when he reported a second business address as “66 Thames Street”.  That was the address of Farrow’s Sporting Goods Store in Newport, RI.
  
My spin on the Holyoke operation is that its location (in 1887) gave WMF access to the arms manufacturing cities in MA and CT without actually “living in the smoke”. WMF was still very worried about TB. 

There was some sort of Farrow family susceptibility. WMF's brother Tom appears to have contracted TB in Jan. 1884.  By April, he could no longer manage the Newport store. In July, Tom closed the store and moved back to Belfast, Maine.  Tom Farrow died in Belfast in March, 1885.

In Holyoke, Abbie and the kids were only a day’s train ride from Newport, RI and her extended family.  About this time, WMF's mother Jerusha came to live Willard, Abbie, and the kids.

WMF knew that he had to produce and market some rifles here, and he did.  My guess is that the rest of the short action rifles, those that Joe Ruth calls “First Model” and all its variants were made here, some marked “Farrow Arms Co.” and some unmarked.  I’ll also guess that the few Second And Third Model Farrows might have been made in Holyoke.

Continuing with my spin, WMF didn't do enough "due diligence" before making his move.  The Farrows arrived in Holyoke just as the city was transforming itself from a town (pop. 4,600) to one of the smokiest, most overcrowded industrial cities full of immigrants in the US.  The Farrows knew they’d made a mistake.  

WMF began searching for a better place to live.  An Ancestry.com search told me that on August 18, 1889, WMF bought a quarter-section (160 acres) in Pulaski County, smack in the middle of Arkansas.  I haven’t learned any more about that, but it shows that WMF was unhappy with Holyoke.  
  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #87 - May 15th, 2024 at 9:09pm
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The 1891 Holyoke City Directory reports that WMF had removed to Memphis, TN.  I think means he bought train tickets to Memphis in late 1890 and the chap who prepared the Directory learned of it, or that this was an accommodation or shipping address only. The Farrows may have stayed in Memphis for a few days, but I don’t think they lived there.

In Nov., 1890, WMF wrote to A.C. Gould, editor of Shooting and Fishing, that the Farrow Arms Co. was incorporated in TN, and that he had a brick factory building in Mason, TN.  

Was the Farrow Arms Company ever incorporated in TN? Could someone familiar with TN records please tell us?
  
Chamberlain’s article reproduced a Farrow Arms Company letterhead giving Mason, TN as an address, implying that WMF was a captain of industry, but my guess is that Mason (pop. then about 260, 70 % Negro, principal crop was cotton) sent Abbie into orbit.  Her principal interests were her children (Emily, age 15; Louise, age 13; and WMF, Jr., age 8), their educations; good educations for all 3 kids, and music for Abbie and especially for Louise.  If Abbie’s complaints weren’t enough, there was Jerusha, a casehardened Yankee woman from downeast Maine who had sons, step-sons, and sons-in law in the Union forces, some of whom never came home and others who came home crippled.  

I venture a guess that WMF’s home life was not much fun.  And WMF’s family was always the most important part of his life. A change was coming.

Some of Farrow’s surviving letters refer to a factory, but I think it was all sales hype.  

While on Farrow letters, I’ll suggest something else.  WMF never won any awards for penmanship and I think it gets worse with stress.  If some of his letters are quite legible, did Abbie write them?

I don’t think any Farrow rifles were produced in TN.

WMF’s next shop was in Morgantown, West Virginia.  I think he moved his family there in September, 1891 (just in time for school) and stayed until 1896 or 1897.  Morgantown had everything that Abbie wanted; clean air, water power instead of coal, decent schools (at least for those who could pay for them), and a recognized music program.  Farrow operated in Morgantown for about 6 years.  I think all the Fourth Model (long action) Farrows were made there.
« Last Edit: May 16th, 2024 at 2:40am by waterman »  
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Re: Question about W. Milton Farrow
Reply #88 - May 15th, 2024 at 10:48pm
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I've been interested in Farrow's rifles for many years.

This is a very interesting thread with a lot of great information.

I'm finishing up a Farrow I'm building using the castings of Rodney Storie.

Barrel is a Shilen, 22 Long Rifle 27 inches long.

Stock wood is Black Walnut my dad and I harvested in the 1960's off our farm in Iowa.

Still some work to be done.

- checker the forearm.
- blue the barrel and butt plate.
- complete the finishing of the butt stock and finish the forearm.
- The base for the rear sight is cast into the upper tang.  There was not enough metal there to work with the rear sight I wanted to use (MVA) so I had to have it built up and mill and shape it to work.   That needs to be cleaned up.

I hope to have it finished later this summer.

I'll be writing an article for the Journal about this project when it is finished.



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« Last Edit: May 15th, 2024 at 11:00pm by Bobduck »  
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