The site of the Farley's Ink factory in Marlow

Courtesy of the Historical Society of Cheshire County

Farley’s Ink factory operated in Marlow for at least 60 years, producing inks and extracts.

One of the most unusual and least remembered industries in the town of Marlow was the ink and extract factory operated by the Farley family. Bethuel Farley, born in Marlow in 1794, and his son Lucius and grandson Frank ran the business for more than 50 years.

Bethuel was very active in town affairs, serving as selectman, town clerk, representative to the state Legislature, deputy sheriff, and colonel in the militia. He began manufacturing Farley’s Ink prior to 1851 when it won an award at the N.H. State Agricultural Society Fair.

Labels on surviving Farley’s Ink bottles read: “Farley’s Extra Fine Black Ink. This is a new chemical preparation, by one of the most celebrated chemists in the United States, and possesses the invaluable property of keeping free from mould or decomposition, corrodes metallic pens less than any other and is not injured by freezing.” One of the company’s offerings was given the name “Granite State Ink.”

The Farley firm also produced extracts and flavorings, including peppermint, vanilla, witch hazel, castor oil — even sewing machine oil. Lucius Farley continued the business after the death of his father, and Lucius’ son Frank also joined the company. A Farley billhead from this period listed a Boston address as well as the Marlow address, indicating that the Farleys had opened a distribution store in Boston. They also sold by mail and from peddler’s carts. The Farleys continued to produce ink until at least 1895 and Frank continued the extract business until about 1910.

The Farley family purchased ink bottles from the glassworks in neighboring Stoddard. If not for these highly collectible small amber bottles embossed with the words “Farley’s Ink,” this local business operated by three generations of Farleys for more than half a century would now be all but forgotten outside the town of Marlow.

Alan F. Rumrill is executive director of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, which has been collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the region since 1927. It’s on Main Street. To learn more about its public programs and collections, visit hsccnh.org.