A Short History of the A.B. Farquhar Company


| March/April 2002



Farquhar portable

A 1922 Farquhar portable, now owned by the Industrial & Agricultural Museum of York, Pa. Once used to run a saw mill, this 100 HP portable was donated to the museum by Fred Rosemiller. Standing with the engine is Pete Adomis, who handles restorations for the museum.

In 1856 a young Arthur Briggs Farquhar went to work for the W.W. Dingee & Co., a small manufacturer of agricultural implements in York, Pa.

Born Sept. 28, 1838, Farquhar was not quite 18 years old at the time. In spite of his young age Farquhar took to the business rapidly, and a brief 18 months after joining the W.W. Dingee & Co. Farquhar informed his employers of his intention to start his own business.

“The firm,” Farquhar wrote in his autobiography, “laughed at my notion that I might start in business, but asked me not to leave for a month. At the end of that month, as I was getting ready to leave, they offered me a partnership.” Farquhar’s skills, it would appear, were needed for the company to stay in business.

After a disastrous fire burned down the factory during the period of the Civil War (the exact date is not known), Farquhar took over all liabilities and assets of the W.W. Dingee & Co., and it was evidently around this time that the company became known as the Pennsylvania Agricultural Works.

Interestingly, it was not until 1899 that the company was formally incorporated as the A.B. Farquhar Co. Ltd., and evidently only because Farquhar wanted to facilitate the distribution of his estate when the time came.

Born a businessman

From his boyhood days, Farquhar had been interested with the manufacture of agricultural machinery and implements.

He was intimately acquainted with the real needs of farmers and planters, and being a practical mechanic and inventor, as well as a man of rare business capacity, he was peculiarly successful in the production of machines and implements.

His particular abilities enabled him to produce standard agricultural implements and steam traction engines and other special machinery in large quantities and at minimum cost.

Pennsylvania Agricultural Works

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Works covered a number of acres, and embraced machine, engine and boiler shops, a bolt and nut factory, planting and saw mills, foundries for brass and iron forging, shearing and polishing rooms, not to mention warehouses and lumber yards to supply his various enterprises.