Monday, April 18, 2016

Farrington Stoneware

by Erin Doane, curator

Stoneware was widely popular in the United States in the 19th century. The pottery was fired at extremely high heat, making it very durable and suitable for daily use. Many companies that made stoneware stamped their names on the pieces they made. Just recently, CCHS received a collection of stoneware stamped “E.W. Farrington.” The company produced drain tiles and fire bricks as well as stoneware pottery. The pottery bore the marks “J. Farrington & Co. / Elmira, N.Y.,” “E.W. Farrington,” and “E.W. Farrington & Co. / Elmira, N.Y.”
E.W. Farrington stamp on a piece of stoneware
James B. Farrington came to Elmira around 1862 from Havana, New York (now Montour Falls). Two years later, his wife and children joined him here. In 1868, he and Orin C. Walter took over a local pottery manufacturing business. Albert O. Whittemore had built the stoneware factory in 1865 at 900 East Church Street. Whittemore also operated a similar plant in Havana. The Elmira factory was next to the Chemung Canal so clay and other supplies could be brought in by water and finished products could be shipped out the same way.

Large crock made by E.W. Farrington
In 1876, Orin Walter left the business and was replaced by a man named Everard. At that point the business changed its name to Farrington and Everard. After Everard died in 1881, James Farrington brought his son E. Ward into the business and the company name became J.B. Farrington and Company.

Advertisement from the 1885 Elmira city directory
Upon the death of his father in July 1887, E. Ward Farrington took over the company and operated it himself under the name E.W. Farrington & Co. On February 16, 1894, a note in the Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press announced that “the pottery of Ward Farrington on East Church Street has been shut down, owing to the oversupply of earthen wares on hand and no market. Seven employes (sic) are thrown out of employment.” In 1913, a fire destroyed the storehouse located in the rear of the old pottery works. E. Ward Farrington remained listed in the Elmira city directories as a seller of stoneware until 1916. Perhaps the business no longer manufactured pottery but still sold it. In 1917, E.W. Farrington was listed as selling only wood and coal.

Three E.W. Farrington stoneware jugs
While the factory was in operation, the crocks, jugs, and pitchers produced by Farrington were sold to various businesses and individuals. Different sizes of jugs were used by wholesale and retail wine and liquor sellers here in Elmira including J.J. O’Connor, John M. Connelly, Fred Ferris, and C.E. Vinton. The number on the side of many of the jugs indicates how many gallons of liquid it could hold.

E.W. Farrington stoneware jugs used by
local businesses in three different sizes
Stoneware butter crocks made by Farrington were also used by creameries such as the Atwater Brothers.

Atwater Bros. butter crock made by E.W. Farrington
One interesting thing about the Farrington pottery factory was that none of its owners were potters. They were all businessmen who relied on their hired craftsmen to do the actual work. This may not be at all unusual for businesses today but it marks Farrington as one of the few potteries in New York State that was owned for its entire history by men who were untrained as potters.

Stoneware spittoon made by E.W. Farrington
The recent donation of eleven pieces of Farrington stoneware is a great addition to CCHS’s collections. The museum now has examples of the many different shapes and sizes of jugs, crocks, and other pieces that were made by the company and used by other local businesses.

E.W. Farrington jug used by the
Family Liquor Store of Elmira


  1. Great addition to the collection, well described. Thank you.

  2. thanks for sharing this story, I have found pottery pieces like jars, jugs and plates sometimes at old junk piles while out in the woods before and never thought to check where they may have been made , they could have been made right here in Elmira NY !