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THE RECORDS of American biography furnish numerous instances of persons rising to high and honorable stations in life, commanding the respect and admiration of the public and performing many noble deeds in the interests of humanity. Among the causes which operate to produce this grand result are natural talents, constant industry, strict economy, high moral principle, with Che many golden opportunities afforded by our free institutions for the encouragement and development of material and intellectual greatness. Albany has its fair share of representative men of this class; and among the list we have one who is now a resident of this city – a public-spirited man, actively engaged in some of its large business concerns – Dudley Farlin, general freight agent of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company’s railroad, president of the Young Men’s association, etc.
He was born on the 20th of December, 1835, in the town of Warrensburgh, Warren county, N. Y. In that rural healthful, romantic region he passed his earliest days under the watchful care of affectionate parents. He is a son of Myron B. Farlin and Harriet W. Farlin, both of whom have passed away.
His father was for several years engaged in the lumber business at Warrensburgh, where he was highly respected by all who knew him for his many excellent traits of character. His grandfather, Dudley Farlin, one of the first settlers of Warrensburgh, was well-known in social and political circles. He was sheriff of Warren county in 1821 and in 1828; was member of the assembly in 1824-5; a democratic elector at large in 1832 – when General Jackson was re-elected president of the United States – and member of congress in 1835-7.
Dudley Farlin, the subject of this sketch, was educated at private schools and academies, and under private teachers. His quick perception enabled him readily to grapple with and master those practical branches which are indispensable in a business calling. In fact, he may be said to have been a born business man. His youthful aspirations all lay in this line, and when he early set out to engage in the toils and conflicts of a busy life he possessed only a moderate capital, but with it a great deal of pluck, energy and perseverance. The geniality and honesty of the boy also drew around him warm friends, whom he held by strong and lasting ties.
He was only too glad to do something for himself in a pecuniary way, and found his first employment as a clerk in a store at Warrensburgh, kept by James W. Bishop, and now owned and occupied by A. T. Pasco & Son as a harness shop and store. Here he worked for several years, having for his associate clerk the late A. C. Emerson, father of the present state senator from Warren county. Both these young clerks conducted themselves so faithfully and efficiently that they soon gained the full confidence and esteem of their employer.
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Mr. Farlin’s motto was always to attend closely to business, believing that honest industry would be rewarded, and that ” the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” On leaving the store of Mr. Bishop, when about eighteen years of age, he was encouraged with the experience he had gained to go forward in the ways of business, and determined to succeed on the basis of right principles. Having a great desire to see more of the world as well as to engage in larger fields of operation he visited California in 1866, and then sailed for Oceanica, spending seven years in Australia, New Zeland, Papua, Celebes, etc., and returning to his native land in the summer of 1872.
In 1875 his connection with the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company’s railroad began. He served at first as assistant general freight agent, but his rare business qualities soon caused his elevation to the position which he now holds, not of ” necessity but of a willing mind ” for his supreme love of business activities. To him an inactive life would be like a lingering death.
Mr. Farlin is truly an indefatigable worker, and spends most of his time in his office in the Delaware and Hudson railroad building, faithfully discharging his duties as the head of the freight department – duties which are of large extent and often of an intricate nature. He makes all the contracts of the company, not only for the state of New York, but throughout the United States. The responsibility of such a position, as any one must see at a glance, is very great, and demands the utmost vigilance and closest thought. But all his daily office labors are performed with an ease, regularity and thoroughness that must surprise any one who is in the least acquainted with the nature and extent of the work. Nothing is done in connection with freight for the Delaware and Hudson railroad without his knowledge and consent.
In 1882 Mr. Farlin became interested in the Virginia Oil Company, and subsequently in the Kentucky and Tennessee Oil and Mineral Company, and the Lima Oil Company of which he was president and principal stockholder, and which he recently sold for $800,000. He has also been prominently identified with a number of electric light companies. He is president of the Edison Light and Power Company of Albany; The Norwich, N. Y,, Illuminating Company; Cooperstown Electric Light Company; The Merchants’ Oil Company; The Manhattan Oil Company, and The Albany Oil Company.
The large and flourishing Manhattan Oil Company is one in which Mr. Farlin takes special interest and pride in developing its resources. Its production is already 4,000 barrels daily; its output is 3,700 barrels daily; while in a few weeks its production will be 5,500 barrels daily and its output 5,000 barrels daily. It has 445 cars contracted and 375 on track, and owns 35,000 acres of oil territory.
Mr. Farlin is also a director of the Ballston Electric Light Company. He was recently chosen president of the Kentucky and Tennessee Oil and Mining Company, whose possessions include petroleum, cannel coal, live oak and poplar timber and 300,000 acres of land in Kentucky and Tennessee. This new and enterprising company is capitalized at $600,000. Its petroleum output alone is expected to greatly exceed that of the Lima Company, which was 80,000 barrels a month. Its principal office will be in Albany, with branches in New York city and Rugby, Tennessee. Mr. Farlin has been truly a successful man in all the business relations of life; and he is doubtless well pleased that his now ample means enable him to accomplish with a generous hand so much good for his fellowmen. His sympathies are, especially, on the side of true young men who are struggling, as he was formerly compelled to do, to reach higher places of trust and responsibility in life; and many such he has encouraged by his words and aided financially. His own remarkable success has given him none of that conceit so often conspicuous in others who have risen from small beginnings in worldly affairs to wealth, exchanging the bleak winter of adversity for the genial summer of prosperity. In 1889 Mr. Farlin crossed the Atlantic, and made a flying tour through England, Scotland, Ireland, etc. Returning home after a few months’ absence he met with one of the most cordial receptions among his fellow-citizens ever given to an Albanian.
Mr. Farlin is in heart-felt sympathy with all that tends to elevate and refine the tastes of our citizens by the dissemination of sound literature. In the spring of 1890 he was elected president of the Young Men’s association, in an exciting contest by a splendid majority, receiving a plurality of 634 out of 1,158 votes cast. His name will be a tower of strength to that noble association, and he will carefully watch over its best interests and rejoice in its increasing prosperity.
In personal appearance Mr. Farlin is of a rather stout build, with broad shoulders and a massive forehead indicative of the ability to perform much severe and protracted mental labor and to carry on different works, simultaneously, without confusion or distraction of mind.
But one of the most striking elements in his character is his kindly disposition, his extreme generosity and unbounded liberality, with a most courteous, gentlemanly bearing toward all, ” both high and low, both rich and poor.” At the same time he is naturally of a very modest, unassuming turn of mind, shunning publicity in his many kindly deeds as much as many others court it. The great success of his public and private business interests shows his superior qualifications as a manager of corporations and companies, while the happy combinations of the best qualities of the head and heart have made him one of the most popular men in Albany. In social life he is as successful as he is in the financial world, and is held in the highest esteem by all who know him. He is at the same time a close observer of human nature and human actions, and in his business affairs as well as in his works of beneficence he seldom makes a mistake. His generous promptings come wholly from the heart, and he seems to find the highest pleasure in doing good, seeking, in the discharge of his stewardship, to merit the divine approval, ” Well done, good and faithful servant.” In 1862 Mr. Farlin married a Tennessee lady who, like himself, possesses a benevolent disposition, noble Christian virtues, and ” a meek and quiet spirit.” Mr. and Mrs. Farlin make their present home at the Kenmore hotel in this city. They have no children living.