Willam F. Nye grave site

William F. Nye (1824-1910)

Refining whale oil in his Main Street home, William F. Nye became the founder of the Nye Oil Works, also known as Wm. F. Nye, Inc. He may have begun refining whale oil in his kitchen as early as 1844, but after working at a variety of jobs, including being a sutler during the Civil War, Nye began refining oil full-time in 1865.

After starting his business in Fairhaven, Nye set up shop in several New Bedford locations before establishing a plant on Fish Island in 1877. A great business promoter, Nye became the leader seller of fine watch and machine oils. In addition to whale oil, he added a variety of animal, vegetable and mineral oils to his inventory. Aside from his business endeavors, Nye was a member of the Spiritualist movement, who believed in communication with the dead. He and others founded the Onset Bay Grove Association for Spiritualist camping retreats. Following the death of William F. Nye, the business was inherited by his son Joseph K. Nye. In 1929, the business was moved to Howland Road in Fairhaven, where it still operates as Nye Lubricants, Inc.

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