Abbott-Downing Truck & Body - 1813-1928 (1945?) - Concord, New Hampshire
In 1889 The town paid $450 to Abbott Downing Company for a new hose wagon.
a hose-wagon (January 31, 1893) built by the Abbott-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire
J. Stephens Abbot (1804-1871) and Lewis Downing (1792-1873) were early pioneers in the coach industry. This famous Concord, NH coach, wagon and motor-truck company, circa 1813-1928, gained world wide recognition for their "Concord Coach", used on stage and mail lines throughout the United States, Canada, South America, South Africa and Australia. Although mostly known for this roach, they actually manufactured over 40 different styles of wagons, buggies, coaches and commercial vehicles.
Starting in 1813, wheelwright Lewis Downing opened a small shop, building wagons, freight vehicles and two wheeled chaises. His business and reputation slowly grew, and by 1825 Downing employed a dozen workers and apprentices. In 1826 he was joined by an apprentice chaise builder named J. Stephens Abbot. Within the next two years, they would become full partners and known as Abbot and Downing, makers of the "Concord Coach". This was an extremely durable vehicle, with its oak frame, ash wheels and unique suspension of wide leather strips called thorough-braces. These long leather strips ran lengthwise under the rounded coach body, giving it a swinging motion that was once described by Mark Twain as "an imposing cradle on wheels". Nearly 700 of these coaches were sold by the time the partnership dissolved in 1847.
Downing moved to another location in Concord, with his two sons, and formed Lewis Downing and Sons. Here, his business thrived and the new firm employed nearly 200 men by the 1860's, selling to retailers, wholesalers and U.S. Government contracts. Meanwhile, Abbot continued on in the old shops, with his son, under the name J.S. and E.A. Abbot and Company. This new Abbot Company also enjoyed much growth and success selling to retailers, wholesalers and U.S. government contracts.
In 1865, after more than half a century, Lewis Downing retired, and soon after his sons arranged a merger with his old partner, the Abbot company. The firm was incorporated in 1873 as AbbotDowning Company, and soon was producing 2,000 coaches annually. Over the next 20 years, many more changes in the firms structure would take place.
In November of 1915, Rufus N. Elwell, then a major stock holder and plant operations manager, announced that the company would add motor trucks and motorized fire equipment to its line. The first of many Concord motor trucks rolled out the door, in 1916. Although they reorganized as the Abbot-Downing Truck and Body Co., the venture never really gained the same stature as their coaches, and after several more years of struggle, Abbot-Downing Company dissolved.
Wells Fargo & Company eventually purchased the Abbot-Downing name.
Abbott-Downing Truck & Body Co.
After the Mexican War there were new markets for coaches in the west. During the Civil War the companies supplied ambulances, wagons, and gun carriages for the North. Abbott and Downing supplied the coaches for the first railroad train, fitting special wheels onto the coaches. When cities began building street railroads, Abbott and Downing built the cars to be pulled on the tracks. Thus, throughout the century, the company responded to new opportunities and remained one of New Hampshire’s primary manufacturers. However, with the advent of the gas-driven automobile, although the company made some motor driven vehicles, they were not able to compete in the new industry and went out of business by 1928. Only one of the original buildings on Main St. remains. It now houses a bakery. There is an Historical New Hampshire sign on South Main St., Concord, at the site of the factory.
Abbot and Downing; Abbot, Downing & Company; Abbot Downing Company
The original company of J. S. Abbot and Lewis Downing formed in 1826 and lasting until 1847 was named the Abbot Downing Company.
Abbot Downing Company was known the world over for its Concord Stagecoach but actually it manufactured over 40 different types of carriages and wagons at the wagon factory in Concord, New Hampshire.
Abbot Downing Company was best known for its western market in the United States, the Abbot Downing Company stagecoach sold throughout South America, Australia and Africa.
The first Concord stagecoach was built in 1827. Mark Twain once stated the Concord Stagecoach was like a cradle on wheels. Abbot Downing Company employed thorough braces under their stagecoaches which gave the ride of the stagecoaches a swinging motion instead of the jolting up and down of spring suspension.
The Concord Stagecoaches were built as solid as the Abbot Downing Company reputation and became known that they didn't break down but just wore out.
Over 700 Concord stagecoaches were built by the original Abbot Downing Company before it disbanded in 1847.
Abbot formed a partnership with his son and thrived with J. S. and E. A. Abbot and Company until 1865 as well as Lewis Downing and his two sons forming Lewis Downing and Sons about the same time.
With the retirement of Lewis Downing in 1865, his two sons merged again with the Abbot company becoming known as Abbot Downing & Company. Once again the brilliance of the two families was under one company.
A name change in 1873 with incorporation saw the firm renamed as Abbot-Downing Company. From 1847 through 1899 the various company names saw a production of three thousand Concord coaches.
For more information please read:
Stuart Thayer - Abbott-Downing Co., Concord Stage Coaches - Bandwagon Vol 17 No 5 Sep-Oct 1973
Abbott-Downing Company Records, 1813-1945 New Hampshire Historical Society Library, Concord, NH
D. Hamilton Hurd - History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties. Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co. (1885)
Harry N Scheiber - Abbott-Downing and the Concord Coach - New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, NH: (1989)
For more information please read:
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