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Samuel K. Page
Hale & McMahon, 1846-1850; Hale & Waterbury, 1850-1860; Henry Hale & Co., 1860-1892; Samuel K. Page, 1892-1917; New Haven, Connecticut
Associated Firms

At one time New Haven, Connecticut was the center of the nation’s carriage industry, with over 30 firms involved in the manufacture of both light and heavy vehicles. James Brewster, and his descendants remain well-known today as do A.T. Demarest, Henry Hooker and the New Haven Carriage Co. to a lesser extent.

Although many of the remaining 30 New Haven firms didn’t survive the transition from carriage to automobile, several of them had some success supplying wooden sub-assemblies, bodies-in-the-white and fully trimmed and upholstered coachwork to the region’s motor car manufacturers. The names of the distinguished-yet forgotten second-tier builders include M. Armstrong, Dann Bros., D.W. Baldwin, A. Ochsner & Sons, Seabrook & Smith and our subject Samuel K. Page.

Page was a well-known manufacturer of heavy carriages, and during its last few years in business was listed in the various automotive trade directories as manufacturers of both wood and metal automobile bodies.

Samuel Kelsey Page was born on January 23, 1837 in Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts to Capt. Thomas Caldwell (a master mariner, b. May 27, 1812 to John & Ruth Page) Page and Amelia A. Kelsey (b.1815 in Killingworth, Conn.) At that time the term master mariner and ship captain were interchangeable. His parents were married on March 23, 1836 in Killingworth, Conn, his mother’s hometown and he had one sister, Anna W. (b. 1845-d. Jan. 25, 1853) Page, and the entire family was listed in the 1850 US Census as residents of Newburyport.

His father died in Porto Cabello, Venezuela in 1853 and his remains were eventually brought back home and interred in Oak Hill Cemetery, Newburyport on March 18, 1854. The remaining members of the Page family moved to Connecticut and the 1860 US Census lists Samuel K. Page in New Haven, his occupation, carriage trimmer. For the next three decades his mother worked at the New Haven Orphan Asylum as an assistant matron.

In 1861 Samuel married Mary J. ???? (b. 1852 in Conn.) and the union was blessed with the brith of five children: Clifford Irving (b. March 19, 1863-d.July 9, 1873), Anna M. (m. Monson -b.1839, d.????); Mary (b. Sept. 23, 1867-d.Sept. 25, 1867); Thomas Caldwell (b. Sept. 22, 1868 – d. Feb. 16, 1869) and Ernest Mallory (b. Aug 10, 1872 – d. May 4, 1873) Page.

Shortly after an 1864 fire destroyed the plant of Henry Hale & Co., Page joined the firm as head of its trimming department and the October 1891 issue of the Hub announced to the trade that Page had bought out his former partner and employer:

“Mr. Henry Hale, whose portrait adorns this page of THE HUB, has the proud distinction of being one of the few, very few, carriage builders, who upon reaching a time in life when the burdens of business become irksome, has acquired a sufficient competency to enable him to spend the remaining years allotted him in the quiet of his home, freed from the vexation and annoyances of an active business life. With more than the usual measure of health, he retained an active interest in the business he built up until his retirement a few months since, having reached the advanced age of seventy-eight years last April, and having been in business nearly one-half a century.

“Mr. Hale's first connection with the carriage business dates back to the year 1840, when he hired out to his brother, Warren E. Hale, as a blacksmith's helper for the magnificent compensation of $18.00 a year and his board. After a few months he was made manager. In the fall of 1846 he, with F. P. McMahon, established the house of Hale & McMahon. Mr. McMahon was a body maker, and the firm hired a blacksmith, Mr. Hale taking the place of helper. The new firm prospered, and after helping six months, Mr. Hale gave up work at the forge and his time thereafter was fully employed in attending to the business. Mr. McMahon, having the gold fever, sold out to S. E. Waterbury, January 1st, 1850, and the firm name was changed to Hale & Waterbury. In 1860 Mr. Hale bought out Mr. Waterbury's interest and the firm name was again changed to Henry Hale & Co. In 1864 the factory was burned, and the only insurance was $5,000 on the old building. But the loss did not discourage the firm, and in six months they had erected a new factory at the cost of $20,000. Samuel K. Page, the successor to the firm of Henry Hale & Co. has been with the house twenty-seven years and on assuming the management has the satisfaction of continuing a successful business - one that passed through periods of depression which carried many down without a loss of credit, and always retaining a reputation for building good work. It has always been Mr. Hale's boast that he was never compelled to look for customers abroad, having always been able to sell his products in New Haven. Personally Mr. Hale is a man of strong convictions, and, having full faith in himself, he never swerved from what he believed to be his true course. At the first meeting of the Carriage Builders' National Association he took a pronounced stand in favor of an organization, and his speeches on that occasion convinced those who heard him that he was a sincere, practical man, who possessed as well a vein of humor which served to interest as well as impress his hearers. Among business men he has always maintained a high standard for honor and integrity, and in withdrawing from active business he takes with him the kindly wishes of his co-workers. May he live long to enjoy the fruits of his labors is THE HUB'S sincere wish.

“The business thus established and built up passes into the hands of Samuel K. Page, who became a partner with Mr. Hale in 1864. He having for so long a time been actively connected with it, and for several years past been the active business manager, there is no question as to the business being continued in the same manner as for years past. About sixty men are employed. The specialty of the firm is fine work in all branches; largely that of coaches and family carriages.”

The Page works were mentioned in the October 1897 edition of the Hub, October 1897:

“On the death of Mr. Hale in 1892 Mr. Page, who had been a partner with Mr. Hale for several years, became sole owner of the plant and the firm name was changed accordingly. This house is one of a few in New Haven that never did a Southern trade, but confined itself to the local and Northern city trade, making a specialty of a finer grade of vehicles than could be handled by the general trade. Mr. Page now confines his product to carriages suited to the best city buyers, almost entirely of the heavier grades of pleasure and driving vehicles.”

The April 1904 issue of Carriage Monthly included a biography of the firm's foreman of construction and draftsman, Ernest Cramer:

“Ernest Cramer, (born 1857, Germany) foreman of construction and draftsman for Samuel K. Page, New Haven, Connecticut, was born in Germany in 1857. He learned the trade of wood worker, and found employment, in many shops in Germany. He came to America in 1882, with many years of thorough and practical experience to his credit. He found employment readily, and in order to familiarize himself with carriage building methods went from shop to shop in the various cities of the country, East and West.

“He did this more to broaden his education and familiarize himself with American methods than for mere employment. After having made a pretty thorough tour of the country in this way, he located permanently in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1888, and worked in the best shops of that city. In 1898 he entered the establishment of S. K. Page and took charge of the wood and blacksmith shops, which position he has held ever since.”

Although the names of Page's auto body customers remained undiscovered, the January 1, 1907 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal incldued a pictured of Locomobile equipped with an elegant limousine body:

“‘Page’ Motor Car Body

“Samuel K. Page Body Co., 60-66 Franklin street, New Haven, Conn., are one of the oldest carriage manufacturers in the country, having been established since 1847. They lately took up the manufactured of motor car bodies with marked success. They build motor car bodies to order, embodying the special ideas of their customers. They only need the measurement of the chassis and can build any type of body desired, trim and finish it in their own factory, all work being done by skilled workmen. Their long experience in carriage building has enabled them to build motor car bodies to please the most exacting. Our illustration is of a limousine recently turned out by this concern.”

In 1909 Page acquired the services of Fred A. Holcomb, a talented body engineer formerly associated with the New Haven Carriage Works. Holcomb was born in 1873, in New Haven, Conn., to George F. Holcomb and Ellen (Beach) Holcomb. After graduating from Hillhouse High School he attended the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, graduating in 1896. Since his graduation Holcomb was engaged in the manufacture of automobile bodies, for the first twelve years with the New Haven Carriage Company, and in 1909 as general manager of the Samuel K. Page works.

The firm was listed in the 1914 New Haven Directory under ‘carriages’ and ‘automobile parts’ (tops & bodies).

Samuel Kelsey Page died on July 21, 1917 at the age of 80 and the firm withdrew from business soonafter.

© 2013 Mark Theobald for







Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

Wm. H. Beckford / Mercantile Publishing Company - Leading business men of New Haven County: and a historical review of the Principal Cities, pub. 1887

Richard Hegel - Carriages From New Haven: New Haven's Nineteenth Century Carriage Industry, pub. 1967

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