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S.C. Pease & Sons
S.C. Pease & Sons, 1861-1912; Pease & Carroll, 1911-1912; Merrimac, Massachusetts
Associated Builders
William A. Carroll Co.

Unrelated to H.C. Pease of Worcester, Mass., machinists (Henry C. Pease). Also unrelated to Clarke D. Pease, an ex-Packard salesman who became the sole US Hispano-Suiza distributor, who also exhibited as a coachbuilder at the 1921-22 New York Auto Salon. The annual event was held November 27 to Dec. 3, 1921 in the ballroom of the Hotel Commodore, New York City. It marked the only Salon appearance for Pease as well as another virtually unknown builder named Rochambeau. The Nov. 26, 1921 Automobile Topics listed all 13 custom body exhibitors at the 1921-22 Salon:

“Custom body builders who have special exhibits are: Brewster, Brooks-Ostruk, Clark Pease, de Causse, Derham, Fleetwood, Healey, Holbrook, Locke, New Haven Carriage, Rochambeau, Smith-Springfield and Walter Murphy.”

When combined with the output of its sister city of Amesbury, Mass. S.C. Pease & Sons’ hometown of Merrimac was the nation’s largest carriage building center during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Both cities continue to pay homage to their carriage manufacturing roots and Merrimac’s official seal, designed by Frank E. Pease of S.C. Pease & Sons Co. and displayed to the right, continues to display its most famous product.

According to D. Hamilton Hurd’s History of Essex County, Massachusetts. pub. 1880, S.C. Pease was Merrimac’s second largest builder at that time, only H.G. & H.W. Stevens were larger. Pease’s 42 hands manufactured 300 carriages annually with an estimated value of $100,000.

At that time (1880) the following Merrimac firms were engaged in the carriage business:

S. C. Pease & Son, organized 1861; J. B. Lancaster, organized in 1858; J. B. Judkins, organized 1857; C. H. Noyes, organized 1846; Gunnison & Co., organized 1870; Elmer P. Sargent, organized 1871; H. G. & H. W. Stevens, organized 1860; M. G. Clement & Son, organized 1850; A. M. Colly, organized 1879; Willis P. Sargent, organized 1835; and William Chase, organized 1838.

The respective firms represented an invested capital of nearly a half million dollars and provided employment to 1,600 mechanics during the peak winter season.

During 1887 the output of Merrimac’s vehicle manufacturers were as follows:

H.G. and H.W. Stevens began in 1869; carriages 415, carriages repaired 600, value $185,000, men employed, 100. J.A. Landcaster & Co. began in 1858; carriages 438, sleighs 112, value $70,000, men employed 30. Clement & Young began in 1884; carriages 75, value $18,000, men employed, 12. John B. Judkins & Son began in 1857; carriages 200, value $80,000, men employed 50. William O. Smiley began in 1882; carriages 75, value $12,000, men employed 8. Loud Bros. began in 1866; carriages 200, sleighs 125, value $82,000, men employed 32. C.H. Noyes & Son began in 1845; carriages 90, value $18,000, men employed 10. S.C. Pease & Sons began in 1861; carriages 300, value $100,000, men employed 42. Samuel Schofield & Son began in 1879; carriages 75, value $18,000, men employed 11. Harmer & Doucet began in 1873; carriages 175, value $74,000, men employed 50. Daniel M. Means began in 1881; carriages 75, sleighs 15, value $15,000, men employed 12. Moses G. Clement & Son began business in 1849; carriages 200, sleighs 60, value $45,000, men employed 19. George Adams & Sons began in 1857; number carriages 200, sleighs 100, value $35,000, men employed 18. H.M. Howe - late Hough & Clough began in 1879; carriages 75, value $20,000, men employed 15. C.E. Gunnison & Co. began business in 1879; carriages 250, value $35,000, men employed 20. At Merrimacport: William Chase & Son began in 1838; carriages 50, sleighs 10, value $15,000, men employed 11. Willis P. Sargent began in 1854; carriages 40, value $6,000, men employed 3. George Gunnison began in 1882; carriages 50, value $9,000, men employed 7. A.M. Colly began in 1868; carriages 150, sleighs 40, value $30,000, men employed 19.

By 1898 a few of the old firm’s had withdrawn from business, but the majority remained, the latter including:

S. C. Pease & Sons; the J. B. Judkins & Sons Co.; George Adams & Sons; A. M. Colly; William Chase & Son; E. C. Hopkins; D. M. Means: J. A. Lancaster & Co.; H. G. & H. W. Stevens; C. H. Noyes & Son; C. E. Gunnison & Co.; Clement & Young; and Richard Finn.

Samuel C. Pease, the subject of our biography, was descended from one of the Pease brothers who landed in Salem from their native England in 1635, one settling in Martha's Vineyard, the other in Enfield. Abisha Pease, Samuel’s grandfather, left Martha's Vineyard and took up a large tract of land in Norridgewock, which he afterward lost through an imperfect title. Subsequently in Fall River he made a sufficient amount of money to enable him to return to Norridgewock and repurchase his farm. His son, the grandfather of Mr. James F. Pease, removed to Fall River in middle life.

Samuel Chase Pease was born March 25, 1836 in Norridgewock, Somerset, Maine to Charles and Sarah (Chase) Pease. Married on Sept. 5, 1830, they came first from Fall River, Bristol County, Massachusetts eventually relocating to West Amesbury, now Merrimac, in Essex County, Mass.

After a public education Samuel C. Pease was apprenticed to a carriage-maker in Fall River, Massachusetts, eventually taking a position in John S. Poyen’s West Amesbury carriage works. In 1861 he purchased a share in the firm, eventually purchasing it outright, after which he brought his sons into the business.  James F. Pease was made a member of the firm in 1879, followed by Frank E. Pease in 1883. In 1888 Samuel C. Pease retired from business, his share in the firm taken by his youngest son, John T. Pease.

Following his withdrawal from business Samuel C. Pease served the Merrimac National Bank as a director and spent the remainder of his days travelling to Europe and California.

James F. Pease, the eldest son of Samuel C., was born January 29, 1857 and educated at the Merrimac High School and a commercial college in Boston. After learning the carriage trade he went into business with his father. For the past ten years he has had sole charge of the concern. Carriages of the highest grade are made in his establishment and shipped to all parts of the world. In 1893 a magnificent rockaway adorned with gold-mounted lamps and other accessories, was sent by them to Turkey, to be used as the Sultan's private carriage. Both he and his brother Frank are directors of the Cooperative Bank of Merrimac.

Frank E. Pease was born March 29, 1863, in West Amesbury, now Merrimac, Massachusetts. He served as an apprentice with F. H. Cram as body maker, and completed his apprenticeship in his father's factory. He then attended the Technical School in New York, and received the highest award given to any scholar after attending the school one year. Mr. Pease was also awarded several prizes for carriage drawings by the Carriage Builder's National Association. On his return to Merrimac he entered the service of S. C. Pease & Son as draftsman and foreman of the body shop and was admitted to the firm in 1883. A draughtsman of unusual ability, Frank was responsible for all of the firm’s design work and oversaw the firm’s blacksmith and wood-working departments.

John T. Pease, born on June 06, 1866 (died November 14, 1898) in West Amesbury, now Merrimac, Massachusetts, was in charge of the manufactory’s painting, trimming, and finishing departments.

Most of Merrimac’s carriage builders remain little known and forgotten today. Material on S.C. Pease remains scarce and they were rarely mentioned in the trades.

A small item in the April 1904 issue of Carriage Monthly implied they were not yet manufacturing automobile bodies:

“SC Pease & Sons

“SC Pease & Sons, Merrimac, Mass., were established in 1861. Their present output consists of carriages only. The members of the firm are James F. Pease and Frank E. Pease.”

By early 1907 things had changed and the April 25, 1907 issue of the Automobile announced that the firm had decided to enter the automobile body business:

“The old established carriage building firm of S.C. Pease & Sons, Merrimac, Mass., has entered the automobile field and is now prepared to do a big business in automobile bodies, particularly in limousine and landaulette styles. All body repair work is undertaken.”

Later that year the directors decided to modernize the plant, replacing its old steam powered woodworking tools with new electric ones as reported in the August 24, 1907 issue of Electrical World:

“The S.C. Pease & Sons Company has purchased machinery for wood working purposes and will also operate its plant by electricity.”

Pease’s craftsmanship was well-known inside the industry and the September 1909 issue of The Hub reported that William G. Sullivan, the head of Pease’s trimming department had taken a job with Packard:

“Will Take Charge of Auto Trimming Department

“William G. Sullivan, who has for many years been employed at the S.C. Pease & Sons carriage manufactory at Merrimac, Mass., has accepted the position of foreman of the trimming department of the Packard Automobile Company at Detroit, Mich. Mr. Sullivan will be in charge of a force of about 150 skilled mechanics.”

100 Miles to the South, Rochester, New York’s James Cunningham, Sons & Co. had just bought out the New Bedford hearse and carriage factory of George L. Brownell and closed it down. Two of Brownell’s skilled craftsmen, the father and son team of William E., and William A. Carroll relocated to Merrimac and started working for S.C. Pease & Sons.

Up until that time George L. Brownell had been Massachusetts’ best-known manufacturer of funeral vehicles and in 1911, the Carrolls built a few motorized hearses and ambulances under the S.C. Pease & Sons banner, that are popularly referred to as Pease & Carroll coaches.  

Unfortunately the ‘sons’ of S.C. Pease & Sons experienced business troubles unrelated to their new professional vehicle line and were forced into receivership in early 1912 as reported in the February 1912 issue of Carriage Monthly:

“Newburyport (Mass.) Firm Assigns

“Announcement was made January 23d of an assignment made of the business of S. C. Pease & Sons, Newburyport, Mass., manufacturers of carriages, automobile bodies, hearses, etc., to B. Frank Sargent and Robert O. Patten, for the benefit of the creditors of the company.

“The affairs of the concern are now tentatively in the hands of the assignees, pending a meeting of the various creditors when further plans will be discussed. It is stated, however, that the business will be continued without any doubt, indefinitely, or until a considerable number of orders that are now in process of execution have been fulfilled. Further than that, the future of the concern could not be discussed by those interviewed who are in a position to speak with any authority.“

The release was sent from Newburyport, the home of one of the receivers; however, the Pease factory was located in Merrimac.

The Carroll’s pooled their family assets and purchased the firm’s assets, save for the factory building, from the receivers and set about construction of a modern 4-story factory measuring 160 x 50 feet in their hometown of New Bedford.

The William A. Carroll Corporation was organized in Merrimac during the late spring of 1912 by William A., Annie E., and William E. Carroll, Charlotte B. Case and Walter R. Mitchell. Capitalized at $50,000, the firm’s stated product was automobiles, automobile bodies and hearses. The May 1912 issue of Carriage Monthly included a description of the firm’s new factory:

“The William A. Carroll Co. have begun the erection of a building, three stories, 45 x 160 feet of mill construction, between North and Hillman streets, New Bedford, Mass. It is understood that carriages and carriage supplies will be manufactured.”

The move to the factory took place mid-summer, the August 19, 1912 issue of The Automobile reporting:

“Moves to New Bedford

“The William A. Carroll Company of Merrimac, Mass., which manufactures carriages, automobile bodies and other vehicles, is to move shortly to Bedford, Mass. where a new factory has been built for the company.”

One of the last vehicles constructed in the Merrimac was an automobile hearse (chassis unknown) built for the well-known Manhattan undertaker, Frank E. Campbell, as evidenced by the following article in the September 7, 1912 issue of Automobile Topics:

“Carroll Purchases Merrimac Plant

“William E. Carroll, for fourteen years connected with the G. L. Brownell carriage factory, has purchased the S. C. Pease Carriage Building Co., of Merrimac, Mass., and will transport it to his new factory building in New Bedford, Mass. In addition to building carriages, he will make automobile bodies, motor hearses, ambulances, fire and patrol wagons. The machinery already has been installed and work will begin at once. Carroll is said to have constructed the first complete automobile hearse that was ever built in the United States, for Frank E. Campbell, of New York City. His new factory is a large one, four stories in height, 160 by 50 feet in dimensions.”

Still in business today, the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home remains Manhattan’s best-known celebrity undertaker, handling the interment of celebrities such as Rudolph Valentino, Irving Berlin, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford , George Gershwin, James Cagney, Montgomery Clift, Arturo Toscanini, Igor Stravinsky, Frank Costello, Walter Cronkite, Ayn Rand, Ed Sullivan, Rocky Graziano, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jeanne Eagels, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and John Lennon.

Once the bankruptcy proceedings had concluded, James F. Pease opened up an automobile repair shops in the former Pease factory which was not part of the Carroll transaction, the July 1913 issue of Carriage Monthly reporting:

“James F. Pease will conduct an automobile and carriage repairing business in the factory formerly occupied by S.C. Pease & Sons, Merrimac, Mass.”

Pease remained in the auto repair business for the next decade, but is not believed to have built any coachwork.

© 2012 Mark Theobald -






International Publishing Co. - Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of Eastern Massachusetts, pub. 1887

Benjamin F. Arrington - Municipal History of Essex County in Massachusetts, Tercentenary Edition, Vol. I, pub. 1922

Biographical Review Vol XXVIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Essex County, Massachusetts, pub. 1898.

D. Hamilton Hurd - History of Essex County, Massachusetts, pub. 1880

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