Sargent & Ham - 1800s-1920s - Boston, Massachusetts


Sargent & Ham were an old established Boston coachbuilder who built a few bodies for the residents of Knob Hill on luxury chassis from the 1900s through their demise in the 1920s.

There were also a number of Sargents engaged in the coachbuilding trade in Merrimac who may have been related to the Sargent & Ham firm. The coachbuilding family of Judkins had relatives in both Boston and Merrimac as well.

Most likely the firm was somehow related to the famous Boston firm of William P. Sargent & Co. which became the Ferd. F. French Co. Ltd. in 1885 when Sargent retired.


Lawrence, Brewster & Co., Witty, Ham and others, had repositories on Broadway above Canal St. for the sale of out of town work.

(a reference to Ham of Boston?)

My guess is that a Sargent from Merrimac partnered with the Boston firm of Ham to form Sargent & Ham sometime in the late 1800s.



William P. Sargent & Co. evolved from a humble beginning. William Sargent's grandfather, Joshua, had been a carpenter in South Ames­bury, Massachusetts (or, as it was commonly referred to-River Vil­lage) for many years. He became associated with a Mr. Michael Emery, a chaise maker, who had recently moved his chaise manufac­turing to the river village from West Newberry. He built a factory here and continued the chaise building business.

Ebeneezer Fullington was manu­facturing carriage bodies and sleigh woodwork just west of Emory's shop. In 1823, he took on a young lad named William A. Gunnison for a seven year apprenticeship. He served an additional three years as a journeyman. Gunnison than began to manufacture carriages. However, he had very little capital, and his total investment was a large factory building, a large storage building and his home, next door.

Joshua Sargent's son, Patten Sar­gent, was born in 1793, in West Amesbury. He entered into a five year apprenticeship in the trade of silver-plating carriage parts. Upon completion of his apprenticeship, he moved to the River Village and built a building for the manufacture and sales of carriages and selling car­riage hardware and trimmings, and for his silver plating work.

In 1824, William Henry Haskell entered the employ of Patent Sar­gent as a silver-plater at 14 years of age.

William Phillip Sargent, the eldest son of Patten Sargent, was born in Amesbury in1819. By the age of 17, he was apprenticed to the trade of carriage building in his father's fac­tory.

Patten Sargent was made a bank director in Salisbury and felt he did not have the time to run the carriage business, so he sold it to William H. Haskell. Two years later, Haskell took William P. Sargent, age nine­teen, into partnership with him.

A couple of years later, Patten repurchased the business (May 1840) and ran it with his two sons, William P. and Henry Sargent, as Patten Sargent & Sons until 1851.

A fire erupted in the paint shop in October of that year and consumed ten buildings in all. The factory was never rebuilt. Again, Patten turned his attention to banking and politics.

Just three years prior, young William P. Sargent had formed a second partnership with William A. Gunnison as Sargent, Gunnison & Co., taking William H. Haskell as a partner.

They opened a repository in Boston (1851) for the sale of car­riages and sleighs. Eventually Sar­gent would move to Boston to take charge of the repository.

By 1862, having seen Patten Sar­gent, William H. Haskell and William A. Gunnison depart the car­riage business in River Village for various reasons, William P. Sargent formed a partnership with Charles W. Bradstreet. In 1871, he took his son, Horace M. Sargent and Ferdi­nand F. French into partnership. French had come to the company as a salesman in 1863. Horace lasted with the company for only 10 years. Bradstreet died in 1908.

With the rapid expansion of busi­ness, the company seemed to be always looking for more or larger buildings. They had severalloca­tions in Boston and one in Saco, Maine.

Patten Sargent died in August of 1883. A year and a half later,

William P. Sargent's wife, Hannah, died. At this time, William decided to retire from the business and Fer­dinand F. French was called to take charge of business.(See Ferdinand F. French). In June of 1885, the firm was reorganized as Ferd. F. French & Co., Ltd.

William P. Sargent died February 17,1888. At his funeral, the Rev. Dr. Duryea commented on the large number of carriage makers in atten­dence, attesting to the character and honesty of William P. Sargent, in his dealings with people.



Among the early manufacturers who aided in building up the industry, and whose sign continues to swing in the breeze, is E. S. Feltch. He entered business in 1859 and pushed his way to financial success until 1883, when F. W. Nelson, a son in law, who served as Treasurer of the Board of Trade, was admitted as a member in the firm. Charles F. Stone and B. F. Sargent, sons in law, were associated in the trade at one time. The firm is doing but a small business at present as compared to more prosperous years. The business plant, which covers nearly an acre, of ground on Market st., commenced to curtail operations several years ago, and is waiting for a better business outlook for a renewal of its former activity.



The history of the carriage industry of the town of Merrimac, Massachusetts, is a virtual history of the town. There is no one town in New England whose destiny and growth (from the West Parish of Amesbury to its organization as Merrimac in 1876) for a century of existence can be traced so directly to the establishment of carriage manufacture. All through the century, or since Michael Emery, of West Newbury, built carriages, and the art was captured by the people across the Merrimac the town has had the benefit of the industry, which has been carried on successively by a large number of enterprising business men. It may be of interest to call the roll of the early carriage builders of the town, nearly all of whom have died or retired from the field of labor. Among these may be mentioned the following: Joseph Sargent, Patten Sargent, Willis Patten, Joshua Sargent, Jr., John Sargent, Jr., William Gunnison, Ephraim Goodwin, Moses Clement, Francis Smiley, Francis Pressey, Nicholas Sargent, S. S. Tuckwell, William P. Sargent, Edmund Whittier, Stephen R. Sargent, Stephen Bailey, Edmund Sargent, William Nichols, John Sargent, Jona. B. Sargent, Frederick A. Sargent, William H. Haskell, John Little, Joshua Colly, James Nichols, William Johnson, Caleb Mitchell, Cyrus Sargent, U. H. Sargent, J. W. Sargent, James H. Harlow, Stephen Fatten, E. S. Fullerton, John S. Poyen, Charles H. Palmer, Isaac Jones, William Smiley, Thomas E. Poyen, George F. Clough, Isaac B. Little, G. G. Larkin, Thomas B. Patten, A. T. Small, A. M. Waterhouse, Thomas Nelson.

W. H. Haskell, above mentioned, is now living at the age of eighty six years. He commenced business in 1831. In 1850 entered into partnership with William P. Sargent and William Gunnison, under the firm name of Sargent, Gunnison & Co. This firm was well known in all carriage centers throughout this country- until its dissolution in 1860. Mr. Haskell became the financial agent in establishing the First National Bank of Amesbury in 1864 (now Merrimac), and has served as its President up to the present date.

The style and quality of the carriage work manufactured in Merrimac has sustained a first class reputation. The first application of machinery to the manufacture of carriage gears was made by John S. Foster in 1867. The manufacture of carriage springs and axles was commenced by Jonathan B. Sargent about 1856. He was the inventor of the half patent axle, which is still used quite extensively. He was a man of marked ability. He died August 11, 1882.

In 1880 the following firms were engaged in business: J. B. Lancaster, organized in 1858; J. B. Judkins, organized 1857; C. H. Noyes, 1846; Gunnison & Co., 1870; S. J. Pease & Son, 1860; Elmer P. Sargent, 1871 ; H. G. & H. W. Stevens, 1860; M. G. Clement & Son, 1850; A. M. Colly, 1879; Willis P. Sargent, 1835; William Chase, 1838. These respective firms represented an invested capital of nearly a half million dollars, giving employment to 1,600 mechanics.



For more information please read:

John Bartley - Amesbury as a Body-Building Center – April 13, 1943 – Collection of the Amesbury Public Library

Orra L. Stone - History of Massachusetts Industries Vol I-IV - Boston, MA, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1930

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company

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

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Raymond A. Katzell - The Splendid Stutz

Marc Ralston - Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - There Is No Mistaking a Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Thomas E. Bonsall - The Lincoln Motorcar: Sixty Years of Excellence

Fred Roe - Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection

Arthur W. Soutter - The American Rolls-Royce

John Webb De Campi - Rolls-Royce in America

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Hugo Pfau - The Coachbult Packard

Griffith Borgeson - Cord: His Empire His Motor Cars

Don Butler - Auburn Cord Duesenberg

George H. Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

George H. Dammann & James K. Wagner - The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury

Thomas A. MacPherson - The Dodge Story

F. Donald Butler - Plymouth-Desoto Story

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Chrysler

Walter M.P. McCall - 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle

Maurice D. Hendry - Cadillac, Standard of the World: The complete seventy-year history

George H. Dammann & James A. Wren - Packard

Dennis Casteele - The Cars of Oldsmobile

Terry B. Dunham & Lawrence R. Gustin - Buick: A Complete History

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Buick

George H. Dammann - 75 Years of Chevrolet

John Gunnell - Seventy-Five Years of Pontiac-Oakland


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