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Seabrook & Smith
Seabrook & Smith, 1868-1895; Seabrook & Smith Carriage Co., 1895-1908; New Haven, Connecticut
Associated Firms
Moore & Watson

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, Samuel K. Page and our subject Seabrook & Smith.

Seabrook & Smith was a well-known manufacturer of light 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. The announcement of their 1907 Receivership notes:

“Of late, however, they have gone into the manufacturing of automobile bodies.”

To date their automotive clients remain undiscovered, but it’s likely they created both woodowrk and coachwork for regional automakers and auto body distributors (aka jobbers) located in New York City, both finished and in-the-white.

The business was established in 1868 by longtime New Haven residents, Henry C. Seabrook (b. March 2, 1830-d. December 25, 1901) and Lyman T. Smith (b. September, 1833-d. January 14, 1910).

Henry C. Seabrook was born on March 2, 1830 on the island of Nevis, Leeward Islands, British West Indies, to William and Martha Seabrook. In 1833 he emigrated to the United States with his parents and sister Martha, arriving at the port of New Haven on board the Brig. Lewis on July 18, 1833, his father’s listed occupation at the time was ‘planter’. The 1850 US Census list his occupation as carriage maker and his first appearance in the New Haven Directory was in 1861. His Civil War Draft Registration states coach maker.

His wife was Lydia E. Seabrook (b.Dec. 11, 1831-d.May 3, 1885). Had one son, Charles H. Seabrook (b. Feb. 8, 1856-d.Dec. 23, 1907) and one daughter, Ida M. Seabrook (b.1874). The 1875 New Haven Directory marks the first listing of his son, Charles H. as a carriage maker.

Lyman T. Smith was born in September of 1833 in New Haven, Connecticut, to Lyman M. (b.1815-d.Aug.20, 1857) and Maria (b.1817) Smith. The 1851 New Haven Directory lists his father’s occupation as cabinetmaker. Siblings included Mary (b.1836), Charles M. (b.1841) and Ella (b.1847) Smith.

The US 1850 Census lists Lyman T. Smith’s occupation as apprentice, the 1855 New Haven Directory lists his occupation as carriage trimmer, Lyman M. Smith’s as cabinetmaker. His father died on August 20, 1857 at the age of 42.

As no large carriage factory buildings remain in the area, their appearance is known only from descriptions by Elihu Atwater in his History of New Haven, written in 1888. He describes the Park Street shop of Seabrook & Smith as a "five-story building, 66 by 116 feet in area, equipped with all the latest tools and machinery." This firm employed 30 workers and produced wagons and carriages of various types and styles. An 1887 account provides a few more details:

“Seabrook & Smith, Manufacturers of Fine Light Carriages, Nos. 128 and 130 Park Street. —Amongst the manufacturers engaged in this line in New Haven who have gained a reputation for the merits of their productions, are Messrs. Seabrook & Smith, of nos. 128 and 130 Park street, who make carriages equal in style, finish and quality to any concern in the country. The business was established in 1868 by the present proprietors, H. C. Seabrook and L. T. Smith. The premises occupied comprise five floors, 66 x 150 feet. This building is divided into separate departments, and employment is given to thirty skilled workmen, whose operations are all under the personal supervision of the proprietors. The manufactures of the house include all kinds of light carriages and wagons in every variety of style. Only the best materials are utilized, and Messrs. Seabrook & Smith especially invite orders from parties who require a better class of work than is generally sold at reasonable prices and guarantee to supply them satisfactorily. Their trade, although mostly retail, is very extensive throughout the New England States. Messrs. Seabrook& Smith use in their manufactory a 12 horse-power steam engine, and in fact everything to promote promptness in filling their orders.”

Seabrook & Smith carried on their business as a partnership until 1895, when they absorbed the carriage woodworking firm of Moore & Watson, incorporated under the title of Seabrook & Smith Carriage Co., with H. C. Seabrook as President, John H. Moore, Vice President and L. T. Smith, Secretary and Treasurer. The February 1895 issue of the Hub reported:

“A new carriage company has been recently organized at New Haven, Conn., to be known as the Seabrook & Smith Carriage Company, with a capital paid in of $25,000. The stockholders are H. C. Seabrook, L. T. Smith, Peter R. Terhune, J. B. Richards, J. H. Moore, and A. L. Watson. The last two were formerly of Moore & Watson, manufacturers of carriage woodwork. The factory on Park st. has just undergone extensive alterations, and the new company intend manufacturing fine carriages and carriage woodwork, and to maintain the same well-known reputation which Messrs. Seabrook & Smith, and Moore & Watson, have always held. With the latest improved machinery and larger facilities, the new company will be enabled hereafter to supply the demands of their many customers.”

The individual subscribers share in the firm is detailed below:

“The Seabrook & Smith Carriage Company of New Haven Conn has a capital of $25,000 in 250 shares of $100 each $7,766.33 paid in in cash and $12,700 in stock and fixtures. The subscribers are H.C. Seabrook; J.H. Moore; Lyman F. Smith; and A.L. Watson; 50 shares each. Peter Terhune and John B. Richards, 25 shares each - all of New Haven.”

Seabrook & Smith specialized in the production of a high grade light carriages and buggies for high-end carriage dealers located predominately in the Eastern US. As their customers increasingly turned to electric and motor-driven equippages, the firm began looking for new customers, and began supplying regional firms with automotive coachwork both finished and in-the-white. Unfortunately many other local firms were in the same situation, and competition drove down prices to the point that liquidation became its only option, the March 1907 issue of Carriage Monthly announcing:

“Receiver Appointed.

“Edward M. Armstrong, of Armstrong & Co., New Haven, Conn., carriage manufacturers, has been appointed receiver of the Seabrook & Smith Carriage Co. by Judge Gager. A petition has been brought by minority stockholders to dissolve the company. The Seabrook & Smith Carriage Co. succeeded the well-known firm of Seabrook & Smith some twelve years ago, and conducted the business theretofore carried on by the Seabrook & Smith Co.

“The reputation of the work done by the firm of the Seabrook & Smith Co. and the Seabrook & Smith Carriage Co. for the past forty years has been second to none, and the product of their factory was in much demand until the advent of the bicycle, telephone and electric car. Since that time, light carriages, which formed their specialty, have not been so much in demand, and as a result, the business has fallen off. Of late, however, they have gone into the manufacturing of automobile bodies. Edward Armstrong, the receiver, is one of the best known coach and carriage manufacturers in the country.”

The firm's assets were liquidated and the firm vanished from the New Haven Directory after 1908.

© 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

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