Downing & Abbot Company Founder and Carriage Builder of Concord New Hampshire: Lewis Downing (1792-1873)

Downing Lewis

Portrait of Lewis Downing from History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties NH

As early as 1835 the word was out that Downing & Abbot were the makers of quality conveyances. The New Hampshire Patriot and Gazette (Concord, New Hampshire), dated Monday, June 1, 1835, page 2, carried this story:

“A splendid Coach.” We have been a good deal amused since our return from a short visit to Sullivan and Cheshire counties, by the manner in which certain federal editors have spoken of our traveling equipage. One of them said that “the editor of the Patriot drove up to the Tremont House” in Claremont, “in a splendid four wheeled carriage.” He said nothing of the number of horses, but left it to the imagination of the reads to supply the “four wheeled carriage” with an elegant span or two of dapple greys, a coachman, and if they pleased, footmen, and out-riders in livery. Another improved upon this, and converted the elegant “four wheeled carriage” into a “splendid coach” and thought it quite too aristocratic for a democratic editor to travel in such “pomp and splendor.” Now, in gratitude to the federal editors, who have done us so much honor, we regret that duty compels us to spoil all the “pomp and splendor” of the “elegant four wheeled carriage,” by saying it was simply a one horse carryall, drawn by a single sober family beast–which we hired at the stable of Grover & Prescott, and which carryall was manufactured by our enterprising townsmen, Downing & Abbot–“elegant” to be sure in its way, and a most neat, convenient and comfortable vehicle for any gentleman who wishes to travel with his wife and children, and the usual appendages of such expeditions, trunks, bags, and bandboxes. So much for the “splendid coach.” But since we have been the cause of bringing the elegant workmanship of Messrs. Downing & Abbot into such honorable notice, we think it no more than right, that they should “call at the captain’s office and settle” for the hire of the “elegant four wheeled carriage.”

Postcard of one of the stagecoaches made by the Abbot-Downing Company of Concord about 1853. Now exhibited at the New Hampshire Historical Society.

Postcard of one of the stagecoaches made by the Abbot-Downing Company about 1853. Now exhibited at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, New Hampshire.

I have already written about New Hampshire’s Famous Concord Coach and the Abbot-Downing Company in detail.  I would be remiss if I did not focus on the founder of the company, i.e. Lewis Downing.

Lewis Downing moved from Lexington MA to Concord NH in May 1813, “one month short of his majority” beginning a carriage business at the north end of Main Street, “nearly opposite the “Upper Bank.” According to the History of Concord, “The items of his capital were: Cash in pocket, sixty dollars; tools, valued at less than one hundred; a hand and a brain not to be appraised in dollars and cents.” Although this company is probably best known for stage coaches, they originally made many different kinds of wagons and buggies [see their catalog].

The Concord History continues, “He worked for one year entirely alone, and in November after his arrival completed his first “Concord Wagon,” “every part of the work having been done by hand labor, unaided by any power machinery.” For the next twelve years he employed from three to six people. In 1816 he purchased the “Duncan Estate” at the south end and moved his shops there, where he built up his business.

Postcard showing a Concord Coach, mailed in 1906 from Antrim NH.

Postcard showing a Concord Coach, mailed in 1906 from Antrim NH.

In 1826 Mr. Downing arranged with J. Stephens Abbot of Salem MA to come to Concord, work with him and build stage-coach bodies (“Concord Stage Coach”), which he did, making the first “coach bodies” ever made in New Hampshire, and they became famous around the world.

The firm was Downing & Abbot until September 1847 when the partnership was dissolved and Mr. Downing and two sons built new shops In 1865 Lewis Downing retired from business and a new firm was formed by the children of the original founders as Abbot, Downing & Co.  A partial genealogy of his family is describe below.

==Partial Genealogy & Descendants==
==of Lewis Downing of Lexington MA & Concord NH==

It is most probable that Lewis Downing descended from Malcolm Downing who came from Scotland and who settled at Lynn, Massachusetts. Malcolm/Mackum/Machum/Mac Callum Downing, b. in Scotland, was captured after the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, and sent to the American Colonies (Saugus Iron Works) as slave labor, part of the 150 who were sent on the ship “Unity” and were still at the iron works in 1653. These prisoners served out 6-8 year terms of servitude. Lynn vital records show he married in 4 March 1653 [NE Marriages Prior to 1700, Torrey] to Margaret Sullivan, and that he died 1 October 1683. She died 20 Feb 1697 in Lynn MA.
[Mackum, “a Scot,” and Margaret Suleavan, ––: 4m: 1653. CTR]
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Children of Malcolm & Margaret (Sullivan) Downing
1. Mary Downing, b. 1654; some genealogies state that she m. a “Studdard.” She did NOT marry Anthony Stoddard. That Mary’s brother was George Downing from whom Downing Street in London is named, and niece to Gov. John Winthrop. That would make the Mary who married Anthony Studdard to be the daughter of Rev. Emmanuel & Anne (Ware) Downing instead. [Mary, d. Makum and Margeet, ––: 12m: 1654. CTR]
2. Hanna Downing, b. 1657; m. 25 Nov 1678 Ipswich MA to Isaak Foster
[Hana, d. Makum and Margeret, 3: 2m: 1657. CTR]
3. Sara Downing, b. 1658
4. Margaret Downing, b. 1660; m. — Collins
[Margeret, d. Mackum and Margeret, 15: 11m: 1660. CTR]
5. Priscilla Downing, b. 1661; m. 1683 to Nathaniel Carriel/Carrel/Carroll
[Priscilla, d. Mackum and Margeret, Mar. 15, 1661. CTR]
6. Catherine Downing, b. 1665
[Catherine, d. Mackum and Margeret, 15: 6m: 1665. CTR]
7. +John Downing, b. 9.20.1667
[John, s. Mackum, 20: 9m: 1667. CTR]
8. Joanna Downing, b. 1670; m. — Ramsdell
[Joana, d. Mackum, 26: 12m: 1670. CTR]

John Downing, son of Malcolm & Margaret (Sullivan) Downing, b. 20 Sep 1667 Lynn MA. He “John of Boston” married Mrs. [sic] Hannah Shepard, int. Dec. 27 1697, Lynn MA recs. Lived in Boston, Suffolk MA. [One source states they removed to Kingston, Washington Co., Rhode Island, unconfirmed] She was baptized at Rowley MA 2 Jan 1675/6, the daughter of Rev. Jeremiah & Hannah (Wainwright) Shepard, who mentions his grandchildren, John and Mary DOWNING In his will. [Editor’s note: Yes I know his marriage records says Mrs., but the Shepard genealogy states Hannah married John Downing].
————————
Children of John & Hannah (Shepard) Downing:
1. +John Downing, b on or after 1697 probably Boston MA;
2. Mary Downing, b. on or after 1697 probably Boston MA

**there is a gap between this John and what is positively proven, however it is family tradition that they descend from this line**

—-proven from this point below—–

John Caleb Downing born abt 1727, d 1832 [prob d. — Downing, Caleb, Aug. 18, 1832 Lynn MA]; m. 16 May 1751 in Andover, Essex Co. MA to Sarah Coates [Coetts, Coats]. She was b. prob 3 July 1726. [Note: There is a record of Sarah Coats m. at Boston MA 28 Nov 1746 to John Neal, whether it is the same or different person, I don’t know].
—————————–
Children of Caleb & Sarah (Coates) Downing:
1. Elizabeth Downing, b. 20 January 1752 Lynn MA, d. 1 April 1834 Lyndeboro NH; m. Jonathan Whittemore; 3 children.
2. Susanna Downing, b. 22 Feb 1753 Lynn MA
3. James Downing, b. 14 March 1754 Lynn MA; m. Rebecca Adams
4. Michal Downing, b. 31 Aug 1756 Lynn MA
5. +Samuel Downing, b. 12 March 1757 Lynn MA
6. Ruth Downing, b. 22 Nov 1758 Lynn MA; d. 12 July 1814 New Boston, NH; m. Aaron Whittemore, 6 children.
7. Sarah Downing, b. 15 Feb 1760 Lynn MA
8. Thomas Downing, b. 8 Apr 1762 Lynn MA
9. John Downing, b. 28 Dec 1763 Lynn MA, poss. died 18 Aug 1835, a. 70y, ?m. Rebekah Ramsdel 18 Sep 1761 Lynn MA

March 24, 1812 Orange Co. Patriot Newspaper, Newburgh NY advertisement for Downing Nursery

March 24, 1812 Orange Co. Patriot Newspaper, Newburgh NY advertisement for Downing Nursery

Samuel Downing, son of Caleb & Sarah (Coates) Downing, b 12 March 1757 in Lynn MA, d. 1 Nov 1822, aet 61 at Newburgh NY [per account of descendants of John Bridge, page 63] or d. before 1845 at Phillipstown MA [per History of the Town of Lexington MA by Charles Hudson, p. 66, Brown genealogy] or; m1st) 19 June 1783 at Lexington MA to Susan/Susannah “Betsey” Brown, daughter of Benjamin & Sarah (Reed) Brown. She b. 17 June 1764 Watertown MA, d 29 Apr 1843 Phillipston, Worcester Co MA. He m2d) — to Eunice Bridge, dau of Francis & Eunice (Brown) Bridge. She was b. 27 March 1776 and d. 29 Oct 1838. He was a carriage maker in Lexington MA, arriving there about 1777, first taxed there in 1778. After his 2nd marriage he removed to Newburgh NY, establishing a carriage & wagon shop on the corner of Broad and Liberty Streets. When his health failed, he opened a nursery there.  [history of Lexington MA]
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Biography of Lewis Downing from History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties NH
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Children of Samuel & Susan (Brown) Downing:
1. Mary “Polly” Downing, b. 1783 Lexington MA; m. 1 June 1805 to Samuel Butterfield of W. Cambridge MA.
2. Oliver Downing, b. 10 March 1785 Lexington MA; d. 22 Dec 1874 Boston, MA
3. Samuel Downing, b. 30 Oct 1787 Lexington MA; d. 20 Jan 1864 Somerville MA; m1) 9 April 1809 Lucy Learned; m2) 11 Nov 1819 Lydia Blodgett
4. Susanna “Lucy” Downing b. 20 Nov 1788 Lexington MA, d. 15 Apr 1866 Lexington MA; m. 19 May 1817 Daniel Chandler, son of John & Peggy (Mack) Chandler. He served in the War of 1812, wounded and upon returning home was superintendent of the Farm School on Thompson’s Island (5 yrs) in the harbor of Boston; after superintendent of the House of Industry and later the House of Reformation in the city of Boston. He d. 16 June 1847 aged 59. Children: [CHANDLER]: Mary Jane Mack, Susan D., Daniel and Delia (twins), Patrick Henry, Sarah R., Leonard, and John G. [see History of the town of Lexington MA for more on this family]
5. Sally Downing, b. 23 Nov 1790 Lexington MA; m. Daniel Rhodes of Boston MA.
6. +Lewis Downing b. 23 June 1792 Lexington MA; m. Lucy Wheelock*
7. William Downing, b. 1796 Lexington MA; d. 1814 [died in the War of 1812, Battle of Lundy’s Lane at Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada].
Children of Samuel & Samuel & Eunice (Bridge) Downing: [? b. Newburgh NY]
8. Emily Downing, b. 24 Jan 1801 Newburgh NY
9. Charles Downing b. 9 July 1802 Newburgh NY, d. 18 Jan 1885 Newburgh NY; m. Mary Wait, daughter of Samuel Wait of Montgomery NY. No children; nursery man, pomologist.
10. George Washington Downing. b 22 Feb 1804
11. Fanny Downing, died in infancy
12. Andrew Jackson Downing, b. 30 Oct 1815 Newburgh NY, landscape gardener, architect, publisher. “The Father of American Landscape Architecture.”

—–NEXT GENERATION——

Lewis Downing [this story is about him see photograph above], son of Samuel & Susan (Brown) Downing ; m. 23 May 1815 at Concord NH to Lucy Wheelock, dau of Jonathan & Lucy (Beaman) Wheelock. She was b. 11 Nov 1792 Lancaster MA and d. 4 May 1883 Concord NH. Buried Old North Cemetery, Concord NH. In 1835 Lewis Downing is listed as a fire warden in Concord NH.  FOUNDER OF THE DOWNING-ABBOTT CARRIAGE COMPANY of Concord NH [genealogy section, History of Lexington NH]
———————-
Children of Lewis & Lucy (Wheelock) Downing:
1. +Lucy Maria Downing, b. 19 Sep 1818 Concord NH, d. 11 Apr 1884 Concord NH; m. Benjamin Grover. Had children.
2. Lewis Downing Jr., b 6 Dec 1820 Concord NH, d. 19 Aug 1901 in Concord NH. He m1) Lucy M. Beal. She was b. 15 April 1815 and d. 30 April 1855. He m2d) 22 Oct 1857 in Nashua NH to Clarissa Maria “Clara” French, dau of Caleb & Mary French. She was b. 23 Nov 1830 in Eppington [sic Epping] NH, and d. 10 Jan 1909 in Concord NH. He was educated in the public schools and at Burr seminary, Manchester VT. In early life he entered the carriage manufactory to learn and business, and was at one time president of the company. He had been a director of the National State Capital bank and its president since 1878. He was a director of Stark Mills in Manchester NH. Unitarian. The title of Major was gained during his service in early life in the old New Hampshire militia. He built a house in 1851 as his residence, at 33 Pleasant Street. Lewis Downing Jr. and Clara French had a daughter Gertrude, b. Sep 1865 in Concord NH, d. 17 Oct 1952 in Concord NH. In 1920 single living with her aunt Lydia J. French. Unmarried.
3. +Alonzo Downing, b. 28 Dec 1822 in Concord NH, d. 3 July 1877
4. Mary Ann Downing, b 25 Jan 1826 Concord NH, d. 16 Apr 1903 Concord NH; single
5. Emily Downing, b. 28 July 1828, d. 20 Aug 1829 Concord NH, twin
6. Ellen Downing, b. 28 July 1828, d. 2 Sept 1917, buried Concord NH; She m. 25 Sep 1850 in Concord NH to Joseph C.A. Hill. He was b. in Harvard MA 21 Jan 1821, d. in Concord NH 14 March 1901. He moved to Concord in 1841 employed by Franklin Evans, and eventually became his partner. He moved to California until 1873 as a rep. of the Abbot-Downing Co., carriage manufacturers. When Lewis Downing died, he returned to Concord and lived at the Downing homestead. He was a member of the Concord school board, and represented Ward 6 in the legislature. He was elected treasurer of the NH Centennial Home for the Aged. He was president of the Board of Trustees of Proctor Academy at Andover. They had no children [per the 1900 US Census.]

—–NEXT GENERATION——

Lucy Maria Downing, daughter of Lewis & Lucy (Wheelock) Downing, b. 19 Sep 1818 Concord NH, d. 11 Apr 1884 Concord NH; m. Benjamin Grover. In 1870 living in Concord NH; She m. 11 January 1843 in NH to Benjamin Grover, son of Benjamin & Elizabeth (Stone) Grover. He had married 1st) 28 Sep 1830 to Caroline Wilkins.
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Children of Benjamin & Caroline (Wilkins) Grover:
1. Abiel Walker Grover, b 1831, d. 28 May 1833 Concord NH, age 1y 6m
2. Walker Grover, b. 1834, d. 1838
3. Edward Maitland Grover, b. 1840, d. 1848
Children of Benjamin & Lucy Maria (Downing) Grover
4. George Wheelock Grover, b. 17 July 1845 Concord NH, d. 21 Dec 1927 Sheffield, Berskshire MA.  He m. 15 May 1867 in Sheffield MA to Lavinia M. Briggs.  CHILD: John B. Grover, b. 20 June 1870 Great Barrington MA, died 14 Sept 1906 in Detroit Michigan; He m. 18 Jan 1894 in Nashua NH to Kate S. Ames, daughter of Lyman B. & Ellen M. (Shattuck) Ames. She was b. 5 May 1870 and d. 12 Nov 1957.  A traveling salesman. They are buried in Edgewood Cemetery, Nashua NH. No children.
5. Lewis H. Grover, b. abt 1848 NH, d. 1 Sep 1916 in Concord NH; unmarried.

Alonzo Downing, son of Lewis & Lucy (Wheelock) Downing, b. 28 Dec 1822 in Concord NH, d. 3 July 1877; He m1) Marianna Maria Sanborn. She b. 27 Oct 1822 and d. 27 Aug 1859. He m2d) Hannah Edella Marden, dau of Joseph & Levina (Day) Marden. She was b. 6 Feb 1835 Jefferson or Lancaster NH, and d. 15 Sep 1923 in Concord NH.
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Child of Alonzo & Marianna M. (Sanborn) Downing:
1. Charles Frank Downing, b. 28 Nov 1857 Concord NH, possibly died young as another son is later named Charles.
Children of Alonzo & Hannah E. (Marden) Downing:
2. Alfred Lewis Downing was b. 6 July 1862 Concord NH, d. 27 March 1928 Concord NH, an electrician of influenza. His d. cert says he is buried Blossom Hill Cemetery.
3. Charles W.Downing, b abt 1865, d. 3 May 1931 in Concord NH, m. 17 Sep 1928 Concord NH to Grace L. Barrett.
4. Lula/Lucy/Lucie G. Downing b August 1866 Concord NH; single; in 1940 living in Concord NH boarding 26 No. Spring Street.  In 1962 in Concord at 96 Pleasant Street
5.  George Herman Downing, b abt 1875 m. 15 Aug 1906 in W. Concord NH to Ethel May Crossman, dau of James M. & Nellie A. (Shepard) Crossman.

 

*ADDITIONAL READING*

New Hampshire’s Famous Concord Coach and the Abbot-Downing Company (Abbot Genealogy)

Old Abbot-Downing & Co. catalog of coaches and wagons

History of the Town of Lexington, MA [Genealogy Section]

Denver Public Library: Deadwood Coach

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One Response to Downing & Abbot Company Founder and Carriage Builder of Concord New Hampshire: Lewis Downing (1792-1873)

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