Josiah Carpenter by H. H. Metcalf

The men who make and whose lives illustrate the material prosperity and progress of a nation or people are those, as a rule, whose life and labor have been devoted in the main to the financial, commercial, and business interests of the country. Politicians, stump-orators, and office-holders of long continuance in place and power, may attain greater celebrity or a wider transient popularity, and move more effectually for the time being the tide of public sentiment; yet the influence which moves the deep and silent yet strong and resistless currents which make for the substantial progress and development of the race, is that which is exercised by the active, energetic, and persistent man of business, whose ready and thorough conception of the demands of industry, trade, and finance, and whose prompt action at their behest, make him not only the master of his own fortune, but, to a great extent, that of others. Of this class of men the subject of this sketch is a prominent representative in this state.

Josiah Carpenter was born in the town of Chichester, May 31, 1829. His ancestry goes back in direct line to William Carpenter, who in the year 1638, at the age of sixty-two years, embarked with his son William, aged thirty-three, and his wife, Abigail, and their four children, for America, sailing in the ship "Bevis," from the port of Southampton, England, and making their home at Weymouth, Mass. From Joseph, one of the four children named, the line of descent runs through Benjamin, born January 15, 1657, John, born March 25, 1691, and John, born January 4, 1728, to Josiah, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, and for whom he was named. The senior Josiah Carpenter was born in Stafford, Conn., October 6, 1762, being one of a family of five sons and two daughters. Himself and three of his brothers served in the patriot army in the war of the Revolution, one of the brothers being killed while on sentinel duty at Roxbury Neck. He graduated with the highest honors from Dartmouth College in the class of 1787, studied for the ministry, and, November 2, 1791, was ordained and installed pastor of the First Congregational church in Chichester, which pastorate he retained for a period of nearly forty years, establishing and maintaining a reputation for geniality, benevolence, and hospitality which gained for him the affectionate regard and esteem of his people. Throughout his entire career as a citizen and a minister of the gospel, he labored earnestly and diligently to advance every undertaking which had for its object the public good, or the advancement of the cause of religious truth, as he understood it. He married, April 13, 1790, Hannah Morrill, of Canterbury; and their children were Nancy, David Morrill, John Thurston, Clarissa, Hannah, and Oliver, none of whom are now living.

The second child—David Morrill Carpenter—was born in Chichester, November 16, 1793, and, after receiving a good academic education, commenced active life in his native town in the capacity of a country merchant, which business he followed with much success for many years; but subsequently turned his attention to agriculture, becoming the owner of an extensive farm, which he cultivated for several years in a most successful manner. Notwithstanding the constant demands of his private occupation, which, as his success demonstrated, were never neglected, a great portion of his time during the period of his active life was always claimed by the public duties imposed by his fellow-citizens. Almost continually for twenty-five years he held one or more town offices, being several years chosen as the representative of his town in the state legislature, the duties of which position he discharged with ability and fidelity. He served as a member of the board of commissioners for Merrimack county, and was also, for more than thirty years, one of the trustees of the Merrimack County Savings Bank of Concord; he was also for a long time a director of the Mechanics Bank of that city; and was almost invariably in attendance upon the weekly meetings of the boards of the respective institutions. January 13, 1818, he was united in marriage with Mary, daughter of Jonathan Chesley Perkins, of Wells, Maine, who married Hannah Dennett, of Portsmouth, December 6, 1787, and shortly removed with his young wife to the town of Loudon in this state, adjoining Chichester, which was then almost a wilderness, where he cleared up a large farm, became a prosperous and influential citizen of the town, and reared a family of six children, of whom Mary, above mentioned, was the fourth. The children of David M. and Mary (Perkins) Carpenter were Charles H., Josiah, the subject of this sketch, Clara A., Sarah L., and Frank P., besides two daughters, who died in early life. In 1850, Mr. Carpenter removed to the town of Epsom, where he purchased a large farm, in the management of which his son Josiah was associated with him, upon which he remained until he retired from active business, in 1858, in which year he removed to Concord, where he resided until his death, December 9, 1873, seven years subsequent to the death of his wife, who departed this life, November 4, 1866, at the age of sixty-eight years. A man of wide influence, universally exerted for good, he lived beloved and died respected. He had been a soldier in the war of 1812, enlisting at the outbreak of hostilities, although but a boy at the time; yet, like his father, who had served in the Revolution, he would never accept from the government the pension to which he was legally entitled.

Charles H., the eldest son and child of David M. Carpenter, resides in the town of Chichester, where he has always had his residence, and where he has won a reputation, not only as one of the successful farmers, but most prominent citizens, of the town and of the county. His farming property embraces more than a thousand acres of land. He is also quite extensively engaged as a dealer in real estate and lumber. Clara A., the eldest surviving daughter, is the wife of Samuel C. Merrill, a prosperous flour manufacturer and flour and grain dealer, of Paterson, N. J., formerly a well known wholesale merchant of Manchester. Sarah L. married Prof. James W. Webster, of Maiden, Mass., a teacher of experience and ability, now and for many years past principal of the Hancock school, Boston, formerly a successful teacher in Concord. Frank P., the youngest son, is a member of the enterprising and well known firm of Drake & Carpenter of Manchester, who are extensively engaged in the wholesale flour and grain trade.

The subject of this sketch,—Josiah, the second son of David Morrill Carpenter,—although engaged to some extent in boyhood in assisting his father upon the farm, secured an academical education at Pembroke and Pittsfield academies, and at the New Hampshire Conference Seminary at Sanbornton Bridge (now Tilton). Very early in life he manifested an aptitude for business, and engaged for some time in youth in the purchase and sale of live stock, not only in this section but at the Southwest. Returning home from Kentucky about the time his father removed to Epsom, he engaged with him in extensive farming operations in that town. He received, soon after, an appointment as deputy-sheriff for the county of Merrimack, and also for the counties of Belknap and Hillsborough, which position he held for several years, and in which he transacted a large amount of business. For three or four years previous to his father's removal to Concord, the entire management of the farm was substantially in his hands, which, together with his official business and individual enterprises in different directions, gave ample scope for his energy and capacity.

In 1858 the farm in Epsom was sold, and, his father having removed to Concord, Mr. Carpenter, in April of that year, established his residence in the town of Pittsfield, having been tendered and accepted the cashiership of the Pittsfield bank. He discharged the duties of that position so satisfactorily that upon its conversion to a national bank, in 1864, he was continued as cashier and also made a member of the board of directors. He continued his residence in Pittsfield until the spring of 1877, remaining all the while in management of the bank's affairs, while at the same time engaging in various lines of business in his own behalf. Nor did he fail to devote attention to public affairs. Never a politician, but always a stanch Democrat, he took no little interest in the success of his party, as well as the welfare of the town and community. He was frequently intrusted with official responsibilities by his fellow-citizens of Pittsfield, and represented them in the legislature in 1862 and 1863.

In the fall of 1863, his health having become impaired from overwork, he went South to spend the winter, upon the advice of his physicians, going first to New Orleans, whence he made a trip up the river, where he had a fine opportunity for viewing the operations of the army in that quarter, the time being soon after Gen. Butler's occupancy of the city. Later in the season he visited Cuba, where he remained some time, returning in the spring greatly invigorated, and with improved general health. He was elected treasurer of Merrimack county in 1872, and again the following year, receiving at each election a support considerably in excess of his party vote. Long prominent in the councils of his party in his section of the state, he has served also, at different times, as a member of the Democratic state committee.

In March, 1877, desiring a more extensive field of business operation, Mr. Carpenter resigned his position as cashier of the Pittsfield National Bank and removed to the city of Manchester, where, with characteristic vigor and enterprise, he immediately set about the work of procuring a charter for and organizing the Second National Bank of Manchester, of which institution he has been a director and cashier since its organization. The national bank being well established, he assisted in securing a charter for and organizing the Mechanics Savings Bank, of which he has been from the first a trustee and the treasurer. Both these institutions, under his skillful supervision, have attained a prosperous and flourishing condition. Aside from his general banking operations, he has in Manchester, as elsewhere, dealt extensively in notes, bonds, and real estate, and has been, for the past few years, quite largely engaged in building. In company with ex-Gov. Smyth, he is proprietor of Smyth and Carpenter's block, on Elm street, the northern half of which has recently been completed. This block is four stories high and basement; has a frontage, on Elm street, of two hundred feet, a depth of one hundred feet; contains ten stores on the first floor, with offices and tenements above; and is, beyond question, the largest brick block in the state in the ownership of any single firm.

Mr. Carpenter has always manifested an interest in educational affairs, and has been specially interested in the establishment and prosperity of the Holderness School for Boys, located at Holderness in this state, under the auspices of the Episcopalian denomination, with which he is associated. He has been one of the trustees of this school from the inception of the enterprise, and is also the treasurer. He devoted much time and personal care to the work of remodeling the buildings at the outset, and, since then, to their enlargement as the growth and success of the school has demanded.

September 1, 1858, Mr. Carpenter was united in marriage with Georgianna Butters Drake, born January 15, 1836, a lady of fine mental capacity and attainments, endowed with the graces and virtues essential to true womanhood, and at home alike in the social as well as the domestic circle. She was the only daughter and eldest child of the late Col. James Drake of Pittsfield, a prominent citizen of that town, well known in public life, who filled various responsible offices, including that of state senator, and who died April 7, 1870. He was a descendant of the celebrated Sir Francis Drake, the English explorer and naval commander who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, and attained the rank of vice-admiral of the British navy. The family were among the earliest settlers of New England, and trace their ancestry more than six hundred years. The elder brother of Mrs. Carpenter—Frank J. Drake—is the partner of Mr. Carpenter's younger brother—Frank P.—in the firm of Drake & Carpenter, heretofore mentioned, while her younger brother—Nathaniel S.—is in business at Pittsfield.

Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter,—-a daughter, Georgia Ella, born October 13, 1859, an accomplished young lady who resides with her parents, and a son who died in infancy. Their residence is a fine brick mansion, among the most substantial in the city, on north Elm street, at the corner of Sagamore.

Mr. Carpenter is now in the prime of life, though his business career has already been more extended and successful than that of most men of similar vocation who have been engaged a lifetime therein. Filling various positions of trust and responsibility, public and corporate, with the greatest acceptability; of sound judgment, strong will, quick perception and a practical, well balanced mind, and unquestioned integrity of action; enjoying the general confidence of the public, and in a special degree that of those persons obliged or accustomed to seek advice or assistance from others, in matters of business,—his success may indeed be regarded as far greater than that of those ordinarily known as fortunate business men, while there yet remains, in the ordinary course of life, ample time for farther successes and greater achievements.