History
of the

Ellis Family

Owners of the prestigeous Ellis Carriage Company and manufacturer of the first trolley car in Amesbury
They were considered to be the very best in the country and were sold throughout the United States, Canada, and Hawaii


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This page, in its entirety, was submitted by William Grant Ellis and is dedicated to the memory of his Great, Great, Grandfather and his contributions to the City of Amesbury.

The Ellis Car Company 1889 - 1894

Taken from: "A Forgotten Industry" Newburyport and Amesbury Streetcar Builders

By Gerald F. Cunningham and O. R. Cummings

 

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William G. Ellis
1832-1896
Founder of the Ellis Carriage and Trolley Car Co

 

The town of Amesbury was famous for many years for its extensive carriage building industry. Among the prominent manufacturers was William G. Ellis, who established a factory on Friend Street, near Whitehall Road, in 1875. His enterprise prospered and in 1888 two of his sons, David and William, joined the firm, which became known as W. G. Ellis & Sons. By this time, the father had become interested in the production of streetcars and organized the Ellis Car Company, which began production in a newly built plant on Oak Street, near the tracks of the Amesbury branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad, on January 1, 1889.

Reporting the advent of the Ellis Car Company, the June 1889 Street Railway Journal said it had erected a three-story wood frame building, 60 by 175 feet in area, which was divided into setting up rooms, a paint shop and a storage area and had an outside elevator for the transfer of the car bodies from one floor to an another. A machine shop was situated on the rented ground floor of a nearby brick building; the second and third stories of which then were occupied by Wells & Spofford, carriage body and gear manufacturers. Also in the vicinity was the generating station of the Amesbury Electric Light & Power Company.

According to the Journal, the company planned to erect a second building during the summer of 1889 and this one-story wood frame affair, used for car storage, was about 50 by 150 feet in size. There originally were 19 employees but by December 1891 no fewer than 80 "first class mechanics," all experienced carriage builders, were on the payroll. A railroad siding made it possible for cars to be shipped directly from the factory to destination. Apparently the first cars produced by Ellis were built on speculation but these soon were sold and the company began to receive orders from several sources. Completed in the late summer and early fall were the first electric cars of the Newburyport and Amesbury Horse Railroad, which was electrifying a branch built the previous year from Amesbury to Merrimac port and Merrimac. The cars, Nos. 32 and 34, were of the 16-foot closed type and were equipped with Thomson-Houston trucks, motors and rheostat controllers.

Trolley service over the branch commenced October 15, 1889 and the Street Railway Journal of January 1890 described Nos. 32 and 34 as having been solidly and substantially built and elegantly painted, each car having several landscape views of some of the points of interest in the area which the Newburyport and Amesbury served. The Amesbury & Salisbury Villager, a weekly newspaper, of July 25, 1892 said a closed car for Toledo and six open cars for Newport were ready to be shipped and declared the former, the first of its type to be produced by Ellis, was "the finest streetcar, without exception, ever seen around here. The outside colors are blue and white, artistically and harmoniously decorated. Inside the whole finish is solid mahogany with panels of birds eye maple. The upholstering and decorations are the finest...and the workmanship is of the highest quality."

The plant’s capacity was reported as one car per day and the Street Railway Journal said George Ellis, another son of W. G. Ellis, was running the business. William G. Ellis was among the incorporators of the Haverhill to Amesbury, chartered May 9, 1892 to build a 10-mile electric line from Haverhill to Amesbury via Merrimac. The promoter of the company was E. P. Shaw but because of the involvement of Mr. Ellis, the H&A ordered its first rolling stock from the Amesbury firm.

A feature article in the Amesbury Daily News of September 21, 1892 had this to say about the Ellis Car Company: "The Ellis Car Company has received a hurried order for twelve box cars for the Savannah, Ga. street railroad...The agent was here last week and wanted the cars by the first of November. An order was also received yesterday from the Haverhill & Amesbury road for two 18-foot boxcars. These are all set up and have received their prime coat. Painters were put to work on them this morning and they hope to have them out in two weeks. These hurried orders make a large demand for painters and every painter that applies is put right to work. They also want ornamental painters who they find are a little hard to secure."

The article also mentions: "Work on the lengthening of three West End cars progresses well. It is a job almost equal to building a new car. They were originally 16-foot horse cars and are being made into 20-foot electrics. The car is cut in the middle, the old bottom is taken out and an entire new one put in and the body of the car is spliced in the middle. One new large window and two smaller ones are put in the new part. About all that remains of the old car are the hoods and ends. The old paint is burnt off and the whole car painted over new."

A surviving invoice shows that Ellis sold one shear and one nose plow to the Patterson (N. J.) Railway in November 1893. An advertisement for the plows in the American Street Railway Investments manual of 1894 shows they were four-wheel affairs with a center cab and open end platforms and that they were available in both the nose and shear varieties. Motors were situated inside the cab and were connected to the axles by sprocket wheels and chains.

All streetcar production by Ellis ended abruptly on April 28, 1894 when its main building on Oak Street was destroyed by a fire, which erupted in the paint shop at 9:40 p.m. and spread so rapidly that the plant was leveled in an hour’s time. The damages equaled $40,000 plus! Also consumed by the flames were all of the company’s blueprints and car plans. Firefighters managed to prevent the spread of the fire to the nearby storage building, inside which were "several" cars awaiting sale or shipment.

Shortly after the fire W. G. Ellis announced that the destroyed building would not be reconstructed; that the Ellis Car Company would give up streetcar production and that light and heavy business wagons and street railway snow plows would be built at the 99 Friend Street factory of W. G. Ellis & Sons.

Whether any snow plows were turned out is doubtful as by 1895 the Taunton (Mass.) Locomotive Manufacturing Company was producing plows in large numbers and effectively dominated the New England market for such equipment. Mr. Ellis died Nov. 3, 1896 at the age of 64 and by June 1899 the wagon factory had been closed and R. G. Ellis maintained a carriage repair, painting and varnishing shop in a nearby building. (R. G. later removed this business to Saugus, Mass in 1904 for a short time.) The last Ellis-built open car owned by the Massachusetts Northeastern Street Railway, successor to the Haverhill & Amesbury Street Railway was junked in 1923. No known Ellis cars are in existence today.

Copyright, 1995. Harold E. Fox 80 Virginia Terrace Forty Fort, Pa. 18704


Ellis Trolley Car Fire

The Haverhill Evening Gazette
April 30th, 1894 page 8

The Flames Destroy the Ellis Car Works in Amesbury,

Loss at Amesbury is Heavy

On Saturday evening at 9:30 a bright blaze was seen to ignite out of the center of the Ellis Car Company’s building situated on Oak Street, Amesbury. The building is a long wooden structure, built some six years ago, and was two stories in height.

It was occupied by W. G. Ellis, in which he carried on streetcar building and large express wagon construction. The fire is supposed to have originated in the paint shop connected with the plant, and was no doubt caused by spontaneous combustion. The building contained 25 finished cars and over 20 finished express wagons, among other vehicles and valuable property.

There was only a light wind from the west blowing at the time but the fire made such headway that the immense building and its contents was reduced to ashes in 30 minutes. The loss on the wagons will be fully $10,000 and on the cars and other contents of the building it is estimated at $50,000 by Mr. Ellis on which he has only $23,000 insurance.

The fire has destroyed the largest of the two car factories, and is a very disastrous blow to the town. Immediately surrounding the burned building is located the mill connected with the plant, built of brick; the electric light plant; Brown McClire & Co.’s store and a wooden storehouse directly in the rear of and within 20 feet of the burned building. This building was also occupied by Mr. Ellis and contained four unfinished cars and a large assortment of lumber. All these buildings were saved.

At one time the firemen were packed in between this building and the car shop when the walls of the latter gave way suddenly, they instantly darted in under the wall and allowed it to pass over them and all escaped without injury, yet they had a hot time of it doing so and narrowly escaped death.

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William Ellis and Sons Carriage Shop, 99 Friend St


The Ellis Family

A short history
Compiled, copied and written by
William Grant Ellis

The following letter which was hand written came into my father’s (Robert Grant Ellis, 9-12-1930) possession by his sister Norma. It is signed by a one, Alexander George Ellis and dated March of 1896, which makes this letter 104 years old as of 2000

"My father speaks of the Ellises coming over to Ireland in the English Army, about the year 1600, and traveling towards the North of that country. Two brothers afterwards crossed over to Scotland. One of them, James, settled near Elgin, the other in Stotfield, north of Elgin. James was twice married. His second wife’s name was Janet Murdoch. He died about 1800 and was buried in the churchyard in Urquahart; a large flat stone with his name marks the spot, at the east end of the church, near the boundary wall. He left two sons and three daughters. His second son, William was born Oct 15, 1772, and married June Laing, daughter of George Laing, January 10, 1801. He (William) died about April 19, 1819. She died April 12, 1845; they had four sons, & three daughters.

1st: William, born August 22, 1802, married (Margaret or Jane) Grant and died in Edinburgh Aug. 11, 1857 leaving, one son, *W. G. Ellis*, and one daughter.

2nd: James, born May 29, 1804, and married Jane Leslie, in Alford, he died April 12, 1865, and left three sons and one daughter.

3rd: Alexander, born October 17, 1805, left Scotland in 1831, and married Mary Ann Egan, daughter of Francis Boacious Egan, land surveyor, August 14, 1834. He died in Kingstins Co., Dublin, Ireland October 11, 1885. She died November 14, 1894. They had six daughters, and two sons.

4th: George, born June 10, 1808, settled and married in Aberdeen, and died January 18, 1862, and left three daughters.

5th: Jane, born June 10, 1808, married Wm. Wiseman, died May 29, 1842. They had two sons & one daughter.

6th: Anne, born July 22, 1811, married David McIntosh in Brechin in -?

7th: Janet, born April 6, 1816, and died young.

The names of William, James and Alexander are registered in the Parish of St Andrew, Long Bride, near Elgin. George, Jane and Anne in the Parish of Raffan Banffshire."

Copied by Alexander George Ellis, second son of the above 1896.

Alexander Ellis, born May 9, 1851, and married Harriette Matilda Strick, second daughter of Captain David Strick, Portsea, Hants, on Aug 17, 1873 in Monkstinn Parish, Dublin, who left Ireland for Montreal on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1886. Had seven sons and three daughters.


Amesbury Daily News

Tuesday, November 3, 1896 W. G. ELLIS DEAD. Passed Away at 7.40, this morning.

He Was Born in Elgin, Scotland, May 30, 1832. A Sketch of His Active Business Life. One of our most prominent and influential citizens, William G. Ellis after a long and lingering illness died this morning at his home on Friend Street at 7:40 at the age of 64 years 5 months 3 days.

Among the many young men who left their native land in old Scotia, to seek their fortune in other climes, few labored more persistently to win the smiles of the goddess of fortune than William G. Ellis. He was born in Elgin, Scotland, May 30, 1832.

When the gold discoveries in Australia were made known he went to that country. There he labored for seven years, and during his residence in the land of gold never slept under a roof, or upon a bed, except one made of pine boughs. In one claim he worked seven weeks, and took out two hundred and forty five pounds of solid gold. After enduring all the hardships incident to a "gold-digger," he came to America.

A little incident directed his attention to Amesbury. Before leaving Scotland in wandering one day up the mountain steeps, he seated himself on a grassy slope to rest. His attention was directed to a torn newspaper near by, and taking it in hand, he read the account of a fair held in No. 8 Mill, by the ladies of the town of Amesbury, in aid of the soldiers. The paper proved to be a copy of the Villager, which some one in Amesbury had sent to friends in Scotland.

Mr. Ellis came to this country in 1863, worked as a common laborer; at whatever he could find to do, notwithstanding he brought with him $2500 in gold. At that time, gold was at its highest premium. He sold it in the markets, doubled his money, and invested the same in government bonds. Some of his friends advised him not to invest his money in government bonds, but with a firm belief in the perpetuity of the Union, he informed them that if the government did not stand, all value would be destroyed. The love of his adopted country found frequent expression, and while he had all the veneration of a Scotchman for the land of his birth, America was his home, for in this land he resided more years, and won an honorable name in the ranks of businessmen.

Toiling for a few weeks in the carriage shop of James Hume, perhaps with a critical eye studying the business, he resolved to engage in the manufacture of carriages. Accordingly he formed a co-partnership with A. M. Huntington, Esq., and the firm continued to do business for eight years,when it dissolved. Mr. Ellis in 1875 commenced business on his own account, and erected an extensive plant on Friend Street, near his present residence.

In 1888, he took his two sons, David and William into the firm. At the death of William, James entered the firm in 1890, and the carriage business was mainly given up to their management. After retiring from the carriage manufactory, Mr. Ellis gave his attention to the streetcar business. He visited the largest establishments in the country, getting such information as he could respecting the same. With his usual keen insight, he believed the field a promising one. A location for a plant was secured on the line of the railroad, and capital was at hand to establish necessary buildings. There he leased, and Jan. 1, 1889, commenced work in this new branch of business, employing nineteen mechanics. Slow, but sure, was the progress of the enterprise.

There was much to be learned, but he started in with the motto, that his work should recommend itself. His cars were in demand by the largest firms in the United States: The West End Co., Boston; Valley City and Cable Car Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; Thomson-Houston Electric Co., Boston; Union Electric Car Co., Boston, and various other lines being among the customers. Associated with him in the car business were his two sons, George and Robert. On the night of April 28, 1893, a disastrous fire destroyed the plant entailing a loss of $46,000. All of the patterns and machinery used in the business being destroyed, it was decided not to rebuild and the Company removed their business to the factory of Mr. Ellis on Friend St.

Here they gave up the car-building branch of their business devoting their time to the construction of light and heavy business wagons. Mr. Ellis was President of the Amesbury National Bank and has been one of the stockholders and directors since it was organized. He was a prominent member of Clan Frazer O S C. He was a large real estate owner and always interested in the prosperity of the town. Mr. Ellis was one of the promoters of the Haverhill and Amesbury Railroad and a large stockholder. He was largely instrumental in the organization of the Electric Light Heat & Power Company and at the time of his death was its President and Treasurer.

No man in Amesbury has done anymore to advance its interests than did Wm. G. Ellis during the 34 years of his life here and in his death the town loses a most valuable citizen. A widow and five sons Arthur, Robert, George, James and David survive him.


Obituary

Haverhill Evening Gazette
November 4th, 1896.

A Loss to Amesbury. Death Yesterday Morning of William G. Ellis. A well-known investor and carriage manufacturer. Amesbury, Nov.4, ---Hon. William G. Ellis, president of Amesbury National Bank, Amesbury Electric Light Company and one of Amesbury’s foremost citizens, died yesterday morning after a long illness of a complication of diseases.

As head for years of the Ellis Car Company he was one of the best-known car builders in the United States. He was born in Elgin, Scotland, May 30, 1832. When gold discoveries in Australia were made known, he went to that country. There he labored for seven years, and during his residence in the land of gold never slept under a roof or upon a bed, except one of pine boughs. In one claim he worked seven weeks and took 245 pounds of solid gold. After enduring all the hardships incident to the life of a "gold digger" he came to America.

A little incident directed his attention to Amesbury. Before leaving Scotland, while wandering one day up the mountain steeps, he settled himself on a grassy slope to rest. His attention was directed to a torn newspaper near at hand. He read the account of a fair held in No.8 Mill in 1863, by the ladies of the town of Amesbury, in aid of the soldiers. The paper proved to be a copy of the Villager, which someone in Amesbury had sent to friends in Scotland. Mr. Ellis came to this country in 1863, worked as a laborer at whatever he could do, notwithstanding that he brought with him $2500 in gold.

At that time gold was at its highest premium. He sold it in the markets, doubled his money and invested the same in government bonds. Some of his friends advised him not to invest his money in government bonds, but with a firm belief in the perpetuity of the Union he informed them that if the government did not stand all value would be destroyed. The love of his adopted country found frequent expression, and while he had all the veneration of a Scotchman for the land of his birth. America was his home, for in this land he won an honorable name in the ranks of businessmen.

As a carriage manufacturer he toiled for a few weeks in the shop of James Hume, perhaps with a critical eye studying the business, and resolved to engage in the manufacture of carriages. Accordingly he formed a co-partnership with A. M. Huntington in 1867, and the firm continued to do business for eight years, when it dissolved. Mr. Ellis in 1875 commenced business on his own account, and erected an extensive plant on Friend Street, near his present fine residence. In 1888 he took his two sons, David and William, into the firm. At the death of William, James entered the firm in 1890, and the carriage business was mainly given up to their management.

After retiring from the carriage manufactory, Mr. Ellis gave his attention to the streetcar business. He visited the largest establishments in the country getting information respecting the same. A location for a plant was secured on the line of the railroad and capital was at hand to establish necessary buildings. These he leased, and Jan. 1, 1889 commenced work in this new branch of business, employing 19 mechanics. In 1892, 80 first-class mechanics were employed, and cars were in demand by the largest firms in the United States.


From the Haverhill Public Library: History of Amesbury by Joseph Merrill Copyright 1880-page 404. STATISTICS OF THE CARRIAGE BUSINESS IN AMESBURY AND SALISBURY MILLS FOR 1880: Name: William G. Ellis Amount of business: $63,000 Number of carriages manufactured: 600 Number of persons employed: 23 When business commenced: 1875


From the Haverhill Public Library: History of Amesbury Mass. by Sara Locke Redford Copyright 1968-page 104 of the chapter entitled, Amesbury Carriage Industry. "Alexander Huntington and William G. Ellis were in partnership for some time in the old J. R. Huntington shop. Later Ellis rented the Briggs shop on Friend Street where he carried on his own business. Huntington kept the other shop."


 

Resolutions of Respect Adopted on the Death of W. G. Ellis by Electric Co. Wm. G. Ellis President of the Amesbury Electric Light, Heat and Power Company, died Nov. 3, 1896.

Amesbury News
November 23rd, 1896

The directors of the Amesbury Electric Light, Heat and Power Company, deeply conscious of the great loss which has come to them as individuals, as well as of that which has come to the Company in the death of it’s president, Wm. G. Ellis, desire in this testimonial to give expressions to their sorrow, and also to pay a tribute of respect to the name and memory of the departed. Mr. Ellis was, as we knew him, a man of most excellent sense to discern, and good judgment to apply the principals which underwrite all true prosperity, and it seems fitting that an expression be made of our feeling that in managing the affair of this Company, as they were entrusted to him, he sought to conduct them with the same care he would have shown had they been his own.

We learned to respect him as a friend, and to trust him as a counselor, and ever found that in so doing we were doing well. We would extend our sympathy to the family of the departed in the prayer that they may find comfort in the thought that he whom they mourn, so lived that they may bear a tribute to his memory from those who knew him in the business associations of life, as here he sought to live above reproach. "An honest man is the noblest work of God."

As we adopt the above testimonial, be it resolved, 1st, That a copy be forwarded to the family of the departed as a token of our regard for them in their sorrow, and 2nd, That a copy be spread upon the records of the company. Done at the meeting of the Directors held this 23rd day of November 1896. James Hume, President B H Young, Secretary John A. Douglas J. F. Spaulding James Bakie Jr. John A Lane


Amesbury Daily News
William H. Ellis Buried

William H. Ellis was buried from his father’s house on Friend Street yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock, Rev. George L. Richmond of Main Street Congregational Church officiating. Music was furnished by the Market Street Baptist Church Choir, L. F. Currier, leader. The house and grounds were filled with people, who came to show their last tribute of esteem to one whom they loved and respected; among those present being delegates from the Board of Trade and Scottish Club. The floral offerings were numerous, the room being literally filled with them, and as the cortege moved to the cemetery a good-sized wagonload of flowers followed the procession. Mr. Ellis was a young man, respected and beloved by all, a member of the firm of W. G. Ellis & Sons. He had the respect of his business associates and of the help employed in the factory, and the love and esteem of a large circle of friends who sympathize with the bereaved parents and relatives. (William was known as "Willie" to his family.)

 


Robert G. Ellis

 

Robert G. Ellis
1871 - 1952

Carriage and Streetcar Manufacturer

 

This is an interesting newspaper clipping that I found at the Amesbury Public Library taken from the Amesbury Daily News: R. G. Ellis Saugus’

Well Known Artistic Sign and Carriage Painter. 75 Main Street. R. G. Ellis, at No. 75 Main street, Saugus, is recognized as an accomplished artist in the line of sign and vehicle painting, and has a reputation for unsurpassed skill in that line of industry, although he has been only a short time in the business in that town, having been established there in February of the current year.(1904) His shop is commodious in its proportions, being 25 by 60 feet in dimensions, and is filled with a varied stock of paints, oils and varnishes for his own use.

Mr. Ellis makes a specialty of painting signs, carriages, wagons and automobiles and also furnishes estimates on carriage woodwork. All of Mr. Ellis’ work is done in the most thorough and artistic manner and is fully guaranteed to be the best which can be produced. Mr. Ellis is assisted by a force of skilled painters, their number varying somewhat according to the importance of the contracts on hand. Mr. Ellis is a native of Amesbury, this State, in which he received his school education, and here, for several years, he followed the trade of carriage building, later becoming connected, as Assistant Superintendent, with the firm of A. G. Ellis & Sons, carriage manufacturers.(should say W. G. Ellis & Sons) Afterwards he was one of the members of the Ellis Car Co. of Amesbury, builders of electric cars and heavy wagons, but in 1894 the plant was destroyed by fire, after which Mr. Ellis embarked in the business on his own account as a carriage builder and repairer, continuing until 1904, when he removed to Saugus and entered the service of the General Electric Co., later deciding to enter the business that he now so successfully manages at 75 Main Street. (Robert G. Ellis at the time of this newspaper account was thirty-three years old.

Robert is my great grandfather.)---William G. Ellis


   


Two newspaper-clipping accounts of the 50th wedding anniversary of Robert and Lenora Ellis. Both accounts are
from the Amesbury Daily News. 7/25/44:

Robert G. Ellises to Mark Golden Wedding Amesbury-Open house will be in order at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Ellis, 54 Whitehall Road, Tuesday, August 1, when the couple will mark their golden wedding anniversary. The hours when visitors will be received are 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. The Ellises were married in this town August 1, 1894 by Rev. George Christie, then pastor of the Union Congregational Church. Mrs. Ellis, who was Miss Lenora A. Fitzgerald before her marriage, came here 58 years ago from her native city of Lynn. Mr. Ellis, son of the late W. G. Ellis, was born in this town and has been a lifelong resident. He was associated with his father and his brothers in the Ellis Car Company, which produced electric car bodies a half century ago here. Other brothers were associated with the father in a carriage building enterprise, known as W. G. Ellis & Sons. Mr. Ellis has one brother, James, now living and the two brothers are the last remaining members of their branch of the Ellis family. There were originally six brothers. The Robert Ellises have two grandchildren, Norma and Robert Ellis of Hampton. The former is a member of the High School senior class in that town. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ellis are 73 and in good health. The former is employed by the Henschel Corporation, 14 Cedar Street, a war plant.

  7/31/44:

Couple To Mark Gold Milestone Amesbury- Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Ellis; 54 Whitehall Rd., will observe their 50th wedding anniversary tomorrow. They will welcome their friends and neighbors during an open house from 3 to 5 in the afternoon and 7 to 9 in the evening. The couple were married Aug. 1, 1894, by the Rev. George Christie, then pastor of the Union Congregational Church here.

Mrs. Ellis was the former Miss Lenora A. Fitzgerald, native of Lynn. She has been a resident of this town for the past 58 years. Mr. Ellis is a native of Amesbury and a life-long resident in this town. (Robert ran a business in Saugus for a short while in 1904 when he was 33, 40 years prior to this account.) He was associated with his father, the late W. G. Ellis, and a brother, in the former Ellis Car Co., which manufactured electric car bodies here many years ago. Other brothers were later associated with the father in the firm of W. G. Ellis & Sons, carriage builders.

Mr. Ellis and a brother, James, are the only members of the family, which included six brothers at one time, now living. The couple have two grandchildren, Norma and Robert Ellis, Hampton, N. H. The girl is a member of the Hampton High School senior class. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ellis are 73 and in good health. Mr. Ellis is now employed by the Henschel Corp., a war plant.


Obituary
Amesbury Daily News
January 22, 1952.

Death This A.M. Robert G. Ellis Former Manufacturer Passed Away At His Home Robert G. Ellis, 80, of 54 Whitehall Road, associated for a number of years in the carriage building trade, died this morning at his home following a long period of failing health. Although not in the best of health for some months, he was able to be about and yesterday morning made his usual visit to the shopping district.

He was born in Amesbury, the son of William G. and Euphemia (Dowie) Ellis on March 13, 1871, and had lived all of his life in this community. As a young man, he learned the trade of the wood-worker, and came to be recognized as one of the most skilled artisans during a period when Amesbury enjoyed a wide reputation for the proficiency of its craftsmen. He was associated with the Hollander-Morrill Carriage Company, the Judkins Body Company in Merrimac, and became a partner in the Ellis Car Factory, which maintained an establishment on Friend Street.

During the last World War he was associated with the Henschel Corporation. A man of genial personality, he enjoyed a wide circle of friends among his contemporaries, and his passing will be a source of deep regret to so many. He was a member of the Main Street Congregational Church and active in its affairs during his younger days. One of the happiest pleasures of his life has been his long companionship with his wife and helpmate. Together these two last August quietly observed their 57th wedding anniversary. Besides his wife, Lenora, he leaves one grand-daughter, Mrs. Richard Bernier (Norma) of Hampton, New Hampshire, a grandson, Robert G. Ellis of Hampton Beach and two great grandchildren. (Michael and Doreen Bernier) A daughter-in-law, Mrs. Richard Bragg (Doris) of Hampton, New Hampshire, and two nieces, Mrs. Leonard Brown (Adelaide) of Amesbury, and Mrs. Forrest Leighton (Florence) of Portland, Maine, are other survivors.

The funeral service will be held from the Pillsbury and Gale Funeral Home on Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock. Interment will take place in Union Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home on Wednesday evening from 7 to 9 o’clock. Robert G. Ellis was born March 13, 1871 and died January 22, 1952 only 2 years before I was born. This would have made him 80 years old at the time of his death.

During the later years of his life a very strange thing happened to him. A group of swindlers from Spain tried to dupe him out of some of his money by claiming to be Ellises. They had quite an elaborate set up with bogus documents that looked authentic. Robert was no fool and instead of sending money to them, wrote to the U. S. Government to have the swindler’s claims investigated. The Government sent back a reply stating that it all was a fraud, and that these thieves had been under investigation in Spain for sometime. They had pulled this stunt more than once with other unsuspecting people of reputation. It wasn’t long after this fiasco that the Spanish Police arrested the whole gang.

Robert’s wife Lenora was born in 1871 and died in 1956, making her 85 years old at the time of her death. I was 2 years old at the time. Before she died, I was taken to meet her by my parents. Robert and Lenora had a first child named Marion who died as a baby at 1 years old. She was born Feb. 7, 1895, and died March 8, 1896. Why there is no mention of this is unknown to me, but she is buried beside her younger brother, the son of Robert and Lenora, William G. Ellis, whom they called, "Will."

This William G. Ellis is my father Robert’s father, and my grandfather whom I never knew. He was born January 5, 1898, and died January 22, 1933 at the young age of 35. My father was only 3 years old at the time.


William G. Ellis

William was a carefree soul who did what he pleased. He was educated in Amesbury and once did a report paper on the First Thanksgiving and another on Abraham Lincoln. He had a best friend named, "Ollie," of whom he said they would be "Pals forever." William also enjoyed fishing. He was an electrician by trade. William was married to Doris May Rowell, the daughter of Benjamin Rowell of Groveland. William and Doris gave birth to my aunt Norma Jean, on April 23, 1928. My father Robert G. Ellis was born on September 12, 1930

This is a memorial card reading from my grandfather’s funeral and given to me by my Aunt Norma:.

In Cherished Remembrance of William G. Ellis;
Passed to eternal rest January 22, 1933.

"May his soul rest in peace" I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead...he is just away!
With a cheery smile and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land.
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be since he lingers there.
And you, oh you, who the wildest yearn,
For the old-time step and the glad return.
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There, as the love of Here.
Think of him as the time I say,
He is not dead...he is just away.

By James Whitcomb Riley


 

Obituary

Robert G. Ellis
September 12, 1930 -- April 11, 2008
Beloved Father, Grand Father, and Great-Grandfather

 

 

Robert G. Ellis of Haverhill Mass went home to be with the Lord after a long illness on Friday, April 11th, 2008 at Penacook Place Nursing Home in Haverhill. He was 77.

Robert was born in Bangor, Maine on September 12th, 1930 and as a youth lived in the Hampton/Seabrook NH area, and later moved to Haverhill where he made his home. Robert was a direct descendent of the historical carriage and streetcar maker, W.G. Ellis of Amesbury MA.

His trade was as a heavy equipment operator. He also enjoyed reading his Bible and listening to music.

Mr. Ellis was also a professional Santa Claus and made Christmas a wonderful time for many children.

He worked for the Boston Celtic’s Christmas Party as their Santa for several years.

He attended the First Baptist Church of Salem NH and was especially fond of the Men’s Group Bible Study.

Robert was married twice and leaves behind sons and daughters. They are Mr. William G. Ellis and his wife Joan of Haverhill, Darlene Karkonan of Methuen MA, Robert G. Ellis and his wife Terry of Orange MA, Sheryl Rooney of Salisbury MA, Alicia Rogers of Haverhill, Michael G. Ellis of Haverhill, and Rebecca Ellis of Haverhill.

Mr. Ellis was a beloved grandfather as well as a great-grandfather and had many grandchildren whom he loved dearly.

He is survived by a brother, Clayton Bragg of NH.

He will be greatly missed by all who loved and knew him.

A memorial service will be held in his honor at the First Baptist Church of Salem NH, 101 School Street on Saturday, April 26th, at 12 noon.

Obituary
Norma Jean Barth
April 23, 1928 -- Jan. 8, 2008
Foster Mother

HAMPTON, N.H. - Norma Jean (Ellis) Barth, a longtime resident of Hampton and foster mother, died Jan. 8, 2008 at the Haven Health Center at Seacoast. She was 79. Born in Amesbury, Mass., she moved to Hampton during her childhood and graduated from Hampton Academy. She worked at Cablevision, now Comcast, for 10 years before her retirement. She also served as a foster mother for children in temporary placement.She was a communicant of First Baptist Church of Hampton. She also enjoyed shopping at yard sales and spending time at the ocean.She leaves two sons, Michael Bernier of Fremont and Daniel of Nashua; two brothers, Robert Ellis of Haverhill, Mass. and Clayton Bragg of Seabrook; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

A funeral will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday in First Baptist Church of Hampton. Burial will be private.


 

The Memorial At The Union Cemetery In Amesbury, Massachusetts. Just about in the center of the Union Cemetery off of route 110 in Amesbury, Massachusetts, at lot 619, is a large, granite memorial. It stands about 8 feet tall and marks the burial site containing the graves of the Ellis family. The chalice-shaped piece that sat on top of the memorial is broken off and missing, but there is no mistaking by the splendor of this monument, that a family of significance is buried here. As you walk up the stone stairs to the gravesites, surrounded by beautiful granite curbing, you will notice along the front of the curbing, the graves of W. G. Ellis and his family. Along the right side of the site, lies the family of Robert G. Ellis. The memorial itself, and the gravestones are marked as follows: William G. Ellis (Father) May 30, 1832-Nov. 3, 1896 Euphemia Dowie (Mother) Nov. 14, 1834-Mar. 31, 1914 William H. Ellis (Willie) 1864-1889 James C. Ellis 1867-1950 George 1869-1910 Arthur E. Ellis 1877-1918 Robert G. Ellis 1871-1952 Lenora A. 1871-1956 Wm. G. Ellis (Will) 1898-1933 Marion Feb. 7, 1895 Died March 8, 1896 Immediately to the left of the W. G. Ellis family are the graves of David Ellis and his wife Charlotte D. Ellis There are no headstones or markings on the memorial for David and Charlotte. Their gravesites are on the deed, which is owned by my father, Robert G.Ellis. 

Epitaphs on the Ellis Memorial:
He Giveth His Beloved Sleep
Asleep In Jesus, Peaceful Rest
He Doeth All Things Well
Thy Will Be Done

I have located lot 231 and found the grave of the Hume family.


Interesting Ellis / Whittier Story

This poem was written by poet Lucy Larcom in honor of Carrie (Cammett) Ellis, wife of James Ellis of W. G. Ellis and Sons Carriage Manufacturers. Carrie was the great granddaughter of Mary Hussey who was John Greenleaf Whittier’s aunt (his mother’s sister). Whittier nicknamed Carrie, "Queen Maude" when she was a little girl. It was on the occasion when Lucy Larcom and Whittier shared Carrie’s birthday tea party from her gift tea set that this poem was written about.

   

Carrie (Cammett) M. Ellis, Wife of James G. Ellis

 

She wears no crown
Save her own flossy curls,
Rosiest, plumpest
Of pet baby-girls;

Blue-eyed and dimpled
And dignified she,
Pouring out for us
Invisible tea,

Little Queen Maude.
Tiniest teacup
And saucer and spoon:
Baby, your banquet
Has ended too soon.

Fancy's full cupboard
Unlocks to your hand;
We, your true subjects,
Await your command,
Little Queen Maude


Six Generations of the Ellis Famiy

William G

Robert G.

William G.

Robert G.

William G.

William G.

 

Please take a few minutes to view a terrific slide show of rare images of  Ellis carriages, street cars, and related memoriabilia.

View

 

William Grant Ellis appreciates your time in reading about his family and its contributions to Amesbury. He would appreciate any additional information and material about WIlliam G. Ellis' Carriage and Trolley car manfacturing businees in Amesbury. He can be reached at

billgellis@gmail.com

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