The Return of the Wonderful One Horse Shay!
General Artemas Ward bought a new carriage on August 5, 1795 and could never have imagined the journey that carriage would travel.
He paid ₤55. for a new Chaise and Harness manufactured in Boston by coach makers Timothy M. and John Minot. The vehicle was two wheeled with a single passenger body suspended on leather straps and powered by a single horse. It was economical in its design yet flashy in its decoration. He also opted to purchase cloth for covering it and plated horse bits. September of 1800 the General paid his yearly carriage tax of three dollars for the last time before his death in October. The carriage was then inherited by his son, Sheriff Thomas Walter Ward. When Sheriff Ward died his son Thomas “Walter” Ward Jr. inherited it. Then it was left to Walter’s daughters and passed on to their cousins.
It was rolled out for the occasional photograph but not likely ever used again. Finally the vehicle rested in the barn until it traveled by truck to Pennsylvania as part of a major restoration and conservation project. Keeping the old chaise rolling for so many generations of Ward family members had required numerous replacements, changes and updates by the owners. Wheels had been replaced, siding was painted and decoration subdued. All of this complicated the restoration and conservation of this important object. How do you preserve so much history and still have the vehicle appear consistent and cohesive?
After extensive research and creative interpretation the newly restored carriage has been returned to the Ward Museum. Original yellow paint has been uncovered, original woolen upholstery miraculously mended and brightly colored coach lace replicated and replaced. A badly deteriorated leather apron and straps have also been replaced. The carriage is part of a growing exhibition on Ward family vehicles and joins a magnificently restored cutter sleigh completed in 2008.