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Captain Joab Hapgood (1804-1890)

Joab Hapgood was born on September 4, 1804 in Shrewsbury Massachusetts.  He was the eldest son of Elijah and Eunice Hapgood. By the time he was 16, he had developed an interest in mechanics and was eager to learn the trade of gunsmithing.  His father apprenticed him to Silas Allen, Jr. who was the leading gunsmith in Shrewsbury at the time. In 1826 he opened his own gun making business.

On June 1, 1828 he married Elizabeth Eager. They raised six children born between 1829 and 1844.  They built a handsome brick colonial on an acre of land, which he had purchased previously. With his knowledge of horticulture he laid out a formal garden which was widely known for the variety and beauty of its flowers.

In September of 1832, Joab was elected Captain of the Shrewsbury Rifle Company.  He retained his commission until the following May, when he voluntarily resigned due to the pressure of business. 


Initially, Joab made New England flintlock rifles and smoothbores, both full stock and half stock models, as well as fowling pieces and pistols. Around 1842, he began to manufacture percussion type guns.  In 1847 he moved his retail business from Shrewsbury to Boston to become an importer, manufacturer and dealer of guns, pistols, revolvers and sporting goods.

In 1864, he sold his business in Boston and returned to Shrewsbury to start farming full-time. When he was unable to find a swivel plow to his liking, he invented a new one. It proved to be such a success that he sold the manufacturing rights to the Ames Plow Company of Boston. In return, he received a royalty on 1,000 plows.

He also developed a superior type of field corn, which received wide claim. And consequently, he was literally swamped with orders for seeds.  In 1875, his wife Elizabeth passed away.  Following her death, his unmarried daughter, Lucy Elizabeth, assumed management of the household until her father’s death on June 14, 1890.

Willard C. Cousins, Captain Joab Hapgood Gunmaker (The Gun Report, July 1976) 

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