1. KEARSARGE PEG COMPANY HISTORY/BACKGROUND
HISTORY AND NATURE OF THE COMPANY
The company was established in 1865 in Andover,
NH by Gerry and Augustus Morgan and the Baker,
Carr & Sons Co. Sometime later Baker, Carr & Sons’
interest appears to have been purchased by Jacob R.
foster and he along with the Morgan brothers moved
the Kearsarge Peg Co. operations to Bartlett, NH in
1878. (A Portland Locomotive and Marine Engine
Works steam engine, [with an 1878 manufacturer's
nameplate] was the primary energy source for the
factory operations up until its retirement in the 1980’s.
The steam engine is now currently housed and
operational at the Maine State Museum in Augusta,
ME.) The two Morgan brothers purchased Mr.
Foster’s interest in the business, and ran the
business until a fire destroyed the plant in 1905.
At this time, the trademarks and goodwill of the
business were purchased by Edwin and George
Foster (sons of the Jacob mentioned above) who
rebuilt and operated the plant from 1911 until it was
purchased by Stanley E. Davidson and Francis L.
Brannen in 1944. These two operated the Bartlett
facility until Mr. Brannen’s death in 1962, whereupon Mr. Davidson became the sole owner.
In 1966, the firm was incorporated in the State of
New Hampshire with Stanley E. Davidson Sr., as
President and Stanley E. Davidson Jr. as Vice
President. This arrangement continued until 1979
when Mr. Davidson Sr. retired and the corporation redeemed his stock, Leaving Mr. Davidson Jr. as the sole stockholder of the
The principal business of the company at its inception was the manufacture of shoe pegs. Shoe pegs were long cross sectioned
hardwood shapes with a point on one end, manufactured primarily from white, yellow and silver birch, although white maple and
beech are occasionally employed as well. The Kearsarge Peg Co. manufactured approximately seventy-five different sizes of
shoe pegs, which varied in size from 5/16 in. long by 1/18 in. wide to ¼ in. wide by 2.0 in. long . This product was used as a
component of shoe manufacturing in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and replaced shoe nails, as a means for
insuring a lasting bond between the last and sole of the shoe. It was considered superior to metal nails, in that over time the
wood peg would draw moisture from the ambient atmosphere and swell, forming a lock fit between these two components.
Shoe manufacturing along with textiles was a major segment of the economy of New England at this time, and there were
dozens of plants, which made this product in competition with Kearsarge. In its earlier years, Kearsarge exported heavily to the
shoe industry in Norway, Germany, Australia and elsewhere. The last existing competitor in North America, the Moore Peg Co.,
in Lisbon, NH was lost in a fire in 1949. This company (Moore) had been owned by the Lupoline Corporation in Bronx, New York
which was a pioneer in the use of natural materials, including wood pegs as a tumbling and final finishing medium for the
plastics, jewelry and precision metalworking industries.
The use of pegs in shoe manufacturing came to an abrupt halt with the advent of the Second World War. (Exception: custom
made climbing, skiing and cowboy boots). Not only did the company find that its export markets were now closed, but new
developments in shoe manufacturing technology obviated the need for pegs to tie or lock the last and sole of shoes together.
Lupoline, under the direction of its founder -- Joseph Lupo -- pioneered dry barrel finish or tumbling techniques in the early part
of the twentieth century, with some patents dating as early as the 1920’s and 1930’s. He found that “shoe pegs” made an ideal
mass finishing media for smoothing and polishing plastic parts in rotary barrel finish equipment. This technology was quickly
adapted by major manufacturers such as Bausch & Lomb, Foster-Grant and the American Optical Co. and others to replace
tedious manual finishing methods that involved buffing. These large manufacturers of eyeglass frame and sunglass frame
components were soon utilizing hardwood pegs in bulk, by the truck load and even railroad car load for abrasive finishing and
polishing operations. This continues to be the primary use for hardwood pegs and other hardwood preform shapes that the
company manufactures to this day.
In the early 1980’s the company management decided that there was a need to become more involved on a technical level with
the finishing industry. As a result the PEGCO Division was instituted as a marketing and technical arm to more aggressively
market hardwood media for other applications. It soon became apparent that there was a need to make PEGCO a technical
View of Kearsarge Peg Co. in 1920, the white birch seen here was favored
for making specialty hardwood shoe pegs. The primary market for the
company's product at this time was the shoe industry.
2. resource for the finishing industry. Its focus became providing technical solutions to difficult edge and surface finish problems by
process development in its “process laboratory” and offering turn-key equipment and abrasive supply packages as the solutions
to these problems.
The company’s office and manufacturing facilities are found at the same location in Bartlett, NH. These facilities are comprised
of approximately 25,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space encompassed in an eleven building complex,
situated on seven acres bounded by Kearsarge Street and the White Mountain National Forest.
HISTORICAL SOURCE MATERIALS:
From: A History of Carroll County, New Hampshire by Georgia Drew Merrill, pub. 1889
Excerpted from p. 928
Another most important enterprise for the village (of Bartlett) is the Kearsarge Peg Co., conducted by Messrs. Gerry and
Augustus Morgan, who established it in 1878. They employ forty hands, nearly half of whom are girls. Their trade extends
throughout the United States, England, Germany, Belgium, South America, China, Japan, Mexico and Australia. In 1888 their
sales amounted to over ninety-two thousand bushels [ed. Note: 1 bushel = 24 lbs., Total production = 2208000 lbs.], which
represent seventy-five different sizes, from a very tiny peg to those over two inches in length. Their annual sales amount to forty-
thousand dollars. They also manufactured last year seventeen thousand barrels of two sizes, one of six bushels capacity and
one of four, of net cost thirty cents per bushel. They are receiving large orders from Christiana, Norway and Hamburg, Germany,
one reaching the enormous amount of ten-thousand bushels of pegs. The business is rapidly increasing, and will add much to
the growth of this beautiful village.
Excerpted from page 887:
Here is described the mill built by B. F. Sturtevant for the manufacture of machine peg wood and veneers, in the town of
Conway (NH). The price paid for birch delivered, is twelve dollars a cord in the winter, and fourteen in the summer. This is the
first manufactory ever built to produce the ribbon peg, and all the varied machines used in its preparation are the invention of Mr.
ARTICLE EXCERPTED FROM NEWSPAPER: PLYMOUTH (NH) RECORD, of June 8, 1944
On May 15th
Edwin J. Foster and George R. Foster of Plymouth, who have owned and operated for 34 years a shoe peg mill at
Bartlett, under the firm name of Kearsarge Peg Company with principal office in Plymouth, sold that business to Frances L
Brannen of Berlin and Stanley E. Davidson, of Boston, Mass.
The Foster family has been identified with the manufacture of shoe pegs for over 80 years, although this sketch covers but 72
years of that period. Jacob R. Foster, father of Edwin and George foster, who died in 1925 at the age of 92, purchased in June
1872, a one-half interest in Kearsarge Peg Company then located in Andover, NH. In the fall of 1878, the business was
transferred to Bartlett, a third partner added to the firm, and additional machinery was purchased, doubling the capacity.
After a few years Mr. Foster sold his interest to his partners and purchased in June 1887 an established peg business in the
Adirondacks region of New York State. That business was originally operated by Mr. White, who was the grandfather of Alfred
White who is prominent in telephone circles in this section, at Antrim North Branch. Mr. Foster’s sons became associated with
their father about 1888 and have continued in the manufacture of shoe pegs until the spring of 1943.
The peg business purchased by Mr. Foster in 1887, was moved to Shelburne Falls, Mass. in 893, and to Plymouth, NH in 1898,
the annual production of that mill amounting to about 70,000 bushels of wood shoe pegs and all were exported to Germany and
Austria. It was not possible to export to those countries after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The financial condition
of those countries after the termination of the war was such that they found it necessary to impose such a high tariff to protect
their own manufacturers of pegs that it was impossible to export American made shoe pegs to those countries. As a result the
Plymouth plant was sold to the Draper-Maynard Co. in 1922 and used by them for a time as their No. 2 plant, and later sold by
them to the United Shank and Findings Co.
After Jacob R. Foster sold his interest in the Kearsarge Peg Co. at Bartlett in the early 1880’s, his former partners continued the
business as long as they lived, and the children of one of the partners continued its operation until 1910 when the mill property
was destroyed by fire. The Fosters purchased the trademarks and good-will and rebuilt the mill, and it is that property which has
now been sold.
3. Why the name KEARSARGE was chosen: in Merrimack county, the highest elevation of 3000 ft. is called Mt. Kearsarge. Five
towns lay claim to part ownership of the mountain – Andover, Salisbury, Sutton, Warner and Wilmot. The Kearsarge Peg Co.
was undoubtedly named for this mountain, not only on account of its proximity but also partly owing to the fact that the power
used was derived from a beautiful body of water located at the base of the mountain.
Located in Andover is a lesser elevation called Ragged Mountain. The late Clarence E. Carr, a life long resident of Andover and
who was some years ago the Democratic candidate for election to the governorship of New Hampshire, in a public address in
Plymouth in 1916 mentioned the Fosters and the peg business and referred to the former Andover associations, and incidentally
exhibited a finger which had been amputated at the first joint while working at the Kearsarge Peg Co. mill in Andover, which was
established by his father in 1865. Mr. Carr also stated that the Kearsarge Peg Co. had not been too prosperous during its early
days, and that on one occasion intimated to his father that the industry should have been named the Ragged Peg Co. and not
A ship christened “Kearsarge” during the civil War on June 18, 1864, sank the Confederate “Alabama” off Cherbourg, France.
The ship was built in Portsmouth, NH and manned by New Hampshire officers and crew. Her commander was Captain John A.
Winslow, who was appointed to the Navy through the influence of Daniel Webster in 1827.
The Alabama was built in England for the Southern Confederacy and was designed as a commerce destroyer and blockade-
runner. The “Alabama” was not only constructed in England, but also armed with English made guns, with English gunners and
manned by a largely English crew, but commanded by a Southerner.
The victory of the New Hampshire built vessel, and New Hampshire crew over the Alabama was much featured in the school
history textbooks in the North shortly after the war.
The second US Naval vessel to be named Kearsarge was the battleship of that name and put into commission in 19000, and
together with her sister ship the Kentucky were the two most powerful vessels of the U. S. Navy at that time. Another distinction
of the “Kearsarge” was that she was the last first-line battleship not named for a state. Instead, she commemorated the naval
vessel of Civil War fame that in turn was named for Mt. Kearsarge in New Hampshire.
The new owners of the Kearsarge Peg Co. started the mill in production on May 29, 1944, and George R. Foster is assisting in
the office and sales activities from both Plymouth and 50 Beacon Street, Boston, MA where the office will be located in the
Frances L. Brannen of Berlin, NH, is a native of that city, is 48 years old and was for some 15 years City Engineer and
Superintendent of the Public Water Works. Recently he has been doing a general contracting and construction business.
Stanley E. Davidson is the active member of the architectural firm of Harry S. Davidson & Son of Beacon Street, Boston, MA.
Messrs. Brannen and Davidson previously contracted for the Mutual Broadcasting System the FM Broadcasting Station on Mt.
Washington. This work represents unusual difficulties owing to the altitude, fog, and various weather conditions. The most
notable accomplishment concerning the construction of this broadcasting station was the boring of an artesian well through 1500
feet of solid rock from the top of the mountain. An abundant water supply was obtained at that depth, and the water rose in the
well to within thirty feet of the top of same.
4. PRODUCT/SERVICE DESCRIPTION
CURRENT PRODUCT LINES:
(1) Kearsarge Peg Co., Inc. is the sole North
American manufacturer of hardwood pegs,
cubes and diamonds. These hardwood
cross-sectioned shapes are used primarily
for dry finishing and polishing processes for
plastics and metals. They are used in
concert with additive materials consisting of
various waxes, abrasives or polishing
formulations primarily in industrial tumbling
or other kinds of finishing equipment.
(2) The PEGCO Process Laboratories
subsidiary offers a wide variety of abrasive
powders, compound, paste and cream
formulations for use with Kearsarge
Hardwood Media. Other third parties also
offer a variety of materials for use with
Kearsarge’s Hardwood Media Product.
Additionally, PEGCO sells dry process and
conventional media and burnishing
materials for metal finishing applications in
which Kearsasrge’s Hardwood media does
not play a part.
(3) Machinery: Centrifugal Barrel and Disc Machinery for which PEGCO
develops applications with its material or in combination with abrasive
material supplied by others is purchased from MFI in Minnesota.
Additionally, MFI acts as a reseller of PEGCO branded dry process finishing
and polishing material
CURRENT SERVICE LINES:
(1) Sample processing. This is a service, generally provided without
charge, that the company offers to customers. Using the process
laboratory as a technical resource, the company solicits deburr and
edge/surface finish problems and utilizes its materials and equipment
process know-how to develop a process solution which includes
machinery and abrasive materials the company offers as a method for
meeting the customer product finish requirements. Sample parts are
sent in by both end user and the distributor network for sample
processing, process development and recommendation and equipment
(2) Contract finishing. Although less emphasis has been placed in this area
in recent years, there is potential in offering job shop deburr and finishing services to not only local and regional metal
working operations but specialized processes for super-polishing aerospace parts to potential customers on a national
PEGCO has large ribbon blender mixing equipment capable of blending
abrasive and polishing compound in 1500 lb. batches. Smaller batches of
several hundred pounds can be tumbled/blended in smaller equipment such as
this to thoroughly blend the abrasive and the hard or soft granulate material
that serves as the vehicle to deliver the polishing abrasive to part surfaces in
mechanical finishing systems
This smaller laboratory sized centrifugal barrel machine is
the type used by PEGCO to develop accelerated finishing
processes. It also is used in smaller part applications within
the jewelry and other industries for developing near buff like