William F. Head, an extensive manufacturer, lumber dealer, and agriculturist of Hookset, N.H., is well known as one of the most enterprising and successful business men of Merrimack County. He was born in Hookset, September 25, 1832, son of John and Annie (Brown) Head, and is a younger brother of the late ex-Governor Natt Head, with whom for thirty years, 1852 to 1883, he was associated in business.
The Head family, although not one of the oldest in New England, has a history in this country of more than two hundred years. The emigrant ancestor was Arthur Head, a native, it is supposed, of Wales, who settled at New Castle, N.H., in 1671, and died there in September, 1711. He was survived by his wife, Sarah, who died not later than 1718. They reared five children, the eldest of whom was James Head, the great-great-grandfather of William F.
James Head was born at New Castle in 1683. In 1707 he removed to Bradford, Mass., where he made his home until his death in 1743. He was twice married, and had three children by his first wife, Sarah Atwood, who died in 1717, and three by his second wife, Elizabeth Atwood, his first wife’s sister, Major James Head, the next in line of descent, being the last-born.
Major James Head lived in Bradford, Mass., the place of his birth, until 1770, when he established himself as a farmer in Pembroke, N.H. He enlisted in the war of the Revolution, receiving a commission as Major in Colonel Stickney’s regiment, and at Bennington, August 16, 1777, was killed. His wife, whose maiden name was Sarah Thurston, bore him seven children, Nathaniel, their third child, being grandfather of William F.
Nathaniel Head was born March 4, 1754, in Bradford, Mass., and in 1770 accompanied his parents to Pembroke, N.H., where he was engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1783. Coming then to Chester, now Hookset, he built a log cabin, in which he and his family lived for many years, while he was engaged in the pioneer labor of clearing and improving his land. In addition to general farming, he established a substantial lumber business, which has since been profitably carried on by his descendants. He built a hotel, or tavern, as it was then called, and, being licensed as an innkeeper in 1784, dispensed hospitality as a landlord for thirty-five years. He took a prominent part in local affairs, holding at different times all of the town offices, and serving as Justice of the Peace many years. He was quite active in military circles, and, being the Commander of a company of militia, was known as Captain Head. He married Miss Annie Knox, of Pembroke; and John, father of William F. Head, was the seventh of their nine children. Captain Head lived to a good old age, dying in 1831.
Colonel John Head, a lifelong resident of Hookset, Merrimack County, was born May 30, 1791, and died August 7, 1835. He was for many years numbered among the foremost farmers and lumber dealers of this part of the county. He married July 11, 1822, Miss Annie Brown, a daughter of William and Sallie (Bunten) Brown, and they became the parents of seven children; namely, Hannah Ann, Sally B., Natt and William Brown (twins), John A., William F., and Mary Jane. Hannah Ann Head, born January 19, 1824, married Colonel Josiah Stevens, and died July 9, 1896, leaving one child, Sarah Frances, who married J. Henry Dearborn. A son, Edwin Eugene Stevens, died April 4, 1896, three months before his mother. Sally B. Head, who was born February 25, 1826, was married March 4, 1863, to Hall B. Emery, of Pembroke. Natt Head (of whom see special sketch) and William Brown Head, twins, were born May 20, 1828; and William Brown died September 20, 1829. John A. Head, born July 9, 1830, married December 4, 1862, Abbie F. Davis, of Fort Atkinson, Wis., and had one child, a son, Frank, who died at the age of fifteen months. Mary Jane Head, who was born April 20, 1835, died March 13, 1836.
William F. Head was educated in Pembroke, and remained on the home farm with his mother. When about twenty years of age he entered into business with his brother Natt, establishing in Hookset in 1852 the manufacture of bricks, which they carried on until the death of Natt Head some thirty years later, the brothers having such faith in each other’s honor that no books were ever kept, everything being owned in common. Mr. Head has had various business enterprises under his command, in each of which he has been very successful, managing his brickyards, mills, and large farm, and continuing the lumber business established by his grandfather, Captain Head. Under his sagacious management this industry has assumed large proportions. In 1871 was formed the Head & Dowst Company, contractors and builders, Mr. Head being Vice-President. His farm, the old Head homestead, contains two hundred and fifty acres of land, on which he averages an annual crop of two hundred and fifty tons of hay.
On November 4, 1858, William F. Head married Miss Mary Haseltine Sargent, a Sterling and Sally (Gault) Sargent, of Allenstown, N.H. Mr. and Mrs. Head are the parents of two children, namely: Eugene Sterling, born June 1, 1863; and Sallie, who was born April 30, 1866, and was graduated at Lasell Seminary in 1887. Eugene S. Head was educated at Pembroke Academy and at Dartmouth College. He is now in business with his father, the firm name being William F. Head & Son. On account of the father’s impaired health the management now rests upon the son, who is daily proving himself equal to the responsibility. In 1891 he served creditably as a member of the Legislature, and he is a member of the Republican State Committee. He is also a member of the School Board. He was married November 19, 1884, to Miss Hattie M. Hoyt. They have two children: William Hoyt, born April 24, 1886; and Mary H., born October 29, 1888.
Mr. William F. Head has held many important public offices. He served as Selectman in 1859, and 1860; in 1869, and 1870 he was a member of the State legislature, representing the town of Hookset; and in 1876 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention. Well-versed in monetary affairs and a man of marked executive ability, he is Director of the Suncook Valley Railway Company, a Trustee of the Merrimack River Savings Bank, and of the First National Bank of Manchester, this State, and a Trustee of the New England Agricultural Society. For many years he has been prominent in the Masonic fraternity, belonging to Eureka Lodge, F. & A. M., of Concord, which he joined in 1863; being a charter member of Jewell Lodge, F. & A. M., of Suncook; and a member of Trinity Commandery, K. T., of Manchester. In politics he is a stanch Republican.