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History Overview

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William H. Hart, Dean of New England Hardwaremen
is Called Away after a Long and Useful Life

William H. Hart, dean of the manufacturers of New Britain, Conn., and for years one of the leading hardwaremen of America, died at his home in that city on December 4th.

There was no sudden, unexpected illness - the passing away was because of the infirmities of old age.

Mr. Hart was actively connected with the Stanley Works for sixty two years and he was largely instrumental in the development of the industry. As an organizer and planner of work he had few superiors. His policies were very progressive.

William H. Hart was born in New Britain, July 25, 1834, and was the son of George and Elizabeth Frances Booth Hart. The family genealogy is traced to Stephen Hart of Bain Tree, County of Essex, England. The Hart family pioneered in the settlement of the New Britain section.

Stephen Hart was one of the fifty-four proprietors of Hartford in 1639 and he was one of the original eighty four proprietors of Farmington. The Hart family since that time has been prominent in affairs of this section.

William H. Hart received a common school education such as was then afforded through the district school system. He attended high school on part time, his help most of the day being required by his father who was then station agent for the Hartford-Providence & Fishkill Railroad Co. His first business experience was as a bookkeeper for the railroad from 1850 to 1854.

Mr. Hart's connection with the Stanley Works began in 1854 and is given more in detail below.

On September 19, 1855, Mr. Hart and Miss Martha Peck, also a native of New Britain, were married. Six children: George P. Hart, chairman of the board of directors of the Stanley Works; Howard S. Hart, chairman of the boards of directors of the Hart & Cooley companies; Maxwell S. Hart, president of the Hart & Hutchinson Co.; Edward H. Hart, manager of the Stanley Works Export department; Walter H. Hart, vice-president and general manager of the Stanley Works; and Mrs. E. Allen Moore, were born of the marriage. There are seventeen grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Captain of Industry

Few of the industrial leaders of New Britain possessed the qualifications for successful organization in a degree equal to Mr. Hart, and the distinction of ďa captain of industry" is aptly given to him. His work in the infant days of the Stanley Works brought about a most substantial organization, which today has its place as one of New Britain's great industries.

The little concern employing twenty-five or thirty operatives and having a capital of $30,000 is today giving employment in its several plants to about 4,000 people and its capitalization is $2,500,000. The sun never sets on the manufacture of Stanley Works productions.

From the little one story frame factory building on Lake street has sprung the massive operating buildings in New Britain, and there are also branch factories in Niles, O., Bridgewater, Mass, Hamilton, Ont., and in Japan.

William H. Hart was a leading spirit in the great accomplishment. His keen vision of the future, his sound business judgment and his untiring energy were important factors in the success.

On May I7, 1914, Mr. Hart relinquished the presidency of the Stanley Works and was elected chairman of the board of directors which position he resigned January to, 1918.

Mr. Hart continued on the board of directors up to the time of his death, so that his connection with the Stanley Works had extended over 65 years. Although not giving up his time to the affairs of the Stanley Works he was always greatly interested in the affairs of the company and its development.

A Personal Tribute

From one who knew William H. Hart and appreciated what he had done: Mr. Hart was a fine type of the sturdy New Englander who created and built firmly and well. Like his old friend, Philip Corbin, he did great things for New Britain. Everything he did was done with the single purpose of doing it well and having New Britain benefit by it.

He lived to witness the great success of the principles of business he exemplified in his life and in his work.

New Britain considered him one of its greatest men and this judgment was not misplaced. In his old age he saw the fruits of his early struggles towering high in the industrial world.

William H. Hart's memory will survive, not only in the hearts of the men and the women with whom he was associated for many years, but also in the history of New Britain to which he contributed all that was best in his life.    bbbbbbbbbbbbbb

Hardware Dealers' Magazine, Vol.53, January 1920,
(New York: Daniel T. Mallett, Publisher).


 
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