William H. Hart, Dean of New England Hardwaremen
is Called Away after a Long and Useful Life
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
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
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
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
Hardware Dealers' Magazine,
Vol.53, January 1920,
(New York: Daniel T. Mallett, Publisher).