Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Rise of Henry Waters Hartman

Today I discovered a book that belonged to H. E. Hartman's father, my great-great-grandfather Henry Waters Hartman. I actually know a lot more about H. W. Hartman than I do about his son:

  • He was born on December 21, 1850, on Shavers Creek in Huntington County, Pennsylvania.
  • When he was young, he worked for the Hollidaysburg Iron & Nail Company.
  • On October 12, 1876, he married Mary Holliday.
  • He and Mary had two sons: Holliday Ellwood Hartman (my great-grandfather) in 1884 and Henry Waters Hartman, Jr. (who went by his middle name Waters) in 1887
  • He also worked for the Pottstown Iron Company and the Gaither Steel Works in Johnstown.
  • In 1883, he opened a steel mill in Beaver Falls (Hartman Steel Works) and employed 900 men for the production of various kinds of wire. He was chairman of The Hartman Steel Company Limited, which maintained branch offices in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, and Chicago.
  • In 1892, he founded Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, and moved his wire plant there.
  • When he was in his thirties or forties, he took a trip to Paris, where he had his photograph taken in a professional studio.
Sources: "The History of Ellwood City, 1892-1942" edited by the Ellwood City Historical Association; "Union Drawn Steel Co." by Margaret Sherrill Cox; "History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania" by Joseph H. Bausman and John S. Duss; Interviews with my grandfather John H. Wise

Being an important figure in the steel industry, H. W. Hartman was acquainted with the great industrialist and businessman Andrew Carnegie. At one point, they were business partners. "It is believed that Carnegie was a principal investor in the [Beaver Falls] wire mill," reports the Ellwood City Historical Society. Then in 1888, Carnegie bought the Hartman Steel Works and took control of the Beaver Falls factory. I don't know the circumstances surrounding this transaction, whether it was a friendly deal or closer to a hostile takeover. Either way, the book I found - Carnegie's "The Triumph of Democracy" - leads me to believe that at some point in their relationship, Andrew Carnegie and my great-great-grandfather were friends. Carnegie presented his book to H. W. Hartman with the following inscription: "H W Hartman Esq / With regards of / Andrew Carnegie".

While Carnegie went on to become the Second Richest Historical Figure After Rockefeller (according to Wikipedia), somehow my great-great-grandfather lost his fortune. It isn't as easy to find information on the Fall of H. W. Hartman as it is to read about his early success, but I'll start looking.

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