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MS 034 - Schuyler, Hartley & Graham Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS 034

Scope and Contents

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Dates

  • Created: 1868-1963
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1992

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

McCracken Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials. Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation or publication. Contact McCracken Research Library for more information.

Biographical or Historical Information

Schuyler, Hartley & Graham Co. (1854 - ?),

The firm of Schuyler, Hartley and Graham was organized on March 1, 1854. On that day three men, Jacob Rutsen Schuyler, Marcellus Hartley and Malcolm Graham, met in a restaurant in New York and agreed to leave their present employers and enter into the firearms retail business for themselves.  Schuyler had been with the firm of Smith, Young and Company for eighteen years and was a junior partner, Graham had been with the same firm for eight years, and Hartley had worked for Francis Tomes and Sons for seven years.  The new firm of Schuyler, Hartley and Graham, located at 13 Maiden Lane, New York City, would become one of the largest and most successful businesses of its kind.

Soon after the firm was organized, Schuyler and Hartley went to Europe aboard the Baltic to purchase supplies for their new store.  During four months of travel in England and on the Continent, the two men visited firearms dealers and manufacturers, bought a substantial amount of stock and arranged for future purchases.  After their return the men had no difficulty selling their European goods at a large profit and the new firm's financial stability was assured.  Over the next five years the company's business grew in importance and extent and by 1860 Schuyler, Hartley and Graham had become the largest firearms dealer in the United States.  By 1861 the firm operated out of two stores in New York City, one at 19 Maiden Lane and another at 22 John Street.

Much of the firm's early success was due to the intelligence, experience and resourcefulness of Marcellus Hartley.  During his years working in the gun department of Frances Tomes and Sons, Hartley was sent on several trips to the southern and western states to solicit trade.  The knowledge he gained and the contacts he established would aid in the growth of his own firm.  Hartley's skills and contacts would benefit more than his own company, though.  Soon after the outbreak of the Civil War, the Union Army needed more arms than northern factories could provide.  With the consent of President Lincoln, Secretary of War Stanton offered Hartley a confidential appointment as chief European purchasing agent for the Union army with a rank equivalent to that of brigadier-general.  Hartley accepted the appointment and left for Europe in July 1862.  During nine months of work and travel, Hartley secured more than two hundred thousand arms and other equipment for the North, thwarted the efforts of his Confederate counterparts and increased support for the Union cause.

After his service, Hartley returned to the firm to find it very prosperous.  The war had stimulated numerous inventions and improvements in the manufacture of arms and ammunition and the Schuyler, Hartley and Graham firm was able to capitalize on these advancements.  In March 1865 the firm hired Henry Tomes (Hartley’s former boss) and Charles W. May as resident buyers in London and Paris, respectively, and became Schuyler, Hartley, Graham and Company.  In 1867, the firm withdrew its European buyers and returned to its original style.  That same year, however, the firm expanded into manufacturing with the incorporation of the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, the first company to manufacture metallic cartridges profitably and on a large scale.

The American Civil War did much to increase the prosperity of Schuyler, Hartley and Graham.  Soon after the war ended, the company's business was furthered by hostilities in other parts of the world.  During the early 1870s, France, fighting against Prussia, purchased substantial quantities of arms and equipment from the firm.  One large order in particular, shipped from Boston in 1870 and supervised by agent W. W. Reynolds, included 1,440 Sharps carbines, 2,760 Sharps rifles, 3,360 Spencer carbines, 2,900 Spencer rifles and more than two million rounds in cartridges (Edwards, 401).  Thousands of firearms and supplies went to Cuban insurrectionists during the late 1860s and the 1870s.  By the end of the century, in fact, individuals and armies in numerous Central and South American countries (including Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay) had armed themselves with goods purchased from Schuyler, Hartley and Graham.  Domestic business during these years brought in considerable profits as well.

In 1876 Jacob Schuyler retired and by 1880 the firm was known as Hartley and Graham.  Malcolm Graham died in December 1899 and shortly thereafter the business was incorporated as the M. Hartley Company.  After the 1902 death of Marcellus Hartley, the firm continued to operate for several more years under the management of William Bruff, but most of the firm's business was picked up by Hartley's brother-in-law and long time business associate, Henry Kirke White.

White, H.K. (Henry Kirke) (1837 – 1923)

H. K. White was born in 1837.  In 1855 his sister, Frances Chester White, married Marcellus Hartley.  At the age of twenty-four, White enlisted in the Union Army and soon fought, with the rank of corporal, in the first battle of Bull Run.  After the war, White went to work for Schuyler, Hartley and Graham and, though the exact nature of White’s association with the firm has not been determined, by 1868 he essentially was the firm's warehouse manager.  Meanwhile, White continued his involvement with the military; in 1870 he became First Lieutenant of the consolidated 37th and 71st Regiments, N. G., S. N. Y., and in 1871 he participated in the suppression of the Orange riots in New York City.  In 1885 he was elected Captain of the F Company in the Veteran Corps and in 1890 he was elected Colonel.

By 1905 White was in a position to purchase much of the M. Hartley Company’s stock and continue operating as H. K. White Military Goods, located at 3 Water Street, New York City.  With Henry's sons, Robert J. White (the original secretary and treasurer of the UMC Company) and Frederick R. White, and George Koerner, White’s company prospered in selling firearms and equipment, military supplies and other goods, and became known especially for its supply of surplus Civil War arms and goods.  Eventually White's other son, H. K. White, Jr. joined the firm as well, and when the elder White died in 1923, his sons continued to run the business.  H. K. White Military Goods continued to do business into the 1960s and became very well known among antique firearms collectors.  In 1963 the company’s stock was purchased by Turner Kirkland’s Dixie Gun Works Company of Union City, Tennessee.

From its beginning over a century earlier the Schuyler, Hartley and Graham business commanded respect around the world.  The goods the company sold supplied numerous armies and influenced the outcomes of many conflicts, including the American Civil War.  After the turn of the century the company, under the management of H. K. White and his sons, continued to thrive, supplying Boy Scout troops, boys' and girls' brigades, drill teams, and countless firearms collectors throughout the United States.  The history of the business begun by Schuyler, Hartley and Graham in many ways, then, is both an illuminator and a reflection of American history.

To view items from this collection online visit: http://library.centerofthewest.org/cdm/search/collection/SHG/order/identi/ad/asc

Note written by

Extent

125.00 boxes

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

This collection consists of the correspondence, sales and shipping records, advertisements, and other business records from the Schuyler, Hartley & Graham Company. The company was heavily involved in firearms and related goods traded from about 1850 – 1950. The personal papers of Henry K. White and E.C. Brearly are also present.

Arrangement Note

The Schuyler, Hartley & Graham Co. Collection (No. 34) is arranged into three series by subject, as follows:

Outline of Series Arrangement

Series 1 – Correspondence – from Schuyler, Hartley & Graham – Box 1-27


Series 2 – Correspondence from H.K. White – Box 28-36


Series 3 – Correspondence to Schuyler, Hartley & Graham / H.K. White – Box 37-59


Series 4 – Correspondence to Schuyler, Hartley & Graham / H.K. White – Box A-L and Loose Oversize

Source of Acquisition

The Cleveland Grays

Method of Acquisition

Donation

Title
Archon Finding Aid Title
Author
Raymond Rast, 2000; Updated by Samantha L. Harper, 2014
Description rules
Other Unmapped
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
und

Repository Details

Part of the McCracken Research Library Repository

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