Barnett Foundry & Machine Co.

Newark / Irvington, NJ - This excerpt is from Prominent Families of New Jersey (published 2000?)

Back in 1845 ........... John and Stephen D. Barnett ......... started a foundry for the production of iron, a sorely needed commodity at the time.  For two years these two men, who were brothers, operated their foundry in the face of stiff competition from older enterprises.  Then, John Barnett withdrew, leaving matters in the hands of his brother, Stephen D. Barnett, and his wife and children.

Stephen D. Barnett began a period of steady but conservative expansion.  The old foundry site proved to be too hemmed in by homes to permit adequate growth; so he obtained a larger property on McWhorter Street, four blocks away, on the far side of the railroad track, so that the smoke of his cupola would no longer belch out soot to disturb the neighbors.  Two years later the oldest son of the family, Oscar Barnett, joined the foundry business and three more years brought Oscar Barnett's younger brother, Richard M. Barnett, into the enterprise.  The death of the father, Stephen D. Barnett, in 1863, placed the management of the business in Oscar Barnett's hands.

The business flourished during the Civil War period.  While Oscar Barnett managed it, the younger brother, Richard Barnett, withdrew and started a furniture business of his own at No. 15 Commercial Dock.  In two years the new enterprise was closed, however, and Richard Barnett was back at the foundry as an employee in what was now called the Oscar Barnett Foundry.  Two brothers who were still younger, Horace B. and Walter C. Barnett, joined the organization as employees at about that same time.  Thenceforth new developments were rapid and continuous.  In 1868 the company did its first advertising.  They opened, too, a hardware and machinery sales depot at Nos. 30-32 McWhorter Street, adjoining the foundry, which had spread out a block in length in Hamilton Street, between Bruen and McWhorter streets.  The establishment was then advertised in a quarter-page display advertisement in the Newark City Directory.  As an instance of the firm's foundry skill in grey iron light fine work, store cards were cast and distributed, though the proprietors had little idea that these would comprise an essential record in the history of the organization.  The were afterward immortalized as "New Jersey No. 27" in the listing of "United States Store Cards" as compiled by Edgar H. Adams.  In 1872 the business reached a peak through the acquisition of another foundry at New Jersey Railroad Avenue and Johnson Street.  This foundry was reorganized for malleable iron castings, leaving the grey iron and machine works at the old address, with the sales depot adjoining.  William Ford, in a book, "The Industrial Interests of Newark, New Jersey," published at the time by Van Arsdale & Company, of New York, described the Oscar Barnett Foundry as a "Hardware and machine manufactory..........a leading manufacturer of malleable iron castings..........also makes a specialty of carriage castings, patent bedstead fastenings, brass moulders' flasks and Barnett's Blind Hinges, the last named being made from original designs, also an extra quality of machinists' tools.  Productions are sold over the whole country and also have an exporting demand, shipments being made monthly to Australia.  The foundry and Machine Works give employment to 150 hands and their wage each week amounts to $1,500.  The annual production of castings, hardware and machinery amounts to $150,000."

Walter Barnett, the youngest of the four brothers, died in 1872.  Oscar Barnett's two other brothers, Richard and Horace, then set up the new business of R. M. & H. B. Barnett, who conducted a malleable and grey iron foundry at Hermon and Johnson streets, Newark.  The new firm was not successful however.  Horace Barnett returned to the Oscar Barnett Foundry immediately to resume his enokitnebt there, and Richard came back five years later.  In 1890 the New Jersey Railroad Avenue plant was disposed of, and the malleable iron business came back to the main foundry site.  In that same year another historic development took place - the entry into the business of representatives of the third generation.  Oscar Barnett, Jr., came in 1890, and his two younger brothers, Albert D. and Frank S Barnett, in 1891.

A critical period for the foundry began in 1894, the year of Oscar Barnett's death.  He had been a strong executive, but his methods were such as to discourage initiative on the part of the others.  The result was that no member of his family nor any younger employee was capable of assuming the responsibilities of management.  Business momentum declined during the period of estate control.  The sales depot was closed, and even the firm's advertisement in the city directory disappeared.  In 1899 Gerald Hannay, of East Orange, New Jersey, and his friend, Thomas Hannah, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, purchased control of the business and incorporated it as the Oscar Barnett Foundry Company.

The company was then equipped to make heavier castings than formerly and the output was increased.

In 1910 the company erected on land purchased by it, at Irvington, New Jersey, a new foundry, machine shop, and pattern shop and extended further the making of heavy castings.

In 1918 the name of the company was changed to Barnett Foundry & Machine Company, as being more representative of its product.

During the succeeding years there was great advancement in the quality of grey iron castings and in 1938 the company obtained a license to make Meehanite castings, a metal of superior quality and produced by a process that controls the quality of the metal before it is poured into the moulds.

The company has remained under the same management since its incorporation.


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From 1918-08-01 Canadian Machinery.