Edward V. Hartford

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Edward V. Hartford
Born Edward Vassallo Hartford
(1870-05-28)May 28, 1870
Orange, New Jersey
Died June 30, 1922(1922-06-30) (aged 52)
Deal, New Jersey
Education Stevens Institute of Technology
Occupation Inventor
Employer Hartford Suspension Company
Title Founder and President
Spouse(s) Henrietta Guerard Pollitzer
Children Marie Josephine Hartford
George Huntington Hartford II
Parent(s) George Huntington Hartford
Marie Josephine Ludlum
Relatives George Ludlum Hartford
John Augustine Hartford

Edward Vassallo Hartford (May 28, 1870 - June 30, 1922) was the founder and President of the Hartford Suspension Company who perfected the automobile shock absorber.[1] The middle son of A&P owner George Huntington Hartford and Marie Josephine Ludlum, Edward was the only son not involved in day-to-day operations of the food chain. However, starting in 1903, he was Secretary of the A&P corporation and along with his brothers George and John, he was also one of the three trustees who controlled the company's stock after his father died.[2]

Hartford was married to Henrietta Guerard Pollitzer (January 4, 1881 - June 3, 1948) and had two children: Josephine Hartford O'Donnell Bryce (August 20, 1902 - June 8, 1992) and Huntington Hartford (April 18, 1911 - May 19, 2008).[3] A Christian Scientist, he refused to see a doctor and died at age 51.[2]


The winner of the 1904 Gordon Bennett competition in Germany equipped with Truffault-Hartford shock absorbers.

Edward was born in Orange, New Jersey. His father, George Huntington Hartford (1832–1917), owned the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. When Edward was eight, his father was also elected mayor of his community. He graduated from Orange High School and entered Stevens Institute of Technology.[1] After graduating, he turned down his father's offer to join the firm and traveled for a few years in France and India.[3]

Edward was fascinated by early automobiles, which were simply traditional wagons or carriages with primitive engines. While the springs were adequate at the lower speeds of horse-drawn vehicles, they proved dangerous at higher speeds because they continued to bounce after hitting an uneven surface, potentially causing the vehicle to veer out of control. Early bicycles had a similar problem.[1]

Truffault-Hartford shock absorber

In 1899, Edward was in France at a bicycle race where the winning bicycle was equipped with an early shock absorber built by J. Truffault. Hartford bought the rights to the device and perfected its design. In 1904, he established the Hartford Suspension Company and located the firm on Hudson Street in New York City. That year, a car built by Richard-Brasier equipped with Truffault-Hartford shock absorbers won the Gordon Bennett Cup (auto racing) in Germany, helping to establish a reputation for the new device. In 1908, the factory was moved to Jersey City, New Jersey next to the A&P headquarters. Edward continued to develop new features for automobiles. In 1910, he received a patent for an electric starter and the next year for an electric brake.[1]

In 1901, Hartford married Henrietta Guerard Pollitzer (1881–1948), a socialite whose mother was descended from an old Charleston, South Carolina family. Edward and Henrietta lived on Park Avenue where they were prominent in New York society. They had two children: Josephine Hartford O'Donnell Bryce (1902–1992) and Huntington Hartford (1911–2008). After Edward's company moved to Jersey City, the family moved to Deal, New Jersey, a wealthy community on the shore. Edward was an exceptional violinist and active in sports, including golf, ice skating, and yachting.[3] In 1920, he received a patent for a "scientific putter". A Christian Scientist, he refused to see a doctor and died at age 51.[2]

Now a wealthy widow, Henrietta moved with her children to Newport, Rhode Island where she ultimately purchased Seaverage, next to the Rough Point mansion owned by Doris Duke. In 1937, she married an Italian aristocrat, Guido Pignatelli (1900–1967), Prince of Belmonte, who was only two years older than her daughter. In addition to Newport, the couple lived at "Wando Plantation", her mansion in South Carolina, in Washington, D.C., and at Melody Farm in Wyckoff, New Jersey where she died in 1948.[4] Edward and Henrietta's granddaughter, Nuala O'Donnell, married Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Wilson, James Grant; and Fiske, John. "Hartford, Edward Vassallo", Appleton's cyclopædia of American biography, Volume 8, p. 493 ff. D. Appleton and company, 1918. Accessed November 13, 2017. "HARTFORD Edward Vassallo, engineer and inventor, b. in Orange N. J., 28 May, 1870, son of George Huntington and Josephine (Ludlum) Hartford.... acquirement of an education in the Orange high school, Seton Academy, and Stevens Institute claimed the attention of Edward V. Hartford until he reached the age of nineteen, when, owing to poor health, he abandoned his studies and entered upon his business career in the office of The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company."
  2. ^ a b c Levinson, Marc (2011). The Great A&P and the struggle for small business in America. Hill and Wang. ISBN 978-0-8090-9543-8. 
  3. ^ a b c d Anderson, Avis (2002). The Story of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. Arcadia. ISBN 978-0-7385-1038-5. 
  4. ^ "Mrs. Astor and the Gilded Age". 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2011-12-26. [permanent dead link]