Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Samuel Lombard "Lum" Hart

Samuel Lombard "Lum" Hart is just one of 37 businessmen shown in a photograph composite of prominent Menasha businessmen of 1871.  It hangs in the Menasha Public Library and he is listed simply as Lum Hart of Hart & Co Machine Works.  Most who view this photo montage do not know that he had a larger, more famous role to play in later years. As if his life wasn't interesting enough, having had two separate tours of duty with Union forces in the Civil War under his belt, he would later witness one of the old West's greatest gun battles and forever associate his name with such legendary figures as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

Samuel Lombard Hart was born in 1830 in Solon, Ohio. At a young age he apprenticed to a local gunsmith and later opened his own shop with his father in Menasha. He continued in the trade until July 1861 when he joined Company C, Wisconsin 10th Infantry. He was discharged as a Second Lieutenant on Sept. 14, 1862 due to disability,  He then rejoined on June 9, 1864 in Company D, 41st Wisconsin Infantry and was mustered out as a Captain in September,1864. The record shows that he also served as an Assistant Signal Officer for the 4th Division of the Army of the Tennessee seeing action in several battles including Pittsburgh Landing, the Siege of Corinth and Forest's Raid into Memphis. Upon leaving the Army, Mr. Hart resumed his gunsmith trade, first in Menasha and continuing later, when he and his brothers moved west.  He set up a gunsmithing business in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.

One cold October afternoon in 1881 Hart heard gun shots from outside his gun shop. He looked out his door and saw men a block away to his west in the middle of Freemont Street shooting at each other. Hart had become an eye witness to what would become known as the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Over his ten years in Tombstone, S.L. Hart became one of the town's leading citizens and businessmen. His daughter Minnie taught school in Tombstone's first school house.

Hart's was not the only gun store in Tombstone. Firearms and ammunition could be purchased at several places, including one run by G.F. Spangenberg where the Clantons and McLaurys loaded up before the O.K. Corral gunfight. But if gun repairs were needed, Hart's on Freemont Street was the place to go. Guns that were re-worked or repaired by Hart were often stamped with his logo, which was the letters S and L over a "heart,"  an artistic yet compact and simple way of saying "S.L. Hart."

Later in 1890, Hart and his family moved to Tucson, probably to be nearer better medical facilities. Hart had been diagnosed with cancer. On July 14, 1893 the Tucson Star  reported: "S.L. Hart, formerly of Tombstone, but a resident of Tucson for the past six months (actually Hart had been living in Tucson for almost three years), had died at his residence at 7 o'clock last evening. Mr. Hart had been suffering from cancer for some time and died from the effects of an operation performed on him." Hart was later exhumed from his original burial location in Tucson and then re-interred to Tucson's Evergreen Cemetery on August 11, 1910.

It has been said that the legacy of S.L. Hart as gunsmith to the cowboys, gamblers, lawmen, and gunfighters of Tombstone cannot be over estimated. Today a firearm with the "S.L. Hart" stamp is almost priceless.

From his seemingly humble origins in Menasha, Lum Hart led quite the amazing life.  That photograph back at the Menasha Library gives no clue as to what was to come. 

second Hart photo and gravestone courtesy of as well as much of the Tombstone, AZ information

example of Hart's markings
courtesy of James D. Julia, Inc., auctioneer:

No comments:

Post a Comment