original company was "Alvah Smith and
Sons". Alvah Smith and Lucinda
Weatherhead had 10 children, but I do not know
which, if any others were involved. This
concern was located on the family farm in
Weatherhead Hollow, a section of Guilford
Vt. Born in 1840, Sanford was
the eldest son. He was in the Civil War at
Gettysburg. Manufacturing expanded after he
returned from the war.
first real factory, that I know off, was built on
Broad Brook in Guilford Vt., The building
still stands , there is a manufacturing
concern there, that produces stuffed
trophy animal heads. Sanford and his
wife Ellen Hunt built a house next to this
factory location in 1872, but I do not know which
building was completed first. They moved the
manufacturing into Brattleboro soon
after, to be nearer the train tracks, for
receiving supplies and shipping out finished
goods. They moved into the newly
vacant Estey Organ factory at the base of
Main Street Hill, intersecting with Canal
I think this factory burned. You can imagine
the large amount of saw dust in a wooden factory
building that assembled wooden toys, and the
simple machinery. Both the Estey and Smith
factories were plagued by fire. When the
Estey factory expanded again, this time to a
large slate faced factory on Birge
street, the Smith and Hunt factory moved into
the newly vacant Estey Factory on Frost
Street. I know that the Smith
Factory had a few fires.
After one fire, the company was
reorganized as S. A. Smith and Co.
and was still owned by the family.
Brattleboro had two organ companies - the
Estey Co. and the Carpenter Organ Co. With these
companies and the Smith toy factory, there were
many woodworkers living in this small town.
Since the hand tools were owned by the craftsmen
who took them home every evening, re-opening a
factory was not as difficult as you might first
expect. After the fire of 1899, (still an
estimate), the family was not willing to re-build
on their own. There were a number of
investors who wanted to keep the towns second
largest employer operating with Sanford still
In 1903, National Novelty Corporation was formed, linking S.
A. Smith & Co. with 37 other toy companies. In 1907
National Novelty went into receivership then came out of it as
Hardware and Woodenware Manufacturing Co. Each company
maintained its own Identity, and facilities, with National
Novelty Co. as more of a co-op. These companies did not
compete, but rather complimented each other's lines avoiding
duplications, they shared a showroom, and central sales staff
in New York City, at 693-697 Broadway . In 1908
Hardware and Woodenware Manufacturing Co. went into receivership.
Then the Manager Sales Co was formed. At this time the S. A.
Smith Co. was run by Sanford's son, Fred who managed the
business end with Sanford's other son, Charles Alvah,
running the manufacturing end, in both the Brattleboro
plant and a Philadelphia plant. Charles was a mechanical
Engineer, designing most of the machinery and tools, and die cuts
for the firm.
Sanford died in 1911, and Charles returned from
Philadelphia. Fred died in 1915. Fred's wife Edith then
sold the family's remaining interest and moved to New Jersey.
Charles I believe did consulting work for the toy factory, as well
as for the Franklin Air cooled Automobile co, of Buffalo, NY, and
the Packard Motorcar Co. of Detroit. Though he never really
retired, Charles had a small sideline hobby/ business of assembling
wooden work clocks , manufacturing over 600 before his death in
1946. It is my understanding that the co-op was dissolved,
with most of the factories being completely returned to their
original owners. The Smith family was no longer
involved. The remaining assets I believe were merged with a
toy factory named Brown in Leominster, Mass. In the 1930's my
grandparents Sanford II, and Lillias Smiths, were
approached, to sell the S. A. Smith name to the company
but they refused. They had a son, Sanford the 3rd, my father,
and wanted him to own the name.
Original Brattleboro Factory at left
Second Brattleboro Factory